Moderator Sean Melia (centre bottom) asks questions to the five federal candidates from the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding during an online debate. / Video Image

Moderator Sean Melia (centre bottom) asks questions to the five federal candidates from the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding during an online debate. / Video Image

Mission Chamber poses questions to federal candidates

Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon candidates take part in virtual debate

Candidates in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding participated in an online debate last night (Sept. 8), hosted by the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A series of questions, (covering issues that included the economy, the pandemic, housing, climate change and more) were put forth and each candidate had two minutes to reply.

Participating in the Q&A session were Nicole Bellay (Green), Geet Grewal (Liberal), Tyler Niles (PPC), Lynn Perrin (NDP) and Brad Vis (Conservative).

The following is just an example of some of the questions and answers.

Speaking about the long-term management of the pandemic, Grewal said the Liberal government has already been “showing strong leadership” ensuring that provinces have funds to implement vaccinations.

“The most important thing right now is protecting our community.”

She said the Liberals provided subsidies and benefits.

“Everything was shut down but we were still living great lives, because of our government and that’s what we can expect in the future.”

Vis said the next federal government needs to call a first ministers’ meeting to address the different provincial protocols and the growing issue of inter-provincial travel.

“For example, under the B.C. passport program, have we determined what an Albertan coming to B.C. can do for business or personal visas. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Vis.

He also said the Conservatives have outlined a plan to kick-start the economy post Covid-19.

“We need to look at how we are going to transition people back into the workforce.”

He said the plan includes getting accelerated loans to businesses and hiring credits as incentives to get people back to work.

Perrin said it was the NDP that “made life a little more comfortable” for Canadians.

“If you remember, the initial offering from Justin Trudeau was $1,000 a month under CERB. Jagmeet Singh was able to get that put up to $2,000 a month,” said Perrin.

She also noted businesses were initially only going to be helped with 10 per cent of wages and the NDP managed to get the Liberals to increase it to 75 per cent.

She also said that some corporations have made “excessive profits” during Covid, which should not take place.

“We want to tax those corporations. We want them to pay their fair share, to help pay for all of the costs of this pandemic.”

Niles said the Covid lockdowns have done more harm that good, adding there has been a drastic increase in suicides, overdoses, domestic violence and violence against children.

“We will work to end the lockdowns and make sure there are no more lockdowns imposed. We know they don’t work, they didn’t help in Ontario, the spread still continued and the cases were still rising. With inter-provincial travel, we will work to repeal all vaccine passports and any mandatory vaccines,” he said.

As for the economy. Niles said the PPC wants to eliminate corporate subsidies which he called inefficient and “ballooning” the government debt.

Bellay said the Greens have a great plan to boost the economy – the transition to a clean economy.

“Building lots of renewable energy, retrofitting houses, the restoration of ecosystems (will create) lots of jobs, lots of good local jobs for everyone. It’s a just transition for all after this Covid,” she said.

When asked about capital project needs in Mission, Perrin said she believes public transportation is a critical issue.

“I really think we have to do a better job of improving our bus service and also, in the Matsqui part of the riding, there needs to be something like the West Coast Express.

Another key issue that Perrin has been involved in for a number of years is the supply of drinking water.

She was an opponent of the Stave Lake P3 project in 2011, which residents of Mission and Abbotsford rejected.

“We really need to take a good, serious look at how we’re going to provide drinking water to the growing population of our community.”

She said all the candidates received a letter from the mayors of Abbotsford and Mission asking them to support the wells on Matsqui Prairie.

Niles said health care is currently a large infrastructure issue in the community with a lack of hospital beds and doctors and nurses.

“If elected we would like to return the GST, hand that taxing over to the provinces and give them full control over it, as infrastructure is a provincial issue and not so much a federal issue.”

He said by giving the provinces full control of the GST, they will be able build hospitals, hire more doctors, paramedics and nursing staff, as they see fit.

Clean drinking water is also a concern for Niles.

Grewal said with rapid growth there is need for more infrastructure funding from the government.

“We need to create a transportation hub in Mission because I know that about 70 per cent of the population in Mission drive to and from work. A lot of time is wasted in cars driving, that could be spent with families,” said Grewal.

She also stressed the importance of clean water as well as a need for proper sewage drainage.

She said the Liberals will continue to support infrastructure projects in Mission as it has with the West Coast Express and the Mission sewer line.

Vis said he agrees with the other candidates about the importance of the collector wells and drinking water, but also highlighted the pump station located close to Mission Institution.

“If we are going to build more houses around City Hall, that pump station needs to be addressed with Public Safety Canada.”

In a broader sense, Vis said a common issue is flood infrastructure and how we are managing the Fraser River.

“After a year like this with record forest fires, we are going to be more at risk of flooding in the future years and we really need to get a handle on that.”

He also said people are tired of waiting for the expansion of Highway 1.

“I think the work should continue on 264th immediately. Everyone is waiting in traffic everyday and that should stop.”

Bellay said there are many infrastructure projects that need to be done if we want to address the climate change.

“Public transportation is a big one. Rail system, bus system, we need a lot more EV chargers for electric cars,” she said.

There is also a need to retrofit all our buildings houses, industries to make them more energy efficient according to Bellay.

“The Greens are ready to fund any project related to climate change.”

To hear the candidates answers in full and to watch the full video of all of the questions, visit the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.