Two out of three parties debated education and other issues at Nanaimo’s first all-candidates meeting.
Three B.C. NDP candidates and three Green Party candidates attended the event Tuesday night, hosted by the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association at Dover Bay Secondary School. All three local B.C. Liberal candidates declined invitations.
At the NDP table were Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley and Parksville-Qualicum candidate Sue Powell. Representing the Greens were Nanaimo candidate Kathleen Harris, Nanaimo-North Cowichan’s Lia Versaevel and Parksville-Qualicum’s Glenn Sollitt.
The debate was attended by almost 150 people and was moderated by Kip Wood, a former president of the teachers’ association.
The first question was about education funding, and Krog said his party is “absolutely committed” to restoring sufficient funding provincewide.
“It was this premier as minister of education that gutted public education. It’s this premier that set us down the path to the Supreme Court of Canada…” he said. “How many of your tax dollars were wasted fighting that fight? Christy Clark now pretends she’s thrilled in the guidance of the Supreme Court. Unspeakable.”
Sollitt pointed to the B.C. Greens’ platform that would increase education spending by $1.5 billion by 2020.
“Education is the absolute premier plank on our platform and we know that investing in education is the best return on our money. It’s the best investment we can make as a government,” Sollitt said.
Another topic of debate was childcare. Krog said $10-per-day childcare is part of and NDP plan that would mean healthy, safe childcare that’s affordable, accessible and available. Green candidates lauded free daycare for children up to age three and Harris also likes a Green promise of more money for families with a stay-at-home parent.
“There’s something called attachment that is one of the foundations of being a human being,” Harris said, adding that it’s “fundamental” for children to be at home in their early years. “So if we’re brushing that off as something unrealistic, I think we have some various concerns.”
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