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One incumbent, two hopefuls contend for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky

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By Andrew Mitchell, Claire Piech and Jesse Ferreras

Less than one week from now the 2009 Provincial General Election will all be over but for the screaming, which never really stops anyway.

The voters of West Vancouver-Sea to Sky will have chosen their Member of the Legislative Assembly, and the people of B.C. will have chosen their Premier and whether to ditch the first-past-the-post electoral system in favour of proportional representation through the Single Transferable Vote referendum.

It's an historic election for a lot of reasons. In 2005 Premier Gordon Campbell became the first Premier since William (Bill) Richards Bennett in 1979 to be re-elected to office for a second full term. He is also the first Premier since Bennett to hold those two consecutive terms from start to finish, following a string of designations, resignations and the demise of the Social Credit party under Bennett's successor, Bill Vander Zalm. No Premier has served three consecutive terms, start to finish, since W.A.C. Bennett ruled supreme from 1952 to 1972.

It's been a feisty campaign from all sides, with both the Liberals and NDP running against each other's records. The B.C. Liberal Party is once again running against the NDP of 2001 with the motto "Keep B.C. Strong," suggesting that voting NDP would ultimately weaken the province.

The NDP is running against the Liberal Party of the last eight years with the slogan "Take Back Your B.C.," thereby suggesting all kinds of negative things about the Liberals.

The Green Party, which has never won a seat, is pushing its "A Better Plan for British Columbia" slogan, running against both parties while attempting to elevate itself above the fray.

It's a unique situation. No dominant issue has captured the voters, parties or even the media, as issues take a backseat to party politics. People are being asked to vote based on what the parties are rather than what they promise to do.

To help West Vancouver and Sea to Sky voters make the best decision on May 12, Pique interviewed all three candidates for the riding in a Q&A format, letting them tell you in their own words where they stand on the issues.

We also suggest visiting the party websites for yourself, to read the party platforms, to think about your decision carefully, and, most important, to get out and vote.

Joan McIntyre

Party: B.C. Liberal Party

Pets: None

Occupation when not running for/serving in public office: Former principal of Mustel Research Group

Who did you vote for as the Greatest Canadian: Fathers of Confederation

Favourite Vancouver Canuck: Trevor Linden

Favourite thing about campaigning: It's the people, for sure

Least favourite thing about campaigning: Missing the hockey games, and then I think maybe lack of sleep.

Why people should vote for you in 10 words or less: I hope that they'll vote for the B.C. Liberal plan to keep the economy strong.

Pique: What are the major issues you would like to focus on in your campaign? And what issues are the public bringing to your attention?

JM: The major issues for sure are the economy and jobs, jobs, jobs. It's what people are talking about, that's what they're preoccupied with. Small business owners are all concerned about the economy and holding their businesses afloat and keeping employees, so I think it's all about job creation and keeping the economy going strong, and getting out of this downturn and coming out stronger on the other side.

Pique: What is your personal view on the STV system put forward by the Citizen's Assembly?

JM: I have concerns about the large size, combining the ridings. In our case, combining what are called the four North Shore ridings, it'd be well over 200,000 people from the 48,000 that our riding is today, from Deep Cove to D'Arcy. I think a riding that size diminishes the voice of the smaller communities, and those are the communities that I have been representing - because of course the population base would be concentrated in the North Vancouver areas. I also have a concern about the multi-member representation and how those duties will all play out. How that would play out with four members of one large riding... and even the format and how those four members are elected, the procedures of how those four are selected.

Pique: The economic crisis is global in scope, but what are some of the things we can do provincially to mitigate the impact ?

JM: I think that the B.C. Liberals' investment, the $14 billion investment in infrastructure over the next three years, is a huge step, because we can advertise the capital spending, we can spend money on capital and infrastructure (which is) different from operating deficit. We can invest in infrastructure, which we've been doing, and I think that that will keep workers working, and keep money circulating in the economy. We have a need to build infrastructure, roads, bridges, hospitals, seismic upgrades. The thing I like to say specifically for the Sea to Sky corridor is that we have the Olympics coming, which most jurisdictions are very envious of right now. There's $3 to $4 million a day that VANOC is pumping into the economy right now. And there's resource roads, there's $598,000 going to some in the area like the Hurley, and also trails, grants we've given for trails and infrastructure.

Pique: Most parties support the move to deficit spending in light of the crisis, but differ in how that money should be spent. What do you see as priorities for the spending package?

