October 10, 2008 Features & Images » Feature Story

Meet the Sea to Sky candidates 

Make your mark in the 2008 federal election

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Just 44 days will pass from the time Prime Minister Stephen Harper called this federal election to the General Election on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Traditionally, snap election calls like this have been defined by wedge issues and political expediency. The 2006 election was about the Liberal sponsorship scandal as well as the resurgence of a united Conservative Party. The 2008 election represents the Conservative Party�s call for a new mandate heading into challenging economic times, as well as an opportunity to win a majority in the House of Commons.

But for an election that many Canadians don�t think should have been called, and that goes against the Conservative Party�s own law that fixed election dates, it has become an election about some very serious issues.

Concerns about the economy have taken centre stage. Consumer protection laws, spurred by a listeriosis outbreak and the tainted baby formula scandal in China, have also made headlines, as have issues like the Canadian mission to Afghanistan, funding for the arts, urban crime, and our national approach to environmental issues like climate change. Health care, usually a core issue in Canadian politics, has barely caused a ripple this time around.

It�s been an interesting campaign. We�ve had candidates from all parties making serious gaffes, while Internet searches revealed far more about our candidates and their pasts than many of them would have liked.

The Green Party, which achieved official party status after the 2006 election, finally earned a place in the national leaders debates with some help from Whistler�s Member of Parliament, Blair Wilson, who was sitting as an independent before joining the Greens on the eve of the election.

Stephen Harper�s Conservative Party will need 155 seats to form a majority in the 308 seat House of Commons. If not, Canada will likely have its third straight minority government since 2004.

Deciding who to vote for is always a personal decision, but judging by the polls this year, and past swings, a large number of Canadians are ready to change their minds.

The West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding has bucked national trends in the past, electing Conservative John Reynolds when the rest of the country was electing a Liberal majority. Then, when the Conservative Party was making sweeping gains at the expense of the Liberal Party in 2006, the riding again bucked the trend and embraced Liberal candidate Wilson (albeit by a narrow margin � 23,867 votes to Conservative candidate John Weston�s 22,881 votes). It was Weston�s first kick at the federal can, while Wilson lost the 2004 election to Reynolds by a scant 687 votes.

The West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding is the largest in Canada in terms of population, with 129,241 people and 95,306 registered voters, according to the latest census and tax rolls. It�s also the fourth largest by area, as well as one of the most difficult to navigate, with communities separated by mountain highways and ferry rides.

Turnout in the riding has been low, with just 68.6 per cent of eligible voters turning out in 2006, and slightly fewer in 2004.

Turnout in Pemberton�s riding, Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, was even lower, with 63.5 per cent of eligible voters heading to the polls in 2006 � not surprising when you consider that Conservative Chuck Strahl won the previous four elections, and was expected to win by a landslide. He�s now running for his sixth term in office.

Our advice is to get familiar with the candidates and the federal parties. Visit their websites, read the campaign materials, and on Oct. 14 show up to vote. Remember, if you don�t vote then you can�t criticize.

The Incumbent: Blair Wilson, Green Party

Website: www.blairwilson.ca

Bio: Blair Wilson has been the MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country since 2006. He was elected as a Liberal candidate. He resigned from the party in October of 2007 after allegations of improper campaign spending. He was later cleared on those charges, aside from three minor infractions, but had a falling out with the party in December. He sat as an independent until the eve of the election, when he joined the Green Party.

Wilson was born and raised on the North Shore and holds a bachelor degree in political science from the University of Victoria, and a Chartered Accountants designation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia.

His private sector career includes a stint with Clarkson Gordon, which became Ernst and Young. He also opened his own firm in North Vancouver, and pursued a wide variety of business opportunities in trade, consumer and security products, hotels and restaurants and real estate development.

Wilson has also been involved in an array of civic activities, and chaired the 2010 Rally on Robson to support the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He is also an avid runner and athlete, and completed Ironman Canada in 2001 and 2003.

His career in Parliament includes chair of the B.C. Caucus of the Liberal Party, as well as the Official Opposition Critic of National Revenue, and the Associate Critic for Finance, and the Critic for Sport and the Vancouver Olympics and Paralympic Games. He also served on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

What is the last book you read (Fiction and Non-Fiction)?

