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Larson takes dig at Ross for her children born out of B.C. as candidates read talking points at forum
B.C. Liberal candidate Linda Larson, the incumbent MLA, suggested her NDP opponent is an outsider in one of the few exchanges that drew emotions at an all-candidates forum in Osoyoos Thursday night.
Larson said she’s lived in the South Okanagan for 28 years and then added: “Unlike Ms. Ross, my children and grandchildren were born in B.C. and live and work and were educated in B.C.”
The comment was a clear dig at Ross, who lived most of her life in Ontario and Australia, and has only lived near Grand Forks for the past five years where she farms. Prior to that, she lived about two years in Nelson.
Although Larson made the dig in her opening remarks, Ross waited until the last question of the night to respond.
“I’ve lived in rural communities all my life,” she said. “To say I’m not from here and my children weren’t born here is actually not very friendly. How many people weren’t born here, aren’t from here or children weren’t born here?” she asked the audience.
“That is not very welcoming,” Ross continued. “We are supposed to live in a welcoming community. I decided to move here. I love it here. I bought a farm here and I will advocate for you… I will advocate for all people who live in this constituency.”
According to the 2011 National Household Survey taken at the time of the census, three in five residents of Osoyoos were not born in B.C. The figures on place of birth have not yet been released from the 2016 census.
Figures from 2011 are not available for Oliver because not enough residents responded to the Statistics Canada survey, which wasn’t mandatory.
Much of the forum consisted of the candidates, especially Larson, reading from scripted talking points in response to written questions submitted through the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce (SOCC), which sponsored the event. Those submitting the questions were not identified.
Play audio of forum. Runs 1 h 36 m 26 s:
The format allowed less audience participation than a forum six days earlier at the Osoyoos Seniors’ Centre where people in the audience asked all the questions and the responses were less scripted.
Nonetheless, after all 20 pre-submitted questions, a few questions were asked from the floor.
Osoyoos residents Michael Ryan, a former Town of Osoyoos councillor, and David Smith both questioned the candidates on B.C.’s election donor laws which have few of the restrictions found in federal laws or laws in other provinces.
Smith noted that the New York Times ran a story in January under the headline: “British Columbia: The ‘Wild West’ of Canadian Political Cash.”
Larson said her government recently tabled legislation to increase transparency.
B.C. Liberals post to the internet in real time money that is donated to the party, she said.
“The B.C. NDP refuses to publish where they get their funding from,” Larson said. “If you want an example, next week (NDP Leader) John Horgan is hosting a $5,000-a-plate breakfast in Toronto with big business in order to fund his campaign. I think there are issues on both sides and I believe that reform is necessary, but I question who is being forthright and honest about where their money is coming from.”
Ross argued that the NDP has introduced bills six times to take big money out of politics altogether by banning contributions from corporations and unions. This prohibition exists in most other Canadian jurisdictions.
But the B.C. Liberals defeated the NDP bills every time, she said.
Ross noted that Elections B.C. posts a list of political donors after each election.
“The $770,000 from Kinder Morgan – I didn’t see that posted on the B.C. Liberal website,” Ross said, alleging that the company’s donation influenced the B.C. Liberal government to support the TransMountain Pipeline.
Ross said the NDP would ban donations from corporations, unions and associations as soon as it is elected. She noted that the maximum donation allowed in Quebec is just $100.
Larson said the government’s proposed legislation would establish a committee and if that committee recommended restricting donations, “it would be accepted by the government.”
Among the questions posed through the SOCC, were ones dealing with:
- Two-tier electricity rates;
- Temporary closure of emergency services last year at South Okanagan General Hospital (SOGH);
- Long-term care facilities;
- Poverty reduction;
- Shortage of family doctors;
- Efficiency at SOGH;
- Impact of the 2016 census on Osoyoos policing costs;
- Policy on minimum wages;
- A possible program to bring in seasonal tourism workers from outside Canada;
- The Site C dam in northeastern B.C.;
- The proposed national park reserve in the South Okanagan;
- Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline;
- Funding for fish and wildlife management;
- Co-governance of boards of education and the province;
- Education funding;
- Mental health and addictions services for rural students;
- The revised curriculum;
- Affordable housing;
- Support for people with mental health and addictions problems;
- Invasive mussels.