Candidates identify and address key issues in response to a News questionnaire

  • May. 3, 2013 3:00 p.m.

The News invited all Abbotsford candidates to respond to a questionnaire on what they felt were key issues in their riding – read their responses in their own words below.

The News also interviewed all candidates – read the profiles on candidates from Abbotsford West, Abbotsford South and Abbotsford Mission.

The News invited candidates to film a video address to voters – watch the clips from Abbotsford West, Abbotsford South and Abbotsford-Mission.

Find out which riding you are in.

In the Abbotsford South riding, incumbent John van Dongen (Independent) is seeking his sixth term in office. He was originally elected in 1995 and has held his seat ever since.

He has held numerous positions including solicitor general, minister of public safety and minister of agriculture.

He is being challenged by Darryl Plecas (Liberal), Lakhvinder Jhaj (NDP), Steve Finlay (Marijuana) and Patricia Smith (Excalibur).

Plecas, a criminologist, has been teaching at the University of the Fraser Valley for 33 years.

Originally from Mission, Jhaj moved to Penticton in 1986. She ran for the BC NDP in 2009 in the riding of Boundary Bay-Similkameen. She moved back to Abbotsford two years ago.

Finlay, a marketing manager, was trained as an economist and is the secretary-treasurer of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Canada.

Smith was officially declared a candidate in Abbotsford South on the final day of candidate registration (April 26). So far, all attempts to contact her have been unsuccessful and no information is available on the party website.

Tell us what is important to you in the upcoming election.

Dr. Darryl Plecas

BC Liberal

Age: 61

Education: Doctorate in Higher Education

Occupation: Director for the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Research, UFV

Residency: Abbotsford

Married with two children


Social media:  @DarrylPlecas

Constituency office: 32751 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford, BC  V2T 3S3, 604-744-2245

Key issues in riding

In my daily conversations with people in Abbotsford south, there are a number of issues that are commonly mentioned. Perhaps the most frequent issue that people want to talk with me about is the rising cost of government services and their concern that the government will raise taxes and borrow money to pay for these services. They know that’s not a good way to handle to the situation and so do I. The reality is that we simply do not have the money to pay for the current demand on government services. Whether you are talking about health care, social services, transportation, infrastructure needs, criminal justice, or education, we can expect that the costs to deliver these services will continue to rise. So, the fear is that the only options available to us are to raise taxes and introduce user fees, or to borrow more money and add to our provincial debt load that currently costs us 2.4 billion dollars a year in interest payments on our existing provincial debt.

However, there is another choice that we can make to provide world-class services to British Columbians without raising taxes or borrowing more money. First, we can spend our money smarter by utilising more effective and efficient methods to deliver government services. Second, we can substantially strengthen our economy, in part through the trillion-dollar liquefied natural gas opportunity as one part of a broader resource development policy. This approach would create jobs, spark secondary industries, provide billions of dollars to pay for government services, and have a tremendously beneficial and positive impact on our environment. In short, it’s about getting tax dollars from British Columbia’s rich natural resources, instead of from your pockets. By doing this, we ensure that all of us in Abbotsford South and throughout British Columbia have a more prosperous and secure future.

To ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely and prudently, you need a strong and determined voice in Victoria. You deserve a leader who is committed to protecting your interests and your future. You deserve people in office who make decisions based on facts and evidence, and you should expect that your government function openly and transparently. Most importantly, you deserve representatives who are honest and accountable to you. You can always count on me to be one of those people.

John van Dongen


Age: 63

Education: Bachelor of Science

Occupation: MLA since 1995; owner of organic dairy farm

Residency: Abbotsford

Engaged, 2 adult children and 2 grandchildren


Social media: @votejvd

Campaign office: #110 – 1975 McCallum Road, 604-744-1915

Key issues in riding

Agriculture, agri-business, the small business sector and the overall economy:

I support keeping business competitive to help reduce the impact of cross border shopping. For example, I voted against Family Day because of the increased costs.  agriculture and agri-business are a big part of the Abbotsford economy and need the kind of specialized knowledge that I offer.

Metro Vancouver garbage incinerator:

I was a key player in stopping the SE2 power plant some years ago.  I pledge to continue to fight the incinerator and ensure that air quality in the Fraser Valley is protected.

Equitable funding for the Fraser Health Authority:

For too long, funding for FHA has not kept up with population growth.  I have been an active voice on this issue and will continue to push for proper funding of our Abbotsford hospital and better mental health and addiction programs.

Funding for the University of the Fraser Valley in order to match the cumulative increase in the number of students enrolled at the Abbotsford campus:

I was the only elected MLA who attended the large community rally in support of university status. Overall funding for our university needs to reflect the actual total student numbers and I pledge to fight for that.

A new courthouse in Abbotsford:

I have worked on various committees over the years and a new courthouse in Abbotsford is a high priority.

Key issues in B.C.