JM: The priorities are clearly health care and education, they comprise about 70 per cent of the provincial budget right now, and health care is... moving up fast on 50 per cent of that. Ninety per cent of the new dollars in our budget in February were allocated to health care. We decided, with great trepidation, to go into what would be comparatively a small deficit position, just under half a billion dollars, to protect the increases that we had already budgeted for health and education. And then we have asked the other ministries, and particularly in areas like administration and travel and consulting contracts and things like that, to look for efficiencies and savings so that we can focus on the importance of the social programs. We've also added money for post-secondary training and apprenticeships. In addition, we're doing what I mentioned in point three, which was we're doing capital infrastructure spending at the same time.

Pique: Many industries in B.C. have taken hits recently - forestry is in decline as an industry and employer, tourism is down between 10 and 20 per cent. How do we rebuild those industries, and in what areas should the province diversify in the future?

JM: We have a plan, it's in our platform, it's in our budget, the throne speech. We address these issues but specifically let me say we believe in the forest industry and the revitalization of the forest industry, although it will look different because of the global downturn in the economy, and the lower demand for our products. One of the things we're doing is expanding the market for wood into Asia, we're seeing some success on that front, doubling and tripling the shipments to China and Korea and places like that. Also the government has a wood-first policy. While we've been greening the building code, we have changed the ability to build higher, to six levels now from four, for wooden structures. (For tourism) there's many jurisdictions all around the world that would love to be hosting the Olympics in February, so I think that will be an enormous boost to tourism. And we've also brought in the Enhanced Drivers Licence (program that) should help traffic back and forth over the border. There's also our Open Skies policy that we've been advocating with the federal government to bring international flights.

Pique: The Olympics will come at a considerable cost, but could deliver considerable benefits over the long term - but to appreciate the benefits in any context we also need to understand the true costs. There has been debate recently about what constitutes an Olympic cost, whether to include the Sea to Sky Highway Upgrades or Canada Line, or the upgrades to the Vancouver Convention Centre because of the timing. How do you define an Olympic cost or Olympic benefit?

JM: It's a difficult question to answer. Our government's commitment... to stage the Games, was the construction of the venues and all those things that we've managed to complete almost two years in advance, and on time, on budget. The other things that you mention, like the Sea to Sky Highway, they have been fully costed. All their costs have been laid out, they've been fully accounted for, and I think the argument is what basket do you put them in.

I think we will debate forever about the definition; there is no real definition. The way I look at it is that the Olympics have been a catalyst for all these other investments, like the safety upgrade on the highway and Canada Line, the convention centre, they're all things that we needed. In fact Sea to Sky Highway was already announced before we got the Games. So these things have been high on the list of infrastructure, and what we've done is we've levered billions, literally billions of federal government investment into these projects.

Pique: Run of River hydro projects have emerged as an issue in this election. How would you resolve conflicts between power companies, the province, and local governments in Sea to Sky?

JM: I think that we have been working very well together on a number of these projects. Let me give you the example that Whistler Blackcomb is making in Fitzsimmons Creek. There is a lovely power project that's going in there that Whistler Blackcomb has invested $30 million in, and they will be able to put their excess power into the grid and the RMOW has been very behind that, mayor and council have been very supportive of that investment. I think that we are working quite well together.

There is ideological opposition to any kind of private sector investment in power generation and it's completely entrenched, they're fear-mongering and twisting facts. I believe that those groups are in fact exaggerating the situation.

We're having successful projects and we're moving forward and we're trying to educate the public about the real facts as we go.

Pique: Local governments throughout the riding are increasing property taxes above inflation this year, and are partially blaming downloading from the province for shifting the tax burden. Is there another solution?

JM: I think that we have had unprecedented co-operation in this province in the last short while among the federal government, provincial government and municipal government. We've had a number of grants that have been supporting... municipal objectives. Our government has been doubling the community grants, we've been returning 100 per cent of traffic fines to municipalities, we've had these Green City grants, there's Towns for Tomorrow and the LocalMotion grants, so there's a whole range of grants that the province has been providing to municipalities. And we've also been the leader in Canada in getting some of the programs like the fuel tax rebate. I agree there's always more work to be done but we're also in an economic downturn. I think that we're all in a situation where we're having to tighten our belts. There's only one taxpayer. We're trying to meet their needs on one level. I think everybody has to lower their expectations until we're out the other side of this.

Pique: Many teachers and parents are opposed to standardized testing in schools. What is your view on standardized testing?

