Nelson-Creston election candidates questioned on natural gas extraction, education, cross-border shopping

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  • May. 2, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Nelson-Creston provincial election candidates Sjeng DerkxGreg Garbula and Michelle Mungall answered questions from the public at an April 24 forum:

•Tyson Soroke: Rivers are being polluted as a result of fracking to extract liquid natural gas.

Derkx: “Fracking is a terrible thing that pollutes water.” Concrete lined wells deep into the ground, through aquifers “will leak as sure as the sidewalk between here and your home will crack.” The gas is not for Canadians, but for China. “It’s terrible for us, terrible for taxpayers, terrible for the environment.”

Mungall: The NDP will ensure a public review process to assess health and environmental impacts, and bring the process back from the federal government.

Garbula: Fracking has been done since the 1950s in B.C. Improved technology helps exploit one of the cleanest and economical of fuels. Liquid natural gas is “a great opportunity. We just need to minimize the environmental impact.”

•John Kettle asked for a commitment that the successful candidate will not condone the downloading of provincial responsibilities “on to the backs of local government.”

Mungall: “Absolutely.” The federal government pulled $1.6 billion in funding of housing and now provinces are making cuts. “Local governments have started to pick up on the issue but there are no funds.”

Garbula: “I know this is a big issue. I agree.”

Derkx: “No.” Greens will download more and more services to decentralize government and promote local decision-making. “But it has to come with the funding.”

•Larry Ewashen: How will you be able to serve this riding?

Garbula: “I have abilities to relate and understand the concerns of the people.” He can work with local industries. “I have the abilities and personality to take it on with full fury.”

Derkx: “I don’t give up. I’m passionate. I deeply care about this area and I get along with everybody.”

Mungall: “We all bring passion — you have to have it (to enter public life). You’ve got to love politics and representing people.” She cited efforts she has made to communicate with constituents, including her annual “Bend Your MLA’s Ear” visits to communities in the Nelson-Creston riding.

•Becky Blair: “We are in a crisis in education. What are you going to do?”

Derkx: We need education to be more relevant. Local bargaining is needed. Per student funding should be reconsidered as rural areas are more costly to provide education in. We need more community schools that also offer other services. “Schools should be the centre of our communities.”

Mungall: Bill 22 forced teachers back to work and Liberals forced closure on the debate. “We need to address class size and composition.” The NDP has committed an additional $100 million.

Garbula: Student enrolment is down and funding is affected by it. We need a solid economic base: “With it, everything becomes affordable.”

•Rhonda Barter: Proximity to the U.S. border makes it difficult for Canadian businesses to compete.

Mungall: Tariffs and duties are federal issues.

Garbula: We need to look at creative ways to be more competitive, not just with the U.S., but with neighbouring provinces.

Derkx: This is a terrible problem in Creston and is made worse by “an artificially high” Canadian dollar, which should be at 80 cents U.S., he said. “If you don’t buy locally you are hurting your own community.” More education is needed.

•Alex Ewashen (to Mungall): The NDP promises to fix education, health and social services. How will you pay for the fixes?

Mungall: Corporations must pay their fair share of taxes that is reasonable and practical. A tax increase for the top two per cent of income earners will be instituted. Money in the Innovation Fund will be put toward early childhood learning programs.

 

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