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Oct 8, 2019

Your Official Kelowna Chamber All-Candidates Forum (and 2019 Federal Election) Primer!

Photo courtesy: Globe and Mail

*UPDATED Oct 15, 2019**

Well here we are. As quickly as the summer passed in the Okanagan this year, so too has the 2019 Federal Election crept up on us. 

Sure, there's been plenty in the media about the federal leaders and their past steps and missteps. But we're only a couple weeks away from voting and it's now or never to exercise our civic duty by making sure we can make an informed vote on October 21. It’s time to brush up on the local candidates, who they are and what they stand for. After all, we don't vote for a Prime Minister (unless you happen to live in a select few ridings). We vote for people who live and work in our communities, who regardless of which party or issues they stand for, are putting themselves out there for you to evaluate and judge, and ultimately, decide if they are worthy or not to carry your voice to Ottawa and fight for the issues that affect you. 

So if you have been putting off, tuning out or avoiding the election so far, we’ve got you covered. We’re holding an All-Candidates Forum Breakfast at 7:00 a.m. on October 16, 2019 at the Coast Capri. Most of the candidates in both Kelowna-area ridings have accepted and are ready to engage with you directly. The list of rules & procedures for the event can be found at the bottom of this page. 

In advance of next Wednesday’s forum, here’s your official Kelowna Chamber elections primer. Just a note, the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is neutral and does not endorse any one candidate or party. All the local candidates were contacted and given a chance to participate in our All-Candidates Electoral Forum and any accompanying communications.

Who they are:

(photos credit: Kelowna Capital News)

(Top Left): KELOWNA-LAKE COUNTRY - Stephen Fuhr, Liberal Party (incumbent) – ATTENDING; Tracy Gray (Conservative Party) - ATTENDING; Travis Ashley (Green Party) - ATTENDING; John Barr (People's Party) - ATTENDING; Justin Kulik (NDP) – NOT ATTENDING; Silverado Socrates – ATTENDING

(Bottom Left): Daniel Joseph – ATTENDING; CENTRAL OKANAGAN - SIMILKAMEEN - NICOLA - Dan Albas, Conservative Party (incumbent) – ATTENDING; Allan C. Duncan, People's Party – ATTENDING; Robert Mellalieu (Green Party) – ATTENDING; Mary Ann Murphy (Liberal Party) – ATTENDING; Joan Phillip (NDP) – ATTENDING

What they stand for:

You can check out Maclean’s for an in-depth Federal Election Platform Guide to see where the major parties stand. More importantly, you can go to Vote Prosperity and find out what chambers around the country, including the territories, have told the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and how their platform came together for 2019.

We reached out to each of the candidates to ask them for a little info to share with you to help get to know them. Here are the responses we received back from those who answered:

