Four candidates are vying to be the MLA for the Abbotsford South riding.
We asked them a little about themselves and to answer a series of questions.
Candidates were given hard word counts for each question and warned that exceeding the limit would result in their answers being cut. They were also warned against including blatant falsehoods.
Bruce Banman/BC Liberal Party
Tell us about yourself:
Currently, Councillor for the City of Abbotsford; Mayor of Abbotsford 2011-2014; Born and raised in the Fraser Valley, my wife, Sharon & I have lived in Abbotsford for almost 40 years, we raised our 2 children here and now enjoy seeing our three amazing grandchildren growing up.
Aird Flavelle/BC Green Party
Tell us about yourself:
Veteran of two armies; Pilot; Met Sheila in Arabic class; University: Economics, East Asia; 30 year businesses in Abbotsford – 18 local staff; Volunteer: Sister City, Rotary, Environmental Advisory Committee, Chamber; Hospice, Restorative Justice, Homeless; Studied Japanese, Chinese, Punjabi; Abbotsford City Council attendance since 2007 plus Police Board; LBGTQ2 ally
Inder Johal (BC NDP)
Tell us about yourself:
I am passionate about advancing issues of equity and social justice. I want to work to make life more affordable, improve workers’ rights and workplace safety, and protect the natural beauty of our province. I am a committed community volunteer who has a keen interest in working with government.
Laura-Lynn Thompson (Christian Heritage Party)
Tell us about yourself:
Born in Uganda, East Africa, I am married to the love of my life, JT. We were privileged to care for dozens of high risk youth in our home struggling with addiction and mental health issues. My professional work has been in media for the last 20 years. I was [exceeded word limit]
BC LIBERAL Party: What has your party learned while in Opposition the last three years?
Banman: Opposition has given us an opportunity to make deeper connections with the people of BC. The pace of government means that you don’t always get to spend as much time in your own community connecting face to face with constituents, but opposition life has allowed us to engage more and learn about the real issues that British Columbians face on a daily basis.
BC GREEN Party: Your party has co-operated with the NDP the last three years. What would a vote for your party accomplish that a vote for the NDP would not?
Flavelle: I take issue with your “co-operated with the NDP” premise. We specifically don’t bring the government down because we are being so very successful at forcing the NDP to address our agenda like CleanBC and at forcing the NDP to improve their policies. Further, the BC Greens got the business and union money out of politics. Now, we will NOT support fracking and the LNG industry, and we will NOT support Site C. We need BC Green MLAs in the Legislature so they can keep pushing for evidence-based polices to make life more affordable like $10 per day childcare,
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE PARTY: Your party has no MLAs and few believe they are likely to field victorious candidates this election. What would a vote for your respective party accomplish?
Thompson: No vote is a ‘wasted vote’ if it reflects the voter’s values and principles. Every vote for CHP will communicate to all politicians the electorate’s desire to see the value of life, the family and our civil liberties protected, and fiscal responsibility restored.
BC NDP: How was it in the public’s interest for the NDP to call an election during a pandemic?
Johal: We need a stable government and we know that COVID-19 will continue to be with us for a while. Instead of delaying for a year and having a year of partisan politics and uncertainty, we can give British Columbians the choice now and we can keep moving BC forward.
QUESTION 2: What should government do to help people recover from the economic effects of COVID-19?
Flavelle: The vast majority of businesses in the province – over half a million – have fewer than 50 employees. Currently the economy is well on the way to recovery from the pandemic with the notable exceptions of tourism and restaurants and some small businesses. Provincial government support is being delayed by this snap election. Greens would implement partial support for small business rental costs, retool the provincial grant program for tourism businesses, and work with the federal government to establish a repayable loan program for the hospitality sector and for tourism operators.
Thompson: Focus actions on protecting at-risk groups—seniors over 70, those with comorbid underlying conditions. In past epidemics, we quarantined the sick, not the healthy. Recognize that the opioid crisis is far, far more deadly than Covid-19; the global lethality of which is barely one percent. The economic and psychological effects of the lockdowns and the fear they generate have been more harmful than Covid, [Edit: factually incorrect assertion about the relative danger of COVID-19 removed]
Johal: Many feel there is a lot of uncertainty right now. The BC NDP has taken a lot of action to help address the impacts of COVID-19, like an unprecedented $8 billion investment to support people and kickstart the economy.
Banman: In order to help the province recover from the effects of COVID-19 the government needs to invest in programs that will grow the economy and create quality jobs. This includes measures like the proposed PST cut to 0% and investing $8 billion into infrastructure projects. These kinds of investments put money back into our economy, employ British Columbians who need work, and build our province.
QUESTION 3A: The government has spent billions of dollars this year that couldn’t have been anticipated in previous budgets. In the years to come, should government raise, maintain or cut taxes. Which taxes?
Thompson: Cut taxes! The ever-growing government bureaucracy has been accurately described (by the Hoover Institution at Stanford University) as “a cancer on the Constitution”. Government is more often the problem than the solution. Cut the PST like Alberta has done.
Johal: The BC Liberals want to give broad tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations—even the ones making record profits. We have focused plan to create jobs and support the business and people who need it. That’s why we have a 15% tax credit for hiring new employees.
Banman: The BC Liberals have already committed to eliminating the PST for one year and reducing it to 3% the second year. This will leave more money in the pockets of British Columbians, stimulate the economy and create new jobs.
Flavelle: Auditor General’s pandemic funding report identifies $7 billion for pandemic recovery. That’s 12% of the provincial budget, or same as provincial sales tax, or a bit more than corporate income tax revenues. It’s like a citizen with a $60,000 income taking a $7,000 car loan.
