(Left) Questions were asked by students from Rocky Mountain Elementary School. (Right) Abra Brynne of the Green Party, Wayne Stetski of the NDP, Conservative candidate Rob Morrison, Rick Stewart of the People’s Party of Canada and Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party attended the forum in Elkford. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Election candidates take questions in Elkford

On the night of September 27, federal election candidates from the Kootenay-Columbia region sat in front of a crowd of Elkford residents and took questions prepared by students.

The students, from Rocky Mountain Elementary School, varied in age from grades four, five and six. The moderated event asked only the prepared questions.

Candidates at the forum included Wayne Stetski of the NDP, Abra Brynne of the Green Party, Rick Stewart of the People’s Party of Canada, Trev Miller of the Animal Protection Party and Conservative candidate Rob Morrison.

Questions covered the topics of the economy, energy and environment, childcare and housing.

They were first asked how they will advocate the importance of Metallurgical Coal to the overall prosperity of the Elk Valley.

Miller said many industries currently support lots of people, but some are hard on the environment and people. He said federal tax dollars are also supporting these industries. He said while mining is currently very important, these dollars could be spent on programs that allow people to take home more money every month so that they didn’t have to rely so heavily on mining.

Stewart said there is an abundance of natural resources in Canada, and said they’re currently being managed poorly. He spoke to the importance of energy independence, and said coal is essential to steel industries.

Morrison said he will advocate strongly for the importance of mining. He said the coal in the Elk Valley should be sold internationally for the most money possible, and used to build international relationships. He outlined manufactured coal as a possibility for the future. He said he is 100 per cent in support of energy, coal and mills.

Stetski spoke to his role with the Ministry of Environment, his staff worked with mining staff to make mines as environmentally friendly as possibility. He recognized mining as extremely important for the area. He spoke to the importance of the steelworker union. He said work needs to continue with regard to selenium and coal dust reduction. He said he’s supported the mines during his time as MP in the Kootenays.

Brynne recognized the importance of metallurgical coal in the Elk Valley. She said steel is key in the low carbon economy the Green Party plans on shifting Canada towards. She believes steelmaking and other manufacturing should be brought back to North America, Canada, and B.C.

Questions followed regarding the current structure of the tax code, followed by a question on carbon tax, legitimacy of climate change, logging industry issues, child care and affordability, lack of housing, and current mortgage rates.

For more on the candidates opinions, visit The Free Press.ca/federal-election.

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