BC Election 2020 - Local Candidate Answers

One Cowichan asked our supporter list what issues matter to them this provincial election.  Based on the responses, we asked all six local candidates for the major parties in the Cowichan Valley and Nanaimo-North Cowichan ridings to respond to seven questions.  We know there isn’t a perfect political party, so our goal is to focus on our local candidates and provide local voters with information about where those candidates stand on the issues that matter to local people and to inspire and motivate everyone to vote.  The candidates’ answers we received are posted here verbatim without commentary.  Here are the questions and their answers:

1. As climate impacts grow more severe, carbon emissions continue to rise. The 2019 UN Emissions Gap Report tells us emissions cuts of 7.6% every year from now to 2030 are needed to get us on track to prevent warming beyond 1.5°C. How do you plan to address the climate crisis provincially, and to support local governments in reducing emissions locally?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: The BC NDP are proud to have brought the CleanBC plan to our province. Developed together with Dr. Andrew Weaver, CleanBC is both an economic plan to transition to a low-carbon economy, and the strongest climate action plan on the continent. It will reduce our emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2007 levels. That is an ambitious target but we know we must go even further. That is why our 2020 platform commits to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. To get there, our platform doubles down on the CleanBC plan with specific measures to strengthen and expand it.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: The BC Greens will address the climate crisis provincially by making BC carbon neutral by 2045, providing a $1 billion business incentive fund for innovations that lower emissions, investing in building retrofits, and ending all fossil fuel subsidies. We will partner with local governments to reduce local emissions by investing in transit, liveable cities, and active transportation, including modernizing the revenue models for transit and reforming the local government finance system to enable local governments to properly deliver projects that reduce emissions. These initiatives will not only decrease local emissions but increase quality of life. 

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan:  The BC Greens are the only party with a plan that will actually meet our climate commitments while taking full advantage of the economic opportunities that a clean recovery offers. Among other directives, we will commit to be carbon neutral by 2045, matching California, and set sectoral targets to ensure industry is contributing their fair share to emissions reductions. We’re prepared to invest in that with a $1 billion strategic investment fund to support business innovation that aligns with the province’s goals, with a particular emphasis on supporting innovations that help the shift to a zero carbon economy.

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: Our government was able to implement CleanBC- the most ambitious climate plan in North America. Included in this plan are targets to ensure we meet our climate goals and funding streams to help businesses, industries and communities make the transition to cleaner energy. If elected, we plan on ramping up this plan by expanding programs to transition more industries and heavy vehicles away from fossil fuels. We will also remove PST on ebikes and provide a new income-tested incentive on new and used zero-emission vehicles to help more people make the transition to zero emissions, regardless of their income

 

2. What specific government actions are needed for BC’s Covid-19 pandemic recovery to create a more sustainable economy, support for local business and reliable living wage jobs for residents in the Cowichan Valley? How and where would you start?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: British Columbia’s recovery is going to come from helping the workers and small businesses that are at the heart of our economy. If re-elected a BC NDP government will continue to take action with Stronger BC, our economic recovery plan. Our plan will help businesses grow and rehire with a 15% tax credit on new payroll; and provide $300 million in grants for small- and medium-sized businesses to protect jobs. We will also link businesses with mentors and advice through an expanded RevUp program and help businesses access new markets with an expanded BC Export Navigator program.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: While COVID 19 requires an immediate response, we must make investments that position us to build back a more sustainable economy, support small businesses, and create reliable living wage jobs in every community. We will provide up to six months of rent assistance for qualifying small businesses and establish a $1 billion strategic investment fund to support business innovation. We will establish a clean jobs plan to help us recover from COVID-19 and get people back to work immediately, while developing a just transition program that creates a pathway for workers to a guaranteed job in the clean economy.

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: We need to invest in people. Careful investment on a local scale, like a small business, lifts up everyone in the community. Our communities depend on small businesses, and small businesses depend on our communities. Focusing recovery efforts on ensuring the health of these businesses is crucial. We also need to invest in resource jobs. Resource jobs help feed families throughout our communities, but now is the time to invest in ensuring those jobs are stable and that they preserve our environment for future generations. 

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: Covid has certainly highlighted problems we already knew existed, but it is also showing us a way forward. The BC government is a major purchaser of goods and services and we need to ensure that we use that power to buy local and employ local. A good start is our COVID recovery plan which will create 7,000 new health care positions in BC and will benefit Cowichan, particularly with the investments we have already made locally in Cowichan with the new hospice, approving a new hospital and the recent announcement of a new Primary Care network.

