Enderby Chamber of Commerce president Ted Morrison lets a candidate know that time is running out for their answer to a question at an all-candidates forum Wednesday at the Enderby Senior's Complex.

Enderby Chamber of Commerce president Ted Morrison lets a candidate know that time is running out for their answer to a question at an all-candidates forum Wednesday at the Enderby Senior's Complex.

Tables turned in political forum

Normally, it’s the public who ask all of the questions at a political all-candidate’s forum.

But Wednesday, in front of a crowd of about 75 at the Enderby Senior’s Complex, five-year incumbent Conservative MP Colin Mayes kicked off the proceedings with his own poser.

“This is the third time in the last five years I’ve been in this building campaigning. That’s the question you need to ask today and get some answers on: why are we here again?” asked Mayes, the former mayor of Salmon Arm, during his opening statement.

“What was so important to the opposition that they needed to bring the government down into this election, costing you $350 million? What was so important they couldn’t wait 18 more months until the next election?”

Hosted by the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce, Mayes was joined at the forum by the other three candidates in the riding: Greig Crockett of the Green Party, Nikki Inouye of the NDP and the Liberals’ Janna Francis.

During the 90-minute forum, candidates were asked questions written by the Enderby chamber and those in attendance on such topics as a long gun registry, finances, wild salmon stocks and agriculture.

Crockett drew applause for his reply to a question about how the Greens would support innovation and productivity by businesses located in small and rural communities.

“Innovation and productivity stems from knowledge to a great degree, so we would improve the systems for training and excellence in the area,” said Crockett, a retired lawyer. “We would build on the colleges and apprenticeship programs by making them more affordable, lowering tuitions and providing loans and bursaries and also incentives for employers to hire young, newly trained people.”

Asked by a member of the public about what green initiatives the Liberals would support in the riding, Francis said the party had its greenest platform ever in the last election, but none of the policies were ever put in place.

“We have to implement policy and plans that reduce our carbon footprint,” said Francis, a retired social worker. “We need to shed our dependency on fossil fuels and it’s critical we take action on the environment and on the issue of climate change, and we will do that.”

One member of the public wrote about childcare options, citing that the day of the stay-at-home parent is gone, that their daughter and her husband’s monthly childcare costs exceed their mortgage payments.

Inouye, a mother of two and a cook, took a jab at Mayes’ reply about the government providing $100 a month in child care allowance for families with children under the age of six.

“I can tell you as a mother that $100 into my pocket wouldn’t spread very far when the prices of fuel and heating and everything else is going up,” said Inouye. “Jack Layton and the New Democrats will work with provinces and territories to establish a fund for Canada-wide childcare and learning programs. The ideal situation for all parents is we all want to stay home with our kids.

“I know I would have loved to have stayed home with my daughter instead of getting up at 5:30, dragging her to day-care, spending a fortune and not being able to spend any time with my daughter. I don’t think I’m alone when I say these kinds of programs are important.”

Mayes didn’t like the fact that CP Rail had shut down a rail line important to the Enderby area.

“It’s a private company, not run by the government and there’s a process in place where the company has to make that line available,” said Mayes. “When it became apparent nobody was interested or able to buy the line, the company shut it down. Doesn’t mean I necessarily like it, but it’s a business decision. The Government of Canada is not going to start subsidizing rail in this country.”

Mayes was heckled by audience members on a couple of his answers. One man held up a two-sided card every time the MP answered a question.  One side of the card called for the man to receive tax cuts along the same lines as corporations, the other side wanted Mayes to answer why the HST was implemented in B.C. and in his riding.

The question was not asked by moderator Tate Bengston of the chamber.