Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidates face off on CFAX

Candidates from the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head took part in CFAX 1070's first political debate of the election, covering topics like rental subsidies, transparency of campaign contributions, and government financial support for Vancouver Island.

Part of the debate allowed candidate to ask questions of each other.  An interaction between the Greens' Andrew Weaver and the NDP's Bryce Casavant. Weaver asked Casavant about the NDP's newly announced platform of a $400 annual subsidy for renters:

" Why is it that somebody living in a $1-milliion condo in downtown Vancouver should get an additional $400 of taxpayer money just because they are rtenting there. Whereas the person on the street who needs that money is getting that same amount?"

Casavant said he couldn't give a full response as the NDP was rolling out its platform as he spoke. But he did say:

" This is a crisis that has plagued BC for quite sometime now, and this has happened under the watch of the Christy Clark government. The NDP is a party, a party that is ready to goivernment his province and address the issues of affordability for all British Columbians. "

Weaver says the NDP had already announced that platform so Casavant should have been able to elaborate. Weaver says while the NDP have issued a one-size-fits all approach which is unfair to low income earners, the Greens would ask those who can pay a bit more to do so.

The NDP's Casavant targeted Liberal Alex Dutton about transparency in party donations suggesting not a single caucus member has been able to convince Christy Clark to ban big money from BC politics. He asked if the only way was to elect a new government. Dutton says the Liberals are committed to transparency in  their electoral campaign:

"That is not the law, that is something the BC Liberal party has chosen to do because we think it's important to be honest with voters. And in fact the voters will not know who funded the Green party, or who funded the NDP until after they've had to vote."

Casavant noted the Liberals' transparency has resulted in an RCMP investigation.  Dutton says the investigation has started with the Liberals, but will ultimately involve all parties.

Jin Yong-Riley of the Vancouver Island Party targeted the Liberal's Dutton, suggesting the island has not seen it's fair share of infrastructure spending.

"It's even less than 1% of your whole budget, but on Vancouver Island we have a population over 16%."

Dutton listed projects the Liberals have invested in, including transportation and:

"In 2011 we had a new patient tower open at Royal Jubilee Hospital being the most obvious example.  And the $50-plus-million brand new Oak Bay High Secondary in Oak Bay Gordon head.  I think the important thing to look at ia whether needs are being met. I think more can be done, which is why I'm passionate and why I'm running.  And I'm very proud of the record that we have."

Inevitably, health care also came up, with the Liberal candidate taking some heat for what many see as declining access to quality care.

Liberal candidate Dutton tried to put the focus on the New Democrats, asking the NDP's Bryce Casavant about his party's record back in the 1990's:

"In it's very first term between 2001 and 2005 the BC Liberal Government built net, 5,000 new long term care beds. In the entire decade of the 1990's, how many long term care beds did the NDP build?"

Casavant didn't answer, instead saying health care is about more than just beds:

" To liken care beds to an entire provincial health care system is a very narrow approach in my opinion. I just met with an autism group last night who told me that in 2001 the majority of their funding for individuals with autism was cut."

CFAX debate analyst Mona Brash, a Political Scientist  at Camosun College, says focusing on what happened in the 1990's will be an ineffective tactic with many voters:

"For the new generation it has no resonance whatsoever. You know, they'll say things, what were the fast ferries? What's that about. They have no idea. And it's a different world from a quarter of a century ago."

The next debate on CFAX is Tuesday, featuring candidates from Saanich North and the Islands.

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