 

3. In response to the recent Old Growth Review Panel Report, the BC government temporarily deferred logging in nine old-growth areas while further consultations are held.  What provincial policies and actions would you advocate for in response to this report about protecting and managing old forests and ancient ecosystems?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: As an immediate next step, we will continue to consult with First Nations and protect additional high-risk old-growth forests where we have the consent of Indigenous communities. The key to improving old-growth management is to adopt a government-to-government approach with full involvement of Indigenous leaders, governments and organizations in proposed changes. That is why a re-elected BC NDP government will work with Indigenous leaders and organizations, labour, industry and environmental groups to create a new, holistic approach to protect old-growth forests for the benefit of all British Columbians.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: The BC Greens will advocate for immediately implementing all of the recommendations of the Old Growth Review Panel Report in collaboration with local communities and First Nations. We would immediately halt old growth logging and establish funding mechanisms to support the preservation of our old growth forests. We will investigate opportunities to diversify milling and secondary manufacturing to better use existing timber, and promote more sustainable development of forest resources, including investing in tourism opportunities and low-carbon economies. The BC Greens will enact legislation that establishes conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of BC’s forests as an overarching priority.

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: The first step is to include our Indigenous communities as full partners, and to hear their ideas on forests and their traditional territories. To do this we must recognize their sovereignty on those lands. I will ensure the government implements a moratorium on logging all high risk old-growth ecosystems across the province, while developing a strategy for science-based old growth management. We will absolutely support workers by ensuring this plan creates stable and sustainable jobs by investing in our many mills in Nanaimo - North Cowichan to allow them to align with those changes.

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: We are committed to working in collaboration with Indigenous leaders, labour, industry, and environmental groups to implement recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review to protect further old-growth stands – in addition to the 353,000 hectares we protected in September

 

4. What concrete steps do you think the BC government needs to take to address institutional racism and make meaningful progress on reconciliation with First Nations, and where and how would you start?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: Equality, anti-racism, and human rights are priorities for the BC NDP.  One of our government’s proudest moments was introducing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. If re-elected, in consultation with Indigenous leadership, our government will create a dedicated Secretariat to ensure new policies are consistent with the Declaration Act. We also commit to:

  • Paving the way for race-based data collection to help modernize sectors like policing, healthcare and education
  • Ensure better representation in the public service
  • Work with stakeholders to create a new Anti-Racism Act that better serves everyone in BC.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: The BC Greens were instrumental in passing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), which provides a path forward on reconciliation. In Cowichan, we began addressing systemic racism in the child welfare system by successfully advocating for changes to harmful policies such as birth alerts. All of our institutions need to be similarly examined and reimagined in collaboration with Indigenous peoples. BC Greens will ensure the benefits of BC resources flow to local communities by directly sharing more resource revenues with local First Nations, and engage Indigenous peoples in a landscape-level ecosystem-based management approach to development.

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: One of the reasons I’m running as a Green candidate is because our party is built on a foundation of equality. We can only do our important work when everyone is given equal opportunity to contribute regardless of gender, income, or background. I intend to work hard at creating opportunities for equity in our communities, health system, politics, and businesses. Much of this work starts with recognizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as more than a press release. Embedding Indigenous Ways of Knowing in our policies and practices will benefit everyone.  

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: Regarding First Nations I believe enshrining the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into provincial legislation was the best place to start and the next step is ensuring that everything we do going forward is done through the lens of reconciliation. That is why our government will create a dedicated Secretariat to ensure new legislation and policies are consistent with UNDRIP. We will also work with B.C.’s new Human Rights Commissioner and other stakeholders to introduce legislation that paves the way for race-based data collection essential to modernizing sectors like policing, health care and education.  

 

5. What do you consider the top priorities for improving health and well-being for people in the Cowichan Valley across all ages and life circumstances, including those most vulnerable in our community? What will you do to ensure the province addresses these priorities?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: The top priorities are fighting COVID-19, addressing the overdose crisis, ensuring our seniors are well cared for, and expanding access to primary care for those without a family doctor. We’ve taken significant action, but there is much more to do. A re-elected BC NDP government will implement our Pandemic Action Plan; accelerate the response to the overdose crisis across the full continuum of care; and invest in seniors, home care, and long-term care homes. We already have a Primary Care Network underway in Cowichan. We’ll continue to open more networks and Urgent and Primary Care Clinics in communities across BC.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: We can improve health and well-being for people in Cowichan Valley by creating more liveable communities, prioritizing health initiatives, and extending financial support to the most vulnerable. The BC Greens will invest $1 billion over four years to bring mental health services into the Medical Services Plan, provide accessible, community-based treatment options for such things as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, and create additional supportive housing for those requiring wrap-around services. We will also expand high-quality and accessible public seniors care, extend financial support to renters struggling with affordability, and ensure adequate financial support for both working and stay-at-home parents.

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: I remember growing up with social assistance.  Without extra support we would have struggled as a family. The simple needs of shelter and security are often what are missing today. We are seeing rising housing and living costs push people into crisis. CERB has shown that putting income into the hands of those most at risk in our community lifts everyone up.  A Universal Basic Income (UBI) program would give everyone the support they need. The BC Greens are committed to addressing inequality across BC with policies like; universal child care, renter’s support, social housing, and accessible mental health services. 

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: I think there are a few areas that we should focus on that can make the biggest impact in Cowichan and those are health care, housing, homelessness and reducing costs for families. We have made progress on some of these areas with new housing, a new hospital and more recently the announcement of a new primary care network- but we need to keep making progress. In particular I would like to see more local affordable housing investments and expansion of the $10 a day childcare program.

