Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer                                BC Green Party candidate Kevin Babcock listens as Libertarian Party of Canada candidate Kyle McCormack attacks BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren and BC Liberal candidate Greg Kyllo.

Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer BC Green Party candidate Kevin Babcock listens as Libertarian Party of Canada candidate Kyle McCormack attacks BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren and BC Liberal candidate Greg Kyllo.

Candidates’ debate hits hot-button issues

Questions ranged from how candidates would support small business to health-care facilities.

Political animals were unleashed Monday night during Salmon Arm’s all-candidates meeting at the SASCU recreation centre.

The well-attended, but far from packed, Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce event saw Kevin Babcock for the BC Greens, incumbent Greg Kyllo for the BC Liberals, Sylvia Lindgren for the BC NDP and Kyle McCormack with the BC Libertarian Party, respond to questions.

Kyllo focused on what the BC Liberal government has accomplished with regards to delivering balanced budgets and job creation, stating B.C. has the strongest economy in the country. Lindgren immediately pointed to holes in the government’s record on such things as the cost of housing and living and environmental issues. McCormack was next to take a shot at the incumbent, stating the past four elections in the riding have been won by the candidate who spent the most money. Babcock too began with a critique, stating the recent leaders debate is one of the reasons why he’s running.

“The other two parties, they’re just right entrenched in their own little Capulet/Montague scenario/little story going on there, and I don’t want to see disaster hit us at the end,” said Babcock.

Questions generally touched on both local and provincial issues, ranging from how candidates would support small business, to enhancing community health-care facilities and service, to the environment. Themes persisted throughout much of the evening, with Kyllo proudly explaining what his government has done while acknowledging there are still challenges that need to be addressed. Lindgren attacked the BC Liberals and Kyllo, while emphasizing the need for a change in government. McCormack delivered charismatic responses attacking the status quo, while espousing the need for less government interference and taxation, and Babcock used personal experience and party platform to relay his message.

The question that fired up candidates the most revolved around the practice of corporations and unions buying influence through donations. Lindgren called this the crux of the entire election – corruption. She said the BC Liberals have repeatedly voted against legislation to remove the influence of “big money” from politics.

McCormack also took shots at the BC Liberals and how donors receive special favours from the party. Then he turned his sights on the NDP, naming various big union donors that have supported the party over the years.

“If the NDP want to see big money out of politics, they should lead by example,” said McCormack.

Babcock agreed to this, acknowledging the Greens have opted to not accept corporate or union donations and, as result, have benefited from an increase in personal donations.

Kyllo didn’t say whether or not he thought the practice of corporate/union donations should be eliminated. He argued, however, that the only reason the NDP is now crying foul over the issue is because big unions don’t have the NDP’s back as they have in previous years.

“When the NDP say no to LNG, they’re killing jobs for private sector unions. When the NDP say no to Site C, they’re killing jobs for private sector union employees across our province… they’re killing jobs for private sector unions, and the private sector unions are sick and tired of being treated like a cash machine and they’ve said no more,” said Kyllo.

BC Election 2017