JM: I think the FSA's have an important role in objectively measuring our progress and the successes we're having, and I think the quarrel is how they're used. I think we can quite rightly have a public debate about that. It's the law that those tests are to be administered and the BCTF standing up and counseling teachers not to administer them is not a healthy situation. Right now they're a requirement.

Pique: Whistler just had a daycare close. One of the reasons given is the difficulty in finding staff that meet provincial qualification requirements, as well as daycare funding cuts at the federal level that were then matched at the provincial level. What would you do to save daycare?

JM:  I'm going to have to politely suggest that the cuts at the federal level were not matched at the provincial level. That's incorrect. The federal government pulled approximately $600 million of support out of British Columbia. We had a number of programs that we were working with them on where we each provided a subsidy and everything, but we did not withdraw our funding. Our contributions were not cut back, and we have continued to add to that.

But I also totally appreciate that there are issues, there is a higher demand than there are spaces, and than there are staff to service it. In general this is not just related to our corridor, it's in the province and it's across the country. We have a very big issue on child care, I think it requires the federal government's attention, and I hope that we would work with the federal government to try and deal with these issues.

Not only have we put almost $2 million in major capital grants and minor capital grants, we were on standby to fast-track the applications for staff from other jurisdictions, and we worked very hard for that, (and) we provided a significant financial incentive for people to return to the field of early childhood education and we were discussing... trying to provide a specific incentive for the infant and toddler area as well.

We have provided almost 200 StrongStart Centres across the province. I appreciate that it's not childcare, but it's also another way in which we're supporting parents and youngsters.

Pique: The carbon tax is a complicated and controversial issue for B.C. What are your views about this tax, and plans for it to grow through 2012?

JM: B.C. is the first jurisdiction in North America to put a price on carbon, we've been heralded by environmentalists for having the courage to do it. I think that's one of the reasons why this is such a high-stakes election, a lot of the environmental movement is looking and wanting to make sure that we succeed.

At the same time we're rewarding conservation, we're giving people grants to retrofit homes and grants for energy efficient appliances, things like that. I think the most important thing, and the NDP has been muddying this issue, is we also have a cap and trade system through the Western Climate Initiative that will be introduced in 2012. And the NDP voted against this legislation. They voted against the carbon tax, they voted against cap and trade. Our plan on the carbon tax, as you know, is $10 a tonne going gradually up to $30, the Green Party wants it at $50 tomorrow. We think we have a gradual, moderate plan that is superior to the other options.

Pique: Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know - secret hobby, guilty pleasure, how you like to spend your spare time...

JM: I would say just enjoyment of the outdoors, things like sailing, skiing when I can, but I hardly have any spare time. I work, I'm a full-time MLA, have been a full-time MLA. When I get away I really enjoy the outdoors.

Jim Stephenson

Party: Green Party of B.C.

Pets: Not at present

Occupation when not running for/serving in public office: Computer financial systems consultant

Who did you vote for as the Greatest Canadian: David Suzuki

Favourite Vancouver Canuck: Roberto Luongo

Favourite thing about campaigning: Meeting people

Least favourite thing about campaigning: Fixing broken signs

Pique: What are the major issues you would like to focus on in your campaign? And what issues are the public bringing to your attention?

JS: At a riding-wide level the primary issues are the economy, the environment, and accountability and transparency of government. The residents of the SLRD have now had first-hand experience with the current government's lack of accountability and transparency. When the SLRD board rejected the Ashlu Creek diversion project the Liberals passed the infamous amendments to Bill 30, taking away the district's local right to participate in resource decisions. The residents of West Vancouver experienced similar treatment with the Eagle Ridge Bluffs decision four years ago.

Pique: What is your personal view on the STV system put forward by the Citizen's Assembly?

JS: I support BC STV. The current voting system is a "first-ballot" system. After the first vote, the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner even though much of the time this candidate received less than 50 per cent of the votes. Political parties don't settle for a first-ballot system when they choose their leaders and candidates, they have run-off votes to ensure the winner represents a majority. To avoid having multiple votes, voters rank their choices into first, second, third, etc. The BC STV method asks voters to rank their choices to ensure that election results better reflect the voters' preferences.

Pique: The economic crisis is global in scope, but what are some of the things we can do provincially to mitigate the impact?

JS: We need to do three things to survive the current downturn and bounce back from it: restore confidence, maintain jobs, and protect people. Restoring confidence is a global task and we can do our part. The provincial government can help maintain jobs by undertaking as many capital projects as possible during the recession period. A downturn is a good time to make investments, whether in infrastructure, education, reforestation, or development and implementation of new green technologies. The provincial government can protect people through training and educational opportunities and strengthening the social safety net.