Trust in government.  British Columbians deserve to have a government that is accountable for the decisions it makes.  I have demonstrated that I will ask the tough questions and take action on the issues.

Strong fiscal management and spending control.

A strong economy to keep people working.  We need to foster an attractive investment climate by keeping taxes reasonable.  The carbon tax should be eliminated so that we have a level playing field with the rest of North America.  The carbon tax is hurting everyone including consumers, agriculture and business.

Active and effective leadership in growing the resource industries – agriculture and agri-foods, fisheries, forestry, mining, oil and gas.

Strong commitment to a sustainable environment that is supported by effective regulation and full evaluation of new projects.

Health care and education. We need to eliminate the Pacific Carbon Trust and re-direct millions of dollars to support actual services in health care and education.  Active management will help improve service and control costs of health care.

Better support for people living with mental illness and those struggling with addictions.  I believe a separate provincial agency should be established to take full and effective responsibility for mental health and addictions services.

Improvements to our justice system to ensure that people have timely access to justice.  I brought the Cowper Justice System Review to Abbotsford. I have a strong interest in working with all stakeholders to make the system better.

Lakhvinder Jhaj

New Democratic Party

Age: 47

Occupation: Banking

Married with 3 children


Constituency office: 201-2580 Cedar Park Place

Abbotsford, BC V2T 3S5

Key issues in riding

As an experienced small business owner and farmer I take pride and responsibility in the community that I live in. That is why I decided to run as a candidate; that is why every day I’m out on the doorsteps listening to the concerns of Abbotsford South residents. After 12 years of the same government, voter apathy is at an all- time high and constituents of Abbotsford South feel they haven’t been heard. The NDP and I want to build a better future for our young people by investing in skills training and education.  We want to work towards reducing inequality, protecting the environment and a dependable healthcare system.


Accessible and reliable transit is a challenge for residents that depend on public transit, with an NDP government a portion of the carbon tax that people have been paying will go towards a green infrastructure.

Health care

People are frustrated with the long wait times and the overall status of the healthcare system.  We know that the Abbotsford hospital has already outgrown the needs of the population.  I want to work with all the stakeholders and be part of the solution.


Abbotsford economy relies heavily on the farmers and agriculture in the surrounding areas.  In order to maintain that, we need to invest locally such as hospitals and schools purchasing what we produce in the valley. Under a BC NDP government we would like to bring back the Buy BC Program; that was gutted by the Liberals. This program helped farmers promote their produce outside of BC.

A BC NDP government will invest in skills training and apprenticeship system renewal.

Key issues in B.C.

Build B.C.’s economy;

Respond the skills to shortage faced by many B.C. industries

Increase the number of British Columbians with certified trade status;

Increase participation by young people in skills training programs;

Steve Finlay

BC Marijuana Party

Age: 56

Education: BA and MA in Linguistics

Master of Business Administration

Occupation: Marketing manager; graduate admissions test preparation instructor

Residency: Surrey

Divorced, two adult children


Social media: Steve Finlay on Facebook

Key issues in riding

We need to ensure that farming is both economically successful and sustainable. “Sustainable” means not damaging the soil, the water supply, and so on. Government can fund agricultural research; encourage consumers to support BC agriculture with their dollars; and use regulation to prevent damage. For example, we need to find out whether crops that produce their own neonicotinoids are killing bees, and ban those strains if necessary.

Transportation affects everyone’s daily life. Highway improvements are making it easier to get to Vancouver and back, but not everyone can afford a car. A bus system like Ontario’s GO Transit should be considered. But we also need more jobs in Abbotsford itself, so that many people will not need to commute at all.

Finally, the proposed GVRD garbage incinerator is an obvious problem. The Fraser Valley is a bad place for a large new source of air pollution. Whoever is elected will fight hard against this.

Key issues in B.C.

The major issues are employment and income inequality, environmental responsibility, and drug prohibition.

Since the 1960s, too many good “blue collar” jobs have disappeared because of technology, outsourcing to low-wage countries, and other factors. Thousands are underemployed, and income inequality has drastically increased.

If people have just enough to survive, they do not buy much – because they can’t. This is bad for business.

We redistribute income using taxes and welfare, but this does not fix the real problem. As a society, we must learn to consider the bad long term effects that can result from maximizing profit right now, and to change what we do. I don’t know how government can encourage this, but I know we need to find out.

B.C. faces several environmental problems. Fracking, for example, can ruin water supplies. Until we find out where fracking can be done safely, new projects should not be approved until the proposer shows that the area is geologically similar to places where fracking has not polluted the water.

Finally, replacing drug prohibition with regulation and control would improve the economy, public health and public safety. Drug prohibition was intended to reduce drug use, but it does not. Every country which has moved towards regulation has seen drug usage, illness and death go down. Like alcohol prohibition, drug prohibition cripples the economy and public safety by giving huge black market profits to criminals. If elected, I will introduce the Sensible Policing Act as a private member’s bill.