Special to The Morning Star
Voters peppered federal candidates with diverse questions at Enderby’s election forum Tuesday.
More than 100 people filled the Enderby Seniors Complex to hear from the candidates for the North Okanagan-Shuswap riding and pose questions that touched on timely topics like the Middle East and some older issues like the long gun registry.
Conservative Mel Arnold blamed the Liberals for wasting $2 billion on the failed registry.
“We will bring in common sense firearms laws,” he said.
Liberal Cindy Derkaz said her party has no plans to resurrect the registry.
“We’re not going down that route and make any further changes.”
Green candidate Chris George said the focus should to be on illegal guns, responsible use and education.
“The current registry and the current way we regulate firearms in this country is adequate,” he noted.
Jacqui Gingras, NDP candidate, said she ran for election only after being assured the registry was off the table.
“We are going to uphold the rights of responsible gun owners, of which I am one. I will stand for you on this issue,” she said.
A question about arms deals to Saudi Arabia led to answers focused on Canada’s role in the Middle East.
“We need to have a return to a foreign policy where we do stick to our rules; where we are that middle power. We’ve somehow lost the Canadian-ness that we think that we have,” said Derkaz.
George expressed a need for Canada to return to its role as peacekeepers.
“We also need to go through a rebuilding period of re-supplying our Armed Forces with the tools they need to do their job,” he added.
“We need to be reminded that we do have a role as peacekeepers and providing humanitarian aid,” agreed Gingras. “And when we provoke conflict, then there are consequences to that.”
Arnold said Canada’s role in the current refugee crisis lies in addressing tensions overseas.
“If we can do something in that area to ease the pressure on those people in their homes and keep them there, that is what’s going to be best for everyone all the way around.”
A question around genetically modified organisms prompted criticism of Conservative policy around scientific research.
“It is really an issue of evidence-based decision-making and the ability of scientists to speak about their science, to share their research and the will of the government to act upon that evidence,” Derkaz said.
Gingras said the NDP wants “to stand to reignite the spirit of discovery in this country so we can collect the evidence so we can keep our food and ourselves safe.”
George said research around GMOs should be done by industry and the results shared with the public.
“But until you get to that point, that product needs to stay off our shelves,” he added.
Arnold said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is crucial to food safety.
“I would also like to support that we do have food labelling so it identifies what is in the food we are eating so people can make the choice.”
Other topics posed to the candidates included health care, democracy, First Nations, Senate reform, minimum wage and supporting local agriculture.
The all candidates forum was hosted by the Enderby Chamber of Commerce.