Five candidates are vying to be the MLA for the Abbotsford-Mission riding.
We asked them a little about themselves and to answer a series of questions.
Candidates were given hard word counts for each question and warned that exceeding the limit would result in their answers being cut. They were also warned against including blatant falsehoods.
Aeriol Alderking/Christian Heritage Party
Tell us about yourself:
Pam Alexis/BC NDP
Tell us about yourself:
I am a community builder. A former school trustee and city councillor, I was elected in 2018 as the Mayor. I am a Rotarian, and have served on a number of non-profit boards including the Chamber of Commerce. I was the Vice President of the BC Winter Games in 2014
Stephen Fowler/BC Green Party
Tell us about yourself:
I enjoy most things; nature, soccer, and education are daily highlights. Living in the Fraser Valley established my appreciation for our environment and personal questions for how we live within it. The Green Party’s goal to seek a sustainable balance for society and the Earth answers those questions.
Simon Gibson/BC Liberal Party
Tell us about yourself:
I have worked hard to provide strong representation as the MLA for the last two terms. I have served on Treasury Board and as an Assistant Deputy Speaker, among other responsibilities. I have secured $37 million in funding for our riding. I am married with two daughters and three grandsons.
Trevor Hamilton/BC Conservatives
Tell us about yourself:
I am a husband, father to three children, step-father to two and a small business owner. My wife is a registered nurse, we have been together 14 years and moved to Mission nine years ago from the Kootenays.
BC NDP: How was it in the public’s interest for the NDP to call an election during a pandemic?
Alexis: Public health officials in BC and across Canada have been clear that this pandemic will be with us for a while yet. An election next year would most likely be held under similar pandemic conditions. With everything happening in our province, British Columbians deserve an opportunity to choose a path forward, a stable government, and the opportunity to ensure we can keep moving BC forward.
BC LIBERALS: What has your party learned while in Opposition the last three years?
Gibson: Speaking personally, I would say it can be quite frustrating to be in Opposition – having served in government. I discovered the dramatic difference between our free enterprise team and the centralized and taxing philosophy of the NDP. I did not have the opportunity to contribute to decision-making and to be a part of leadership. Higher taxes and greater government involvement in our lives was the direction taken since the NDP was elected in 2017.
BC GREENS: Your party has co-operated with the NDP the last three years. What would a vote for your party accomplish that a vote for the NDP would not?
Fowler: A strong Green presence in the legislature applies pressure on the government to act on their promises. For example, Green Party MLAs will be a strong voice to ensure the government carry out its environmental promises. By voting for the Green Party and maintaining the minority government in British Columbia, the people will continue to see important policy, like the Clean Air Act, forwarded to and passed by government. The Green Party will not allow a minority Liberal or NDP government to rule in a way that, as seen over the last 30 years, leads to scandal and corruption.
BC CONSERVATIVES & CHP: Your party has no MLAs and few believe they are likely to field victorious candidates this election. What would a vote for your respective party accomplish?
Hamilton: We aren’t supposed to be voting for a party, we are supposed to be voting for a representative in the legislature. Voting for me would mark the beginning of real change in provincial politics and the introduction of an actual conservative voice in the legislature. The parties themselves have increased the power of the Whip to the point our elected politicians now serve the party before the people. This is unacceptable in a free society and my party gives me complete autonomy. I will always stand for the rights of the individual, the family and the free market.
Alderking: VOTE CHPBC 1. Parental Rights: protecting children by repealing the NDP Infants Act [Edit: factually incorrect assertion about the BC Sexual Sterilization Act removed] , dangerous medical interventions arresting child development and hormone replacement therapy. 2. Food Security: assist young people entering farming, median age of farmers is 60, while protecting ALR land and allowing unrelated secondary sources of income. 3. Cut all government non-essential services, programs, and debt without robbing ICBC to balance the budget. 4. Assist businesses, limit COVID disruptions to affected areas and increase interprovincial trade. 5. Address affordable housing; extend senior’s services to the disabled.
QUESTION 2: What should government do to help people recover from the economic effects of COVID-19?
Gibson: This in an area which the polls show that the public in general would be more comfortable with BC Liberals ability to get our struggling economy back on track. Our caucus has many MLAs with strong business backgrounds which will guide the decision-making. Eliminating the two per cent small business tax and removing the seven per cent PST for a year will be helpful. The tourism and hospitality sector will also benefit from a loan guarantee program.
Alexis: I hear from so many people who are uncertain about what lies ahead. For me, and for John Horgan, people are the economy. The BC Liberals are trying to throw tax breaks at everything, but that only helps people who are already doing okay, and means big cuts to the public services the rest of us rely on. We deserve better. Our government launched an economic recovery plan, StrongerBC, this summer. It’s a plan aimed at helping people get back to work, growing local businesses, and investing in our communities. We will rebuild an economy for the public good.
