Grade 10 social studies students at Dover Bay Secondary School watch a Zoom debate Thursday involving the three provincial election candidates from the Nanaimo riding. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Grade 10 social studies students at Dover Bay Secondary School watch a Zoom debate Thursday involving the three provincial election candidates from the Nanaimo riding. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo candidates debate issues ahead of student vote

Candidates from B.C. Liberals, NDP and Green Party participated in Zoom debate Oct. 15

High school students aren’t old enough to vote in this month’s election, but they showed they’re interested in issues facing British Columbians of all ages.

Dover Bay Secondary School hosted a Zoom debate Thursday with the three candidates from the Nanaimo riding: Kathleen Jones of the B.C. Liberals, Sheila Malcolmson of the NDP and Lia Versaevel of the Greens.

The candidates answered questions put forward by Dover Bay students, debating issues such as climate change, police reform and more.

All three women said they and their parties subscribe to the science of human-caused climate change and have ideas about what actions B.C. should take.

Jones said her generation is at fault and said her party wants B.C. to be a global climate leader. She said the B.C. Liberals would promote renewable energy and support investments there, and want to increase electric cars and e-bikes while reducing transport trucks. She said the party has a strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions and said changes to building codes can help maximize energy efficiency.

Versaevel said New Democrats have touted themselves as environmentalists while continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry and suggested the Green Party would do things differently.

“We hold them accountable and we need more MLAs from the Greens in the legislature in order to hold that responsibility front of mind,” Versaevel said.

Malcolmson rebutted, saying that liquefied natural gas development is factored into emissions reductions that the NDP worked on in co-operation with the Green Party.

“If LNG can’t stay under the ceiling of greenhouse gas emissions, it can’t go ahead,” Malcolmson said. “The Greens did not use their influence to stop LNG. They chose not to in the legislature. So we’re in this together.”

She said as well as reducing emissions, the NDP has committed to “training and re-tooling” workers for a new energy economy. She said the party recognizes the high-tech opportunities ahead, but also the responsibility in a climate crisis.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo candidates contrast priorities at live-streamed debate

READ ALSO: B.C. leaders tested in the only TV election debate of 2020

Asked about calls for police reform, the candidates all mentioned that action is needed. Versaevel, who has experience working in corrections and law enforcement, said she knows about policing and said what’s missing is “trauma-informed practice.” She said police need to be encouraged to take advanced training and must be responsible for their actions and held to high standards.

“We know there is a great deal of power in that role and we need to make sure that it is taken very responsibly,” she said.

Malcolmson noted that the NDP government initiated a review of the 45-year-old Police Act, involving all parties, and promised the Multiculturalism Act would be similarly revisited under an NDP government.

“I’m learning every day from the amazing, activist, articulate young people in particular, with lived experience of systemic racism that are speaking out in such a powerful way and really are changing the continental conversation,” Malcolmson said.

Jones said the B.C. Liberals would have diversity commitments to hiring within the public service, and would favour anti-racism and cultural diversity courses. She promised provincewide standards to eliminate arbitrary, racist police profiling.

“We need to have British Columbia as a place of opportunity and being free from racist policies,” she said.

Some of the other topics debated including homelessness, addiction and mental health response and tax policy.

Dover Bay teacher Alistair King moderated the debate, which Grade 10 social studies students watched live via Zoom. The call was recorded so that all students would be able to watch.

King said students submitted about 50 questions to the candidates.

“The breadth of questions were phenomenal and I think students generally are pretty savvy with what’s going on in their communities…” he said. “Some of the kids that are going to be watching this video are going to be voting at the end of next year. We’d have to believe that their vote is important and educated.”

The school will hold a mock student vote on Thursday, Oct. 22. Dover Bay’s chief electoral officer Gillian Holmes said she thinks student interest in provincial politics has grown as they’ve seen, for example, how government policies have impacted education during the pandemic.

“The decisions the government is making are affecting us more than ever and so it’s really important to take an active role in learning about this and educating ourselves,” the Grade 12 student said. “When opportunities like a student election come up, I think it’s a really good idea for students to take part in that and learn about that and to take their own steps to do their own research so that they can have an idea of what’s going on the world.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man was arrested at a Nanaimo convenience store last week for challenging customers to fights. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Shadow boxing’ Nanaimo man arrested after challenging convenience store customers to fights

Man spends night in a cell at Nanaimo RCMP detachment, released without charges

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party’s climate action platform at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. Greens say minority government can best address ‘overlapping crises’

Furstenau talks to the News Bulletin about coalitions, old-growth forests and ferries

Two men were stranded on Snake Island after their small boat was blown away by strong winds Wednesday. (News Bulletin file photo)
Boat blows away, stranding fishermen on Snake Island in the strait near Nanaimo

Marine search and rescue team picked up men on windy afternoon Wednesday

Surveillance image of a suspect in a break-and-enter in Nanoose Bay on Oct. 20. (Submitted photo)
Suspect in Nanoose Bay uses garage door opener to get into home, takes keys, steals truck

Oceanside RCMP ask for public’s help to try to identify suspect

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Candidates in the Nanaimo riding include Kathleen Jones, B.C. Liberal Party, top left; Sheila Malcolmson, NDP; Lia Versaevel, Green Party. (Photos submitted/News Bulletin photo/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Parksville-Qualicum candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding include Chris Istace, B.C. Green Party, top left; Duck Paterson, B.C. Liberals; and Doug Routley, NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates

Provincial election candidates discuss their priorities in their own words

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a woman who allegedly threw hot coffee on a McDonald’s employee. (News Bulletin photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP still looking for woman who threw coffee at worker after already receiving refund

Police asking for information in investigation that could lead to assault charges

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for parts of Vancouver Island for Thursday and Friday.(File photo)
Snowfall expected in parts of Vancouver Island this week

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall advisory for north, east and inland Vancouver Island

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Most Read