Liberal candidate Janna Francis addresses guests at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce federal all candidates forum Wednesday morning at Glad Tidings Church

Liberal candidate Janna Francis addresses guests at the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce federal all candidates forum Wednesday morning at Glad Tidings Church

Candidates clash in Armstrong

A bid for the region’s top political job brought three applicants to Armstrong Wednesday to share their qualifications.

“We appreciate the candidates showing up for this interview,” said Andrew Laird, moderator of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce federal all candidates forum Wednesday morning at Glad Tidings Church. “We’ll let you know on May 2.”

Conservative Colin Mayes, Liberal Janna Francis and the Green’s Greig Crockett answered to a crowd of 35 people at the second regional forum. NDP candidate Nikki Inouye did not show, neither did her appointed representative Alice Brown.

“We’re here because we have a government that was found in contempt of Parliament,” said Francis, making a point of stepping off the pedestal to address the crowd.

“I do not believe they (Mayes and Stephen Harper) have earned those honours (to be re-elected).”

Agreeing with Francis and much of the Liberal platform,  Crockett added: “We are having an election today because they brought a budget to the House that was not acceptable.”

Crockett says voters shouldn’t be afraid of change as they look back and examine what their local representative has done, or not done, for them.

But incumbent candidate Mayes believes that he will pass the performance review of constituents.

“I believe I have earned your vote and your confidence,” said Mayes, pointing to local projects his government helped make a reality such as the Armstrong swimming pool, highway construction and funding for bathrooms and a shelter at Caravan Farm Theatre.

Mayes also attempted to put a positive spin on the rising costs at the pumps, after local farmers questioned local food security.

“One of the things that is kind of a good thing is the high price of oil because it’s forcing us to rethink and make those decisions (to buy local first),” said Mayes.

Crockett didn’t hesitate to respond: “Did you hear Colin Mayes say there’s a good side to high oil prices?”

Meanwhile the Green candidate advocated for local, organic agriculture, a positive feedback system that takes pressure of healthcare by removing illness inhibitors such as pesticides and junk food, and diverting subsidies from big oil companies to alternative power sources such as solar and wind.

Reading out the Liberal national food policy, Francis agreed that there needs to be healthy eating and living, but also safe food, sustainable farm incomes and more.

“Canada must strengthen its national brand.”

The environment, particularly green house gas emissions, was also a hot topic as the Kyoto Accord issue was dusted off the political shelf.

“There wasn’t a party that had a greater commitment to the Kyoto Accord than the Liberal Party and you know what happened to that,” said Francis.

“Yes, we are not going to engage with Kyoto,” said Mayes, confident that if Canada did engage it would cripple the economy and therefore an alternative plan is being followed.

Crockett chastised such lack of action.

“The Green Party exists because of the resistance of the other parties to make a real change,” said Crockett. “We can do it. We don’t need to cripple the economy as suggested.”

The current style of government, reform of the RCMP act to support frontline members, support for the arts and culture and healthcare were other issues the candidates were questioned on.

Now it is up to the voters to make their pick.

“You have to look at the integrity of your individual parties and what you believe they will follow through with,” said Crockett.

Advanced voting begins today.