Boundary-Similkameen’s candidates had their first forum with the cooperation of the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce. Clockwise from top-left, BC NDP candidate Roly Russell, BC LIberal Petra Veintimilla, and BC Conservative Darryl Seres. (Brennan Phillips - Black Press)

B.C. Votes: Boundary-Similkameen candidates talk economy, climate, and ICBC

All three candidates answered questions during the virtual forum on Oct. 9.

Candidates running in the Boundary-Similkameen were invited to a virtual forum hosted by the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (BCRCC) on Oct. 9.

This was the first opportunity for the candidates — NDP candidate Roly Russell, BC Liberal Petra Veintimilla, and Conservative Party of BC Darryl Seres — to share their views and answer questions from their potential constituents.

Arlyn Grieg, who had been announced as an official candidate by Elections BC along with Seres on Oct. 3, did not attend. Earlier on Oct. 9, the Wexit BC party Facebook page announced the party was retracting its endorsement of Grieg.

Henrik Van Wyk, the director of the BCRCC, hosted and moderated the event, although his timer was rarely needed.

One theme that was echoed throughout the night was how the candidates had common ground with each other.

On the issues, there was more agreement than disagreement about the goals and the issues themselves; instead, the candidates diverged largely on the means of achieving those goals.

Veintimilla and Russell continually went head to head over the issues and their parties’ respective histories, while Seres offered alternatives and critiques of both the BC Liberals and NDP.

In their opening statements, both Russell and Veintimilla championed a small business and family focus for the riding, and Seres pointed to the non-profit sector as a role-model for the government.

One of the first questions was regarding what single issue the candidates would focus on if elected, a question that the candidates disagreed with.

“As everyone sitting here knows, this riding is very diverse. If you’ve seen one rural community, you’ve seen one rural community,” said Veintimilla. “We all have different issues, we all have different priorities.”

“I’ll give you the same answer that you probably won’t like, but I don’t think in rural B.C. that we have that luxury of being single-issue candidates,” said Russell.

“It has to be building community,” said Seres. “We’ve lost the sense of personal community and bring that back. There are a lot more important issues, but if it had to be one, it would be building a strong sense of community.”

READ MORE: B.C. Votes: Penticton candidates talk COVID, crime and economy

One of the topics of the largest difference between the candidates was on the subject of growth and taxes and how they can best be used for rural communities.

“I think the growth will come from the small business owners, and we can support them by eliminating the PST for a year and getting rid of the small business tax,” said Veintimilla. “We need taxation, it’s about taxing the right things, it’s about spending the money we do take in wisely, and spending it where it needs to be spent. “

“Our party looks at things a little differently,” said Seres. “We believe that the easiest and most practical way to ease people’s tax burden is to suspend the carbon tax for the duration of the pandemic.”

“I like agreeing with my opponents here, and I certainly agree with Petra that it’s a question of where that taxation goes and how we account for the spending,” said Russell. “So the notion of eliminating the PST, I find that to be a short-sighted decision. “

Seres came out strongly on how the NDP and BC Liberals have handled ICBC in his response to a question on what to do with the crown corporation.

“We absolutely have to open up insurance to the private sector,” said Seres. “Let’s keep ICBC, help it do the best it can, but competition makes everyone better.”

“That sounds good, but in 2018, we had an emergency operation centre here that was active for weeks and weeks on end,” said Russell, referring to the 2018 flooding in Grand Forks. “I led that process and we were exhausted. It sounds great to say that competition is going to do us all good, but we certainly have seen a different outcome in our community.”

“We know that things are broken. There’s no problem admitting that things were broken, and maybe they were broken in the past, but now we see that we need to move and move quickly to fix the issues,” said Veintimilla. “So we do plan to open up the market for competition, and in tandem with ICBC offer drivers a choice.”

All three candidates supported going towards a greener economy, to differing degrees. Russell supported further electric vehicles and forest stewardship, Seres called for better exporting of liquid natural gas to the rest of the world to counter coal usage, and Petra called for additional support for communities that rely on natural resources as the province transitions to a green economy.

The final question of the night concerned a contentious issue for the western half of the riding; the proposed national park. Candidates were asked to provide a clear yes or no for support on the park, and then their rationale and what role they believed the province should play.

“I have been involved in conversations surrounding the proposed national park for many years, ” said Veintimilla.

“I am supportive of the concept, I believe that positives outweigh the negatives. All of that being said, I believe the role of an MLA is to be the voice of the community. I don’t believe the role of the MLA is to push a personal agenda in any way, shape or form.”

Russell stated, “I am in support of that park, but as Petra says, it’s not our job as elected officials to push our own agendas. I think the key piece to move forward on is making sure the community has a say in how the process unfolds.”

Seres responded, “I’m campaigning on a referendum for the people of our riding to decide this issue. For myself, I am genuinely undecided at this point. But again, I would be one vote, we need a referendum, yes or no.”

In their closing statements, all three candidates echoed one sentiment – make sure your voice is heard, and vote.

The provincial election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 24.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

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

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is forecasted in the Okanagan Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (File photo)
With snow expected, Penticton reminds locals of road clearing procedures

It can take the city up to 48 hours to clear some locations

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Cheryl McCafferty hands a driver their breakfast during the United Way’s 2020 Drive Thru Breakfast. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
United Way Drive Thru raises $20K so far

Donations still coming in for the local charity

Brian Shiosaki helps his neighbours by shoveling the sidewalk near his home in Rutland during a large snowfall in Kelowna Tuesday. (Carli Berry/Capital News)
Special weather statement in effect for Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan could see up to 15 centimeters of snow on Friday

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. Government photo)
Kelowna Francophone school COVID-19 outbreak climbs to 5, mixture of students and staff

Health officer says situation evolving, spoke to possible closure, changes to provincial guidelines

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

RCMP detachments across B.C. are now flying Pride flags. (Submitted photo)
Man who spent 4 days injured on floor rescued by Kamloops Mountie

The man is recovering in hospital after being rescued by a police officer conducting a well-being check

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

A fundraiser for the Falkland Community Church is underway. (Photo submitted)
COVID-19 leaves Falkland Church in a lurch

Annual event/major fundraiser cancelled for first time in 34 years

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

Five people with alleged ties to the Red Scorpion Gang are facing numerous charges. (Kelowna RCMP)
5 men linked to Red Scorpion gang charged with gun, drug offences in Kelowna

Police seized a machine gun as well as 5.5 kilograms of fentanyl and carfentanil

Most Read