Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Point Grey hopefuls, minus Clark, debate childcare, higher ed and transit

Constituents in Vancouver-Point Grey got a taste of seven candidates' views on this hot riding's diverse issues Thursday night, but Christy Clark wasn't one of them.

The premier sent Vancouver-Quilchena Liberal hopeful Andrew Wilkinson in her place to the disappointment of the small group gathered at St. James Community Square's church hall. This is not the first time Clark has failed to materialize at a debate in her riding this election.

NDP candidate and The Tyee's prediction for winner in the riding, David Eby, used Clark's absence at the town hall as fodder throughout the evening to discredit her accountability.

"Premier Clark has a rather busy schedule keeping tabs on Mr. Dix," Wilkinson shot back.

The event, hosted by the UBC Alma Mater Society, hinged on three broad questions highlighting the Kitsilano and university-dominated riding's hot button issues: childcare, post-secondary education and transit.

The panel was cut down to six participants before the first question was dropped. Hollis Linschoten of the Work Less Party dismissed town hall-style events as "not the way to get involved in the democratic process," adding that the audience couldn't trust what candidates say during the election.

"I think this is kind of a waste of time," said Linschoten before walking off the stage, mentioning he was going to grab a beer. He invited others to join him.

Francoise Raunet of the BC Greens then requested to move to Linschoten's seat next to Wilkinson and Eby.

"I hate when I'm sitting in the back seat and someone else is driving," she said of the horseshoe-shaped panel that had her at the opposite end of the dominating party candidates.

Open statements and musical chairs completed, the candidates launched into the first question on childcare.

"I don't think childcare is an area where the government can afford to save money," said Raunet, the mother of two daycare-age children whose care costs upwards of $1,800 per month.

She advocated for more childcare spots and higher wages for daycare workers.

Marisa Palmer, a BC Libertarian, denounced the amount of red tape involved in opening and running daycares.

BC Conservatives' Duane Nickull agreed that "early childhood care is an investment," and said he is leaning towards the $10 per day model.

After Wilkinson laid out the Liberals' record on childcare investment, Eby noted their lack of a plan for addressing child poverty and said the NDP has intentions to help 8,400 children in that regard.

On the topic of post-secondary education, Wilkinson again listed the Liberals' accomplishments over the course of the party's time in office, mentioning the thousands more spaces made in universities, the creation of new institutions and the increase in medical school spots.

Eby shot down Wilkinson's response as demonstrating "no plan going forward" and criticized the Liberals for cutting post-secondary education by $46 million in the last budget. He said British Columbia needs to focus on helping students from low-income backgrounds access education and training programs, and noted the NDP's announcement of reinstating the student grant program.

"I am currently a student," said Raunet. "I understand students. I feel your pain."

She said the BC Greens would reduce tuition by 20 per cent and amplify grants to move away from student loans, with the eventual goal of free post-secondary education.

Nickull encouraged more private business and school partnerships through such opportunities as internships and co-op placements, while Palmer said she is looking to free online courses as a potential solution.

With Vancouver-Point Grey intersected by the heavily trafficked Broadway corridor and plans for a subway system to UBC, transit has been a hot topic in the riding.

But independent candidate William Gibbens, who has a background in transportation studies, dismissed Vancouver's approach to urban growth and transportation networks: "A horse is more intelligent than any transit system we've come up with yet," he said.

Nickull emphasized the need for a "holistic" approach to transit that welcomes public input and makes room for more accountability of the transportation system.

Wilkinson touted the Liberals' creation of the carbon tax, SkyTrain expansions and proposed Surrey light rail project. Raunet commended her opponent on the carbon tax but said the money should be earmarked for green initiatives like public transit. Meanwhile, Eby said the NDP would do just that. He also shot down the Liberals for removing local mayors from the TransLink board, and stalling transit progress by planning a referendum on the matter in 2014.

Opened up to audience questions, the candidates delved into the little discussed issue of marijuana legalization. Although Eby and Nickull largely rejected the question as a federal matter, Palmer said that the BC Libertarians are for the legalization of all drugs. Raunet pointed to the BC Greens platform on legalization of cannabis in particular, but said the party was divided on other drugs.

The town hall also covered post-graduation employment opportunities, co-operative housing, transit studies and lowering the voting age to 16.

Natascia Lypny is completing a practicum at The Tyee. Follow her on Twitter @wordpuddle.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus