Skeena-Bulkley Valley 2019 federal election candidates (left to right, top to bottom): Taylor Bachrach (NDP), Claire Rattée (Conservative), Dave Birdi (Liberal), Mike Sawyer (Green), Rod Taylor (Christian Heritage), Jody Craven (People’s Party), Danny Nunes (Independent), Merv Ritchie (Independent).

In their own words: The candidates weigh in on the economy

Economy is always top of mind with voters

The economy is perennially top of mind with voters in Skeena-Bulkley Valley and across Canada. The Interior News’ Black Press colleagues in Prince Rupert reached out to each of the local candidates running in the federal election to weigh in on this important issue.

The question was phrased specifically to Prince Rupert, but their answers are pertinent to the Northwest in general.

The question: “What economic initiatives are you going to push for Prince Rupert, at the federal level, to help stimulate our local economy and create job growth?”

Each candidate was given the same amount of time and word count for their answers. The answers are unedited and presented in the order they were received.

LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: In their own words: What issues would you address in Prince Rupert specifically to tackle climate change?

Danny Nunes

Independent

Danny Nunes, Independent candidate.

Our region has a lot to offer the world at large. Despite the fact it is the size of a small country, we have little in the way of manufacturing and, more often than not watch our resources go overseas to be refined. We need to find solutions which benefit not just one community, but all of them.

There is a demand for green products, including bio fuels, bio plastics, and electric vehicles. We can (literally) return to our roots and grow the materials to make cellulosic ethanol, wood algae and grass. We can also grow hemp, which has multiple possibilities.

Inviting industries to look at our communities as a place to invest might seem like a daunting task. There are small things we overlook every day which big cities do not have. Shorter commutes, safety, even smaller lines at stores.

I would work to bring an electric car manufacturer and see the creation of a modern world right here in this region. We have the resources, we have the available space and we have ports to get our products to market.

Being from Kitimat, we have seen both a movie and a series filmed in our community in the past two years. Filming in BC is a billion dollar industry. Through a combination of our scenic locations, untapped potential, and, of course the BC Tax Credit, we can set the stage to attract other productions. We just need the right spokesman. I feel I fit that role perfectly.

Merv Ritchie

Independent

Merv Ritchie, Independent candidate.

Ottawa is responsible for international trade and our economy is almost entirely dependent on this trade. It is the waterfront, the ILWU and the supportive industries which provide the foundation for the majority of all economic activity. Automation threatens the local economy in this industry. Expansion of International Trade and the development of new local international ventures will offset automation losses.

The second driver of the economy is also international; the tourism industry. This includes Cruises, Guiding Ventures and Ferry Traffic. These industries fall under various different levels of government jurisdiction, Indigenous, Municipal and Provincial. Cooperation at all levels is imperative if we wish to move ventures forward for economic success. Tourism could provide the most stable expanding economy. Visitors to high end Guiding and Sight Seeing Ventures; ie Whale Watching, will include international entrepreneurs and executives looking for a new location to set up business. I intend to ensure when they arrive they will not second guess Prince Rupert as their first choice.

The very first step requires a complete integration of the local and surrounding indigenous Nations into any and all decisions. Lelu Island was divisive and disrespectful; between the non-indigenous, the indigenous and between the Tsimshian people themselves. We must, above all, come together and work cooperatively. To get to this “working together” state I intend to demonstrate a high degree of compassion for every interested position by including every party at the table to create an environment every executive would want to be a part of.

READ MORE: Independent Merv Ritchie on why he is running as independent candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

Rod Taylor

CHP

Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage Party candidate.

As always, jobs and economic growth are central to the interests and concerns of residents in Prince Rupert and every town and village in Skeena-Bulkley Valley. I would consult local businesses and residents about the obstacles to success and work with them to remove the hurdles.

High taxes and government red tape are two big factors that impede the growth and development of new businesses. The Christian Heritage Party would eliminate the personal income tax, replacing it with a Fair Tax—a flat-rate consumer tax on finished goods. This would give working people more money toy to save, spend or invest in new businesses. The Fair Tax would also eliminate taxes on business-to-business purchases of production supplies. The Fair Tax would not apply to purchases of used goods. Taxes would be paid only once, on consumer goods.

I would promote more efficient and reliable passenger rail service, allowing east-west and west-east travel at convenient times every day. Many more people would use rail service if it were operated on a more regular schedule. This would not only reduce highway traffic and help the environment but would employ more people in providing the service, as is common in more densely populated areas. This would also help stimulate our tourism industry.

I would explore the possibility of a rebuilt pulp mill using clean modern technology.

Claire Rattée

Conservative

Claire Rattée, Conservative Party candidate.

Two thirds of Canadians feel that they either can’t pay their bills – or that they have nothing left over after. In fact, almost half of Canadian households report being less than $200 a month away from insolvency.

Under a new Conservative Government we have a positive vision for Canada’s economy, taking into account the unique challenges of our rural communities. We will eliminate $1.5 billion in corporate handouts that don’t create jobs or support economic growth. (For instance $12 million the Trudeau Liberals gave to Loblaws to purchase fridges.) We would cancel the Liberal Carbon Tax that has raised the cost of doing business, repeal their tax increases on small business investments, and reduce federal regulations on small businesses by 25 per cent.

