Sewer pipes, climate change, mortgages and more were all up for discussion on Wednesday night at the Clarke Theatre as the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce held an all candidates forum.
Federal candidates for the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding were in attendance for what turned out to be a lively discussion.
The following is just a sampling of what was said.
When asked about federal funding to build a new sewer line across the Fraser River, from Mission to Abbotsford, Liberal candidate, incumbent Jati Sidhu, explained the District of Mission originally made an application for $9 million for the sewer line and an agreement was signed with the federal and provincial government for the funding. However, the project needed to be completed before money gets paid.
“I don’t know what happened, I think they waited three years to start construction on it and the price has gone three times higher,” said Sidhu.
With more money needed, Sidhu said Mayor Pam Alexis came to Ottawa to meet with him and the ministry.
“And we promised, as soon as they make a new application under the green funds, we will approve it. But one catch, the B.C. government has to initiate that one more time.”
Conservative candidate Brad Vis said “the issue with the sewer pipeline right now is failure of leadership.”
He told the crowd the District of Mission has had to spend taxpayers’ dollars to hire a lobbyist.
“That lobbyist had to help the Mayor of Mission navigate Liberal offices to move this project along.”
Vis called that a failure by Sidhu and vowed if he was elected his first order of business would be to work with the district and address this “serious concern” with the Minister of Infrastructure.
Nick Csaszar, candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, would address a different ministry.
“I’d go directly to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and I would have this deemed an impending environmental disaster. Because that’s exactly what it is,” said Csaszar.
He said engineers have said the pipe could burst at any moment and his party, having a very strong commitment to the environment, would consider this an emergency.
“We’d take emergency measures to have this pipe replaced and repaired immediately.”
John Kidder, Green party candidate called the sewer pipe situation “scandalous” and agreed that the delay is a failure of leadership on the part of the federal government.
“But it’s a symptom of a much broader problem. Mayors like Pam Alexis here and all the mayors in this riding, do you know what their fundamental basis is for competition? Who can hire the best grant writer,” said Kidder.
He said the Green Party wants large block funding for infrastructure that is administered by the municipalities.
“We have to get rid of all of this little tiny details, get rid of the lobbyists, get rid of the grant writing experts and make the process a little more practical for municipalities. Then we can get sewer pipes, we can get bridges we can get various other things done. The municipalities know what they need to do, give them the money.”
Michael Nenn, candidate for the NDP, said action needs to be taken now.
“If we don’t build it now, we wait 10 years, what’s it going to cost?, three times as much?”
Nenn said he would absolutely work, with Pam Alexis and council to ensure that “the fast track of this issue is vital and is paramount.”
“From an environmental concern, it would be absolutely devastating for the communities downstream of the Fraser River if that were to break.
After every candidate had spoken on the issue, Sidhu used his 30-second rebuttal to express his disappointment in Vis’ comments, noting Vis has worked at an MP office in Ottawa and suggested he should know how funding works.
“The protocol is they (Mission) have to apply again and we will make the funding available.”
Another highly debated topic was the Paris Accord Agreement and climate change in general.
Vis said there is a provision in the Paris Accord called the technology transfer provision and the Conservatives believe it is a key opportunity to export Canadian technology to other countries to help them fight climate change.
He said, under the Conservative government, $1.2 billion was invested in carbon capture and storage technology which can reduce emissions at point source pollution.
“We built this technology in Canada and we believe we can share it with the world as part of our global effort to fight climate change.”
Vis said to reach the current targets that Canada has – which he noted were set by the Conservative government – we must invest in clean technology.
Csaszar told the crowd the People’s Party believes in climate change, but does not believe in climate urgency.
“We would withdraw from the Paris Accord and we would continue to encourage the private sector to do what they’ve done so far,” said Csaszar.
He said the private sector has the brains and the know-how to solve whatever problem that is deemed necessary to solve and that the scientific models being used are flawed.
“There is over a 100 models in the world and every single one of them for climate has been grossly wrong in its predictions on how climate is going to change.”
He also said the only model that has been “pretty accurate” is the Russian model, which doesn’t predict any significant warming.
Kidder called Csaszar’s comments “hooey” adding that every single model, every prediction on the pace of global warming has been too conservative.
“We have a very detailed plan… to get to a 60 per cent reduction in Canada’s CO2 emissions, we have to stop producing bitumen we have to stop fracking natural gas by 2030. It’s really simple.”
He said the argument must turn from one of fear to one of hope.
“Imagine what the world is going to look like when we are powered by low cost renewable energy. Energy is going to be abundant its going to be cheaper than it’s ever been … It’s going to make our children and grandchildren’s lives way better.”
Nenn said climate change is here and it’s a fact and action, not words, are needed now.
“Justin Trudeau goes and declares a climate emergency and then buys a pipeline. And whether or not you are for or against that pipeline, it’s the hypocrisy that you see in politics that I think feeds the cynicism that we all have.”
Nenn said it is actions like that, from past governments that creates a need to look for something different.
“It’s been 152 years of two parties that basically put us where we are today.”
He said the NDP wants to reduce targets twice as fast as the Liberals and create 300,000 jobs to transition workers from the oil and gas industry.
Sidhu said the whole world is trying to tell the politicians that climate change is real – and the Liberals are taking action.
“The first thing we did, within a month, we went to Ottawa and signed the Paris Accord Agreement. We signed a MOU with China, if you want to trade with us, you have to step to the plate. We are trying to ban single use plastics by 2031. Net Zero emissions by 2050, phasing out coal by 2028,” said Sidhu.
He also pointed to investments in public transit, electric cars and the $1.5 billion Ocean Protection Plan and more.