Four out of five of the candidates for West Vancouver-Sky to Sky took to the stage at the Kay Meek Theatre in West Vancouver on Sunday, April 28 to fight for the votes of the 120 people who turned out to see what they were being offered in the first regional all-candidates debate on the 2013 provincial election.
BC Liberal Jordan Sturdy, New Democrat Ana Santos, Ian McLeod of the BC Conservative Party and Richard Warrington with the Green Party of BC answered audience questions on a wide range of topics.
The fifth hopeful, independent Jon Johnson, did not participate in the debate.
In their brief introductions, each candidate set out who they are and what they stand for.
Three-term mayor of Pemberton Sturdy emphasized his experience in public life, both as mayor and as a director of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, and called himself a representative who gets things done: "I've lived and worked and played from one end of the riding to the other, I was married there, raised some kids there and built a business there. I know it intimately, and I know I can represent it well."
McLeod, who has run for the BC Conservative three times, described himself as an alternative "to both leftwing parties, the NDP and the Liberals" and said he "would not be beholden to special interests" nor to his own party, stating the wishes of his constituents would come first in the Victoria legislature if he was chosen.
The NDP's Santos went straight into her view that education; apprenticeships and jobs training were the most important way to invest in the community, explaining that she had a public and private education background. She noted that B.C. had the greatest income inequality and second worst child poverty in Canada. She criticized the incumbent BC Liberals for creating in the last decade "an economy of people without jobs and jobs without people."
Warrington, a teacher, talked more about his life. He said he became involved in the Green Party because he felt he wanted to see changes and was unhappy the party didn't have a candidate in the riding. He emphasized his lack of political experience but saw it as a positive thing: "My name is Richard Warrington and I became a politician about a week ago."
Environmental issues like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and NDP leader Adrian Dix's reversal of his position on shipping oil through the Port of Vancouver, the proposed liquid natural gas plant for Howe Sound in the District of Squamish, independent power projects, fracking and salmon farms were important topics.
The economy and fiscal responsibility wasn't far behind: who could best run the B.C. economy, would the parties open up the full costs of the Sea to Sky Highway and the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as questions about the provincial debt, natural resources, employment and business, youth engagement and social inequality in the corridor were also tackled.
Both Sturdy and Santos, as candidates for the parties that have traditionally led the province, had to respond to criticisms, Sturdy to anger over the Liberal decisions on the environment and debt, Santos on perceived flip-flopping by Dix and the NDP's record from the 1990s.
The second all-candidates meeting took place in Pemberton on May 1, but three others remain. The next takes place today in Squamish, May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Eagle Eye Theatre at Howe Sound Secondary School. This is followed by a candidates' meeting at Whistler Library at 7 p.m. on May 6. The final one is in Lions Bay on May 9.