Fowler: British Columbia cannot consider the province ready to recover from COVID-19 until the housing shortages and mental illness are dealt with. Greens of British Columbia will include mental illness within the province’s MSP health coverage; 1 billion dollars over four years has been earmarked for mental health. Rental housing will become more affordable through subsidy grants made available to those who need the help. At the same time, the Greens of British Columbia will begin its clean-economic recovery plan. This comprehensive, timelined plan will create rich employment opportunities as the province works to become carbon neutral by 2045.
Hamilton: End the lockdown and ensure people it will not happen again. Freedom always produces better results than coercion. Allow the driving force of the province – its people – to get back to work by removing bureaucratic obstacles and regulatory burdens, eliminate the carbon tax and lower tax rates to more globally competitive rates. In order to create wealth we must attract investment in the resource sector and must invest in the infrastructure necessary to get our resources to market as quickly and safely as possible.
Alderking: Help people get back to work safely. Open businesses and encourage trade interprovincially. Cut red tape to fast track development in the affordable housing sector and much needed infrastructure such as widening Highway 1 and addressing sewage and water issues. Continue hydro and gas grants to protect low income families. Be more specific in addressing COVID issues and imposing limits rather than blanket closures. Seek innovative advice from business leaders and educational institutions. Extend hydro and gas grants to charities who provide vital services in the community. Encourage youth and give them hope for a future.
QUESTION 3A: The government has spent billions of dollars this year that couldn’t have been anticipated in previous budgets. In the years to come, should government raise, maintain or cut taxes. Which taxes?
Alexis: Governing is about choices. The BC Liberals announced a $3 billion break that will only benefit the wealthy and well-connected. That’s $3 billion that isn’t available to invest in housing, healthcare or infrastructure in our communities. We need to focus on tax measures that will create jobs and support workers.
Fowler: We are currently in a period when long-term spending plans are crucial to the recovery. The Liberals and NDP are only offering short term fixes. Taxes will not go down in the near future; the only taxes going up should be those of the exceptionally wealthy.
Hamilton: We must lower income rates, cut the carbon tax and review the corporate tax rate. As other locales raise taxes and try to increase government revenue, people will be looking for relief. We can attract talented and innovative people to contribute to economic growth with favorable tax rates and limited government involvement.
Alderking: The sales tax could be cut temporarily, however, taxes overall will have to be maintained in order to ensure our credit rating is sustained and curtail increasing our 73 billion dollar debt. Cutting taxes in one area will simply generate taxes in another area.
Gibson: Strategically cutting or reducing certain taxes can invigorate the sluggish economy. Our team would give priority to no new taxes but the current government has introduced 23 since being elected, and these revenues are now a part of the NDP budgeting.
QUESTION 3B: Should spending be raised, maintained or cut? Which specific areas should see spending adjustments?
Fowler: With the Greens of British Columbia’s clean economic recovery plan spending will go up, but that spending will create jobs in green technology manufacturing, green power source building, and green infrastructure renewal. Provincial subsidies to fossil fuel projects will be halted immediately.
Hamilton: Spending has to be cut, it is immoral to put this on the backs of future generations. Start with MLA salaries and pensions and move to systematic reviews of all departments and ministries. Successive auditors general have been highly critical of government waste and there are massive savings to be [exceeded word count]
Alderking: Most government departments submit budgets that mirror previous years with an allowance for a cost of living increase. Every department needs to be reviewed thoroughly from the ground up and employees incentivized to find innovative ways to cut costs. Government must improve efficiency by cutting red tape.
Gibson: We are in a COVID-19 ravaged economy, reminiscent of wartime, so there will be the need for focused spending. Projects cancelled by the current government such as the widening of highway #1 and the bridge to replace the tunnel at highway #99, would be immediately approved by a BC Liberal government.
Alexis: As I said earlier, people are the economy. We will make smart choices and invest in people to help them succeed, and build a recovery that works for everyone. We can’t afford to cut services or raise fees and tolls in order to give those at the top a break.
QUESTION 3C: How is your revenue and spending approach sustainable?
Hamilton: With the levels of debt we have taken on federally and provincially the past eight months, we are going to have to start balancing budgets within a year if we are to begin to get out of this and ensure financial stability for future generations. Central banks and planners can [exceeded word count]
Alderking: Getting businesses open and people employed will increase revenue, as will increasing interprovincial trade. Limit government intervention only to areas where COVID is a concern. Cutting all government waste and non-essential services will free up spending to be directed to areas of greater need.
Gibson: It is a challenge to speculate at this time because we have not had the opportunity to review the finances. As government, we would be able to review all the spending and revenue assumptions and come up with a viable plan to the benefit of citizens and our hard-working businesspeople.
