Today’s Poll

Nelson-Creston candidates feel the heat during Chamber of Commerce Forum

Bruce Fuhr
By Bruce Fuhr
April 26th, 2017

Up until now, the run-up to the BC Provincial Election has been a little on the stale side in the southern interior riding of Nelson-Creston as candidates Michelle Mungall of the NDP, Tanya Wall of the BC Liberal Party, Green Party Kim Charlesworth and Independents, Tom Prior and Jesse O’Leary have stayed away from any mudslinging, instead focusing on pounding the pavement looking for votes throughout the riding.

However, more than 300 voters had a chance to see the five candidates vying for Nelson-Creston under the spotlights answering questions from moderator Glenn Hicks during the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce All Candidate Forum Tuesday at the Prestige Lakeside Resort.

The evening was billed as a living room chat with candidates fielding questions from Hicks, a former radio news director who has led this style of forum during past provincial, federal and municipal elections.

“We’re being robbed,” said Prior who, in trading jabs with moderator Hicks most of the night, provided comic relief for the audience with his witty comments.

Prior, pushing the “value-added” card throughout most of the forum which he feels will stimulate the local economy, blamed the two major parties in the election, Liberals and NDP, for forgetting the people of Nelson-Creston.

“Affordability,” said Charlesworth when asked about a major issue facing the taxpayers in Nelson-Creston.

“We’re being shut out here.”

Incumbent, Mungall said she is proud of her time serving people in Nelson-Creston after spending the past four years going toe-to-toe with the Liberals in Victoria on issues such as keeping Jumbo wild and the rights of average person in the province.

Liberal candidate, Tanya Wall, with a background in municipal government, said if elected she would represent the people of the riding and not be held hostage by her Liberal party.

Kaslo resident O’Leary, frustrated by the mainstream parties, felt running as an independent is a way to make a difference in this election.

Throughout the evening, Hicks kept all the candidates on task, discussing topics ranging from proportional representation, healthcare, education, the legalization of marijuana issue recently proposed by the Federal Liberal government as well as hammering both Mungall and Wall later in the evening over the acceptance by both the NDP and Liberals of big ticket donations from union and business.

“We plan to eliminate the MSP premiums,” said Mungall when asked about healthcare issue.

“(MSP) is a “flat tax” and it’s just not fair.”

“Under our government, the rich are going to pay their fair share which they are not doing under the Liberals,” she added.

“I disagree with Michelle,” said Wall. “If a business owner is paying the MSP for its employees, then they’re paying their fair share.”

O’Leary suggested a way to get healthcare spending in line is to push for better “dietary choices” by individuals and devise programs to make positive incentives to help the public stay away from sugary food products.

Charlesworth said the Greens are proposing community health centers to deal with educating the public.

“I don’t think we’re teaching enough and that what we’re going to do once we get our community health center model up and running,’’ she said.

BC voters go to the polls Tuesday, May 9.

The Nelson Daily will profile the five Nelson-Creston candidates in the days leading up to the May 9 vote.

Wednesday, voters have a chance to see the three provincial party leaders — Liberal Christy Clark, John Horgan of the NDP and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver — debate the major issues on Global BC TV Wednesday (April 26) from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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