Lakeland candidates field questions from BCHS students
Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 10:45 am
Lakeland Conservative candidate Shannon Stubbs was on the campaign offensive in session with students at Bonnyville Centralized High School last Thursday.
Warning students that the Liberals and the New Democratic Party will hike taxes, the first-time candidate touched upon Canadian values, foreign policy and the military. The recurring topic, by a stretch, was the slumping energy sector.
“There is a slowdown in the energy industry here in Bonnyville and Lakeland and the potential government decisions that could be made by either the federal NDP or the federal Liberal government are that they are anti-Alberta, they’re anti energy, they’re anti-oil development, they want to hike fees and taxes, they want to add new taxes, they want increase the regulatory burden, they want to stand in opposition to pipelines to ensure that our products can’t reach diverse international markets.”
Stubbs added, “All of those things combined will guarantee a continued slowdown and job losses in the energy industry.”
Students from at least six BCHS classes filed into the Lyle Victor Albert Centre to hear Stubbs speak. The session was organized by social teachers Julie Hutchison and Luke Nakonechny. After her speech, students had the opportunity to ask Stubbs questions.
Grade 10 student Matthew Nahirniak participated in the Q and A. He left class specifically to attend the session with Stubbs because of his interest in politics, despite being too young to vote.
“I actually had like a half an hour debate with my mum yesterday on who she likes and why and then I gave her my opinion on all this as well,” said Nahirniak. “I could actually see myself getting into this later in life. This is just like a small beginning towards it.”
He said he found Stubbs “intriguing” and “very charismatic.”
With many in the Lakeland worried about the economy, Stubbs ensured she didn’t deviate too much from the fledgling energy sector.
“Alberta has gone through this before and… we have recovered before and we will do it again,” Stubbs said. “In order for us to rebound in this area and to continue the jobs and economic prosperity and energy development that’s so important to this community…we need to have a government that will continue to value that development.”
Other students asked Stubbs to explain how lowering taxes might generate a surplus and what the Conservatives would do to counter the weak dollar.
“The questions were bang-on,” said Stubbs, adding that they gave her a sense of what is on the minds of the students, their parents and their families in Bonnyville.
Lakeland Liberal candidate Garry Parenteau spoke to the auditorium full of Bonnyville Centralized High School students Friday morning about – among other things – the economy, foreign relations and government transparency.
He then fielded questions from students, which ranged from Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s stance on the energy sector to Canada’s peacekeeping glory days.
“When we look at the environment and the economy, it is tied together,” Parenteau told the students.
He reiterated his position as a supporter of the oil and gas sector but added that the government must also do its duty in protecting the environment.
“We like to make sure you have access to clean water,” he said, explaining how he would like many lakes in the new riding cleaned up.
Numerous students then asked Parenteau well-formed, topical questions. “What’s your position of Bill C-51?” asked one student. “What makes a good MP?” another student asked.
“I think they were very good questions,” said Parenteau. “It shows we have interest in the community.”
Parenteau was late to the election race, tossing his hat into the running after realizing there was no Liberal candidate on the ballot.
“I put my name in after the writ was dropped. So I do have a lot of homework to do,” he said.
Had the riding boundaries been redistributed prior to the 2011 election, the new Lakeland riding would have comfortably gone to the Conservatives.
“I think our members and our people in this community and this constituency are ready for change,” said Parenteau. “I hope to bring change.”
While the topics covered during the session were varied, a number of questions had Parenteau defending his position as a friend of the oil and gas sector.
“This whole constituency was built on oil and gas along with the agricultural and farming industry,” he said. “Oil and gas is not going to go anywhere.”
If elected, he promised long-term policy to have those laid off from the energy sector back to work. In the short term he hopes there will be programs and services available to get people over this slump.
In addition to the Q and A with candidates students are also participating in the Student Vote, which is a parallel election for students under the voting age, coinciding with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections. The purpose is to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and build the habits of informed and engaged citizenship.
“That’s where kids will get the opportunity to actually choose which candidate they support the most and that helps them get engaged,” said Nakonechny. “When they do turn the age of 18, they’ll be able to vote and they’ll get the experience for when it really matters.”
Hutchinson invited all candidates that will appear on the Lakeland ballot Oct. 19 to speak with students. Liberal candidate Garry Parenteau spoke with students on Friday. Libertarian candidate Robert McFadzean and NDP candidate Duane Zaraska were unable to make it.