In the past few years Prince Rupert, just like many other communities throughout our region; has felt the devastation of business closures due to the uncertain economic climate the Liberals have created, their payroll tax hikes, and their onerous legislation that targets small business owners.

We will invest in industries that are vital to coastal communities such as Prince Rupert. From rebuilding and enhancing our salmon stocks, to the development of industries like LNG; we will always look for ways to enhance the lives of Canadians and provide meaningful employment opportunities.

As your representative I will work to bring solutions to the unique challenges of living and working in a rural community, and bring our communities’ voice to Ottawa.

Taylor Bachrach

NDP

Taylor Bachrach, NDP candidate.

My commitment as our next MP is to work hard on delivering economic opportunities and jobs here in the Northwest and to do so in our way that is both sustainable and creates strong, vibrant communities.

Prince Rupert has been through tough times, when the closure of the pulp mill and difficulties in the fisheries left many people on the line. It’s vital we do more to ensure that Rupert’s economy remains strong and is diversified enough to sustain future changes in any one industry.

That starts by securing federal resources to support some of the key employers. The success of the Fairview Terminal has greatly benefited the city’s economy. I will work to secure further infrastructure funding to support the port’s operations and plans for future expansion, while reducing disruption on local businesses from increased road and rail traffic.

It’s also important that we look at expanding and diversifying Rupert’s economy. One area with real possibilities is tourism. I would support the development of sustainable jobs in eco-tourism, encourage more cruise ships to visit the city and work with our Alaska to maintain the ferry service that is currently under threat.

If we are to build a successful long-term economy in Rupert we need to attract more skilled people to the city to fill jobs and support small businesses looking to expand. The NDP will invest in 500,000 affordable homes across the country and rental subsidies that will make it more affordable to live and work in Prince Rupert.

Dave Birdi

Liberal

During my recent visit to Prince Rupert, I was able to learn about some of the serious concerns. Top of mind were two issues, boil water advisories consequence of an aging water infrastructure, and increasing the number of permanent local jobs – both of which could be the solution to the other.

By building better water infrastructure, we can bring an increase in engineering and labour jobs needed to maintain the infrastructure. We need to protect our valuable natural resources and as Member of Parliament – I would work with multiple levels of government, construction companies, and engineering companies to build water storage and filtration facilities so we can effectively combat these clean water concerns while creating jobs.

These concerns can be further improved through tackling a third large issue – our logs, which we have been shipping overseas only to buy back the finished products. The natural resources should create locally manufacturing jobs, special custom products, and working with local educational institutions such as UNBC or Caledonia College alongside our prevalent First Nations communities to create artisan quality work and market that to the rest of the world – further increasing the number of jobs and exports coming out of our city.

These examples truly showcase that by using the best of what we have right here in Prince Rupert, we can create more jobs, and use our own resources to the fullest to give back directly to our community.

Mike Sawyer

Green Party

Mike Sawyer, Green Party candidate.

Our most important mission is to wrestle the Climate Crisis beast to the ground and to put us on a path to a more sustainable future. To achieve that goal we are all going to have to work together, supporting our communities while moving forward to solve these unprecedented challenges.

Meeting the Climate Crisis will require immediate and significant disruptions of our current economy. At the core of that shift will be a move away from a carbon-based economy to a future sustainable economy based on a low-carbon, and eventually, a no-carbon economy.

So how does Prince Rupert fit into the future economy? Very well I think.

Re-tooling our economy will require massive investments in energy efficiency upgrades for our existing building stock, renewable energy, serious rethinking of our national and regional transportation infrastructure with high efficiency marine and rail shipping playing an increased role in the future. On top of that our fishing, forestry and mining industries will continue to play an important role and will need to be supported by reforms in public policy to support sustainable industry practices.

You know anyone who offers simple answers to complex questions is most often wrong. So I offer no simple answers. But I am confident that Prince Rupert will have a bright economic future as we transition to a low-carbon economy. But we will all need to put our individual interests’ aside and work alongside our neighbors to see that brighter future. And I will be there beside you…

Jody Craven

People’s Party

The People’s Party of Canada is unique among the major parties to propose a corporate Federal tax reduction to 10 % from the current 15%. Rather than collect higher taxes and then subsidize or even bail out companies at the Government’s whim in a corporate welfare scheme, we believe in making businesses more competitive. According to the latest OECD figures, Canada’s combined federal-provincial corporate income tax rate is the 12th highest amongst the 36 OECD countries. This makes it hard to compete. Lower taxes would encourage both big and small business investment in R&D, innovation, machinery and equipment (like a new fishing trawler or a new restaurant grill), and more efficient production processes which are critical to improvements in productivity and living standards.

The PPC would also like to see the elimination of the Capital Gains tax (again, we are unique among the major parties). Abolishing it would encourage every Canadian to save and invest more and would give our entrepreneurs access to a larger pool of capital. The benefits to our local, regional and federal economies would vastly exceed the loss of government revenues.

Since 2015 Canada has lost both investment and reputation on the international business stage. We need to make Canada a place that is welcoming to business, again. We need a Government that puts Canadians first. It’s time for a change. Vote Jody Craven, PPC.

READ MORE: PPC announces candidate for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: In their own words: What issues would you address in Prince Rupert specifically to tackle climate change?

Based on a web poll we ran online asking our readers what the most important election issue is to them, we crafted three questions to ask the candidates. Based on our third place answer from the web poll, next week’s question will be about pharmacare and medicare.

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