BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 1

The hour a half long BC party leaders debate for the upcoming 2020 BC provincial election took place between incumbent Premier John Horgin of the New Democratic Party (our socialists), Andrew Wilkinson of the Liberals (who in BC are actually a center right party, by our standards), and Sonia Furstenau of the Greens, moderated by Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid, a Canadian polling company. Go watch the video for full context. Here’s my edit of the transcript, removing all of the political bullshit.

Kurl

Mr. Wilkinson, why is it time for change in government?

Wilkinson

Half of British Columbia households expect someone to lose their job this year. Another third can’t pay their bills. [We will get] rid of the provincial sales tax for a full year and then reduce [it] to three percent the second year, providing a bridging finance program for our tourism and hospitality industries and also making sure that small businesses can survive.

Kurl

That is projected to be a 10 billion dollar bite out of provincial coffers. How are you going to make up the lost revenue?

Wilkinson

It’s time to accept there are going to be deficits all around the western world and we’ve got to take the chance to borrow money at very low interest rates. [We must] invest in our people to make sure they can survive economically for the next year or so. We expect there’ll be deficits, but we can get back to a balanced budget within about five years of a [SARS 2 coronavirus] vaccine becoming available.

Kurl

Mr. Horgan, … you broke your agreement on fixed election dates. Why should voters trust you again?

Horgan

I believe … we should ask British Columbians what they think and where they want to go. I believe it’s the right time to do that. [Great non-answer!]

Kurl

We have been … in a pandemic for seven months but you did not share the details of your 1.5 billion dollar economic recovery plan with British Columbians until days before calling this election. Why did you wait?

Horgan

I think we did it right. We got the right balance. [Another great non-answer!]

Kurl

Ms. Furstenau, BC’s economic recovery is in part driven by large fossil fuel projects such as LNG [liquid natural gas] and trans-mountain [pipeline] projects that many of your supporters oppose. Will you support these projects to protect the jobs that they provide?

Furstenau

The last thing that we need from governments is to be doubling down on investing and propping up and subsidizing to the tune of six billion dollars this industry that puts our future, our lands, and our children at peril. We [should] invest into a clean energy future that will create jobs and opportunities in every part of this province.

Kurl

Your party platform calls for an unprecedented transformation to a carbon neutral economy in 25 years. That is a massive change and you’re calling for the work to begin immediately. There are so many BC sectors including small business and tourism that are struggling to survive a pandemic right now. Is this the right time for this work to begin?

Furstenau

It’s not a matter of making a choice. Every investment needs to ensure that it addresses the needs right now and builds the future we owe to our children.

Kurl

More than 150 British Colombians have died of Covid-19 while living in long-term care. Their deaths revealed many vulnerabilities in the way this province looks after its aged including the role of private for-profit facilities. Is there a place for private for-profit care in the care of our seniors?

Furstenau

We are proposing … that [for] any private for-profit care home that is getting getting government funding, we know exactly how they’re spending that money that there is complete transparency and accountability. We need to move to a not-for-profit care home system.

Wilkinson

It’s time to put forward a tax credit system that supports seniors living in the right place–usually their own home to start with. The comfort and security of their home is the safest place to be during a pandemic. [We want] them [to be] able to get a credit for home care, housekeeping services, or house repairs so that [they] can live in dignity as long as they want to in their own home and then move into a properly regulated care facility with the standards of care that I expect.

Horgan

There’s a place for for-profit care. When we came to government, nine in ten care homes in British Columbia did not have the staff to meet the basic minimum standards. We put in place a single site rule so that workers who were struggling to make ends meet by working in multiple locations would focus on just one. We stopped contract flipping, … making sure that we were not having for-profit companies flipping contracts, driving down wages and forcing people to work in more facilities. We’re going to hire 7 000 to care for our seniors.

Wilkinson

One quarter of the businesses in British Columbia expect to close forever within 12 months. There was an emergency relief package that all three parties voted in support of but this election has blocked it. John, why would you block that package?

Horgan

That package is out right now Andrew. The relief on GST or PST for businesses that are investing in machinery and equipment to retain workers is going out the door in the middle of September the tax credit for those businesses also went out the door. The programs for small businesses have criteria, they’re in place, and the grant applications are in play. Public servants, not politicians will make the decision and those dollars will flow as quickly as possible.

Wilkinson

You dragged it out until three days before the election because you thought it would serve your interests. How can we trust you to look after our small businesses and our issues in British Columbia when you did this for purely self-serving reasons so that you could have an election to try to secure your employment for the next four years? What about the 150000 people working in tourism who have no revenue this year? They looked for relief now and you blocked it by saying you’d have a consultation process.

Horgan

Of the six billion dollars between budgets that we approved three and a half billion of it went out the door in March. The last bit was in consultation with British Columbians and businesses who wanted to know where to go. The tourism sector said give us an advisory committee. We put it in place and they’ll decide where that money is spent. Relief on GST or PST for businesses that are investing in machinery and equipment to retain workers is going out the door in the middle of September the tax credit for those businesses also went out the door. The programs for small businesses have criteria, they’re in place, and the grant applications are in play. Public servants, not politicians will make the decision and those dollars will flow as quickly as possible.

Wilkinson

The advisory committee … put out their reports in July and you stalled and stalled and now those tourism operators have nothing until next year because you chose to leave them out in the breeze.

Horgan

The BC Liberals put a big hole in the budget in 2001 by giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, firing 10000 people. Was that the right choice?

Wilkinson

In 2001 the health budget was eight billion dollars. It’s now 23 billion dollars. That growth happened under the Liberals. We built 14 hospitals. In their 13 years in office out of the last 30 the NDP have built no hospitals at all.

Horgan

You fired 10 000 people, largely women, to give a tax break to the wealthiest people in BC.

Wilkinson

This is your recurring theme of creating this division among British Colombians. Calling names and talking about things that happened 17 years ago will not help us.

Horgan

The consequences of your decisions were profound and tragic for seniors who found themselves in a pandemic without sufficient people to help them. and others who were going from place to place to place to make ends meet.

Wilkinson

You’ve said the South Surrey hospital would open multiple times; nothing ever happened.

Furstenau

John, you’ve thrown us into this unnecessary election. You’ve put people into a place of unease at a time when we’re facing this global pandemic and you’re campaigning in different ridings indicating that infrastructure that you have promised could be at risk with the outcome of this election.

Horgan

I did so because I believe … British Columbians [need] to hear from myself, Sonia, and Andrew on what [our visions are] for British Columbia. How are [we] going to solve the challenges we face because of Covid-19? We didn’t think about it in February when we tabled our balanced budget.

Furstenau

You’re willing to break your word. You’re willing to break agreements and you’re willing to break legislation that you yourself passed in the legislature in order to… seek that power and that majority that you still want.

Next: Part 2

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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1 Response to BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 1

  1. Pingback: BC Provincial Leaders Debate – Part 2 | Jim's Jumbler

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