Pique: Most parties support the move to deficit spending in light of the crisis, but differ in how that money should be spent. What do you see as priorities for the spending package?

JS: Even as a Ph.D. economist, I can't predict with any certainty how deep the downturn will be or how long it will last. We need to have a number of well-founded stimulus initiatives ready to go so that we can respond quickly and use the expenditure opportunities to further our long-term objectives, such as greening the economy. As long as the stimulus takes the form of investment instead of current spending we can afford a substantial stimulus. What we can't afford is not having the right amount. Too little and we extend the recession, too much and we risk inflation.

Pique: Many industries in B.C. have taken hits recently - forestry is in decline as an industry and employer, tourism is down between 10 and 20 per cent. How do we rebuild those industries, and in what areas should the province diversify in the future?

JS: Both forestry and winter sports are threatened by climate change. The mountain pine beetle has devastated the interior forest industry and those forests must be replanted to ensure a future industry in those areas. Whistler has done a good job of attracting visitors from different geographical regions over the years, and must continue to do so with an increasing emphasis on the emerging Chinese market. This must be balanced with an emphasis of local visitors from B.C., Washington, and Oregon. The Sea-to-Sky corridor also has the potential to further develop knowledge industries by continuing to attract workers who want to live in a beautiful environment near eco-sports opportunities. Whistler is already an epicentre of sustainability consultants.

Pique: There has been debate recently about what constitutes an Olympic cost, whether to include the Sea to Sky Highway Upgrades or Canada Line, or the upgrades to the Vancouver Convention Centre because of the timing. How do you define an Olympic cost or Olympic benefit?

JS: Olympic costs include 1) costs associated specifically with the Olympics, and 2) cost overruns associated with rushing projects to get them done before the Olympics. Using this principle, the cost of the Sea to Sky Highway would not be included as an Olympic cost. Part of the Canada Line likely would be counted because the costs were higher due to making it a rush project. In the case of the new convention centre building, about half of the costs should be assigned to the Olympics since the costs doubled as a result of starting the project before designs were complete and firm bids could be obtained.

Pique: Run of River hydro projects have emerged as an issue in this election. How would you resolve conflicts between power companies, the province, and local governments in Sea to Sky?

JS: While some diversion projects on small rivers are likely an important part of increasing our supply of green energy, the current government has managed to find a policy which fails to select the best projects, creates excessive private profit at the expense of B.C. Hydro and jeopardizes future public control over the uses of our rivers. A better approach would be to identify, in advance, those rivers with the largest power potential and the least environmental sensitivity. Private companies could then be invited to bid on the development of the project, competing against each other. In contradiction to this model, claims to "water licences" are being auctioned off for small amounts, which give private companies essentially a monopoly right to develop the river to which they hold a claim. While the first term of the leases are for 30 years, the rights to renew may be governed by NAFTA provisions.

Pique: Local governments throughout the riding are increasing property taxes above inflation this year, and are partially blaming downloading from the province for shifting the tax burden. Is there another solution?

JS: Municipalities are caught in the squeeze between the limited taxing authority grudgingly granted by senior governments and the increasing costs of the many services they provide. The solution is to expand the revenue sources available to municipal governments. One possibility is to keep the increasing tax on carbon revenue-neutral by using some of the growing revenues to reduce property taxes.

Pique: Many teachers and parents are opposed to standardized testing in schools. What is your view on standardized testing?

JS: The foundation skills assessment tests are being used to evaluate schools, not to help students. The school evaluations are being used for school selection, not for school improvement. The result is that the discrepancies between schools are reinforced as the schools with greatest challenges lose students and resources.

Pique: Whistler just had a daycare close. One of the reasons given is the difficulty in finding staff that meet provincial qualifications requirements, as well as daycare funding cuts at the federal level that were then matched at the provincial level. What would you do to save daycare?

JS: (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper's policy of granting $100/month for every child instead of supporting daycare facilities was designed to undermine public daycare and the Provincial Liberals have allowed it to succeed in B.C. The long-term solution is to elect more enlightened governments at both the federal and provincial levels. Availability of safe and quality daycare is a necessity in any community with young families. To address a shortage of qualified staff, training must be made available via distance education, and provision should be made for new workers to train while they work.

Pique: The carbon tax is a complicated and controversial issue for B.C. What are your views about this tax, and plans for it to grow through 2012?