�The last (non-fiction) book I read was A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, but I�m also partway through (Green Party leader) Elizabeth May�s book, At the Cutting Edge. I usually have about four books on the go, but I�ve been pretty busy lately. I did recently pick up a copy of the Bourne Identity (by Robert Ludlum), and I�m getting into that.�

What music are you listening to?

�I like U2 and the Rolling Stones, Barenaked Ladies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, old Bob Marley � really, I have pretty eclectic music tastes.�

What are your favourite recreational pursuits?

�Given the time constraints of an MP, I haven�t been able to get in the long bike rides and have cut back on pool swims, but I still get out trail running. It�s one of those things where you can throw on your shoes and start exercising right away.�

Do you have any hobbies?

�I�d say politics. Between working at home and Ottawa I don�t have much leisure time, but I would say politics is a passion of mine. I don�t even look at it as work, I enjoy it so much, so I guess you could consider it a hobby.�

John Weston, Conservative Party

Website: www.johnweston.ca

Bio: John Weston has been the Conservative Party candidate for the riding since 2005, placing second to Blair Wilson, by less than a thousand votes, in the 2006 general election.

Weston was born and raised in B.C., and attended Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and Harvard. He also speaks three languages fluently, English, Mandarin and French, and recently wrote a book called Jade Across the Kwai, which is a non-fiction account of his family�s experiences in World War II.

He has worked as a lawyer in Canada and Taiwan, and founded law firms in both countries. He is a founder of both the Pan Pacific Law Corporation and Access Group law firms, and in the 1980s was part of a mission to open a Canadian trade office in Taiwan. He was worked in public service for Rafe Mair and Mel Smith, and in the Departments of Constitutional Affairs for Newfoundland, Alberta and Quebec.

In his community, Weston has been a leader in Beavers and Cubs, a past chair of Canadian Food for the Hungry International, and an assistant soccer coach. He is an avid runner and cyclist.

What is the last book you read (Fiction and Non-Fiction)?

�Back to the Klondike. My family and I read it as we headed up north this summer on a road trip. It�s by Yvonne Harris, and it�s all about northern potential and northern legacies. It�s actually historical fiction. The last non-fiction was Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire, which I read before going to Rwanda on a humanitarian trip last year.�

What music are you listening to?

�I like upbeat music, all the classic rock stuff that gives you energy and keeps you going. I listen to a lot of CBC French and English, but also Classic Rock 101.1.�

What are your favourite recreational pursuits?

�I just qualified for my black belt in tae kwon do, which my whole family takes, and my family just loves skiing. I�m also an avid runner, biker and swimmer.�

Do you have any hobbies?

�I play guitar � or rather I should say that I�m learning guitar, so I don�t raise expectations.�

Ian Sutherland, Liberal Party

Website: www.voteian.ca

Bio: Ian Sutherland has his roots in the Maritimes, but has called Squamish home for the past 15 years. He has been the mayor of Squamish since 2002, while sitting on the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Board as well as the Squamish Olympic Coordinating Committee.

One of the achievements he is most proud of is the acquisition of the Squamish Oceanfront lands from the provincial government, and the development of the Squamish Adventure Centre with grants from federal and provincial governments.

In the community, Sutherland has been president of two Parents Advisory Councils, as well as a volunteer for sports.

With his wife Janet, Sutherland owns a company that distributes educational textbooks across Canada.

On the road this week, Sutherland responded to Pique�s candidate questionnaire by e-mail.

What is the last book you read (Fiction and Non-Fiction)?

�Autobiography of (baseball player) Michael Lowell (Deep Drive: A Long Journey to Finding the Champion Within)

What music are you listening to?

�Adult contemporary�

What are your favourite recreational pursuits?

�I enjoy travelling and reading.�

Do you have any hobbies?

�My main hobby would be my involvement in my children�s sports.�

Bill Forst, NDP

Website: http://billforst.ndp.ca

Bio: Bill Forst, 58, was born in Vancouver and has lived in Gibsons for the past 35 years. He was the NDP president for the federal and provincial riding association until he unexpectedly became the candidate following the resignation of Dana Larsen.