 

6. The opioid crisis is taking more lives across the spectrum of BC’s population than the Covid pandemic, including here in the Cowichan Valley. What more can the BC government do to address this crisis, and how would you begin?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: Before the pandemic, our efforts to tackle the opioid crisis were making a difference, and we saw the first drop in the rate of overdose deaths since 2012. When COVID-19 hit, and the crisis escalated, we responded across the full continuum of care. A BC NDP government will move quickly to accelerate our response, including: building new treatment, recovery, detox and after-care facilities; investing in local supports to address the impacts of this crisis in our communities; continuing our work to help prescribers separate more people from the toxic drug supply through safe prescription alternatives.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: The tragic ongoing overdose crisis must be addressed using a factual, compassionate approach. The provincial health officer issued a report two years ago with recommendations to address the overdose crisis. There is clear provincial action to be taken, but many of those proposals to address this crisis, including decriminalization, have been ignored. The BC Greens will follow the advice of experts and decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use, provide immediate help to active users, invest in a vastly increased number of in-patient treatment facilities, and provide long term counselling and support facilities following treatment.

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: There is clear provincial action that needs to be taken and Dr. Henry has detailed it. The NDP have chosen to ignore her advice and leave it to Ottawa. The B.C. Greens have been calling for the adoption of her advice for months. We put our trust in science and Dr. Henry. We listened to experts, including the Chief Coroner, when they voiced concerns about the plan to detain youth. The experts were clear that this could actually lead to increased fatalities and would violate children’s charter rights and the UN Convention on the rights of the child.

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: Since we formed government, we have taken several steps to address the current opioid crisis- including creating a separate ministry for mental health and addictions. We were starting to see decreases in the number of opioid deaths for the first time in years- but Covid changed everything and the street drug supply is more toxic than it has ever been. We have recently increased the availability of prescription alternatives and empowered both doctors and nurses to prescribe them, in hopes of transitioning more people off the toxic street drugs and we are committed to taking further actions to address this crisis.

 

7. The South Island Transportation Study that was recently released does not mention a future train along the E&N corridor. Where do you stand on the conversion of the E&N corridor to a multi-use trail, potentially accommodating both bicycles and e-bikes, and if you support it, how would you help make it happen?

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley: The Island Corridor Foundation owns the land and the rail line, and we continue to work with the ICF. We recently completed an in-depth assessment of the corridor that will be used to inform future decisions on investments in the corridor. We will continue to work with local First Nations and local governments as we explore the best options for this corridor moving forward, including looking at the options you have raised. Our approach is to look for solutions that get people moving throughout the South Island as efficiently as possible, while making sure this corridor serves the public interest.

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley: The E&N corridor is vital to achieve liveable, connected communities across the South Island. The E&N corridor must be part of a regional transportation strategy that builds frequent and affordable public transportation links between cities, such as between Cowichan and the CRD, and promotes active transportation as part of healthy community design. The BC Greens would expand provincial funding for projects such as bike lanes and trails while making e-bikes more accessible by removing PST, requiring commercial premises to provide secure bike parking with charging capabilities, and creating more safe storage options at key locations such as transport hubs. 

Tanya Kaul, BC Liberals, Cowichan Valley: did not respond

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Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: I fully support converting the old E&N corridor to an accessible multi-use trail system. This development could only happen with First Nations consultation and partnership. The refurbishing of the rail line will be extremely expensive and will not serve to move our communities forward towards active transportation. The old E&N, while a novel idea, was not an option for our communities to use for commuting or transportation. An accessible, multi-use trail system will not only connect our communities, and allow for transportation choice among our residents, it will also increase tourism to our beautiful corner of the Island. 

Duck Paterson, BC Liberals, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: did not respond

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan: I am a huge advocate for rail, but I am also an avid cyclist. I think both are important pieces of how we can transition communities away from fossil fuels and to cleaner transportation.  I believe with the right partnerships, funding and planning we could do both rail and trails. 

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Campaign websites & contact information for the candidates who responded to our survey:

 

Rob Douglas, BC NDP, Cowichan Valley:

Website: https://robdouglas.bcndp.ca/  

Contact phone number: 250-597-0301

Contact email address: rob.douglas@bcndp.ca

 

Sonia Furstenau, BC Greens, Cowichan Valley:

Website: www.soniafurstenau.ca

Contact phone number: 778-600-0249

Contact email address: votefurstenau@bcgreens.ca

 

Chris Istace, BC Greens, Nanaimo – North Cowichan:

Website: https://www.bcgreens.ca/chris_istace

Contact phone number: 250-510-3362 

Contact email address: voteistace@greenparty.bc.ca

 

Doug Routley, BC NDP, Nanaimo – North Cowichan:

Website: https://dougroutley.bcndp.ca/ 

Contact phone number: 250-924-4624

Contact email address: doug.routley@bcndp.ca