Federal candidates from the Liberal, NDP and Green parties held their first all-candidates meeting on June 15, in the absence of Conservative MP John Weston and any other candidates who have yet to declare their intentions to run in the October election.
Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Liberal), Larry Koopman (NDP) and Ken Melamed (Green) are all vying for the electoral district of West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky Country, currently held by Weston.
The three candidates were asked a series of questions by moderator Betty Baxter before the floor was opened to the public. Because the meeting was not a debate, the candidates were not allowed to respond to each other’s statements but instead gave their answers directly to the moderator.
Topics that came up included Bill C-51, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, minimum wage, daycare, pensions, health care and sustainable energy.
Koopman said he was inspired into politics by Tommy Douglas, the NDP’s first federal leader.
“I was inspired by the ideals of justice for all, and that unwavering belief that a more equal society creates a healthier community that benefits everyone,” Koopman said.
According to Koopman, the NDP is proposing practical solutions for Canada, like creating jobs by building up the clean energy sector, addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, restoring coast guard services in oil spill response capacity, repealing Bill C-51, returning retirement age from 67 to 65, implementing a $15 minimum wage for federal jurisdiction workers, and implementing a national child daycare program.
A former mayor of Whistler, Melamed promised the Green party would rescue democracy from politics and get Canada working together.
“As your MP, I will put your issues before the party issues,” Melamed said. “I’m not here to regurgitate what the party leader and the backroom boys in short pants tell me to say. I’m here to defend our coast from fish farms, from tankers, from coal and from LNG.”
Goldsmith-Jones said that when she was mayor of West Vancouver, she demonstrated accessible, open and fair government.
“We invested in award winning childcare, in award winning community facilities, in environmental protection, and probably most extraordinary, in our approach to community engagement,” Goldsmith-Jones said.
“In 20 years of public service, I have learned that the only way to lead is in a way that strengthens our family, our community and our country by joining together,” Goldsmith-Jones continued. “By accepting and pushing beyond our differences and by willingly contributing our insight, our intellect, and our experiences to the greater good.”
The three candidates were more or less in agreement on the hot topic issues brought up by both the moderator and the public, but Melamed was the only one to directly come out in favour of a coalition government.