Christy Clark a no-show as Vancouver-Point Grey candidates debate issues

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      The second all-candidates meeting held in Vancouver-Point Grey Thursday (April 25) saw contenders field questions on topics including childcare, transit, and postsecondary funding.

      The issue of voter turnout also emerged as a central theme of the event, which was organized by the UBC Alma Mater Society.

      Notable by her absence, again, in her own riding's debate was Premier Christy Clark, who sent along a representative.

      During his opening comments, NDP Point Grey candidate David Eby argued the election has become about “the very fabric of our democracy".

      “Voter turnout was incredibly low during the byelection, and I expect during this election it will be very low as well, and we need to address that issue,” he told the crowd of about 50 people at Saint James Hall in Kitsilano.

      “We will talk about issues tonight, but what we’re talking about is the entire system, and how do we get people engaged again, how do we get them to come out to community meetings, how do we build community as candidates and then ultimately as MLAs.”

      Andrew Wilkinson, the B.C. Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena, attended the debate to speak on behalf of Premier Christy Clark. A previous all-candidates meeting at UBC earlier this month saw Wilkinson turned away from representing the premier in her riding. 

      Other candidates in attendance were the Green party’s Françoise Raunet, B.C. Conservative candidate Duane Nickull, Marisa Palmer of the B.C. Libertarian Party, and independent candidate William Gibbens.

      Work Less Party candidate Hollis Linschoten surprised attendees when he opted to leave the event following his opening statement, inviting members of the audience to join him for a beer.

      "I'm kind of tired—tired of this," Linschoten told the crowd. "And I think that asking these people how they feel on the issues probably isn’t the best way to be part of the democratic process.

      "I think this is kind of a waste of time," he concluded, before standing up and leaving the stage. "It’s a nice day. I think I’m going to go get a beer." About four audience members followed Linschoten out of the community hall. 

      The remaining candidates fielded both formal questions from a moderator and queries from the audience, which touched on issues including reducing the voting age, decriminalizing marijuana, and support for co-op housing.

      Steve Macfarlane, a social studies teacher at Kitsilano Secondary, asked the candidates if they would consider changing the voting age to 16.

      Eby said the NDP supports reducing the age at which students can register to vote to 16.

      “It’s a good time to get them registered, and it’s one barrier removed come time when they’re actually 18 to vote, and have a big discussion in the classroom about voting and about democracy and that civic engagement piece,” he said. Eby noted the party has also proposed shifting elections to the fall so that post-secondary students can vote during the school year.

      Raunet said the Green party's policy is to lower the voting age to 16.

      “All the evidence shows that people who vote in the first election that they have the opportunity to vote in, continue to vote,” she said, noting that voter turnout in the 2011 byelection in Point Grey was just 39 percent.

      Macfarlane said his students talk about current events in his classroom each period.

      “They have incredible concerns about the underfunding of public education, and other issues with the Enbridge Gateway Pipeline, and they do have the critical thinking skills,” he told the Straight in an interview after the event.

      The issues of childcare and postsecondary education also dominated the debate.

      On the topic of student debt, Raunet noted that B.C. student-loan interest rates are the highest in Canada. She said the Green party promises to reduce tuition by 20 percent, while Eby cited the NDP's plan to reinstate a $100-million student grant program.

      On daycare, Nickull said he leans toward a $10-per-day childcare plan, describing the program not as an expense, but as “a necessary investment".

      “We are fiscal conservatives—we generally don’t like overspending in government, but this is looked upon as an investment,” he said.

      Raunet said she and her husband have considered moving due to the cost of childcare, which totals between $1,800 and $1,900 a month for their two children.

      “I don’t think that childcare is an area where the government can afford to save money,” she said.

      Wilkinson cited the B.C. Liberal record on early education, including bringing in full-day kindergarten.

      In response, Eby charged that Wilkinson’s answer “didn’t mention the future", and listed the NDP’s proposal for childcare, including a reduction in daycare fees for infants and toddlers.

      The two candidates also squared off on other topics, with Wilkinson arguing that the NDP “have said they’re concerned about tankers in the Georgia Strait, but they have said nothing about Kinder Morgan taking the same amount of oil to Cherry Point, which is right across the border".

      Eby also questioned the B.C. Liberal proposal to hold a referendum on new funding sources for transit projects, and made a reference to the premier’s absence.

      “I think it’s important to note who is here on the stage tonight—it’s the candidate for this area for the NDP and somebody else for the Liberals who doesn’t live in this neighbourhood,” he said.

      Clark has stated that she intends to focus on debating other party leaders rather than attending the all-candidates meetings in Point Grey.




      Apr 26, 2013 at 11:41am

      Clark's absence from yet another all-candidates' meeting in her own riding is inexcusable. It shows a complete lack of respect for her own constituents.


      Apr 26, 2013 at 8:21pm

      Possibly looking for another job,even with her big pention she will get from the tax payers.

      burnaby reich

      Apr 27, 2013 at 1:33pm

      aufwiedersehn miss clark.


      Apr 27, 2013 at 3:28pm

      Does any one know if Adrian Dix is attending the all- candidates meetings in his riding and if not will there be a story in the Straight about that - generally in elections Party leaders spend very little time in their ridings - there are 84 other ridings that leaders want to visit in a 28 day campaign.

      Martin Dunphy

      Apr 27, 2013 at 4:52pm


      In a 900-word story there were only three sentences that referenced Clark.
      Do you think that is unfair?


      Apr 27, 2013 at 7:25pm

      It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Christy Clark did not make an appearance. Saint James Square is hardly a neutral venue, is it? Mel Lehan, the former failed NDP candidate for Point Grey is on the board of directors. Anyone who has attended candidates meetings over the years, whether for municipal or provincial office, is aware that the audience is stacked in favour of a certain political segment. Isn’t a fundraiser taking place there this evening for NDP candidate David Eby, with music provided by yet another failed NDP aspirant?


      Apr 27, 2013 at 11:35pm


      You can attempt to rationalize Clark's absence all you want, but the simple fact is that she chose not to attend an all-candidates meeting in her own riding. If she's afraid to appear before an audience out of fear it might not be stacked in her favour, then she shouldn't be representing the area.

      Politics Pre-School

      May 2, 2013 at 10:24pm

      Well, "Politics 101", you have your answer. Adrian Dix did indeed attend the all-candidates meeting in his riding at Collingwood Neighbourhood House. In fact, he said that he wouldn't dream of missing it. The differences between Mr. Dix and Ms. Clark are profound in so many ways. He doesn't think politics is a game, but that it affects people's lives. He has worked in his community, often with no fanfare or obvious political gain at stake, but because he could help. Ms. Clark's attitude that it isn't important to attend public meetings of the people she is supposed to be representing is frankly anti-democratic. The logical progressions of this outlook is seen all the way up to cancelling the fall sessions of the legislature. The Liberal ads are dismissive of "big government" but really that is code for their disregard of the need to truly represent the people of BC through our democratic structures. Those structures are only as strong as the will of the people to hold our representatives accountable through them, and the willingness of those elected to fundamentally believe in them.