JS: A fee for the damage caused by carbon emissions should be imposed. The Liberals deserve credit for their carbon tax which applies to 70 per cent of carbon emissions. However, the taxes they reduced to make it revenue-neutral favour the urban wealthy. Making the carbon tax revenue-neutral within geographic regions and income groups would make it fairer and more acceptable. The timid NDP plan on industrial emitters would only cover 33 per cent of carbon emissions.

Pique: Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know - secret hobby, guilty pleasure, how you like to spend your spare time...

JS: I love to be on the water, whether in my rowboat, kayak, windsurfer, or small sailboat. When the water is frozen on hills, I love to ski.

Juliana Buitenhuis

Party: B.C. NDP

Pets: No, but I live with my little brother

Occupation when not running for/serving in public office: I still work full time, and I also go to school. I work for a non-profit as a Children Who Witness Abuse Counsellor, working with clients aged  three to eightteen that have either been abused or been exposed to violence.

Who did you vote for as the Greatest Canadian: Nellie Mclung, an original feminist, and probably one of the reasons I can even run for MLA as a woman. I also voted for General Romeo Dallaire. I have so much respect for his strength and humility.

Favourite Vancouver Canuck: Past = Trevor Linden. Current = Alex Burrows .

Favourite thing about campaigning: Meeting the people of this constituency. As a candidate I can knock on strangers' doors and talk about my values - if I did that normally I would probably get arrested.

Least favourite thing about campaigning: Trying to fit in work, snowboarding, salsa dancing, yoga, campaigning, and family. Family, if you read this, I still love you, and I will see you on May 13!

Why people should vote for you in 10 words or less: I believe in accountability, positive change and supporting communities.

Pique: What are the major issues you would like to focus on in your campaign? And what issues are the public bringing to your attention?

JB: There are a myriad of issues affecting this diverse constituency. In this area there are numerous approved power projects on local rivers, and we need to make sure these are both necessary and are intensively environmentally assessed, both at the site and downstream. We need to keep our resources public.

Pique: What is your personal view on the STV system put forward by the Citizen's Assembly?

JB: The idea of the citizen's assembly is amazing, and should be a model for decision-making and policy creation. I believe that there needs to be voting reform, but I don't think that a political party should influence voters before a referendum. When elected, the NDP will honour the decision of B.C.'s voters on electoral reform.

Pique: The economic crisis is global in scope, but what are some of the things we can do provincially to mitigate the impact?

JB: I think the Liberals made some decisions that led B.C. to now have the largest deficit in provincial history. To stimulate B.C.'s economy we need to stop selling off our resources at a fraction of the market value and restrict the export of raw logs. When we export raw lumber, we have to buy back the processed material at upwards of a 300 per cent mark-up. The NDP will give small businesses a one-year tax holiday and invest in creating infrastructure that will employ British Columbians and create valuable, export-oriented economy that will benefit future generations.

Pique: Most parties support the move to deficit spending in light of the crisis, but differ in how that money should be spent. What do you see as priorities for the spending package?

JB: The NDP believes in eliminating the deficit within four years. Money needs to be spent to stimulate local economies and maintain jobs in our communities. And, money needs to be spent to catch up with the last eight years of punitive cuts to social services under the Campbell government.

In an economic crisis, more and more families rely on community social services, so it is important that the government funds these programs. British Columbia already has the highest child poverty rate at an atrocious 22 per cent. Also, with daycare running between $900 and $1,200 per child (per month), it is no wonder we have a large and growing population of working poor. People will spend their money in the community if they have money in their pockets. That will stimulate the economy, but this won't happen if they barely have enough to make ends meet.

Pique: Many industries in B.C. have taken hits recently - forestry is in decline as an industry and employer, tourism is down between 10 and 20 per cent. How do we rebuild those industries, and what areas should the province diversify in the future?

JB: The forestry sector needs access to the tools it needs to innovate and diversify. Our Green Bond program will allow them that access. By leveraging matching federal dollars, our Green Bond Technology Fund will allow sectors like the forestry industry access to $200 million to invest in technology. The Green Bond plan will provide the opportunity for British Columbians to invest $10 billion over 10 years in projects and loans that will improve environmental sustainability by creating green jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. These investments in retrofitting and new technology will be targeted at both business and the consumer to increase long-term competitiveness and reduce energy use.  This will increase diversification across the province, across many strategies.