Forst has a bachelor degree in psychology from UBC, and a Master of Education degree from the University of Victoria, and was a teacher and school counsellor by trade until his recent retirement. He is also a former president of the Sunshine Coast Teachers Association and B.C. School Counsellors Association.

He and his family are also well known for music and theatre in Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast, and he is a past president of the Sunshine Coast Music Society and the current president of the Driftwood Players Amateur Theatre Company.

What is the last book you read (Fiction and Non-Fiction)?

�The last non-fiction was by George Monbiot called Heat. For fiction � when do I have time to read? � I just picked up a copy of James Clavell�s Whirwind, so let�s go with that.�

What music are you listening to?

�My tastes are pretty eclectic. One recent pick I really enjoy is a CD based on the music from the Inspector Morse television series, and it�s a great classical album. I like modern stuff too.�

What are your favourite recreational pursuits?

�Camping, in my lovely 1984 Westfalia. And bicycling on the road, and gentle trails.�

Do you have any hobbies?

�It�s amateur theatre. An interesting sideline is that I�m actually in the middle of rehearsing for a play during the campaign. It�s called Never Swim Alone by a Canadian playwright named Daniel MacIvor. It opens Oct. 30.�

Candidate Q&A: Sea to Sky candidates tackle the issues

(Order of answers picked out of a hat.)

Pique: Why should the people of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country vote for you?

John Weston (JW): Firstly, leadership on the national and the local stage. Our leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has done a great job in a minority government, and promises to continue as we enter uncertain economic times. Locally, I�ve spent the last three and a half years travelling the riding, talking to people, attending events and meetings to prepare myself to become a Member of Parliament.

Secondly, when it comes to economics there is a clear distinction, on one hand, between the Conservative Party and its focused investment in families and communities and the risky choice of having an apologist for (Liberal Leader Stephane) Dion�s incomprehensible carbon tax plan, which is basically a new tax on everything.

Thirdly, to have a voice in government. There are some very important resources out there that our riding can only access if they have a strong advocate in Ottawa who will act on behalf of the people in the riding and not just on behalf of himself.

Lastly, it�s about integrity. People expect someone who will tell the truth, and will act in their interest.

Ian Sutherland (IS): I�m running on my record and on my plans. I think that, as mayor of Squamish, I�ve served my constituents well, and I�m ready to do the same for the rest of our riding. I�m also running as part of a party that has the team and the plan to make our country succeed in the 21st century. We're the only party with a real plan to address the infrastructure deficit (an issue of particular importance in our riding), we have the best plan on the environment, we have the best record on economic management � and we're the only party with a real chance of stopping Stephen Harper.

Bill Forst (BF): The main thing I have to offer is that my career, all my life, is as a school counsellor and teacher, and working with the entire cross-section of families in the community. It�s why I think I�m uniquely placed amongst the candidates, my familiarity with the whole cross-section of the community, and their needs and aspirations.

Blair Wilson (BW): I think one of the biggest reasons is my proven track record of fighting for the issues my constituents care about. I voted twice against extending our mission in Afghanistan, once as a Liberal and once as an independent, and I would vote again as a Green. I have a track record of fighting for local jobs, like the $80 million pilot project for hydrogen buses that will hit the streets in Whistler in 2010, and I have a track record working with constituents to create a sustainable environment and better stewardship. When there was a proposed carbonate rock quarry on the Sechelt Peninsula, I wrote to the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of the Environment to do a full assessment because that�s what people care about. They can count on me to go to bat for them.

Pique: What issues from your party�s platform do you feel resonate most with the voters in this riding?

JW: It�s been pretty consistent, and that�s economic governance. The Conservatives have brought in 29 tax cuts, putting over $20 billion in the pockets of Canadians, provided $1,200 per child tax benefit, provided a $500 tax credit for kids involved in sports, and now in arts and culture pursuits. We�ve focused on investments designed to make life easier for average Canadians. We paid down $40 billion of the debt, which is a record payment and relieves the burden on our children. We�ve made numerous commitments to seniors, like allowing for pension income splitting, increasing Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits, and now we have tax-free savings accounts that go beyond RRSPs.

