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Candidates talk seniors, fish farms

Two candidates in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding survived a marathon all-candidates' meeting last week, while one didn't attend. B.C.

Two candidates in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding survived a marathon all-candidates' meeting last week, while one didn't attend.

B.C. Green Party leader Adriane Carr and New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Nicholas Simons stayed until the end of a three-hour meeting sponsored by the Powell River chapter of the Council of Canadians. B.C. Liberal Party candidate Maureen Clayton was unable to attend. Someone placed a cardboard effigy on her seat, one that has been used in the past to represent retiring Liberal MLA Harold Long at public meetings that he did not attend. This time, the cutout had a blonde wig.

The day following the meeting, Clayton told The Peak she couldn't attend because of personal reasons.

"I'm not an MLA yet, I'm a candidate," she said. "I know I disappointed people, and I really am sorry about that."

The meeting was held in the Evergreen Theatre at the Powell River Recreation Complex on April 27. About 160 people attended the meeting, which was moderated by Arlette Drader, principal of the Malaspina University-College Powell River campus.

The meeting was organized into four topics and representatives from each of those areas led the discussion and asked questions: Dr. Douglas Jubb, a Powell River physician, health care; Paul Howey, president of the Powell River Agricultural Association, food sovereignty; Nelle Maxey, acting chair of the Powell River Community Coalition, privatization; and Janet May, a Powell River forester in training, environment.

In the discussion about health care, both Carr and Simons addressed the issue of better services for seniors.

"The needs of senior citizens have been trampled on by this government," said Simons, who is executive director of child and family services for the Sechelt First Nation. "I have had personal experience of dealing with elders in the community who have had to face the choice of going to North Vancouver to live in a temporary home until another bed comes up closer to home. Just on a basic, human level, I think that a government that abandons its senior citizens is a government that doesn't deserve consideration for another mandate."

Carr pointed out home support was cut by the NDP in 1998. "It still has not been re-established," she said. "Home support allows senior citizens to live in their homes with a set of supportive networks to live a life of dignity at home as long as possible."

When asked about fish farms on the Coast, Carr said the Greens would phase them out over a 10-year period.

"We believe those farms are not sustainable, that there is more value, more jobs and more revenues in sustainable activity and redeveloping our wild salmon fisheries," she said.

Simons said the NDP would re-impose a moratorium on new fish farm licences and on the expansion of capacity. He said the NDP would protect both the safety of the ocean and the safety of people's livelihoods.

"It's important to remember that providing alternatives to shape and guide industry is part of government's responsibility," he said.

After the four topics were discussed, audience members had an opportunity to ask questions about a variety of topics: wait lists, the cut in health care workers' wages imposed by the Liberals, the shortage of intermediate care beds, the power and influence of big business, the protection of other values in the forests and how accessible the candidates would be if they were elected. The evening ended with closing statements from Carr and Simons.