Education, child care and support for special needs students were among the topics covered during an all-candidates meeting, hosted by the Langley Teachers Association on Wednesday night.
Candidates who gathered at the Langley Seniors Resources Centre to make their case to voters included Green Kevin Eastwood (Abbotsford West), NDP Gail Chaddock-Costello (Langley), Conservative Justin Greenwood (Langley), Libertarian Rob Pobran (Langley), Libertarian Alex Joehl (Langley), and Green Bill Masse (Langley East).
Incumbent Liberal MLAs Rich Coleman and Mary Polak did not attend.
Kwantlen First Nation member Brandon Gabriel opened the meeting by stating that he was not going to play traditional Kwantlen songs in protest of the candidates who didn’t attend the meeting, and who have “not conducted themselves in an honourable way on Kwantlen territory.”
During the meeting, candidates fielded questions about childcare, education and support for students with special needs or mental health issues. They also offered their stance on corporate donations to political parties, and the controversial Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion.
Sharon Gregson from the Coalition of Childcare advocates of B.C. told the candidates there is “a childcare crisis in every community across B.C.”
She added that childcare fees have increased every year and that those who work in childcare earn “poverty wages.”
Gregson said the coalition’s plan for $10 a day childcare has been endorsed by many sectors and individuals across the province.
Then she asked what will the candidates and their parties will do to implement the $10 a day childcare plan?
Chaddock-Costello said the NDP backs the $10 a day plan.
“We support it, and we’re happy to see it finally happening,” she said.
Greenwood said the NDP is using $10 a day childcare as a “dangled carrot of bringing you towards their vote.”
One of the issues Joehl has with the plan is that it “talks about tax dollars being returned to the program by these parents who are going to return to work.
“It begs the question: if this person is returning to the workforce, are they or are they not displacing somebody else from a position?
“The numbers don’t add up. The real Libertarian idea is, ‘Why can’t people afford daycare and why can’t mothers choose to stay home if they would like? These are economic issues more than they are space issues.”
PIPE UP Network member Susan Davidson said she and her group strongly opposes the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion and asked the candidates about their opinion on the proposed pipeline going through the Hope Redwoods natural area.
Masse said the Green Party is clear in its opposition of the pipeline, adding that the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Joehl said a key issues for him and his part is the expropriation of land. “It’s an issue a Libertarian can get behind: We are very on the side of property rights. If a private company like Kinder Morgan can’t negotiate easement rights with the landowners, than they have no business being able to build any pipeline on that land.”
Chaddock-Costello said, “Breaches do happen, and a phrase that I read recently said, ‘If you build it, it will leak.’”
Two more meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, April 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus for the Langley riding, and April 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the west gymnasium at the Langley Events Centre for the Langley East riding.