Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates answer to Gabriola voters

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, October 9 2019

This past Saturday afternoon, the Gabriola Ratepayers hosted an All-Candidates Forum, inviting all registered candidates running in the federal election in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding to attend.

Eight out of the nine registered candidates showed up at the Community Hall to take part in the forum.

Present were:

Bob Chamberlin New Democrat Party 

James Chumsa Communist Party 

Jennifer Clarke People’s Party

Michelle Corfield Liberal Party

Paul Manly Green Party

Brian Marlatt Progressive Canadian Party

Geoff Stoneman Independent

Echo White Independent

Absent was John Hirst with the Conservative Party

In their introductory remarks, candidates outlined how they were seeking to represent Gabriola, and the entire Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding in Ottawa.

Chamberlin began saying he had been on Gabriola throughout the week, including at the Gabriola Talks Climate Crisis meeting the weekend before - to hear what concerns Gabriolans have so he can, “represent you in the strongest way to ensure the concerns of Gabriola are heard in Ottawa loud and clear.

“It is inspiring to see so many people come together at a local level to see what we can do to effect change to assist the planet to survive.”

Chamberlin said just as it is no secret why so many people love the beautiful coastline of the southern gulf islands, it is important for the representatives in government to , “fight everything that we can with everything we can to ensure our way of life is saved for our children and future generations.”

He pointed to his experience, including 14 years as a First Nations Chief - in working with all levels of government to effect change.

“I know how to bring a strong mandate - in every opportunity - and how to create opportunity to find solutions we need.”

Chumsa went next, pointing out that the Communist Party is, “the only party running that is openly critical of capitalism - advocating for a socialist alternative.

“The Communist Party is a working class party  - also a party that is anti-imperialist, it is a party for peace, we respect the right of countries abroad and within canada for the right to defend and self determination.”

He said the party is campaigning for a $20 minimum wage and the elimination of income tax for those making less than $40K a year.

“As well as a reduced work week with no loss in pay.”

Chumsa said the party is also campaigning to end subsidies for fossil fuel companies - and to use the saved monies for investing in alternative energy technology and to retrain oil workers.

They would, if elected, also reduce Canada’s military budget by 75% and pull Canada out of NATO.

“We see how Canada has been complicit - been part of the destabilization in the middle east - causing families to flee from the wars caused by that. Which is why the Communist Party has a strong anti-war stance.”

Clarke, running for the PPC, said she is PPC Leader Maxine Bernier’s spokesperson for BC, “and I’m in a great position to become one of his cabinet ministers.”

She said, “I have seen our freedoms being eroded in our last several years. Our soverignty being taken over by UN, which is primarly made up of countries who don’t have our high human rights standards. Our borders are open and not respected. We should have secure borders in Canada. We only invite people we know to come inside. Most people calling for open borders live in gated communities.”

She also claimed that the Canadian government is calling for more UN selected immigration because Canadians aren’t having enough children.

“We will lower the cost of living so people can have more children knowing they can support them.”

She said the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Green parties have all had a chance representing this area, “and nothing has changed for years.”

She pointed to the multiple byelections which have happened in the past year in Nanaimo as causing voter fatigue - and said if she was elected, she would ensure those causing such byelections to take place would have to cover the costs to the taxpayers.

Corfield said she, as a lifetime resident of Nanaimo, had chosen to raise her children here and has given back to the community - she has sat on a number of local organizations.

With her educational background, and undergrad in First Nations studies, Corfield says she has worked with all levels of government to enrich the well being of the riding. In terms of her party, Corfield said a re-elected Liberal government will move forward for seniors - by increasing CCP survivor benefit by 25%.

“We will make sure people don’t pay taxes on the first $15K they earn.”

She said there would be an increase in child benefits for young families - and more investments into marine science and fighting invasive species. She pointed out that Gabriola and the riding can send an MP, “to Ottawa with a seat at the table with the decision makers. Nanaimo Ladysmith needs to have an active voice - for far too long, this riding has not had a representative in power in Ottawa. I can be the MP that will strongly advocate for this region. I want to be part of the choose forward politics that makes Canada a better place for everyone.”

Manly said, “it was an honour and privilege to be elected your MP this May. I have worked hard in the short period of time that I’ve had and I’m seeking reelection because my work is not done, I have much more to do. I love this community. This is where I’m from - my grandfather had a farm on Jingle Pot Road, I used to come to Gabriola to visit friends. This is my home. We have an affordable housing crisis. We have an opioid crisis. A doctor shortage, a climate crisis.”

He pointed out the need for social media and tech corporations who do business in Canada to pay their fair share. 

“The ones who do business here and do their taxes elsewhere. And the ones who take their monies to the Caymans.

“Gabriola supported me a lot in the byelection. you woke up Ottawa. The day after the byelection Trudeau was talking about Nanaimo-Ladysmith and how people must be focused on climate change.

“You did that. You did that with your vote. You sent me to Ottawa - and you got them changing their policy work. I’ve seen some great policies coming out. On October 21, send me back to Ottawa, I’ve got work to do.”

Marlett is a recent resident of the Nanaimo area, but has been a member of the PC party for many years.

