Candidates discuss riding priorities

Hopeful MPs address what they’d like to see done right now and what they’d like to unfold for future generations

Matthew Peterson and Erin DeCoste

As the election approaches, The Chronicle asked the same two questions of the people vying to represent you in Ottawa: “If elected (or re-elected) what is one thing you’d like to accomplish in the next term? and What is an initiative you’d like to set in motion that will have a larger affect in the years to come.

If elected for another term, NDP MP Jean Crowder would like would like to see something done with Canadian pensions.

“Part of what we’ve been calling for is income security for seniors and retired workers and I think that has to be front and centre,” said Crowder.

The issue is especially important in this riding, said Crowder, given many choose this area to retire.

“It’s something I’m hearing on the doorstep pretty consistently.”

Crowder said she was talking to some almost-senoirs who were praising the NDP’s work to try and nearly double the CPP over the next seven years.

“The thing about the Canada Pension Plan is it’s publicly administered, not subject to the vagaries of the market, it’s cheaper than putting money into other sources and it’s universal in Canada.

In terms of having an affect in the years to come, Crowder would like to see something done about derelict vessels.

“I hear about this and I know it’s been a problem in Ladysmith,” said Crowder.

Crowder said she was in the process of tabling a private members bill before the election was called to deal with the issue.

The problem of derelict vessels is a problem on the coast up and down the riding said Crowder, adding people are concerned about the environmental impacts.

“I’ve been working with some other folks who’ve raised it as an issue in terms of making sure we hit all the points and I’ve worked with legal counsel.”

Crowder said there are already pieces of federal legislation that deals with derelict vessels.

“The problem is there’s not enough teeth in it.”

For Conservative Party candidate John Koury, the focus is on the economy.

“The big issues are the economy, jobs and taxes,” said Koury of the concerns he has been hearing about while campaigning.

Koury said if elected, he’d continue advocating for the area.

“Advocating for the priorities of the communities in this big riding,” he added.

As an MP, Koury said he would endeavour to work closely with mayors and community and business groups to discuss their priorities and to work on strengthening the local economy and creating jobs.

“As a voice in government, I think I’ll have a better job of doing that.”

In terms of setting in motion farther-reaching initiatives, Koury said he would like to see more federal money brought into the riding.

“At the end of the day, decision are made at the local level … and the goal for me is how to bring those federal dollars in to help them achieve their goals.”

That federal money can be used for things such as new or improved infrastructure to help carry out the goals of local groups or investing in businesses.

One example Koury gave is of the financial contribution to the Ladysmith Maritime Society visitor centre to create jobs and contribute to the tourism industry.

Anne Marie Benoit, Nanaimo-Cowichan’s Green Party candidate, said she wants to see voters at the polls May 2.

“I want to get to the people that do not vote,” she said, stating it as her short-term goal. “I want them part of our democracy — invite them to vote.”

Benoit, a native of New Brunswick, moved to B.C. in 1996 and said she is excited to be involved in politics in this riding.

Her platform rests on three issues: Education, health care and job creation.

Her long-term goal is to focus on these cornerstones of society.

“I want to help people from this riding,” she said. “I want to be there for them, go to Ottawa and get money for this riding.”

Environment is another big one in her campaign books.

“I know people are concerned about the environment — we have to take care of our planet,” she said.

She said she believes protecting the environment is the best way to support labour and increase sustainable jobs.

The Liberal Party candidate for Nanaimo-Cowichan, Brian Fillmore, wants to give his riding a strong voice in Ottawa.

“It comes down to priorities,” he said.

His short term goal is to represent Nanaimo-Cowichan in areas of education, families and the economy.

“I’m very excited about the education passport,” he said.

“Giving young people money for tuition, which is out of control, pays huge dividends for us.”

Fillmore said he’s not only concerned about the local youth, but would like to see an increase to the old age pension.

“There are so many seniors struggling to survive.”

In the long term, Fillmore is concerned with making sure issues such as taking care of families and economic development is seen through.

“Also, I want to see Canada’s international reputation restored,” he said.