Justin Kulik, NDP, Kelowna-Lake Country

Tell us a little about yourself?
When I was just ten years old, then Member of Parliament for British Columbia Southern Interior, Alex Atamenenko came to speak to my school in Rossland, BC. He spoke of the importance of youth getting politically involved and motivated, encouraging each of us to exercise our right to vote and stand for election.
Though I was just an elementary school student, what he said stuck with me. This began my involvement in our democratic institutions. During the 2011 election, I asked my family if we could put out a lawn sign in support of Alex. Of course, they were shocked that their ten-year-old son was asking this, but they agreed nonetheless. Alex was re-elected in 2011 for a third term with nearly 51% of the vote. Fast forward to 2019 and I can safety say that Alex was right. Youth engagement in our democratic system is crucial to create a Parliament that truly reflects the diversity of Canada. Young people are the future, and I hope that my run, here and now, will maybe, just maybe, inspire some other ten year old today to run in 2027. If elected, I would be the youngest Member of Parliament in Canada's history at the age of eighteen, beating the current record of nineteen. This is an historic election for me as an individual. Not only is it the first time my name is on the ballot, it is also the first time I will have a ballot to cast myself.
Why are you running in this election?
In Kelowna–Lake Country, we are facing affordability and climate crises. Seniors living on fixed incomes and working people are facing increasing costs of living after being failed by both previous and current governments. A dollar simply doesn't go as far in Kelowna–Lake Country as it does in much of Canada. We have a bold plan to tackle the affordability crisis being faced in all areas of day-to-day life, paid for by implementing a super-wealth tax of just 1% on those with more than $20 million. That is only the top 0.1% of Canadians, but will generate $70 billion. From housing to healthcare, I'm fighting for Kelowna–Lake Country. But affordability is not the only problem we face. 
The climate crisis faced around the world is warming Canada at twice the global rate. In the Okanagan, we are facing increased wildfires, droughts, and flood events. These past few summer, people have been told that the air quality index was unfit for human activity due to the smoke. As the climate crisis continues, without action, the air will only get worse. Our plan to address the climate crisis is one that doesn't leave workers behind, creating 300 000 sustainable, good paying jobs while moving Canada to a green economy in the next 10 years. Per capita, Canada has some of the highest emissions in the world, three times the global average. We can do better. It's time for bold action that helps working people and our planet. It's time for a green economy that doesn't leave workers behind. Our other commitments to voters can be found at: www.ndp.ca/commitments.

Travis Ashley, Green Party, Kelowna-Lake Country

Tell us a little about yourself?
I have had family go through poverty, suicide, addiction, death and all kinds of abuse growing up. I have learned empathy. That is what has strengthened me to be who I am today. I have always strived to be the rock that my family and friends can depend on. My whole life I have been concerned about worldly issues and knew I wanted to make an impact. I went from getting top leadership in high school to becoming the vice president of my campus student association. I then became a chef thinking one day I could help mitigate nutrition into schools and advocate for good agricultural practices. I then realized I would have to persuade policy to be in the favor of our next generations, so I started studying political sciences. I knew it was time to step up. And I learned it’s all about community. I am the father of two amazing children, Troy, and Nola-Jane, they are my everything. The time to act is now.
Why are you running in this election?
This election is the most important election in Canadian history. Keeping to the Paris commitments of 1.5 degrees is the of the utmost importance, for it will determine the fate of the world. The Green party is the only party with a credible plan to ween off fossil fuels and transition towards a prosperous green economy and take care of the people the whole way through. No longer can partisan politics, corporate lobbied influence, and back door deals determine the schedule. We need cooperation in the house to create lasting policy that will stand the test of time and move Canada forward, together.

Robert Mellalieu, Green Party, Kelowna-Lake Country

Tell us a little about yourself?
I used to own antique boats – a 16’ 1950 Port Carling Seabird and then a 31’ 1960 Chris Craft Constellation. I sailed across that Pacific when I was 16 in a 100’, 3 masted square rigged ship. I also used to be a Ski Instructor at Crystal Mountain.
Why are you running in this election?
Climate scientists tell us that if the world does not hold global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase above the 1850 baseline we risk triggering runaway heating and a climate catastrophe. Already, the Earth has warmed by 1 degree C on average. Canada has warmed by 2 degrees C and the Arctic by 3-4 degrees C. Even this level of warming is producing unprecedented heat waves, polar ice melting, flooding and extreme storms. To hold to this critical limit, global emissions of climate-changing pollutants – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – must be cut by about half by 2030, and we must get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Carbon dioxide is by far the largest contributor to climate pollution. In Canada, most of our carbon dioxide emissions (54 per cent) come from producing and burning coal, oil and natural gas. Transportation adds another 28 per cent. Industrial agriculture contributes methane from livestock and nitrous oxide from fertilizer, totaling eight per cent of climate pollution followed by non-energy heavy industries (7.5 per cent) and methane from solid waste landfills (2.5 per cent).
The current federal target is a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. This was set by Conservative Prime Minister Harper in 2015 and adopted by Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau in 2016. Not only is this too low, the Liberal and Conservative climate action plans will not even achieve that insufficient reduction, let alone the target that climate scientists say we must meet. A Green government will pass into law a Climate Change Act requiring a 60 per cent cut in climate-changing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050. Interim targets would be set at five-year intervals beginning with 2025. To achieve this, the government of Canada must utilize every tool in the federal toolkit, including regulations, public spending, and pollution pricing. Indigenous leadership is critical to the climate goals of Mission: Possible.
Federal incentives for purpose-built rental housing were eliminated in the 1970s. During decades of encouraging home ownership, federal support for co-ops, rental housing, social housing and supportive housing has languished. We now face a national shortage of affordable housing and as a result, a growing problem of homelessness and housing insecurity. The Liberal government’s National Housing Strategy does not address immediate core housing needs across Canada. Funding for affordable housing will roll out over 15 years but it is needed now. The first-time home buyer grant has been criticized for exacerbating housing speculation and commodification. It is past time that the government of Canada moves to ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing. The Green Party will enhance the federal government’s contribution to meeting the housing needs of Canadians through direct investments, changes to tax policies, and lending and granting programs, putting the government’s focus where it is urgently needed.

