Six candidates, vying to represent the riding of Stikine in the upcoming British Columbia election, took the stage at Della Herman Theatre Wednesday night to face questions from local media and residents.
The candidates heard several questions about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and the natural gas pipelines proposed for the region.
The loudest applause was reserved for candidates expressing reservation for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and proposed natural gas pipelines, including Donaldson, Roger Benham of the Green Party, Rod Taylor of the Christian Heritage Party and Jessie O’Leary, an independent candidate.
B.C. Conservative candidate didn’t commit to the pipeline, preferring to wait for the joint review panel’s decision, but said it was inevitable tar sand oil would make their way to B.C.’s west coast.
“The pipeline is a good idea because it’s the safest way to move the oil,” he said.
The audience did take exception to Liberal candidate Sharon Hartwell’s repeated resistance to taking a position for or against the Northern Gateway pipeline.
The exchange of the night came when Liberal candidate Sharon Hartwell suggested incumbent NDP candidate Doug Donaldson had not stood up in the legislature to represent the interests of Stikine.
“Yes, I’ve advocated for the Stikine,” Donaldson replied, listing off a series of issues for which he stood in the legislature.
A question about jobs and job-training also generated discussion among the candidates.
O’Leary suggested a greater focus on value-added products would generate jobs, while Donaldson said he key was to open up more spaces in trades schools to allow youth to train for local job opportunities.
B.C. Conservative candidate, Jonathan Dieleman argued the key to drawing young workers into skilled-trades training was to make sure jobs were available.
“People need to have jobs available, otherwise their training is useless,” Dieleman said.
“People don’t complete their schooling because they don’t have jobs to go to,” she said.
Taylor pointed to agriculture as an oft-forgotten source of jobs.
“We could do a lot more to establish organic food production, there’s an opportunity we shouldn’t miss,” he said.
For more on the debate see the May 8, 2013 issue of The Interior News.