Jenna Forster moderated the Virtual All Candidates Forum between Duck Paterson (top left); Chris Istace (top right); and Doug Routley (Youtube/Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce)

Jenna Forster moderated the Virtual All Candidates Forum between Duck Paterson (top left); Chris Istace (top right); and Doug Routley (Youtube/Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce)

Nanaimo-North Cowichan candidates state their case in virtual debate

Duck Paterson, Chris Istace, and Doug Routley are on the ballot for October 24

The Nanaimo-North Cowichan provincial candidates faced off in a virtual candidates forum hosted by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, (VIREB) on Monday (Oct. 19).

The forum was the first all candidates debate held via Zoom, and was virtually free of technical errors.

Ladysmith Chamber executive director, Mark Drysdale said that each of the candidates demonstrated integrity and collegiality during the debate.

“It’s easy to get cynical about politics, but with these three, it was very clear that they’re doing it for their community and no other reason. They’re stepping up because they care a lot about the communities they live in and the people in this riding.”

Routley and Istace clash on natural resources

The most notable clash of the forum came when the candidates were posed a question about their party’s position on natural resource industries.

Istace went on the offensive, criticizing government subsidies given to LNG Canada to carry out work on the Coastal Gas Link pipeline.

“The LNG issue is a perfect example of corporate welfare. The BC Liberals started with $558 million a year in subsidies to LNG Canada, and now in 2019 it escalated to $998 million in subsidies,” he said.

Routley countered Istace by saying that the ‘subsidies’ are deferred debt payable once projects are completed.

“We have been in favour of LNG done responsibly,” Routley said. “The BC NDP has put conditions on the table that must be met to protect air, land, and water; guaranteeing First Nations participation; local benefit, as well as benefits to the province.”

The exchange between the two heated up on the topic of logging in old growth forests.

Istace called for a moratorium on logging Vancouver Island’s old growth forests. He suggested that the government should invest in local mills to help them continue operating without old growth lumber.

Routley said that the NDP convened a panel on old growth logging that went around the province seeking input on a forestry policy to balance the industry and the environment.

“I had a three hour discussion with a protest outside of my office. Out of that we formed an advisory panel, we put together a report, and submitted that report to the old growth panel… It has impacted the decisions.”

RELATED: Concerned citizens confront Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA over old-growth logging

In a rebuttal, Istace said that Routley was ineffective on the old growth issue.

“As to Mr. Routley’s comments on the protest that came to his constituency office, he said himself, ‘there’s nothing I can do’. That speaks to the NDP whipping. He does have good faith, he is listening, and he hears that, but he can’t do anything because the NDP falls in line and has whipped votes.”

Routley was visibly upset by the comment, and had used his three rebuttals. Liberal candidate Duck Paterson transferred his final rebuttal to Routley to allow him to respond to Istace.

“Chris that is simply not true. I never said I could do nothing – I did something. I brought those people together, that’s what you do in government: you bring people together, and you hear them. You work for compromise.”

Candidates talk post-pandemic economic recovery

The main question of the election is which party is best suited to lead the province through an economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

Paterson positioned himself – and the BC Liberals – as the only party that can reduce the provincial deficit.

“The only way to truly recover from the economic hole that we’re in right now due to COVID-19 is to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs. We cannot just abandon businesses and their employees, and expect this province to get back on track.”

Paterson echoed the Liberal promise to eliminate the PST for one year, then re-institute the tax at three percent in an effort to encourage investment in the economy. Paterson said the Liberals would also cut taxes for small businesses.

Routley defended the NDP’s decision to hold an election during the pandemic, saying that the government needs a fresh mandate to deliver an economic recovery plan for B.C..

“Obviously B.C. is spending to a deficit, as every other jurisdiction is, but we are the best positioned jurisdiction to do that. We will have one of the smallest deficits according to the size of our economy in Canada during this period,” he said.

If reelected, Routley said that the NDP will support workers displaced by COVID-19 by retraining them to work in long term care, and infrastructure projects.

Istace spoke to his experience as a small business owner who has personally suffered from the pandemic. He proposed $300 million in rental supports for small business owners; instituting a universal basic income; and investing in the renewable energy sector.

“If we move back from investing in the fossil fuel industry there is a billion dollars we can put directly into small businesses,” he said. “There is a deficit, but we need to invest now so we don’t have a bigger hole in the future to dig out of.”

Housing issues top of mind for candidates

Both Routley and Istace identified housing as the most important issue in the riding behind COVID-19.

Istace proposed government supported co-op housing, and empowering non-profits to create low income housing in their communities. He also said more needs to be done to limit insurance rates – especially for owners of strata properties.

RELATED: Poor construction, maintenance driving up B.C. strata insurance rates

Routley that the NDP is implementing a 10 year housing plan. The plan will expand low interest loans, and partner with co-ops and non-profits to buy existing rental stock. He also said that the NDP are freezing rent until the end of 2021.

Paterson said that the Liberals will create more housing supply to increase affordability.

“The NDP have utterly failed at this,” Paterson said. “Last week the BC Liberals announced a $1.75 billion housing plan that will dramatically increase affordable housing for renters, and make housing more affordable for home buyers.”

The Liberal plan includes supports for those impacted by strata insurance hikes, and will target ‘foreign speculators’ with higher property taxes.

Routley defended the NDP record on housing, stating that the party has created 790 units of housing in Nanaimo-North Cowichan, and another 316 units are in the planning stages.

On to the polls

The October 24 election is mere days away. Over 380,000 British Columbians have already voted in advance polls, and some 235,800 have voted by mail. For those yet to cast ballots, Voting Places will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on election day.

BC Votes 2020

Just Posted

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Council acknowledges National Indigenous Peoples Day

Recommendations received for prioritization of the updated Climate Action and Energy Plan

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Flag exhibit is now set up in the Chemainus Valley Museum. (Photo by Val Galvin)
Fibre artists put their unique twists on climate change exhibit

Red Flag warning label affixed to collection now on display at the Chemainus Valley Museum

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read