FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Lido theatre was full of citizens who wanted to hear the five Peace River North candidates platforms and why they should vote for them.
BC Liberal candidate Dan Daives, BC NDP candidate Rob Dempsey, Independent Bob Fedderly, Independent Rob Fraser and Independent Jeff Richert were all in attendance and fully engaged in the discussion.
The debate kicked off at 7:30 after a Meet and Greet was available at 6:00 p.m. for those that wanted to meet the candidates.
Each candidate gave opening statements before the debate questions began. Jeff Richert was first up and compared the Peace to a ‘ATM’ and all the money disappears to Victoria. Rob Fraser said that the BC Legislature has become so polarized that it forgets that they work for the people. Bob Fedderly said that he believes his business background could help him have a live voice for Peace River North in Victoria. BC NDP candidate Rob Dempsey said that the community needs an advocate in government and focus needs to turn to protecting seniors and youth. BC Liberal candidate Dan Davies says that good jobs can lead to a strong economy which can deliver healthcare, education and help for seniors.
— Jessica Fedigan (@JfediganCKFU) April 28, 2017
There were many questions and discussions throughout the debate but there were a few key points that will matter to a lot of constituents in Peace River North.
The Site C dam was a topic brought up numerous times throughout the evening. BC Liberal candidate Dan Davies stressed that the job is needed and is beneficial for jobs in the region. BC NDP candidate Rob Dempsey said that the money could have been better suited for needs like healthcare and infrastructure projects. Dempsey said that if the NDP are elected on May 9, the project would be sent for a BCUC review.
Independent Bob Fedderly felt that if the dam is halted and the project stopped, those working at the dam could easily find employment elsewhere. Jeff Richert said that he is certain there are other ways to provide clean energy and the Site C dam is not one of them.
The one area that all candidates agreed on was a major piece of infrastructure in the Peace: the Taylor Bridge. Rob Fraser said that a new bridge needs to be built and should be a 4-lane bridge. Dempsey said that the state of the bridge is ‘ridiculous’. BC Liberal candidate Dan Davies agreed that the Taylor Bridge is a high priority for the region and it will be addressed.
Another topic was education. Many candidates were critical of the BC Liberal government and their handling of the teacher dispute which led to a court order but the question was more so focused on how to attract and retain more teachers to the North. Rob Fraser said that while the announcement for $2 million dollars to recruit teachers to rural areas was a positive, there was no plan that was announced in the funding release. Richert said the arguing between teachers and the government was not in the best interest of British Columbians.
Richert: Fighting teachers for 15 years was never in the interests of British Columbians, one of the reasons to oust @christyclarkbc
— energeticcity (@EnergeticCity) April 28, 2017
You can view the debate in its entirety below.