Alexis: Our plan is about giving everyday people what they need to do more than just make do. We are focused on creating jobs, supporting small businesses, and creating opportunities that will grow our economy for everyone.
Fowler: Moving toward a sustainable existence with our environment must be the Government of British Columbia’s top priority. This sustainable balance will benefit our bottom line in many ways. For example, British Columbians’ health will improve, and our health bill will decrease. Our land, air, and water will be healthier; so will we.
QUESTION 4: The provincial government provides vital services to thousands of vulnerable people. What personal experiences give you insight into how government services affect the lives of voters?
Alderking: As a single parent, I have experienced the challenges of starting a business, supporting and advocating for my children’s education and volunteering on PAC, DPAC, and BCCPAC. As an advocate in this community, I have addressed housing issues, family law issues, education issues, suicide in youth issues, gang issues, landlord issues, tenant issues, seniors issues and issues for people with disabilities. I have interacted with BC Housing, Landlord Tenants branch, assisted with welfare appeals, represented people in court, written letters appealing fines and fees levied on the disabled, interacted with the Public Trustee and reached out to First Nations communities.
Gibson: Since being elected as an MLA, I and my constituency staff have assisted at least 3000 individuals and families with a wide variety of needs. It has been rewarding to receive their positive comments and I do give the credit to my caring and helpful constituency staff. I should add that my wife, Joy, and I have a special needs daughter.
Alexis: As Mayor I hear from residents all the time. I hear from young parents who are thankful for government investments in affordable childcare. I hear from transit users how delighted they are to get to events on weekends that they would have missed otherwise. Because of new investment in campgrounds, families share their best summer memories about camping at Stave Lake. I hear from our seniors, who are so grateful to witness the building of seniors housing and the long-awaited senior’s centre. Lastly, I hear how grateful people are that we have such experts leading us through the current pandemic.
Fowler: I worked in a special needs classroom creating many relationships with the students’ parents. The parent of a special needs child lives a stressful life that requires many adaptations. There is provincial funding, but the process is cumbersome and financially inadequate.The parents have a very difficult time getting regular respite; having an opportunity to refresh parental batteries is crucial to their being the best they can be. The parents of special needs citizens advocates for their child’s future and plans for that future for when they are gone The government must be an advocate, not just a manager, for these parents and children.
Hamilton: One of my oldest friends has cerebral palsy and a degree in social work and requires disability support. Despite persevering and contributing to society, the government claw back program reduced her income to $1900/month, forcing her live in abject poverty and unable to ever get off support. These systems are often poorly designed and end up trapping the people within them to languish and suffer.
QUESTION 5: What’s one thing the current government has done well?
Gibson: Although as government we would likely have supported Dr. Henry to the same extent, Minister Dix has done a satisfactory job,
Alexis: I am proud of the work our government has done in dealing with the pandemic and the results of the pandemic.
Fowler: Due to the exceptional circumstances, the current government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic well. Making Dr. Bonnie Henry their spokesperson was an excellent choice.
Hamilton: Moved the government trough from Liberal friends and donors to NDP friends and donors.
Alderking: The creation of the Landlord Tenant Compliance and Enforcement Unit is a great improvement to enforce orders that result from hearings.
QUESTION 6: What’s one thing the current government has not done well?
Alexis: The BCNDP made great strides in 3 ½ years, but there is more to do to make things better, and more affordable, for British Columbians.
Fowler: The current government’s handling of the Proportional Representation vote was abysmal. John Horgan clearly did not want the legislation to pass; a broken promise.
Hamilton: Did not answer
Alderking: Both NDP and Liberals use the law to suppress voter knowledge of dangerous legislation by hiring lawyers for children and seeking orders to silence parents.
Gibson: This government has an insensitivity to the financial challenges faced by families and individuals: so many new taxes and a dysfunctional ICBC.
QUESTION 7: MLAs must work for all their constituents. How would you advance the interests of those voters who disagree with your preferred views and policies?
Fowler: A favourite aspect of being a Green of British Columbia is the party’s approach to differing views and policies. Differences of opinion are welcomed within caucus and on legislative votes. I will listen to understand and remain open-minded.
Hamilton: Did not answer
Alderking: I am working to advance those interests by running in this election. The Liberal reinstatement of the 1933 Sexual Sterilization Act targets LGBTQ+ children for life altering chemical sterilization, arrested bone and brain development, hormone therapies that have caused cancer in trials on menopausal women, and permanent drug dependence.
Gibson: As MLA, I I represent everyone to the best of my ability with no regard for political affiliations.
Alexis: No individual or political party has a monopoly on good ideas. As Mayor, I always make myself available to listen to constituents, and do my best to ensure all voices are heard and that our path forward includes everyone, not just those who have power and access.