These are promises the Conservative Party will keep and that will help the economy. The contrast is obvious � Dion has a $12 billion gap in the budget, and a $14 billion tax hike. It�s the wrong time to have someone who cannot manage take control of an uncertain economy. The other thing is that these all come with very coherent economic guidelines� in the context of environmental sustainability. The Turning the Corner environmental plan is achievable and provides local leadership and leadership on the international stage.

IS: I think the $70 billion infrastructure plan is very important to our riding. It�s not the most glamorous issue, but it�s one that is crucial for the future success of our communities, especially as we get ready to welcome the world in 2010. I�ve also heard a lot of support for taking real action on the environment � especially when that means lower income and business taxes, paid for by taxes on pollution. And the strong action we�re proposing to support the arts resonates not just with our own spectacular artists, but also with all of us who enjoy their work.

BF: That�s a tough one because there is such a range of socio-economic demographics in this riding. But the bottom line is climate change, and the fact that the NDP have had great success in the last Parliament in implementing the Climate Change Accountability Act to get government to make a solid commitment to reducing emissions.

People have to realize that our environment plan also links to our economic plan, because our plan includes investing in clean energy and new technologies. It�s what we call our Green Jobs plans, which is based on new manufacturing and technology industries, and new low-emissions projects.

BW: The party platform is big, but the one thing I�m emphasizing most is the concept that �Green means business.� Certainly the Green Party is the only party in Canada with any credibility on environmental stewardship, but what I bring to the table is a focus on the economy, business and creating local green jobs for our kids and grandkids, the jobs of the future that will be well-paying and long-lasting.

Pique: What other issues that are specific to your riding but not part of the federal platform would you bring to Ottawa?

JW: One key issue is infrastructure, we have to continue to build for the future. A good example is in the recent budget and the $55 million infrastructure grant designed for our riding. Stephane Dion, Blair Wilson, Liberals and NDP voted against this Olympic-related infrastructure payment, against tax cuts and against paying down the debt. Secondly, there is the question of filling jobs where we can�t find Canadians to do the work. I�ve been working three years now to improve work permit regulations to bring in foreign workers� I�ve brought the minister to Whistler and Squamish to hear the concerns, and they took that back to cabinet and helped approve new regulations. Lastly, I would like to improve Pacific Rim exposure to encourage investment and economic opportunities for the riding and for Canada. I was in Asia for 10 years, I have diplomatic experience, I have run businesses and practised law in Asia and Canada, and this would enable me to act as a bridge.

IS: My biggest commitment is to fight for ferry service. Working residents of the South Coast depend on the ferries as a vital connection between their jobs and homes. Any service cuts create hardship, so I advocate recognizing ferry routes as part of Canada�s highway system and increasing federal subsidies to match subsidies provided to the Atlantic ferry system � which are currently four times higher. With that kind of support we can ensure B.C. Ferries service remains at the levels we need.

BF: That�s a tough one because it�s such a comprehensive federal platform, and I can�t say what�s left out. One area might be outdoor recreation, although we even cover sports in our platform, which I have to say is very comprehensive and inclusive. If I had to pick one area, I think outdoor recreation could be emphasized a little more. It�s very important to this riding, and would probably rank higher than most other ridings.

We have to look at outdoor recreation as part of our health policy, which means grants and supports for outdoor recreation. I would be encouraging the party to increase support for getting urban youth more involved in outdoor rural activities with things like camps, grants for equipment, outdoor recreation programs in the schools � things of that nature.

BW: The last two and a half years I�ve sat on the Citizenship and Immigration Committee, and my focus has been to increase the number of people allowed into Canada. I know in Whistler and the corridor there is a dramatic labour shortage, and we would dramatically increase the number of people we�re allowing in Canada to one per cent, or about 350,000 per year. Conservatives worked the last two years to cut immigration. When they were first elected it was 263,500, the next year was 250,000, and last year was 225,000. I feel that exacerbated the labour shortage problem we�re experiencing here in Western Canada.

Pique: How would your party address the economic crisis on behalf of your constituents?

