Few surprises at all-candidates meeting
There were no fireworks or surprises at the all-candidates meeting held in Whistler Saturday, May 5 true to a provincial election generally short on passion.
A crowd of about 30 eventually swelled to around 80 to hear from the four candidates vying to represent this riding: Liberal MLA Ted Nebbeling; the NDPs Barrie MacLeod; Peter Tatroff of the Green Party and the Marijuana Partys Robert Adams.
While Nebbeling stressed his familiarity with Whistler and the need to boost small and medium sized business, MacLeod, a school psychologist who has worked with children and families in the Sea to Sky corridor for a number of years, focused on the need to help the underprivileged including First Nations communities, youth and families under financial stress.
MacLeod said every individual has the right to participate fully in the economy and society, not just those with financial clout, and they need help and funding to do so.
This was a similar tack taken by Tatroff who also stressed the need for an economically diversified economy that is ecologically sustainable in the long term.
Nebbeling used his own success in Whistler as an example of what could be done in this province. He said when he came to Whistler in the late 70s as an immigrant, B.C. was a land of opportunity that supported people who worked hard.
It was, said Nebbeling, a province that celebrated the success of the small business sector. His personal achievements were echoed in the growth of Whistler as a resort. Whistler became an economic engine for the province through the efforts of small businesses, he said.
"But things have changed much." Nebbeling said now, the efforts of small and medium-sized business, which make up 65 per cent of all jobs, are undermined. He believes the Liberals can turn this tide and make British Columbia "the envy of Canada."
The first step, said Nebbeling, will be personal tax reductions within the first 90 days of a Liberal government that will put money back into pockets. This in turn will spark consumer spending and create more tax-paying jobs.
Nebbeling said the new tax-paying jobs will generate the government funds necessary for the health and education sectors.
"Im very aware of the lost opportunities this province has experienced," he said.
MacLeod said he knows the NDP has an uphill fight on its hands and he acknowledged his party has made some mistakes, but he said the NDP has made changes to improve the quality of life.
He pointed out there are new schools in each of the corridor communities and he said the NDP is committed to maintaining small class sizes. He highlighted NDP initiatives to reduce tuition fees, protect drinking water and create new parks.