Job creation dominates questions

NANAIMO – Nanaimo riding candidates debate policies and ideas.

B.C. Liberal Party candidate Walter Anderson

B.C. Liberal Party candidate Walter Anderson

Job creation permeated the list of topics discussed during an all-candidates meeting for the Nanaimo riding Tuesday night.

Sponsored by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the News Bulletin, the event, at the Coast Bastion Inn, featured five candidates running for MLA for Nanaimo: Leonard Krog, NDP (incumbent); Ian Gartshore, Green Party; Walter Anderson, B.C. Liberals; Bryce Crigger, B.C. Conservatives; and Brunie Brunie, independent.

Questions were submitted in writing to a panel of scrutineers prior to moderator Dan Hurley, communications director for Vancouver Island University, posing them to candidates.

Gartshore said his platform for increasing renewable energy will also lead to more jobs for British Columbians, particularly for people on the South Coast as much of the technology is tied to wind, tidal and solar power.

“We could have jobs and income right here,” Gartshore said.

He also committed to outlawing fracking, a process used to extract natural gas, if elected.

Crigger responded by using Spain as an example of a country that invested heavily in renewable energy – solar power – only to see its economy collapse and revert to burning coal.

Gartshore then noted that Spain is part of the debt crisis plaguing Europe and said B.C. could do better than that.

More training and jobs for young people are needed to stop the exodus of workers to other provinces, said Crigger, pointing to the Career and Technical Centre, a joint program between Vancouver Island University and Nanaimo school district that allows high school students to earn trades certification prior to graduating from high school.

“We have to make sure they don’t have greener pastures to leave for,” Crigger said. “We need to make B.C. the greenest pasture in Canada.”

Brunie highlighted food security and growing produce locally as a way to establish more jobs in the central Island.

The carbon tax was also identified as a hindrance to job creation.

Gartshore said the tax should be reinvested in renwable energy technology, while Crigger said the Conservatives would abolish the it.

Krog, who described it as nothing more than a gas tax, said it should be extended to all facets of oil and gas development, including liquified natural gas. He said the NDP would abolish the carbon trust, an organization that transfers carbon credit from polluters to non-polluters, and give carbon tax money back to public institutions like schools and hospitals.

“This was poor public policy,” Krog said of the current carbon tax.

As for the Northern Gateway pipeline, proposed to carry oil from Alberta to the port at Kitimat, Anderson reiterated Premier Christy Clark’s five conditions for support from a Liberal government, while Krog repeated his party’s opposition to the project.

Anderson said the Liberals are working on returing to a balanced budget with the goal of a debt-free province. Crigger noted a balanced budget puts more money into pockets of taxpayers through a reduction in tax for spending and debt payment.

Krog said the NDP would run a budget deficit if it meant providing needed services to British  Columbians.

“We cannot abandon people in this province,” Krog said.

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