JW: On the economic crisis, the general answer is that the party continues to invest in communities and families, and not to promote grandiose, reckless and unfulfillable promises. For example, there is a $1 billion community trust fund targetted to victims of the forestry slowdown and other slowdowns in industry in one-industry towns. Our environmental initiatives are designed not only to promote a green world, but to protect jobs. For example, Stephen Harper promised not to export bitumen� except to countries with the same greenhouse gas laws as Canada has, which will protect jobs in Canadian refineries instead of moving those jobs abroad.

For seniors, the list of things we�re doing is impressive, including the retirement income splitting, the increase of the exemption for people who receive the GIS. They can earn $3,500 from employment without a reduction in GIS payments, which encourages people to stay in the workforce and continue to be healthy income earners. Also, the government has promised to increase the refundable medical expense supplement tax credit by more than 30 per cent.

Also, it�s really important to know the benefit for people at the low end of the income spectrum. We�ve increased the amount you have to earn to be able to be taxed so by 2009 some 700,000 Canadians will be removed from the tax rolls.

Our philosophy is that with the economic uncertainty we want to put power and money back in the hands of Canadians and away from politicians in Ottawa.

IS: A new Liberal government would take decisive action to support our economy and ensure Canadians can weather the storm. We have a five-point, 30-day plan to ensure the stability of our financial system. We also have a strong economic plan � deep cuts to personal and business income tax, increased tax credits for green investment, $70 billion for infrastructure, and massive investments in education and research and development. We won�t ignore the problem, as the Conservatives are doing, or panic and institute a job-killing $50 billion tax grab like the NDP. What we will do is put more money in the pockets of Canadians, give companies incentives to create good jobs, and provide the sound fiscal management that saw us through the 1990s so successfully.

BF: We have a comprehensive platform, but the short-term answer is that the current governments in the U.S. and Canada got us into this mess through insufficient monitoring and regulation of banks and insurance companies. What we�ll be looking at is ensuring the people most vulnerable in this economy, average working people, get the support they need. And, in the long term, we have to change the way we do things and improve the regulation of finance and insurance industries. It also means moving towards a different kind of focus in our economy, Green Jobs, which are the kind of jobs we�ll be needing in the 21 st century in transportation and industry, and retrofitting houses and commercial industry.

BW: Some of the lost tourism and conference business is a direct result of the Conservative policy to cut the refund of GST to tourists who come to Canada. It�s $170 million that is rebated back to tourists. That has a multiplier effect on people coming to Canada � do they get the GST, or if you�re in Europe do you get back the consumption tax? People factor that in when they decide to travel. It makes it that much harder for tourism operators in Whistler and elsewhere to compete. We would immediately reinstate the GST rebate.

As for forestry, part of that trouble is the direct result of climate and the Conservatives have done nothing to help with climate change and reverse the pine beetle epidemic. The Green Party would put money into diversifying the forest industry, and to promote export and development of denim pine, which is the new branding word for beetle kill trees, as well as invest in more research and development into cellulosic technology to convert pine beetle kill to ethanol.

The issue of retirement investment, that again is the direct result of a Conservative broken promise not to tax income trusts. I know a lot of people in the riding� invested money in royalty trusts on Stephen Harper�s word he would not tax. When he did he wiped out $50 billion in RRSP savings, RR income fund savings, and savings for people saving to buy a home. I know two people, for instance, that put away $80,000 in a royalty trust to use as a down payment on a home, and now that it�s taxed it�s going to be cut in half.

As for the economic crisis, we would do three things immediately. One is to cut taxes so individuals can earn $20,000 tax-free. Two would be to immediately work to stimulate new jobs in green technologies like wind, tidal, solar, geothermal� and three is to immediately transfer one per cent of GST back to municipalities, $6.5 million across Canada� to fund and build greener infrastructure and more robust transportation systems.

Pique: There have been a lot of accusations of American-style campaigning and emphasizing personalities in this election rather than focusing on issues and platforms. What is your opinion of the campaign so far?