Pique: There has been debate recently about what constitutes an Olympic cost, whether to include the Sea to Sky Highway Upgrades or Canada Line, or the upgrades to the Vancouver Convention Centre because of the timing. How do you define an Olympic cost or Olympic benefit?

JB: There will be a long-term social benefit to Vancouver and Canada with hosting the Olympics - we can look to the Calgary games as an example. Our athletes will benefit from the world-class venues and the exposure that amateur sport will garner with the Games.

However, I am afraid that the social benefit of the Games will be overshadowed by the cost overruns and hidden costs associated with the Olympics under the Liberals' watch.  The Campbell government kept pretending the Games would only cost taxpayers $600 million until the Auditor General reported the true cost is at least $2.5 billion. The ballooning of the security budget is another example of where the Campbell government said one thing, when the reality is quite different.

Pique: Run of River hydro projects have emerged as an issue in this election. How would you resolve conflicts between power companies, the province, and local governments in Sea to Sky?

JB: The source of these conflicts is the Liberal government. In June 2006 the Liberals amended Bill 30 so that municipalities and communities no longer held zoning authority, thus removing the necessity to hold a public forum. The amendment went against the prudence of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and removed the necessity for a public forum to be held. This affects not only the people living in the affected areas, but also the democratic right of every British Columbian.

Our parents and grandparents paid for B.C. Hydro. We need to keep it public. The infrastructure that was once public is being sold off to private, out-of-province companies by the Campbell Liberals. B.C. is already a net exporter of energy, therefore these private run-of-river projects create a surplus that B.C. hydro has promised to buy from these private companies, and likely will have to sell at a below market rate. Also, these private projects have far less environmental assessment then their public counterparts.

Pique: Local governments throughout the riding are increasing property taxes above inflation this year, and are partially blaming downloading from the province for shifting the tax burden. Is there another solution?

JB: The downloading of taxes and services to municipalities started in the 1990s under the federal Liberal government and continued into the 2000s under the Campbell Liberals. It has got to stop. Local governments are already overburdened, with many municipalities and school boards facing huge budget deficits.

The solution is a government that listens to people, that hears the concerns of local governments and school boards instead of forging ahead with its own agenda. We will revise TILMA to give local governments more control. We will give school boards secure, adequate funding so they can have stable budgets. We will also bring openness and accountability to the provincial budgeting process so that all levels of government, and all citizens, know what is going on with their hard-earned tax dollars.

Pique: Many teachers and parents are opposed to standardized testing in schools. What is your view on standardized testing?

JB: The NDP supports on-going evaluation of the education system, so long as it is meaningful. We are committed to working with teachers to find ways to improve the evaluation process.

Standardized testing is important and parents expect to get that information. We would be willing to reconsider if the tests should involve a random sample of students to prevent school rankings.

Pique: Whistler just had a daycare close. One of the reasons given is the difficulty in finding staff that meet provincial qualifications requirements, as well as daycare funding cuts at the federal level that were then matched at the provincial level. What would you do to save daycare?

JB: Firstly, the NDP will work with the federal government to increase funding for provincial daycares. Secondly, the NDP will increase support for our province's social services and will increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour. This will help working families and single-mothers that now can't afford daycare.

Pique: The carbon tax is a complicated and controversial issue for B.C. What are your views about this tax, and plans for it to grow through 2012?

JB: If elected the NDP will eliminate the carbon tax. It is an unfair measure that punishes rural residents and disadvantaged British Columbians. It also is unfair to farmers - the former Solicitor General John van Dongen admitted that in an all-candidates' forum last week; farmers in B.C. last year paid $13 million in carbon tax. Local school boards also get hit with this tax: the school district of Nanaimo paid $200,000, for example.

To offset high greenhouse gas emissions, the NDP will put in place green solutions such as green bonds, which directly fund green infrastructure, such as sustainable transportation options and retrofits for greater efficiencies.

Pique: Please tell us something about yourself that people may not know - secret hobby, guilty pleasure, how you like to spend your spare time...

JB: I spend pretty much all of my free time in the winters riding on Whistler and Blackcomb, and at night, from time to time, I love shaking it up at Garf's and the Beagle. I am dedicated to serving the community, and work as a counsellor for children and youth exposed to abuse at a not-for-profit on the North Shore, but I also know the importance of balance. Currently I work full time, am in school, and I am running a campaign, so to stay sane I reserve time for "self-care," whether that be yoga, meditation, a hot DJ set or live band. Self-care is key. I once DJ'ed at a party in Panama City - most people don't know that. And no matter who you vote for, please vote, so that everyone counts.