A debate without either incumbent MLA from Langley was hosted Wednesday night at the Langley Seniors Resource Centre.
Organized by a number of local groups including the Langley Teachers Association, Langley DPAC, and the Kwantlen First Nation, the question and answer session drew candidates from the Langley, Langley East, and Abbotsford West ridings. NDP candidate Gail Chaddock-Costello, B.C. Conservative Justin Greenwood, and Libertarian Robert Kerr Pobran, are running in Langley. Green Bill Basse and Libertarian Alex Joehl are running in Langley East. Kevin Eastwood is running in Abbotsford West, which includes part of northeast Langley.
A debate without the B.C. Liberals began with a small act of protest against the party.
Brandon Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation said that the government has not acted honourably on Kwantlen traditional territory.
“I’m not going to play our Kwantlen songs tonight in protest of that government,” he said.
Most of the questions were on the environment, childcare, and education.
Rather than take potshots at other candidates, they tended to find common ground on many of the questions.
On a question about the infrastructure royalty credit program, Larri Woodrow asked why oil and gas companies can receive part of their provincial royalties back to build more roads and pipelines.
Chaddock-Costello characterized it as taking money from childcare and health care and giving it back to successful companies.
“At this point in time, I haven’t seen many situations where it’s necessary,” she said of the policy.
Libertarians Pobran and Joehl were also opposed to giving money directly to corporations, with Joehl dubbing it a form of crony capitalism.
Masse wanted to know why, if the oil and gas sector was such a boon to the province, it needed to be subsidized.
Brandon Gabriel asked about oil spill response, with a focus on the Trans Mountain pipeline that runs through Langley.
“With cuts to all the regulatory agencies, they’ve given the henhouse to all the foxes to watch,” said Masse. Companies have to be responsible for spills, but the government needs to be in charge of inspection, he said.
The candidates were largely against the planned expansion of the pipeline, as well.
Greenwood noted that his party is pro-pipeline, but not in favour of expropriating or going through unceded First Nations territory without a deal.
“If you have not given permission, I am not for it at all,” Greenwood told Gabriel, a member of the Kwantlen First Nation.
On education, Chaddock-Costello emphasized her work as a teacher and the need for more services, while the Libertarians were in favour of a voucher school system.
Pobran also diverged from the rest of the candidates on immigration and refugees.
“I don’t know who they’re importing,” he said, referring to refugees as a possible “Trojan horse.”