JW: I�m not glib, and I�ve tried to focus on my track record of service, integrity and hard work. I think it�s key to note, and it should be familiar for anyone who has bought a car, that the slickness of the salesman doesn�t relate to the quality of the automobile. I�ve tried to concentrate on the substance, on how to give people a voice in Ottawa. I�ve listened for three and a half years and come up with specific recommendations that have already been implemented in Ottawa. I will continue listening, and representing people, whether they voted for me or not, if I am elected.

IS: I think issues are, naturally, the most important thing, and I represent a party that is strong on the issues. Our Green Shift plan has been out all summer, we�ve been talking about our comprehensive platform for most of the campaign, and we also have the three-part Made-in-B.C. Agenda to address our specific B.C. issues. I�m not surprised that the campaign has been so much about side issues, when the Conservatives don�t even have a platform and choose to use their time and resources producing petty, personal attack ads against (Liberal leader) St�phane Dion or sweater-vest ads to promote their leader�s personality. I really encourage voters to look at our platform, look at our stand on the issues, and then join us on election day to fight for B.C. by voting Liberal.

BF: I don�t think it�s as serious as the press implies, but certainly the Conservatives have been using negative ads against the Liberal opposition. The NDP haven�t really been involved to date, either doing the ads or being the victims, but the Conservatives are starting to focus more on Jack Layton and the NDP. As for the public, I think they�re focused on the right issues even if we get sidetracked � climate change, child poverty, the economy.

BW: Locally, we have tried to stay as positive as we can and focus on the issues that matter to the region. The Green Party platform has a comprehensive summary of all the issues that Canadians and people in the riding care about, like job creation, dealing with climate change, health care. We look at this as a positive opportunity. Stephen Harper and others will tell you the sky is falling, they�re talking about fear, but there is a lot of hope for the future if we make the right decisions. For example, we have an opportunity to deal with climate change head-on and� to invest in those industries for the 21 st century.

Pique: This election was called, according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, because Parliament was dysfunctional and he didn�t think parties could work together in government. With the real possibility of another minority government, how would you reach across the aisle to other parties to address the real issues facing Canada? Are there any issues that are non-negotiable?

JW: I�ve spent my life as a bridge builder. My greatest reward has been bringing people together, people of different languages, different cultures, from different countries. I�ve been an international lawyer and businessman, I speak Chinese, I speak French, and those are assets I hope I will get to use for the benefit of constituents. I would love to build bridges in Parliament as I built bridges in business and with my law practice. I would also say, after the longest running minority government in Canadian history where the Prime Minister has accomplished so much, that we could accomplish great things with another minority in the next election.

IS: The idea that Parliament was dysfunctional was just an excuse for Stephen Harper to break his own law and call a convenient election. The Liberals have a long record of working constructively with other parties when they are a minority government � some great legislation has been passed by Liberal minorities, with the support of some opposition parties.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, issued a playbook to their MPs on how to disrupt committees, governed with arrogance as if they were a majority, and made anything they thought they might lose into a confidence matter. We don't have a problem working with others, but it takes two (at least) to co-operate. We do have a lot of common ground with the other opposition parties, and we�re confident that would make for a solid base for co-operation.

BF: There are a few parts to this. First of all, I don�t believe Parliament was dysfunctional, I think it was plugging along just fine because the Conservative Party was getting Liberal support, or Liberals abstaining from voting against the Conservative Party on a lot of legislation including confidence motions. It wasn�t dysfunctional, which is why we�re supposedly in this election.

That said, we could reach across the aisle because we share the same priorities with other parties, like the Green Party for example, and to a certain extent with (Stephane) Dion and the Liberals. I imagine there will be lots of opportunities to co-operate on critical issues like climate change.

BW: I think my record speaks for itself, I�ve worked closely as an independent with the Conservative government, with NDP members, with the Bloc and Liberals. I started a non-partisan committee to look at Medicare with Autism Now, and held a meeting in Ottawa. That isn�t a right or left issue, it is a right-thing-to-do issue. I know in Alberta a family can get $60,000 a year to help a child with autism, while in B.C. it�s $20,000, and in the Maritimes it�s a lot less than that. The Medicare system needs to be equitable and fair. I�ve worked hard on that with other parties, and would continue to work hard.

Pique: What are the opportunities and challenges you see for this riding and Canada as a result of hosting the 2010 Games? Also, many residents want to know what happens after the Games if there are deficits, underfunded legacies, etc.?

