Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce held their virtual all-candidates forum Friday, ahead of the Sept. 20 federal elections.
The forum, which took place just two days after the environment debate, on Sept. 10, saw all six candidates, Rhinoceros Party candidate Peter Buddle, Conservative incumbent Marc Dalton, Juliuss Hoffman of the People’s Party of Canada, NDP candidate Phil Klapwyk, Independent Steve Ranta and Liberal candidate Ahmed Yousef take part.
Ken Holland, two-time past president of the chamber was the moderator for the event and the discussion was opened by chamber’s Flori Chaykowski, who said, “This is not a debate, we are here to provide information from the candidates to the voters; some still undecided. Many, actually. So we ask the candidates to speak to them, the voters, and not take up time speaking of or to each other.”
Holland asked several questions from what the candidates’ top priorities if elected were, to how their party’s stand would affect homeowners and business taxes. He also had questions submitted by chamber members and audience, around post-pandemic challenges, economic recovery, cryptocurrency and environment.
Incumbent Dalton, spoke about the work he has done in the past in representing the riding. He also addressed the Opioid crisis and promised to put focus on treatment and recovery, if elected.
“I have a vision for Canada; I am Metis, and I am proud of my heritage,” he said. “For me job number one, is to represent individuals at the national, at the local level.”
Independent, Ranta emphasized once again on why he thought voting for any of the major parties was not the way to go. He spoke about supporting a wealth tax and opposed the LNG pipeline.
“I am running because I care,” said Ranta.
Hoffman had a similar idea when it came to talking about voting for major parties and insisted that doing the same things over and over again doesn’t mean they are right.
“We have had decades of major parties doing that and we haven’t seen any improvement. In fact, I see things getting a lot worse,” he said, adding, “We are real Canadians, give us a shot.”
To this, Yousef said he shuddered at the idea of “real Canadians” and Klapwyk too called out Hoffman for using the phrase “real Canadians”, saying it was a despicable and demeaning phrase and that we all Canadians.
Hoffman later reached out to The News and clarified what he meant when he used the term “real Canadians”.
”My explaination for saying ‘real Canadians’ is that it refers to our hearts and souls and true intentions and that we are Not Globalists,” he said.
Klapwyk, after making a stand over the “real Canadians” term, said, “We all want a better Canada, and we can’t build a better Canada without confronting all the issues that we face. We need leadership that responds locally, works collaboratively and has a positive impact on the lives of Canadians.”
Yousef, who spoke extensively about environment and business impact due to COVID, said he was in this because he wanted to be a useful participant in the community.
“As a business owner and operator in Maple Ridge, I am on the ground and I feel the pains of the business communities,” he said, adding that he would go to Ottawa and fight for mandatory vaccinations and proof of vaccinations so everyone can start travelling freely and he would work towards strengthening the Universal healthcare system.
Buddle pointed to the fraility of the system and said this was exposed due to the pandemic.
“What was most aparent on countless fronts was the complete absence of a plan of any type,” he said.
“The intention of this campaign, the Rhino-campaign, is not to get into power; I don’t want the job. You, the people of this wonderful community have some say in the way you interact with the federal government, by putting an X on a piece of cardboard every few years, and you are fully entitled to call that democracy if that’s what you wanted to. I implore you to think very carefully for that X you are going to place on that piece of cardboard.”
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