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Candid Candidates

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


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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.