Langley-Aldergrove’s candidates in the upcoming federal election offered their views to the public Tuesday night, in a meeting that focused heavily on economic and business questions.
Six candidates, representing the Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green, People’s Party of Canada (PPC), and Libertarian parties gave 30-second answers to dozens of questions before a packed house in the Township of Langley Civic Facility.
The candidates kicked off the question and answer session by tackling gun control and gang violence.
“The problem is gangs and illegal smuggling of guns into Canada,” said Tako van Popta of the Conservatives.
“Our party platform is to ban assault rifles,” said Liberal Leon Jensen.
Both Stacey Wakelin of the NDP and Green Kaija Farstad supported controls on guns including assault-style rifles and handguns, though Farstad said the problem does not lie with law-abiding gun owners.
Dipietra-Cudmore said the PPC wants to replace the Firearms Act. “We support firearm owners,” she said.
“Gun control is not a tool that the police need,” said Alex Joehl, the Libertarian Party candidate.
The candidates sharply diverged on legislation introduced this term that sets out terms for consulting on major energy projects.
Van Popta reiterated the Conservative promise to scrap Bills C-69 and C-48, and touted Canada’s “ethical oil” in contrast to nations with poor human rights records such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
“It is absurd to think of increasing our fossil fuel use or our pipelines,” said Farstad.
Likewise, the NDP’s Wakelin said her party would move away from the industries of the past and towards clean energy.
Most candidates support or would consider increasing transportation funding to get a SkyTrain line completed as far as Langley.
“This community desperately needs rapid transit,” said Wakelin.
“We are currently stuck in a funding shortfall of $1.5 billion,” said Liberal Leon Jensen, who supported increasing infrastructure spending on mass transit.
The Greens are proposing a rail hub and electric buses for the region, said Farstad.
Van Popta said the Conservatives would give the local riding its fair share of infrastructure funding, but that reducing commute times would be a priority.
Natalie Dipietra-Cudmore of the PPC said transport funding is not a federal matter.
“Local money is for local projects, federal money is for federal projects,” she said.
Would candidates support the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, which runs through the Langley-Aldergrove riding?
“Absolutely not!” said Farstad.
“Absolutely yes!” answered van Popta.
“We are willing to reinvest the profits from the pipeline into clean technology,” said Jensen.
“No we would not,” said Wakelin. “It’s time to transition away from fossil fuels.”
“The People’s Party of Canada absolutely will get the pipeline built,” said Dipietra-Cudmore. “This is an issue of national unity.”
Joehl’s answer was that the Libertarians wouldn’t block it – but they also wouldn’t limit damages in lawsuits if the pipeline leaked, and they wouldn’t expropriate any land for the project.
Many of the remaining questions were about economic issues, including such specific topics as capital gains taxation and income splitting rules.
Virtually all the candidates were in agreement on either eliminating or re-examining the mortgage stress test for homebuyers.
At the conclusion of the meeting, moderator and chamber president Brad Kiendl encouraged the audience to get out and vote on Oct. 21.
The event was the second of two local all-candidates meetings organized by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, following Monday’s meeting for the Cloverdale-Langley City candidates.