Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows candidates make last attempt to sway voters

All four candidates in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows made their pitch to voters at the riding’s last all-candidates meeting at at Meadowridge Secondary school on May 2.

Questions posed by the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce included whether the candidates would support the reinstatement of the business vote in municipal elections.

NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau, a pharmacist running for office for the first time, said that she didn’t have enough knowledge to answer fully but said that, “Businesses have every right to lobby politicians to have their needs met.”

B.C. Liberal candidate Doug Bing, a Pitt Meadows councilor of eight years, shot down the idea, stating bluntly, “Individuals vote, not businesses.”

Conservative candidate Manuel “Mike” Pratas was the only one who supported idea, saying that, “Small businesses are the backbone of this province … The B.C. Conservatives are all for trying to work with them.”

One questioner asked about job development, wondering how the Liberals could justify spending $17 million on job development when employment growth hasn’t changed much in the last year, according to Statistics Canada.

Bing pointed out that Statistics Canada posts job development numbers on a monthly basis, reflecting either plateaus or depressions in unemployment rates. Which is true enough as February’s highs were followed by March’s lows, contributing to an overall 7.2% unemployment rate in the province.

In terms of the economy and jobs, Rosenau was quick to point out that the NDP’s proposed diversified economy included “strategic investments” made in agriculture, forestry, film, television and the digital arts. According to Rosenau, “a strong economy is a diversified economy that doesn’t put all its eggs in the LNG basket.”

When asked about corporate business tax increases imposed by the NDP, Rosenau said that, “All we’re doing is rolling back those taxes to 2008 to where they were under Gordy Robson and nobody was talking about businesses fleeing our province in 2008.”

“In fairness to Gordy Robson I think she meant Gordon Campbell,” Bing remarked to audience laughter.

Rosenau sheepishly responded, ”That’s not the first time I’ve made that mistake, thanks Doug.”

In his closing statement, Green candidate Michael Patterson said he’d like to see more government investment in transit and cycling lanes.

Bing pushed for more focus on the economy and LNG development to fund the rest of the province’s necessities including health care and education. Rosenau admitted she hadn’t written a closing statement, wanting to head into the meeting with “an open mind to what we [the NDP] may have missed.” Pratas rounded out the closing statements with a mention of the Conservative-proposed tax credit for users of both toll bridges and ferries.

“You definitely will be voting for change because Michael Sather will be retiring,” Bing quipped at the meeting’s end.

This was the last meeting for all four candidates before the fast-approaching election date on May 14.

Originally posted on The Vancouver Sun