In a debate that ranged from local issues to global concerns, the Port Moody-Coquitlam candidates seemed to differ most regarding climate change.
Conservative incumbent Nelly Shin urged Canadians to look for practical solutions.
“Fossil fuel that comes from Canada . . . is one of the cleanest that the world can have, so if we do not allow fossil fuel and oil from Canada to be produced and exported we are empowering countries that don’t have such high standards to produce more carbon emissions,” Shin said.
Liberal candidate Will Davis took Shin’s comments as further evidence Conservatives lack a plan on climate change.
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If a Conservative government were to be elected, Canada would become “the only country in the world that would roll back further than where everybody’s going,” Davis said.
On the issue of climate change, NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo attacked in both directions.
“Conservatives, a portion of them, are saying that the climate crisis isn’t even real – and the Liberals are acting like it isn’t,” she said.
Zarrillo touted a plan to cut Canada’s emissions by half while creating good jobs by investing in electric transit, zero emission vehicles and energy-efficient affordable homes.
Davis also noted the environmental and financial wisdom of investing in green tech while touting the recent endorsement of former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.
Discussing recent Stoney Creek spills, Shin admonished the Liberal government for what she characterized as a lack of transparency.
“I have not been able to get answers,” she said.
Port Moody and Coquitlam need more housing, Davis said.
“This plan will provide that supply,” he pledged. “We are going to build or rebuild 1.4 million new homes in Canada, creating more employment in that sector.”
Davis discussed building incentives, further densification and a plan to: “Speed up approvals and times [and] tackle NIMBYism.”
The housing crisis has largely been fomented by redevelopment that “has pushed stable rental housing out of our community,” Zarrillo said.
“We need to build purpose-built affordable rental that the Liberals and the Conservatives have turned their backs to for almost 40 years.”
While the market is flush with luxury condos, Zarrillo emphasized the NDP commitment to build 500,000 units of affordable housing.
“Everyone in Canada should have a safe and affordable home,” she said.
Shin noted that home ownership is out of reach for many Canadians.
“I want our next generation to have a dream to hope for,” she said.
Shin discussed the Conservative plan to build one million homes over three years, building more homes near transit and making it easier for Canadians to get a mortgage
Shin also touted a: “for-Indigenous, by-Indigenous housing strategy in the spirit of Reconciliation.”
While Shin said childcare is “part of the solution to empower women,” she expressed reservations about the Liberals’ planned $10-a-day childcare plan.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all childcare system that we need,” she said, adding that the Conservatives would do a better job of “meeting the unique needs of women in the workforce.”
Shin also suggested the Liberals had promised affordable childcare “many, many times” but not delivered.
Davis invoked former Liberal Party leader Paul Martin’s childcare plan in 2006.
“I would have truly benefited from that. So would’ve my wife,” he said. “We got no childcare and we got ten years of Stephen Harper.”
Davis noted most provinces are already alongside with the federal government’s plan.
“We’ve waited long enough,” Zarrillo said. “As working parents, as working mothers, too many of us have waited too long for childcare.”
Zarrillo underscored the need to get women back into the workforce, given that women disproportionately lost jobs during the pandemic.
Bits and pieces
Shin described purging herself of “worldly belongings” and setting out as an outreach missionary, thus realizing her need to serve.
“A Conservative government will help Canadians transition safely pragmatically and united toward economic recovery,” Shin said, noting the Conservative plan to offer loans of up to $200,000 to small- and medium-sized businesses.
Getting business on their feet may mean getting them online, Davis said, discussing the government’s desire to “go digital” with businesses.
Discussing the Conservative and Liberal parties, Zarrillo pronounced: “They either delay or deny, and certainly disappoint.”
Both Zarrillo and Davis criticized Shin for not supporting a recently proposed ban on conversion therapy.
Organized by the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce, the debate was live-streamed via Facebook. Candidates were invited based on representing a party with one elected seat, four percent of the last election’s vote or four percent in the polls.