For him, health care is a key issue for me personally and for the community. 

He said for most of the party platforms, “seniors care has been largely ignored - I think these are areas we need to work on.

“We elect MPs forward - a people as a whole - we are in the end all Canadians.

“I’m here to put PC values back on the ballot. My principal concerns were those of health care.”

Stoneman said to start with, he wanted to thank the Ratepayers Association for inviting all the candidates to take part in the forum - pointing out it is one of the only forums in the riding open to all the candidates, and calling it censorship of dissenting political views.

“We are facing this in Canada. Elizabeth May and Maxime Bernier were excluded from french leaders debate. They were excluded because their parties didn’t hold seats in Quebec.

“More than half of us you see here are not being given a chance to take place in the Naniamo Chamber debates on October 10. This is censorship and partisanship at a time when we’re trying to give everyone a chance to be heard.”

Stoneman had a petition with him at the Gabriola Forum, stating that the  undersigned believed all candidates in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding involved in the federal election should have a fair and equal opportunity to speak in the Nanaimo debate held October 10, 2019.

Seven of the candidates, excluding Hirst and Corfield, signed the Petition. Stoneman said to be fair, Hirst and Corfield had conflicts of interest [outside of the election] in doing so.

Getting to his platform, Stoneman said he is running as an independent because, “like the majority of Canadians - I think partisan politics are creating a division when we need to find unity.

“I’m proposing aggressive climate action - I think we can shift from fossil fuel to hydrogen fuel - we can pull hydrogen from old bitumen wells - inject that right into our existing natural gas system - implement in 2021. Get to Paris Accord by 2030 without doing anything else. 

“It’s my belief once rural Canadians can see they are making a difference while saving money - consumer pressure will get us to zero emission by 2035. It’s a choice as Canadians we can make.”

His two other areas of focus are based on the increase in costs of housing, and costs of living.

A plumber by trade, Stoneman said he has been, “in trades since 2006. I know there are a lot of my colleagues who used to make good money - are now making very little at the end of the month.”

He pointed out that Gabriolans, who get off the ferry downtown, are more than aware there are issues with mental health and addictions - which need to be addressed.

“We have tools to help the most vulnerable in our society - and we should use them.”

White is also running as an independent. She said her entry was a last minute on - but one based on her feeling a call to put her name on the ballot. She moved to Nanaimo from Ottawa two years ago. “I moved from Ottawa to Nanaimo about two years ago - I just fell in love with the city - and my family we all love the city but we’ve been waiting for someone to represent Nanaimo’s residents back to Ottawa.

“I feel honoured to run with the other candidates. I am not with any party, because I believe I should be completely and directly accountable to Nanaimo residents and not serve a political party. So many people come up and ask what party I’m with. I say no, I feel I have the calling and devotion to represent the riding.”

White was a member of the Team Canada Trade Mission to promote billion-dollar projects overseas for Canada. She has experience working within the federal government and crown corporation in Ottawa. She believes that as an MP with a strong background in the high tech industry, she would fight for more tax incentives and training programs to attract businesses and investments, which would increase local employment in all sectors. 

“I see a revival coming to Nanaimo soon. I am an entrepreneur, not a politician.”



The Q&A portion of the Ratepayers All-Candidates Forum held this past Saturday afternoon at the Community Hall.

Editor’s Note: not all Candidates were asked questions - and answers have been edited for space.

Question to Chamberlin, “How is the NDP policy on indigenous relations different than the Green Party?”

Answer: Chamberlin explained that during the last sitting government - the Liberals had the opportunity to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - an independent members’ bill put forward by NDP MP Romeo Saganash.

“It became the last business for the Senate, and Conservatives shut it down.

“This is about FN rights and the federal court. It’s only been enacted once in Canada, I was the chief at the time, and we got fish farms out.”

Question to Clarke and Stoneman asking, “what is different about your economic platform?”

Clarke said the PPC has the best platform for business in Canada. “Eliminate all corporate welfare - get rid of it all, get rid of the subsidies - and let the free market decide who the winners and losers are. Lower taxes to a flat tax of 10% for business and make sure interprovincial trade barriers are removed.”

She added the CRTC should be deregulated to bring the cost of telecommunications down - and to eliminate supply-chain management for all foods - which Clarke said would lead to food prices closer to what the US pays.

“Everything will be cheaper in Canada.”

Stoneman said, “when it comes to taxes, I know on average, we pay between 42 and 44% goes to taxes in one form or another. 

“As a Canadian who likes our social programs. I’m not gonna cut taxes, I have no interest in cutting taxes. I think canadian life is about as good as life is going to get anywhere in the world. A huge part of our economy comes from the oil and gas industry. 

“I think we recognize we need to stop burning fossil fuels. We’re behind the curve - there’s a projected 350 years of clean energy in northern BC. Harness that, develop a domestic market, build an export market - we can continue to pay for the social programs we all rely on.”

Question for Chamberlin, “What’s your stand on women’s reproductive rates?”

Chamberlin said, “I absolutely support without qualification a woman’s right to choose.

