Green Party candidate Chris George (left) finishes answering a question from the floor just as timer Dwayne Hackett looms to inform him time is up during an all-candidates forum Wednesday night in Lumby.

Green Party candidate Chris George (left) finishes answering a question from the floor just as timer Dwayne Hackett looms to inform him time is up during an all-candidates forum Wednesday night in Lumby.

Candidates share democratic concerns

The question came from a teenager, one of the youngest members in the crowd of close to 100 at all-candidate’s forum Wednesday in Lumby

The question came from a teenager, one of the youngest members in the crowd of close to 100 at a North Okanagan-Shuswap riding all-candidate’s forum Wednesday night at Lumby’s White Valley Community Centre:

Do you have a problem with democracy today, and, if so, what would you as an individual do to fix it?

“I’m really concerned about the direction of our democracy,” said Liberal candidate Cindy Derkaz. “The Liberals are in favour of electoral reform and are committed, within 18 months of being elected as government, of bringing in legislation to make this election the last first-past-the-post election.”

NDP candidate Jacqui Gingras questioned the Conservative party’s Fair Elections Act as being fair.

“It actually makes it less fair to participate in our democracy,” she said. “That act needs to go. With electoral reform, we need to make sure we have a voting system that people see their votes count and contribute to the outcome.”

Chris George of the Green Party said proportional representation has been part of his party’s platform since he became a member.

“The Greens have led the conversation on this topic and it’s now of national importance,” said George. “We would do specific things to enhance our democracy, like cutting the Prime Minister Office’s budget by 50 per cent. That would force the prime minister to be accountable and report to parliament when he needs money for programs or staffing his office.”

Said Mel Arnold, Conservative candidate: “Democracy is not as threatening as a lot of people like to promote. The first-past-the-post system was provided as a choice to B.C. residents. The majority do not want it…Our MPs are able to vote. We have the least whipped votes of any ruling party. (Former MP) Colin Mayes said he was able to vote against party lines eight times in his career. Other parties, no. They have to vote with the party lines.”

Along that line, one member of the audience asked the candidates if they thought they’d be able to express their own opinions within their party and truly represent their riding.

“I intend to be a powerful voice, your voice in Ottawa,” said Gingras. “I may not agree with my party on everything but I’m very tenacious when it comes to matters of principle and representing others. I’m going to Ottawa to help make a party, not be absorbed by that party. I feel very strongly about that.”

George said the Green Party believes in ‘me.’

“If it comes down to a budget bill or a matter of confidence, I get to use my best judgment and that means the party has confidence in me that I’m going to make the right decision,” he said.

“If I have to vote against the party on a confidence motion or budget motion, as long as I feel I can justify that decision based on doing what is right for constituents in my riding, my party isn’t going to have a problem with it.”

Derkaz, a retired lawyer, said she could “never be a trained seal jumping up and clapping for things I did not believe in.”

“I believe I will have a say in this riding,” she said. “I truly believe Justin Trudeau’s leadership style is inclusive and collaborative. I’ve spent the last 40 years trying to determine if someone is being square with me or not. As your MP, I’ll have lots of chances to represent you to the best of my ability in caucus without being muzzled.”

Arnold said his experience in working with and on provincial and national organizations would help him be a loud voice in caucus.

“I’ve learned  how to negotiate for what’s important for me and my constituents in B.C.,” he said. “Those types of things are what you learn through experience and I’ll carry that experience forward to the caucus chambers.

Candidates faced a total of 13 questions on topics such as firearms, working for people with disabilities, water, climate change and Bill C-51 in the two-hour forum.

Moderator Joe Deuling did an excellent job of handling hecklers, making sure the candidates were given a chance to answer each question.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swans and eagles

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

A male kingfisher at Vernon’s Polson Park. (David Guscott/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
$78K in conservation grants awarded in the North Okanagan

The RDNO announced four recipients of its 2021 Conservation Fund Friday

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near South Okanagan schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

An individual at Rutland Senior Secondary school has tested positive for COVID-19. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Individual at Central Okanagan school tests positive for COVID-19

Authorities say the person is self-isolating at home with support from local health teams

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read