Issues ranging from duties on softwood lumber to health care and mill closures were discussed at a Nechako Lakes all candidates forum in Houston last night.
NDP Candidate Anne Marie Sam blamed Liberal leader Christy Clark for not heading to Washington to deal with the softwood lumber dispute head-on.
Sam says the NDP is committed to investing in forest products to get more value out of raw logs.
“And so there’s less exports going out under the Christy Clark government,” says Sam.
Meanwhile, Incumbent Liberal Candidate John Rustad says the NDP has been cozy with the Steelworkers Union. Rustad says the union has stood on the stage with Donald Trump bashing the Canadian Lumber industry.
“You have to be able to stand-up and stand on your principals to make sure we get a good deal for BC,” says Rustad.
Green Party Candidate Douglas Gook says we need to push for value-added silviculture systems.
“The kind of short rotation, industrial fibre mining that is going on is showing to the impacts of mills shutting down and having totally devastated ecosystems,” says Gook.
The audience shifted the conversation to logs being shipped to other mills outside of Houston’s timber supply area. All the candidates generally agreed that it’s better to see logs milled in the community.
John Rustad questioned whether business decisions should be restricted by the government.
Anne Marie Sam meanwhile said that the government and community should have been involved in decisions like the mill closure in Houston.
The other two candidates running for Nechako-Lakes are Libertarian John Rempel and Independent Al Trampuh.
Rempel is committed to axing the carbon tax to make life more affordable for residents. He says it would solve problems with health care and other costs.
“We’re willing to try new things and to think outside of the box instead of doing the same old thing that hasn’t been working for British Columbians,” says Rempel.
And Independent Candidate Al Trampuh has a different take on how to represent residents.
“I can actually represent the people here and measure the representation. So I would be directly linking 300 people I’m advocating for – so the population can be represented in the area.”
The provincial election will be held on May 9th.