A group of about 70 seniors were the first to hear from Langley’s provincial candidates.
An all-candidates meeting on Wednesday afternoon – organized by and held for seniors – was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church hall in downtown Langley City Wednesday afternoon.
Candidates for both the Langley and Langley East ridings were given an opportunity to introduce themselves, then moved around the room answering more direct questions from seniors.
Langley East NDP candidate Inder Johal was ill and unable to attend. Langley City Libertarian candidate Robert Pobran attended but did not participate as he had only filed his nomination papers the day before.
Seniors sat at tables based on which riding they live in and the candidates circulated between tables to field questions and discuss issues.
Topics of housing, health care, transportation, and the pipeline were among those broached during the session.
Marilyn Fisher, with the Langley Seniors Community Action Table (LSCAT), noted that the community is currently home to about 20,000 seniors. That number will grow to more than 32,000 in the next couple of decades.
She said for many, poverty will be a serious challenge.
“Langley is home to many who are not so fortunate,” she said. “Some are now found among the homeless.”
So the LSCAT worked with other local seniors groups to host a forum so people could hear directly from the candidates.
Langley Green candidate Elizabeth Walker has lived and worked in Langley for 20 years.
“Government has one job that is more important that anything else – promoting the health and well-being of the people it serves,” Walker said.
Last year the party banned union and corporate donations, she noted.
Liberal candidate Mary Polak was first elected as an MLA in 2005.
“We all run for the same reason, we all care about the future of our community, the future of our province,” she said.
She said voters need to ask themselves whether the parties’ plans are deliverable?
Conservative candidate Justin Greenwood noted that in about 12 years, one in four Canadians will be seniors. “We need to have someone who will be proactive, not reactive,” Greenwood said.
“The MLA of Langley needs to be a person who represents every single person here,” he added.
NDP candidate Gail Chaddock-Costello has lived in the community for 22 years.
She said if those attending had issues not addressed at the meeting, she would take back their input to the party.
Has worked with the Langley Teachers’ Association, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Federation of Labour.
She said she’s accustomed to working with various groups to get things accomplished.
Langley East riding
Liberal candidate Rich Coleman ran on the party’s long history in government.
“I know the challenges families face as they age,” he noted.
“We’ve done a lot in Langley with regards to housing, hospitals, schools, and those sort of things over the past number of years.”
Libertarian candidate Alex Roehl lives in the Township and encouraged people to be willing to vote for a smaller party.
“If everyone is afaid at voting… then you’ll never see real change,” Roehl said.
Libertarian philosophy is “I don’t infringe on your rights and don’t infringe on mine.”
He added that while the party is often seen to be favour of privitation of “everything,” that’s not the position provincially.
“There are a lot of social and public programs that are very deeply embedded in this province and in our lives,” Roehl noted. “Instead what we are suggesting is adding real choice to the system that we have now.”
That will increase efficiency and the quality of service, he said.
Green Party candidate Bill Masse was an economist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for three decades.
“As a senior I’m concerned about all the issues that you guys are,” he said.
But the grandfather of 10 is also concerned for future.
“The job situation, the precarious situation of work now… even educated young people have ot string together” work or contracts, he said.
“The parties that have run this province back and forth for many years, I feel they are still planning through the rear view mirror,” Masse said.