JW: This is really our chance to shine, and for Whistler and Squamish to welcome the world in a way that Canadians have never seen. It�s an exciting time for us in the corridor. I would also repeat that the government offered $55 million for Olympic infrastructure funding that Blair Wilson, Stephane Dion, Liberals and NDP voted against. It�s important because if there was a deficit afterwards it may be on the citizens of B.C. and people in the riding and not shared by Canada. I�m glad we got that through, the $55 million passed.

IS: A Liberal government will not sit on the sidelines while Canada hosts the world. The Olympics are a great opportunity to promote Canada, our products, and Canada as a tourist destination. We�ll work to leverage the Olympics for the greatest possible benefit. That involves being committed to support the Games, to ensure the legacy programs receive maximum support, and to ensure that the Games benefit, rather than hurt, Canadians.

BF: The opportunities for the Olympics are the ones already stated many times by VANOC, like the exposure of outdoor recreation in the Sea to Sky corridor and the tourism opportunities that arise from that. The huge reciprocal challenge is the carbon emissions which that type of industry depends on and which needs to be addressed. We have to find ways of improving transportation in Sea to Sky and one of the ways we can substantially reduce carbon-dependent transportation is to reduce our dependence on the private automobile.

With regards to deficits, it has to be a user-pay Games. If the Olympics gets into a deficit position, then VANOC and the governments that supported VANOC have to take responsibility. It would be unfortunate if the taxpayers were penalized for it, but from what I understand VANOC has been responsible in not putting us in that position.

BW: One of the opportunities and challenges is that when we bid for the Games we said they would be the greenest Games ever, and a lot more work needs to be done to deliver on that promise. We need to ensure that they�re carbon-neutral Games, and the federal government has not taken the initiative, or a strong enough role, in making sure that promise is kept. I personally have helped to keep VANOC�s feet to the fire� One way we�ve succeeded is the $80 million pilot project I helped to champion to put hydrogen buses on the ground during the Games. It�s a small part, and other issues need to be dealt with, but it�s something.

As for deficits and legacies, I think the biggest thing to look at is the transportation issue. For example, the rail corridor up and down Whistler, I don�t believe it�s being fully utilized as a transportation link for people and cargo during the Games. One of my mandates is to expand the rail transportation system within the riding before, during and after the Games.

Pique: Two issues that are of particular concern for local governments these days are infrastructure and transportation. Given the challenging geography of this riding and the importance of public transportation, how would you represent these issues in government?

JW: There are two major infrastructure initiatives that come to mind. One is Build Canada, which is funded by $33 billion and is the largest infrastructure initiative since World Ward II, and was initiated by Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. The second is the Pacific Gateway project, which is an enormous attempt to improve the infrastructure in B.C. In both cases, and in all other cases of funding, it�s imperative to have an MP who is capable and credible, someone who is respected by fellow MPs and bureaucrats, and somebody who understands the needs of the riding. I have benefited from my three and a half years meeting and listening to locally elected officials and other community leaders, as well as people in the riding, and I understand the issues. I would be an effective voice in Parliament to get things done, undistracted by personal or other problems.

IS: I�ve already said a lot about infrastructure, it�s one of my top priorities for representing this riding. The Liberal Party�s $70 billion infrastructure plan includes at least $8 billion for a national transit strategy to promote public transportation, $3 billion for a dedicated small communities fund to ensure we all get the infrastructure we need, and $4.5 billion for gateways, corridors and borders, including our own Pacific Gateway. I�d fight to ensure our riding gets our share of that money, and to ensure that our particular issues, like support for ferry service, get due consideration.

BF: On infrastructure the NDP has already made substantial commitments, and in transportation. We have $750 million pledged to public transit and infrastructure, and that money is going to come from halting the $50 billion in corporate tax cuts that the Conservatives intend to proceed with and that the Liberals did not oppose.

The corporate tax rate was 34 per cent, it was reduced to 22.5 per cent, and the plan is to reduce it to 14 per cent. And these are corporate taxes, not small business taxes. The NDP is saying they don�t need it, those funds have to be available for investment in infrastructure and transportation, as well as funding for families, for post-secondary fee supplements, for our child care and child benefit plan, for our home care for seniors plan, and more.

