Federal hopefuls discuss local, national issues

Other candidates listen while Piotr Majkowski of the NDP answers a question posed by Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce president Milt Kruger (far right) at Tuesday’s candidates meeting. Also in the photo are (left to right) Craig Nobbs (Pirate Party), Carey Poitras (Green) and Mark Warawa (Conservative). Liberal Rebecca Darnell (pictured below) also took part in the meeting.

 

Two hundred people gave the five candidates for Langley MP a look and a listen, at Tuesday’s Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The chamber hosted the five candidates, giving them a brief opportunity to talk about themselves and then answer a series of questions posed by president Milt Kruger.

All the candidates had opportunities to meet with potential voters before and after the dinner meeting.

While most of the questions posed  related to business issues, there were a number of chances for candidates to differentiate themselves from each other, and elaborate on party policy.

One came in answers to a question on how best to control costs and improve productivity in the health system.

Liberal Rebecca Darnell said her party does not want a two-tiered system, with some people getting faster treatment by paying for it themselves.

“Transfer payments (from Ottawa) need to be properly managed, and management shouldn’t be top-heavy.”

Darnell noted that in Aldergrove, there are no clinics open on weekends and after 4 p.m. Fridays.

NDP candidate Piotr Majkowski, a Langley Memorial Hospital nurse, said health spending as part of the gross domestic product has increased just four per cent over 30 years.

“We need to strengthen the public system and invest in prevention. The Canada Health Act is a pillar of Canadian identity.”

Craig Nobbs of the Pirate Party questioned why some people working in the health system  are paid more than those in equivalent private sector jobs.

Green Party candidate Carey Poitras said there needs to be more doctors, nurses and beds, and fewer managers in the system.

Conservative Mark Warawa said Liberal government cuts to transfer payments in the late 1990s, to balance the budget, are “still having an effect” on the system. He said his party will balance the budget without touching transfer payments, and boost health spending by six per cent a year.

The candidates were also asked about minority government. Poitras said that all parties need to work together, and MPs need to exercise their independence and become more relevant in Parliament.

Darnell pointed out that the Lester Pearson-led Liberal  minority governments in the 1960s achieved a great deal, including universal health care, a new flag and the Canada Pension Plan.

“Canada need MPs who go to Ottawa to debate and participate. The Liberals can play in the sandbox with others,” she said.

Majkowski said the federal government hasn’t had a long-term focus for quite some time, long before the past seven years of minority governments. He said the NDP was ready to work with the Conservatives, but Stephen Harper wasn’t ready to compromise.

Warawa said that he has tried, as parliamentary secretary to the environment minister, to work with opposition MPs “but they will not — it’s discouraging.”

He said the Liberals and NDP have already said they will vote against the budget when Parliament resumes, so if the Conservatives win a minority of seats, “the government will fall within weeks.”

“If I hold a gun to your head and say ‘work with me or I’ll shoot you,’ is that any way to work with people?” asked Nobbs.

The candidates were asked their views on the Aldergrove border crossing. Darnell said it should be utilized for commercial traffic, and she criticized the Conservative government for making plans to end commercial use of the crossing. She said the government caught MP Warawa unawares “and he was able to scramble and reverse that.”

Nobbs said the U.S. government has no plans for expansion of its facilities there, but if there is expansion on the U.S. side it makes sense to upgrade Canadian facilities.

Poitras said the commercial crossing needs to remain open, and she also called for improvements in the hours of operation and in environmental sustainability, due to long lines of cars waiting to cross the border.

Warawa said he has been working on the issue since he was first elected in 2004. The buildings on the Canadian side need replacement “but they need to be replaced with something that has the capacity to grow.”

Transportation funding was also raised. Majkowski said it is important that the federal government help pay for infrastructure improvements.

“The South Fraser has been forgotten, and we should be at the head of the queue.”

He said the NDP will ensure that municipalities get one cent per litre of federal gas tax revenues.

Poitras saw his bid and raised it. She said the Green Party would ensure that municipalities get five cents per litre from the gas tax.

Nobbs was more skeptical. He said that if the federal government gives away much of its gas tax revenue, “that takes it from other programs. We have to consider that.”

Darnell said Langley is getting very little for the taxes it pays to TransLink, and “taxes need to be dedicated to the communities they come from.”

She spoke against tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann Bridges, saying “if you build it and toll it, they won’t come.”

Warawa said the federal government is giving $30 million towards the cost of the new park and ride lot off Highway 1, and will continue to contribute to transit and infrastructure projects. Ottawa gave $2 million from the gas tax to municipalities in 2008, he said, and continues to give part of that revenue to local governments.

For video statements from each of the five candidates, check this website in coming days.

 

Just Posted

Langley City launches second phase of Nexus plan

Before rapid transit arrives, changes will be needed

Surrey RCMP say missing 57-year-old Aboriginal man last seen in Langley

Police say Antonio Teixeira was last seen in the 5700-block of Langley Bypass on Dec. 6

VIDEO: Cloverdale hockey parents, players rally against mayor’s plan to postpone arena

The future Cloverdale arena is one of many projects set to be delayed in Surrey’s draft budget

Young players skate with Kazakhstan National Team in Langley

World Junior Hockey Championships competitor conducts drills with minor players

Langley woman directs popular gospel concert

Gail Suderman’s Good Noise gospel choir’s first three shows are sold-out.

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Trump to meet with Democrats about border wall, shutdown

US president wants $5 billion for border wall, while Democrats offer up about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Family calls for change after death of B.C. man at St. Paul’s Hospital

Hospital beds for patients with both medical and mental-health issues are ‘very limited’: coroner

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

Most Read