QUESTION 3B: Should spending be raised, maintained or cut? Which specific areas should see spending adjustments?
Johal: We must remember that people are the economy. By helping people succeed, we can build a recovery for everyone. We need to be smart about what we prioritize. The BC Liberals prioritize those at the top and have everyone else pay by cutting services or bringing in fees, like tolls.
Banman: This is the time to invest in BC. The BC Liberals have proposed an $8 billion infrastructure plan that will build new schools, hospitals, and roads in every corner of our province. We also need to make sure that we are improving funding for mental health and addictions, seniors care and more.
Flavelle: The provincial budget of $60 billion is 40% healthcare, 25% education, 10% social services, 6% economic development and 5% interest. The Greens strive for small government, but I don’t see a lot here to cut. Certainly not healthcare or education!
Thompson: Cut, for sure! We need to remember that the government has no money of its own; only what it takes out of the productive private sector of the economy.
QUESTION 3C: How is your revenue and spending approach sustainable?
Banman: We need to make sure that we have a healthy and growing economy, otherwise we will continue to see declining revenue, and so our first priority must be investing in our economy and creating good-paying jobs for the thousands of British Columbians who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Flavelle: The Greens will ALWAYS strive to target a balanced budget, because over-spending (deficit budgets) is unsustainable. Greens want small government, local government, and community self reliance!
Thompson: The absolute foundation of “sustainability” is not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Keeping spending within income has always been fundamental. Put Canadians first. Fair wages, create jobs, increase support to farmers and expand growth for our natural resources. Open the economy and live within our means.
Johal: We are putting people at the centre of our recovery. We have a focused plan to create jobs, support small businesses and make sure that we are looking out for people.
QUESTION 4: The provincial government provides vital services to thousands of vulnerable people. What personal experiences give you insight into how government services affect the lives of voters?
Flavelle: Lately I’ve had almost perfect attendance at the Abbotsford Police Board meetings but when I first entered politics in 2007, I spent an extraordinary amount of time doing “ride-a-longs” with the Abbotsford Police Department’s shift-sergeants. I learned about domestic violence, youth at risk, the people who live in our streets, and general societal non-conformists. Vulnerable people desperately need a provincial support structure to ensure that everybody can be successful. I’m thinking that ever increasing mental health supports will be the most beneficial for our vulnerable citizens and I will actively work to that end.
Thompson: After volunteering in recovery homes, prisons and working with high risk youth right in our home, I have a deep understanding of the devastating effects of drug addiction and specifically the opioid crisis. One of our youth was killed by his own gang, and another later murdered a store owner. Two other young men overdosed on opioids and I have literally combed the streets until I found a young woman in our care trapped in the sex trade industry. More solutions, recovery centers and homeless shelters which offer help to stabilize and find a new way of living, are mandatory.
Johal: As a mother, I understand how difficult finding affordable childcare is. It often times means making impossible choices like going to work or staying home. The BC Liberals ignored the needs of families for years. We’ve invested in child care and more than 32,000 families in BC are now receiving childcare for $10/day or less, saving up to $1600/month per child.
Banman: I came from humble beginnings, growing up on a rural farm. I worked as a waiter to pay my way through university while becoming a doctor of chiropractic. My experience as a Mayor and Councillor, have given me a broader perspective, on understanding the challenges the residents of this riding have, including those who are most vulnerable. Government at all levels has a responsibility to ensure the health & safety of everyone, to create programs that are sustainable to lift those most vulnerable to a safe & better life and to protect our residents & business communities.
QUESTION 5: What’s one thing the current government has done well?
Thompson: Except for the federal-mandated shut-downs, handling the Covid pandemic.
Johal: Working with health experts to help address the impacts of the pandemic and that’s why I’m proud to be part of John Horgan’s team.
Banman: The current government did a good job of working with Dr. Bonnie Henry and us opposition parties to respond to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flavelle: Not too bad with the pandemic response (except opening the schools without better protection)
QUESTION 6: What’s one thing the current government has not done well?
Johal: It’s been 3.5 short years and there is still so much more to do to make life better for British Columbians.
Banman: The NDP have demonstrated they are not trustworthy-from betraying their allies and calling a pandemic election, to reneging on promises like the renter’s rebate and $10 a day childcare.
Flavelle: The provincial government has not successfully implemented (or even created) a plan to get our green house gas emissions under control. We are cooking our [exceeded word limit]
Thompson: Allowing radical Marxists and sex activists to bully our schoolchildren.
QUESTION 7: MLAs must work for all their constituents. How would you advance the interests of those voters who disagree with your preferred views and policies?
Banman: An MLA’s role is to work on behalf of their constituents, which is why my office would always been open to everyone, ready to provide assistance and advocate for them. We thankfully live in a democracy, which means I will not agree with every one of my constituents on every issue, but that will not stop me from looking out for their well-being.
Flavelle: Some of my constituents have differing views on taxation, self-reliance (responsibility), masks and physical-distancing, chem-trails, flat-earth, homophobia and sexuality, misogamy, and racism. And I’m sure lots more! I believe the Green Party’s philosophy is in the best interest of ALL constituents and will provide us all with a better world.
Thompson: By staying away from destructive ‘identity politics’; I have good working relationships with people in all ‘races’ (in truth, there is only ONE race—the human race); political, social, economic and identity groups. The question to be answered is always: “What is best for the province and its people?”
Johal: For too long BC Liberals ignored the voices of others, as an MLA I will make sure all voices are heard. Our economic recovery must include everyone, not just those at the top.