Considering that the Burnaby General Hospital's woes have been well documented in the media for years, it would have been nice for a doctor to share his views on BGH and perhaps answer to how his BC Liberal Party has interfered in finding solutions to the ongoing problems at BGH that they have ignored during their tenure over the past 12 years.
This is just another reason not to throw away your vote on the BC Liberals.
Burnaby NewsLeader article below
Liberal candidate Gu a no-show at Moscrop debate
New Democrat incumbent Kathy Corrigan was there.
So was her BC Green Party challenger Rick McGowan.
But at the Burnaby-Deer Lake all-candidates meeting held at Moscrop secondary Tuesday morning, Dr. Shian Gu of the BC Liberals was nowhere to be found.
Corrigan was not impressed, saying the event organizers told her Gu had instead decided to attend a photo-op in Richmond.
"I think we're trying to get young people engaged in the political process, and one of the ways to do that is to come and talk to them about the issues that matter to them," she said after the event.
"The fact that he didn't show up I think, frankly, is disrespectful of the students and the process and of the effort that the organizers made," Corrigan said. "I think it shows where the priorities are and to me, students and the future of our country are huge priorities and I was really honoured to have been part of this today."
McGowan said he was "disappointed" but didn't know what Gu's reasons were for not participating.
"It looks like the Liberals are taking a page out of the federal Conservative campaigning booklet," he remarked, referring to past no-shows by federal Conservative candidates at such debates.
Gu said in an emailed statement that he originally planned to attend the Moscrop event but changed his plans at the last minute to participate in an event to encourage Chinese voters to vote.
"I was very much looking forward to speaking to Grade 12 students, the voters of the future, about the importance of voting and getting involved in politics, but at this point in the campaign, where every hour counts, sometimes we have to make hard choices about how we as candidates allocate our time," Gu said.
"I decided that it is equally as important to get the message out to Chinese voters, who have not historically voted in high numbers, that voting is extremely important, no matter which candidate they choose to mark on their ballot."
With Gu represented by a sign and an empty chair, Corrigan and McGowan carried on without him, sharing the BC NDP's and Green Party's visions for the future with Moscrop students.
In answer to the students' first question, about their stances on the Enbridge pipeline, Corrigan said both that and Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline was not worth risking the environment. There were other ways, such as increasing skills training opportunities, how the government could help create jobs.
The Greens are also opposed to the pipelines and increased tanker traffic and believe diversifying the economy is key, McGowan said.
As for financial aid for students, he said the Greens would eventually like to offer free post-secondary education although it "will take a lot of work to figure that out." In the meantime, the Greens would look at grants and loans for students and incentives for people educated in British Columbia to work here to address the shortage of skilled labour.
While Corrigan liked the idea of free post-secondary education, she said it's a "real balancing act" to also be fiscally responsible.
She said the New Democrats will create a $100-million, non-repayable, needs-based student grant program to make such an education more accessible to people who couldn't otherwise afford it.
The NDP will also resurrect and improve the apprenticeship and skills-training program, said Corrigan, noting that 80 per cent of jobs in the future will require some sort of education beyond high school.
Many of the students' questions dealt with social issues, such as the female student who questioned the benefit of the NDP's proposed $20-a-month increase in social assistance rates.
While that $20 won't solve poverty, "it will make a big difference to those people that are on income assistance," Corrigan said, stressing the limits of taxation. "It's impossible to do everything all at once."
In addition, the NDP also plans to implement a family bonus program that would pay up to $900 annually for every child in a low-income family and will reduce childcare fees for infants and toddlers by 20 per cent.
Corrigan noted that for several years under the BC Liberals the province has been the worst in Canada for child poverty, only improving to second-worst this year.
McGowan described the Greens' idea for a "guaranteed livable income" in which people whose incomes fall below a set income level would receive top-ups by the province. It would be funded by eliminating the current system of subsidies and bureaucracy and not penalize people for getting a job as is currently the case.
In response to a question about how the province would help people with special needs, Corrigan said she would have liked the Liberals' Gu to have been available to answer.
"Under the Liberals, Community Living BC, the agency which delivers services for adults [with developmental disabilities], has been seriously cut by the Liberals and their platform says they're going to cut supports almost in half," she said.
The NDP would instead increase supports to the agency in targeted ways, "but certainly people living with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect, they deserve to be supported ... and we'll make sure that that happens."
As for making the cost of living in Burnaby more affordable, Corrigan said the NDP plans to take some of the stress off the rental market by building 1,500 units of affordable housing provincewide.
She said the NDP would also look at a proposal by Burnaby city hall, rejected by the Liberal government, for a special rental zoning to prevent rental buildings from being knocked down and replaced by condominiums.
As for how the NDP can support the mining industry, described by a student as "the most polluting sector," while also being pro-environment, Corrigan said it's a matter finding a balance. The party would process some mining permits faster, "but that does not mean that we are going to accept projects which are harmful to the environment."
Rather, the NDP would bring the environmental assessment process back to B.C. In the case of the pipelines, "the Liberal government handed it over to the federal government [which] then lowered the standards of the assessment so that fish habitats and so on are in danger."
McGowan responded that a certain level of mining and resource extraction is necessary and that the Greens would push to have those resources used more efficiently.
And just like students at Byrne Creek secondary's candidates debate, the Moscrop students wanted to know where the candidates stood on the decriminalization of marijuana.
For the record, both Corrigan and McGowan support it. The Green Party wants to tax and regulate it like alcohol and tobacco, which would also keep the profits out of the hands of organized crime, McGowan said.
"Nobody should end up with a criminal record because they smoked pot, that's ridiculous," said Corrigan.