“There is nowhere in my heart of being that thinks a government or group of men should decide what should or shouldn’t happen for a woman.

“I’m saddened this has re-emerged during this election. I thought this was done and dealt with. I am proud the NDP is of the same mind.

“One of the one times we were whipped was on this issue, and I support it fully.”

 Question for Manly and Chamberlin, “Do you support the BDS movement?”

The BDS movement, formally known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is a Palestinian-led campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel’s obligations under international law.

Manly said, “I fully support Israel’s right to exist, and I support Palestine’s and the two of them need to work together.

“The green party is not part of the BDS movement. I would rather see Palestinians use non-violent tools than violence.

“My campaign manager  is Israeli-Canadian. I talked to both him and his brother about what is going on in Palestine. The human rights of Palestinians need to be respected so that their rights aren’t violated. We have human rights, and we need to respect those rights.”

Chamberlin, “in Canada we have a human rights problem - it’s been a problem since the beginning of this country. We have watched for generations since the very inception of this country of the denial of rights for First Nations people. This has proven out in the courts - articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The very fact we have governments that have been loath to embrace that - confirms the depth of work that is needed in Canada for aboriginal rights.

“There’s not one story of origin that’s more important than another - they just are. Whether it’s Israel, Palestine, the Snuneymuxw, the Haida, or the Mohawk.”

Question - for Marlatt, opened to Corfield by the moderator: Being as [Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer]  does not support Medical Assistance in Dying, what is your stance?

Marlatt said, “first of all, Scheer is not the leader of my party - we are the PC Party. But I’ve had close contact with that issue. My father has had a spinal issue - he was told he had 60% chance of dying on the table.”

Marlatt explained while in hospital with his father, he had to sit and listen to a family having a discussion in the next bed over about MAID.

“It is not an easy decision to make - we need to show compassion - when MAID is the right choice, that needs to be provided for.”

Corfield said she was on the college of physicians who developed the guidelines and standards for MAID.

“In the central island alone we have 20,000 seniors and one gerontologists.

“We did not go far enough in the legislation. I would like to see the advanced directive.

“We have to continue to advocate for MAID because we have the most seniors. This is really passionate for me - I spent a lot of time on this topic, we need to move forward with this...hopefully we get an advanced directive in.”

Question to Manly and Chamberlin: “A fundamental policy of the  greens is to vote on their own. What is your stance on Women’s Rights?”

Manly explained when someone becomes a candidate for the Green Party, “we sign up to a policy book, and we sign a contract.” That contract states the Green Party is to oppose any possible government movement to diminish the rights of women’s access to abortion. “We fully support a woman’s right to choose. I am unequivocal on a woman’s right to choose. Elizabeth May is unequivocal the same.

“Elizabeth May [as leader] does not have the power to whip MPs.

We have a process where I’m accountable to the members of the Green Party...I’m not whipped by the leader. I can speak my mind and speak my truth. But I must adhere to these policies, or I’m out of the party.

“I support a woman’s right to choose.”

Chamberlin said, “when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. I’m very clear where I’m at. The NDP are clear on that as well.

“This obsession with whipping. I don’t walk into a room as a bird waiting to be fed. I walk into a room with a mandate, with solutions, with the ability to assist with reaching a destination of consensus. That’s what I’ve done. That’s an amazingly diverse conversation. I believe in solutions and bring the ability to calmly achieve solutions.”

Question to Manly, Chamberlin, and Corfield, from Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages and the Regional Alliance.

“If elected, what steps will you be taking to address the concerns of the southern gulf islands waterways for anchoring cargo freighters?”

Manly said the issue needs to be dealt with, and that he would, “work across Party lines. I’ve spoken to the minister several times - it’s about the efficiency of the port. Right now we’re exporting coal from USA and soon we’re going to have LNG ships because the NDP is pushing for Woodfibre LNG.

“The other issue is they have to have scrubbers on the [ship] smoke stacks - taking the sulphur and carbon and dumping that in the oceans. They’re dumping the by-product.”

Chamberlin said he is not waiting for the outcome of the election. In his position he has arranged and put in contact First Nations chiefs from the entire region around the southern gulf islands, including Stz’uminus, Lyackson, Saanich, and Snuneymuxw - and arranged a meeting between them, GAFA, and the regional alliance.

“So I’ve connected the two very distinct groups on this through reconciliation.”

Corfield, who has served in the past as Chair and Co-Chair of the Nanaimo Port Authority, said, “as you know, the anchorages are just now being monitored by Vancouver Port Authority - prior to that they were not being monitored.

“Believe me the bureaucracy moves slow.”

She said the federal Transport Ministry are working towards this, “but it is taking time. We have to collect the data so we know and can move forward.”

Question - for Manly - if there is a minority government - what will the Greens do to ensure provincial governments can’t push ahead with LNG?

Manly said, “we want to ban fracking - and follow other jurisdictions that have banned fracking. It’s environmentally dangerous, not only for water and air quality - but it releases methane. The federal government has kicked in money on LNG Canada. The federal NDP didn’t speak out about that.

“Methane releases are worse than coal. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has done great research on how dangerous fracking is to the environment.”