BW: One of the platform points I mentioned is the one per cent of the GST going to municipalities. I held a conference for mayors and councillors (from this riding) a year and a half ago in Sechelt� and they all talked about the federal government and how we can be more helpful and local. One idea that came up was the one per cent GST, to provide municipalities with long-term, dependable funding for� better infrastructure and bigger public transportation, and so they can plan five or 10 years out and know the money is coming in.

Pique: How has the Internet changed things, given what happened with NDP candidate Dana Larsen, Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes in Winnipeg, and others? How much of our candidates� pasts should be considered fair game?

JW: I would answer that two ways. First, character counts and people expect an honest Member of Parliament who is law-abiding and will represent their interests. Secondly the Internet has been a great enabler for getting young people involved, and I have to give credit to the Internet for the surge in youth involvement in my campaign.

I think it�s more for the voters to determine than lawmakers, that is part of how we choose our people who will be lawmakers and advocates. Something that happened a long time ago might have less relevance than something that happened yesterday, but it should be for the voters to judge.

IS: The Internet has made it easier to access information, including information on candidates� pasts. While I don�t want to descend into personality politics, I think we all have to be responsible for our words and actions. So when candidates make hugely offensive statements on blogs or public online forums, as Ryan Warawa of the Conservatives did, they should be held to account. Likewise, if candidates are taking illegal drugs while driving or exposing themselves to teenage girls at summer camps, well, these are irresponsible activities that cast serious doubt on their judgment and on their suitability for public office. I don't think we should be hiring private investigators or invading people�s privacy, but if a quick Google search turns up something that serious, it�s worth bringing it to the attention of the public.

BF: I think if we�re going to look at the Internet and what people were saying and doing 10 years ago, I�d far rather we focused on the economic and social policies that people were talking about back then. If people did, we would find Stephen Harper when he was with the National Citizens Coalition talking about privatizing public services like health care and education. You�d find Stephen Harper talking about deregulating food inspection, about deregulating the economy, right in the middle of maybe the greatest crisis we�ve ever had which was caused by the deregulation of the banking industry. That�s far more important than silly, personal things that people were up to 10 years ago.

BW: In a general way I think you have to look at a candidate�s character and record of achievement in office, and when it comes to this campaign I will gladly stand by my record as an MP the last two and a half years. I�m proud of what I�ve accomplished in a relatively short period of time, and the people of the riding know me as a hard working MP who cares about them and their families. They may disagree with me on certain issues, but they will know where I stand � I�ll fight for green jobs in the riding, I�ll voice the majority opinion in ending our mission in Afghanistan, and I�ll continue to fight for successful and vibrant communities.

Pique: Any final remarks?

JW: I consider it a great honour to run for this office, and pledge to continue to work actively in the interests of constituents if I�m elected. And therefore I ask readers to vote for me and Stephen Harper on October 14.

IS: People have to carefully consider the impact of their vote in this riding. Due to vote splitting, it�s possible for the Conservatives to win the seat with 35 per cent of the vote. Any vote in this riding for the Green Party or the NDP is helping the Conservatives win. If you do not want this to happen, please vote for me and the Liberal Party.

BF: The one issue that bothers me a lot is that I hope voters in this riding will look at substance rather than style when choosing a candidate, particularly in regard to their green credentials. I�m talking about the fact that I�ve ridden my bike to work for 30 years, I�ve owned fuel efficient vehicles, and I�ve worked in the community for conservation. It niggles at me that Blair Wilson is a newly minted conservationist � in the last election he owned a steakhouse and was driving an SUV. Now�s he�s driving a Prius.

BW: We (the Green Party) have 70 to 80 per cent of Liberal support coming our way in this riding, and Green Party support nationally is at about 15 per cent, and in B.C. it�s probably 20 per cent. With the Liberal support I�m getting, plus the Green support and a few NDP votes coming our way, we�ll have enough to take it over the top and elect a Green MP. It�s really green versus blue in this riding, and in that way great support from Whistler and its green votes can really help win this riding.

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