Candidates for the South Okanagan - West Kootenay riding look to the media table as they wait for their questions at the forum Tuesday at the Lakeside Resort. From left to right, incumbent NDP MP Richard Cannings, Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk, Green candidate Tara Howse, Conservative candidate Helena Konanz, and PPC candidate Sean Taylor. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

South Okanagan candidates face media panel

Candidates in the upcoming federal election spoke at the first major forum of the campaign Tuesday

Federal candidates in the South Okanagan – West Kootenay District fielded questions on topics ranging from Justin Trudeau’s black face incident to the opioid epidemic at the first major forum of the campaign Tuesday at the Lakeside Resort.

The five main candidates – Liberal party’s Connie Denesiuk, incumbent MP, NDP Richard Cannings, Conservative Helena Konanz, Green Party candidate Tara Howse, and the People’s Party of Canada’s Sean Taylor took questions from panel.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates discuss climate change

Specific questions included what Cannings has done specifically for his constituents and Denesiuk’s decision to leave her party leader’s face off her van for this election.

Cannings spoke of his record in parliament as a reason for people to re-elect him, from getting three private member’s bills passed, to bringing money into the riding to support Grand Forks after the flooding in 2018. He did stumble when asked to name a singular act supporting Penticton, finally settling on efforts inspired by and supporting Structurlam Mass Timber Corporation.

The Green Party candidate was the only one of the five to recognize that the forum was taking place on the traditional land of the Syilx people, and through the night focused her responses on building plans based on people’s needs first. Tara Howse delivered her answers in quick, to-the-point statements.

Liberal Denesiuk was proud to support what her party had done over the last four years. She spoke of her own efforts to get established and well-known in the riding, part of why she felt comfortable in having only her face on the side of her campaign vehicle, and of what the Liberal party would do if re-elected.

READ MORE: Spotlight on B.C.: Setting the agenda on key election issues

Conservative Konanz, brought up her and her campaign’s personal experience in the riding, and what she says that they have been hearing from their door knocking as support for her proposed policies. The Liberals, Green Party, and NDP found common ground in their opposition to the Conservative party, while Konanz repeatedly split her focus from one party to another.

The People’s Party of Canada candidate Taylor, was the most unique in the positions he took. His statements on policy often left the audience speechless, while he came armed with one-liners against the other parties and candidates that drew applause from the audience. One position that stunned those in attendance was when he said “renewables don’t work.” Instead, he threw his support behind nuclear technology as the way forward.

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