Clark faces off in her only Okanagan debate

Kelowna-West candidates met for an on-air B.C. election forum Wednesday morning

  • Wed May 3rd, 2017 10:50am
  • News

Election forum in brief:

Kelowna-West incumbent Liberal MLA Christy Clark joined her competitors for her first and only BC Election forum in the Okanagan region, Wednesday morning.

Green party candidate Rob Mellalieu, NDP candidate Shelly Cook and Christy Clark sat down with AM 1150’s Phil Johnson for a 90-minute debate on air — which was not open for public attendance. Independant candidate Brian Thiessen was not in attendance.

The forum started off on the topic of health care, beginning with the question of solving the doctor shortage in the province.

Health Care

Liberal Christy Clark believes her party has created the best outcome for the province and said that since she was elected they have built five new hospitals and 11 expansions, all with a balanced budget.

Green Rob Mellalieu said a medical crisis was created and left by the Liberals. He claimed having elders dying in hospital hallways isn’t the best outcome for healthcare in the province.

While NDP Candidate Shelly Cook said her party is looking at a comprehensive system of care, and is looking at team based as well as urgent care models.

All candidates were asked their view of having nurse practitioners in hospitals and care units with doctors to provide oversight — all three somewhat agreed on the nurse practitioners program and it’s benefit for healthcare.

The forum tackled the issue of mental health, with Cook claiming the NDP will create a mental health ministry that will work both with other ministries and the federal government.

While Clark understands B.C. residents feel the current system is fragmented, she said that the Liberals are working to put more money into mental-health resources such as the Foundary in Kelowna.

However Mellalieu’s response was to react to Clark’s answer by asking why she always uses jobs and economy as a pivotal point instead of focusing on the important issue of mental health.

To which Clark challenged Mellalieu saying residents without out jobs can’t provide for families which means they can’t properly take care of them if someone they love is suffering from mental-health issues.

Overdose crisis

From the dealing with the overdose crisis to party platforms on marijuana all candidates had varying views on the issues.

Clark said politics must be put aside when talking about the overdose crisis and while more investment needs to be done the Liberals are making headway.

While the NDP believes more needs to be done besides making naloxone kits available and said instead the focus should be on prevention.

Green candidate Mellalieu said the overdose crisis stems from issues surrounding mental health and the focus should start there.

Environment

Candidates were asked how they will handle President Donald Trump if elected and what will be done for the softwood lumber industry.

Mellalieu stated that the U.S. must be dealt with from a position of power and getting involved in a trade war isn’t something a province should be doing.

Both he and Cook agreed when it comes to softwood lumber the industry needs to look at other ways to market itself besides the U.S.

While Clark said she is standing firm, she wants to slap a levy on exports of thermal coal from British Columbian ports.

From there the three touched on taxes, transportation and the future for B.C.

More to follow.