By Lyonel Doherty
Of the many issues brought up at Wednesday’s all-candidates forum, crime and seniors care were two key subjects.
Conservative candidate Helena Konanz was asked how her party will be tough on crime.
She said they need to stop the revolving door of criminals coming in and out of jail, noting the same people are getting in trouble over and over again.
Konanz said they need services and compassion to help those who are mentally ill and addicted to drugs, while being tough on the real, habitual criminals.
Green Party candidate Tara-Lyn Howse had this to say:
“Tough on crime does not work and has not worked since the justice system was born.”
She noted the criminals using this revolving door are not psychotic people that need to be locked away, they are people dealing with systemic issues of poverty, mental health and addiction.
That’s why the government needs to tackle the root problem by investing in the services to help these individuals, she stated.
“People are breaking into homes for 10 bucks to get their fix.”
Incumbent MP Richard Cannings said he was a victim of theft last month when his bikes were stolen.
He has spoken to people in the legal system, particularly lawyers who identify most people on the court docket as addicts.
“We are facing an addition, skyrocketing problem here in British Columbia,” he pointed out.
He agreed with Howse that government needs to provide these services and decriminalize the drugs so people can get a safe supply of them (so they don’t have to steal and use needles in public).
Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk agreed that addiction is a major factor in crime today. That’s why they need to look at how other jurisdictions are handling this problem, she said, stressing that generating fear is not going to solve anything.
Sean Taylor, representing the People’s Party of Canada, said nobody is accountable for anything they do anymore. As a front-line health care worker, he sees this every day.
He pointed to the frequent violence and the plight of the business owner who has to clean up syringes and feces on a regular basis.
“We’re surrendering the communities to these people and we’re throwing a ton of money at them, too (for services).”
Taylor agreed with Denesiuk that they need to look at what other nations are doing.
“People have to be accountable for their actions. We’re a nation of laws, right? I’m looking out at a bunch of taxpayers, and if you’re negatively affected by these people, we can’t be held hostage by them.”
In another question, each candidate was asked what their party’s plan was for a national seniors’ care strategy.
Cannings said seniors that need help are those on the poverty line, living on their pensions and old age security.
He noted the NDP is bringing in legislation to protect seniors from pension theft, banning banks from taking this money after companies go bankrupt. He added that the Liberals and Conservatives keep voting against this legislation.
Denesiuk said in the last four years the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors has increased by almost $1,000. She also noted the Liberal government has decreased the age for Canada pension eligibility to 65, and they are planning for a 10 per cent increase in old age security for people turning 75.
Howse said they can look at a guaranteed livable income program but shook her head at the $12 billion sitting in off-shore tax havens.
“For seniors that have been paying taxes their whole life you also have the wealthy few that are hiding that money.”
Howse said this guaranteed livable income for seniors should be paid for by these tax loopholes.
Konanz said the Conservatives are going to make life, in general, more affordable. She noted her party will increase the age credit by $1,000 a year per senior.
“We’re also going to make an $850 universal tax cut . . . and take GST off heating bills.”
Konanz said they will also cut the carbon tax to make groceries more affordable.
Taylor said his party’s tax plan will be fair for everyone, not just seniors. This will be achieved by getting rid of the capital gains tax and carbon tax, he stated.