Economy hot button issue for Cowichan Valley candidates

The economy is a top-of-mind issue for candidates and voters alike

It’s expected the 2017 provincial general election will be called on April 11 and as such, candidates are busy compiling their platforms with the hopes of getting their messages out to as many people as possible before voting day.

The economy is a top-of-mind issue for candidates and voters alike and is the first topic in a Citizen series discussing some of the bigger election issues with the (so far) six Cowichan Valley riding nominees.

Candidate Sonia Furstenau and the BC Green Party are committed to ensuring that B.C.’s economy creates conditions for everyone to thrive.

“A healthy economy that creates abundant opportunities is underpinned by universal access to quality healthcare and education, housing security for all citizens, a basic income strategy, a healthy environment, and fair taxation,” she said.

With a keen eye on environmental issues, Furstenau noted B.C. needs to move away from “misguided mega-projects like Site C and LNG” and instead “see the extraordinary opportunities in a transition to a modern, renewable energy economy.”

Committing to a low-carbon future will create job growth across multiple sectors, she said.

“Public infrastructure, sustainable transportation and farming, and a value-added approach to B.C.’s resources will create long-term employment and a better future for all of B.C.,” she said.

For Libertarian candidate James Robert Anderson, eliminating government regulations to allow healthy competition would “substantially benefit” B.C.’s economy.

He’s for ditching Crown monopolies like ICBC, BC Liquor, BCLC and BC Ferries, believing more competition and therefore more job opportunities would result. Less red tape around businesses like Uber and Air BnB, would give more options to consumers, while generating income for service providers, he believes.

“While some government regulation is required to protect individuals against force and fraud,” Anderson said, “the current level of regulation and government control over business is stifling the economy and holding B.C. residents back from their full potential.”

Anderson also thinks working with municipalities to reduce development costs and expedite the rezoning process would stimulate the economy by increasing construction job opportunities while at the same time helping to alleviate the housing crisis.

Independent socialist candidate Eden Haythornthwaite’s platform proposes democratically directed public ownership of all natural resources and the industries that spring from them.

“Part of running your economy is having adequate revenue to provide people with the things they need,” she said.

The current system provides incentives to the gas and oil sector just for doing their regular business, she noted, and that takes away from the public purse.

“I just think we have a system that’s based on profit and selfish personal gain and only works for a tiny handful of people and so our needs are not met,” she said. “To me, the economy is based on supplying the things we need and in supplying the things we need we can have a tremendous amount of wellbeing and we can prosper.

“My platform is based on things we need. It’s not a wish list.”

Independent candidate Ian Morrison says a healthy and prosperous population makes for a healthy and prosperous economy and a new Cowichan District Hospital and investment in health care is a great start.

“We’ll reduce wait times for surgery and provide the needed care for our growing senior population, and support people with mental health and addictions,” he said. Living wage jobs and a $15 per hour minimum wage are a priority for Morrison.

“It helps students, the working poor, and families,” he said. “It’s good for business too.”

What’s more, Morrison believes creating secondary manufacturing opportunities for the forest sector and producing new and stable union jobs for young people and First Nations workers will boost the economy, as would encouraging tourism, attracting high paying tech sector businesses to the region and growing agriculture.

A strong economy is the fundamental plank of the Liberal platform according to candidate Steve Housser.

“Without a vibrant economy that creates the conditions for growth and employment, there simply can’t be the tax base to pay for the health, education and social services we all want and deserve,” he said, adding the best social program possible is “a good job that allows men and women to look after their families.”

When more British Columbians are working and paying taxes, the province is better positioned to look after those less able to look after themselves, he said.

“This is why I believe a strong economy is key to the heath of the people and communities of B.C.”

Housser went on to say that the surest way to promote economic strength is this: the government needs to spend less than it earns.

NDP candidate Lori Iannidinardo did not respond by press time.

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