Burnaby North candidates debate at BCIT

Burnaby North candidates at BCIT

Burnaby North candidates for BC’s major political parties answering questions at BCIT during a meet the candidates event.
Photo courtesy of Neetu Garcha

Candidates for the Burnaby North riding for BC’s major political parties visited BCIT’s Burnaby campus on Wednesday, May 8 for a meet-the-candidates event.

In attendance at the meeting was BC Liberal candidate Richard Lee, who arrived about ten minutes late after getting lost on campus.

Lee sat beside Conservative candidate Wayne Marklund who had Carrie Mclaren of the Green party on the other side of him.

Finally, representing the New Democratic Party (NDP) was Janet Routledge.

Despite arriving late, Liberal Richard Lee made it in time to answer the first question, which centered on BCIT’s position within the post-secondary sector,  the institution’s funding, and collective bargaining being tied to the college sector.

Lee supports the idea of BCIT becoming a university.

I feel BCIT should be a university,” said Lee. “BCIT is very unique in our province and [it’s] contribution is not any less than any other universities like UVIC and UBC.”

NDP candidate Janet Routledge said BCIT is a unique and valuable resource in BC but is not treated as so.

“We believe that the work done at BCIT has been devalued over the last twelve years not only in terms of operating funds, but in terms of capital funding,” said Routledge. “An NDP government will value BCIT and we will value skills training and the work you do more highly.”

[pullquote] “I feel BCIT should be a university. BCIT is very unique in our province and [it’s] contribution is not any less than any other universities like UVIC and UBC.” [/pullquote]

Conservative candidate Wayne Marklund considers BCIT one of the finest institutions around and does not think an NDP or Liberal government would help BCIT enrich the province in terms of employment.

“We all know there has been a huge influx of foreign workers in BC and we have lost 35, 000 jobs since Christy Clark put her create jobs program in place,” said Marklund. “With the NDP getting into power, we are going to train many young people in BC and they are all going to end up in Alberta.”

Other questions asked included how each party would support and strengthen resource industries which have and continue to be the mainstay of the BC economy.

Healthcare education was a topic that each candidate had a hard time providing a concrete answer to. None of the parties were able to provide clear ways in which the future of healthcare in BC could be secured in the face of inflating costs and skills shortages.

The NDP candidate had a suggestion which related to education and its ability to pay for health care.

“Taxes are generated through good jobs and education is what provides the work force with skilled workers,” said Routledge. “Education is what provides the work force with skilled workers and with new entrepreneurs and its through education that we take care of each other.”

The other did not have much else to add in terms of strategies for securing the future of healthcare.

Aside from the four candidates, there was not a big turnout for the event, with about twenty people dispersed around the theatre in building SW5.

The candidates all sat side by side in the front of the room with a microphone in front of each one.

[pullquote] “Education is what provides the work force with skilled workers and with new entrepreneurs and its through education that we take care of each other.” [/pullquote]

The candidates were asked six questions in total during the event.

The questions were given to the candidates ahead of time and were also projected at the front of the room during the event.

The moderator read each question aloud before the candidates, picked at random, each answered the question posed.

Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she's not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.

neetu@linknewspaper.ca

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