Candidates say how they’d handle being on the opposition benches

The busy round of all-candidates meetings for the seven people vying to be MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country continued Oct. 7 at a forum sponsored by the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce.

They all want to represent the area in Ottawa, and have been vigorously promoting their party’s plans for governing the country, but the final question they faced at the Sechelt Chamber event was what do they hope to achieve if voters elect them as the riding’s MP and their party ends up on the opposition benches?

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Liberal Patrick Weiler said he’d use his legal background and experience to work as an effective critic. “I’ve spent a lot of time fighting the Harper-era laws, so as an opposition MP I could be a very effective critic, particularly on issues like natural resources, on First Nations, on the environment and on international development. I would do everything I could to hold the government to account on that.”

Gabrielle Loren of the Conservatives said she’d act on advice from former MP and member of her campaign team, John Reynolds, to listen to constituents, be available and take action.

“If I’m in the opposition I’ll have lots of time to listen to you, to take some action, to learn … and I’m also going to fight for whatever it is that you want me to look into,” Loren said.

Green Dana Taylor said with all signs pointing to a minority government, a Green MP would have “some influence” over the party in power to implement the Green plan for tackling climate change.

“The reality is the so-called legacy parties that have run this country for 152 years have done so by trading and brokering for a power base … in order to drive home the interests of Central Canada and the foreign-owned oil companies in Calgary.”

New Democrat Judith Wilson said if she’s part of an NDP opposition she’d work to hold the government to account on issues like pharmacare, climate and affordability, and be in her constituents’ corner.

“If you’re in opposition, a bigger part of your life is going to be spent, as a member of Parliament, in meeting the needs of your constituents,” Wilson said. “I would be pleased and honoured to be the person that’s in there fighting for individuals in our riding.”

Doug Bebb of the People’s Party promised to place any government bills under very close scrutiny before deciding if he’d support them and take full advantage of the leader’s promise to allow PPC MPs free rein to bring forward private members’ bills.

Independent Terry Grimwood said, “The majority of the parties in Canada don’t have any ideas… An independent has an opportunity to bring new ideas in. When I was running in Burnaby [South] the [Conservatives] picked up my housing platform, the NDP picked up my rural Canada program… That’s what has to go to Ottawa – the ideas.”

And Rhinoceros Party candidate Gordon Jeffrey said he’d work to bring accountability to government and restore faith in this country’s democracy “or die trying.”

“I’ll be a loud voice, if the only voice, of reason,” he said.

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