Tracy Gray, Conservative Party, Kelowna-Lake Country

Tell us a little about yourself?
As the daughter of a firefighter and Catholic School teacher, I grew up around service and have a strong work ethic. I'm a small business person, entrepreneur and the founder and owner of Discover Wines. I'm also a passionate community volunteer. I have been an engaged elected representative as a Kelowna City Councillor and Central Okanagan Regional District Director. I have one son and have been married for 27 years.
Why are you running in this election?
I am ready to serve as your Member of Parliament, and continue to stand up for the people of Kelowna - Lake Country. I believe it is more important than ever to consider who has been active and engaged in our community every day for many years, who truly understands what it is like to build a business and raise a family here, and who proactively reaches out and listens. I have been on the doorsteps of more than 30,000 homes, listening to those who feel their concerns aren’t being heard. I believe in bringing our community’s voices to Ottawa, not the other way around.

John Barr, People's Party of Canada, Kelowna-Lake Country

Tell us a little about yourself?
I find Dr. Jordan B Peterson's lecture "The Necessity of Virtue" inspiring.
Why are you running in this election?
Two key planks: Pipelines - Allowing our Oil and Gas industry to grow. Freedom of Expression - Protecting Canadians from Censorship and Discrimination.

How to vote:

Turnout for the last election in 2015 was the highest since 1993, but was still only 68.5 per cent. But we don’t do average in Kelowna.

The Kelowna Chamber strongly urges everyone to get out there and vote, regardless of who you intend to vote for. If you need to register or find out how/where to vote, Elections Canada makes it ridiculously easy on their website. Just enter your postal code (see below). Registering to vote takes less than 5 minutes.

Making sense of it all:

Two weeks is not a lot of time to go through all the issues, but we urge you to try your best. Get informed and go out there and make your voice heard!

As always, if you have any questions, concerns or what to get involved with the policy side of your Kelowna Chamber, make sure sure you Raise Your Concern. Good luck and happy voting!

Rules & Procedures for All-Candidates Forum:

Please read carefully the rules & procedures for the event. These were created to comply with Elections Canada and Canadian law, and in fairness to the candidates and the spirit of fair and open elections. The Kelowna Chamber is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any specific political candidates or parties.

  • Please know that submitted questions for the panel may not be directed at any one candidate. All responses will be timed.
  • No active campaigning will be permitted within the building. This means that supporters may not distribute campaign materials inside the building or block the entrance in any way. Anyone not abiding by this rule will be asked to leave.
  • No campaign buttons, t-shirts or other candidate/party paraphernalia may be worn by anyone attending. No exceptions.
  • No pop-up banners may be erected by anyone. No exceptions.

More info: