All candidates meeting held in Houston

The Houston District and Chamber of Commerce hosted and all candidates meeting at the Pleasant Valley Plaza in Houston on Apr. 24 for the upcoming member of legislative assembly (MLA) election on May. 9.

There are five candidates competing in the MLA of Nechako Lakes election.

Douglas Norman Gook, B.C. Green party said that he stands in solidarity with the Indigenous land right offenders and the work they do to protect their land and keep the gas in the ground. Two young brothers, shy of the eligible age to run as a candidate, approached Gook who they knew ran in previous elections to represent the B.C. Green party, which has an active policy to lower the voting age and candidate requirements.

”As well as setting up youth and elder’s council to provide guidance for legislation that will be coming down the pipe and impacting their future,” said Gook.

Protecting the lands is one of the main reasons Gook was set on the B.C. Green party. “The Green party recognizes the massive impacts that we and future generations are going to be facing because of our climate issues, and recognizes that the majority consensus in science is suggesting that 80 per cent of fossil fuels need to be left in the ground,” said Gook.

For the past three years Gook has been involved with the concerns of the Mount. Polley mine disaster.

In his opening statement Gook concluded, “Seeing the impacts of the imperial metals Mount Polley mine disaster, and recognizing that imperial metals is present here, is one area I that will be discussing further today.”

Anne Marie Sam, B.C. New Democratic party representative said “I have been based in the Fort. St. James area for the majority of my life, where I am a single mom of three beautiful children,” she said.

“I was asked to share how our community built an independent grocery store to help meet the needs in Fort. St. James,” saidSam.

Sam stated that early in her career she visited Huckleberry Mine when it was still in operation and was apart the mining review that started in B.C. after the Mount. Polley disaster.

Sam also as professional training in negotiations, media relations, and community organization. As well as experience working as the executive assistant for the Minister of Children and Families.

In her opening statement Sam concluded, “I am committed developing policies to ensure that life is more affordable for our communities, and that we get the services when and where we need them.”

John Rustad, MLA of Nechako Lakes for the past four years, “In the early 1990s I started my own company, I was involved in forestry and forestry consulting. Our company had an office here in Houston and Prince George,” said Rustad.

Rustad recalled in the year 2001 sitting down with his wife to discuss moving to Calgary because he was unhappy with the way things were going in the province of B.C. during the 90s. They chose to stay, and Rustad made the decision to enter into politics.

“As a government we are focused on our jobs agenda, because we know if you want to be able to see good jobs, you have to be able to do it responsibly, respectfully, but you have to figure out how to see projects go forward and see those jobs in those communities,” said Rustad.

Rustad said since the job plan has been put in place they have seen over 200,000 new jobs being created in B.C., of which10,000 were in forestry since 2011.

“We want to continue to support that growth and opportunity in forestry. It is one of the reasons why we’ve committed to seeing more of the wood utilized,” said Rustad. “Currently a lot of waste is being left behind in the woods, that has potential to create jobs and build sustainable forestry activity. We’re committing to make sure we see one million cubic meters of wood come back in from the forest.”

Rustad also said that the B.C. Liberal party supports environmental diversity for animals, as well as money being committed to planting trees in Forests of Tomorrow. In his opening statement Rustad concluded that mining is important for our region in Houston and a couple weeks ago was discussed with an investor who is putting together an investment package to reopen Huckleberry Mine.

“I’m a long time resident of Fort. Fraser where I live with my wife Dawn, a businessman, a heavy equipment operator, a prospector and a politician,” said Jon Rempel, representative of the Libertarian party.

“The current government likes to talk about how great the B.C. economy is, but it is not looking so good around here,” said Rempel. He stated that Canada revealed that job numbers across B.C. went up 21 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016,“but Northern numbers dropped around 13 per cent.”

Rempel said that the Libertarian party wants to axe the carbon tax, and simplify the tax system to make it easy to understand.

“Nationwide in 2011 between $19.2 billion and $24 billion was spent complying with personal and business tax system inCanada. An additional $6.6 billion was collectively spent in governments across the country administering the tax system,”said Rempel.

A fundamental tax reform could create the possibility of putting “hundreds of millions of dollars back to work for you,” said Rempel. Rempel said that the B.C. carbon tax has done nothing to reduce fuel use or improve the environment in the province.

“In the calendar year of 2012 fuel consumption in Canada declined by six per cent while consumption in B.C. increased by2.7 per cent,” he said.

Rempel recited places like France, Australia, who cancelled and repealed their carbon tax, and noted that the United States in not planning on implementing it there.

“This keeps B.C. less competitive and puts artificial drag on our economy,” said Rempel. “Better to grow our economy to mitigate the effects of climate change rather than punishing ourselves pretending that we can stop something which we have so little control over.

Rempel concluded that the Libertarian party wants to bring back the homestead act or something similar to offer BritishColumbia’s residents “an opportunity that will benefit their kids and not be dependent on the government giving them a handout.”

Al Trampuh, a resident of Vanderhoof and an Independent representative said his platform offers a system that unites 300individuals that would more efficiently address the concerns in Nechako Lakes.

“There is not enough standards in how we debate, vote, get involved in the election, and how we learn about it,” said Trampuh.

Trampuh said that as an independent representative he would be better able to advocate down in Victoria to compete.

“I believe that the New Democratic party as a party are not being competitive enough and the Liberals are getting away with more things that are not as ethical as it should be, including how the election process went from government spending to advertising for their party,” said Trampuh.

Trampuh said that Rustad has to answer to Christy Clark which doesn’t allow him to measure what the opinion is in Nechako Lakes. He says that by having 300 people whose responsibilities lie in listening to and addressing a multitude of platforms will provide better representation of people’s opinions.

“You can’t have one MLA try and represent everyone all at once, so this is a way to be efficient to link the opinions and bring it down south,” said Trampuh.

Trampuh concluded in asking people to think about “who is going to benefit the province overall from this area? If you are not sure you can vote for the Non Democratic Party or the Liberals, I’m here to present another option.”


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