October Op-ed for the Bridge River Lillooet News
Some impressions from the all candidates meeting for this new Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding:
A welcoming drum song performed by Damian George from the Mission Friendship Society opened the meeting in Mission on September 29th. Only one candidate, Liberal Jati Sidhu, looked comfortable and stood with his hands out, palms up to receive. When the song was over, the MC made a disrespectful joke, suggesting that if anybody needed music for their next party they could hire Mr. George. Of the 300-plus in attendance, nobody laughed.
NDP candidate Dennis Adamson was 15 minutes late. His answers were brief and lacked specifics. He said I don’t know so often that the audience began to snicker. He claimed to be doing lots of work against the privatization of water. He did not attend the Abbotsford all candidates meeting.
Green Party candidate Arthur Green was articulate and well prepared. He said the Greens stand for protecting salmon and moving fish farms onto land. His party favours First Nations’ self-government and if elected would call for an immediate inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Independent candidate Scott Wyatt was impressive when outing the flaws of partisan politics and party allegiance, saying he is socially left but fiscally right. He tried to convince the audience that an independent MP in Parliament would be beneficial because then he could represent the community, not the party.
Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu spoke at length about women’s rights, saying he has two daughters and two granddaughters and knows firsthand what it means to respect women. As a farmer and businessman with 35 years in the agricultural sector, he said he walks the walk.
Conservative candidate Brad Vis stood out, literally, because he actually stood up to answer questions. In general, he confidently listed Conservative accomplishments. When asked about the muzzling of scientists, he denied it. Several in the audience yelled out Lies! and Vis shifted the focus to himself as a hard-working individual who would serve the riding.
I posed this question: Lillooet needs help with economic diversification. Also, the roads are notoriously dangerous and every year lives are lost. If elected, what will you do for Lillooet?
Only one candidate chose to respond. Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu said that he had just driven that road (didn’t say which one) so he knows how bad it is. He said he’s aware the closed mill is a problem and bad roads hinder access to markets. He reminded the audience that the Liberals have promised to invest billions in infrastructure and are committed to building roads, bridges, schools and affordable housing. At the Abbotsford meeting Sidhu promised to open a satellite office in Lillooet.
When candidates were asked if they opposed the legalization of marijuana, no one opposed but only Independent candidate Wyatt spoke out publicly in favour. All candidates said they would continue to fund the CBC. All candidates said they agreed with the assertion that global warming is human-caused. Every candidate but Conservative candidate Vis said they stand for repealing the contentious Bill C-51.