Issues ranging from carbon capture sequestration and pipelines to COVID measures and vaccine passports, were among the issues discussed at the candidates forum on Thursday evening in Weyburn.
The Weyburn Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum with three of the five candidates attending, including Greg Douglas of the Maverick Party, Robert Kitchen of the Conservatives, and Diane Neufeld of the People’s Party of Canada. The Liberal and NDP candidates declined to take part in the forum.
The first half of the forum featured questions posed by the Chamber, and questions from the floor were allowed in the second half.
Pipelines and carbon capture sequestration came up several times in the first half, with all three candidates supporting building of pipelines to move oil produced in the West.
Douglas said his party would repeal Bill C-69, the anti-pipeline bill, and would work to entrench guarantees in the Constitution that allows products to be shipped to market, as in this case pipelines would move oil to tidewaters on both coasts.
“Pipelines aren’t just about moving oil, it’s a public safety issue as well,” said Douglas, noting that trains with oil cars are pulling through Weyburn and Estevan all the time, “so we’re very pro-pipeline, and we’re pro-infrastructure.”
Kitchen pointed out that the U.S. shut down Keystone XL and is causing difficulties for Enbridge’s Line 5 that takes oil to refineries to Sarnia and the Maritimes, carrying the equivalent of eight 100-car trains every day.
“We know the safest way to move oil is by pipeline,” he said, noting that the present government is also putting big roadblocks to allowing the Trans Mountain pipeline to get built.
“We definitely need to have pipelines to transport our resources in the safest way possible. For decades it’s been a major source of employment for all of Canada, and it should be allowed to grow,” said Neufeld, adding that the PPC party would approve pipelines with a streamlined approach.
On carbon capture sequestration of CO2, Douglas noted that this is popular in the room where the forum was held, but in Ottawa it isn’t, because it’s trendy in Central Canada to oppose the oil industry. He and Kitchen both noted the technological advances being made at the Boundary Dam-3 and by Whitecap Resources at the Weyburn plant, and said Canada should be world leaders in promoting this technology.
Kitchen added there is also work by companies like Weyburn’s Panther Drilling in helium extraction, which are all good for the environment but are being ignored by the Liberal government.
“It’s not about ending the industry, it’s about ending the emissions – that’s what carbon capture does. That’s what our farmers do,” he said.
“Our plan is to withdraw from the Paris Accord and abandon unrealistic emission reduction targets, and stop sending billions of dollars to other countries,” said Neufeld of the PPC plan.
Asked how their party would deal with the ongoing issues of the COVID pandemic, and whether they would support vaccine passports, Neufeld answered, “We would not have done anything from the federal or provincial points of view. It would’ve been up to individuals and individual businesses. We believe in freedom of choice.”
She later said that if people vote for the PPC, then on Sept. 20, “We will stop it once and for all. … It will be over on Sept. 20 if you vote PPC. If you vote for us we at least will have an opposition in Parliament. At this point there is no opposition.”
On the issue of passports, Kitchen displayed his own record of vaccines he’s received since he was 10 years old, and pointed out, “It’s your information, that is your privacy and only you have the right to give it out.”
He added this is what his leader, Erin O’Toole, is saying, that vaccines are a good public health tool, “but ultimately it’s your decision”, and it’s up to businesses to decide if they will require it or not, just as they set a policy of “no shirt, no shoes, no service”.
Douglas noted he said at the Estevan forum that he is not an anti-vaxxer, but believes vaccines are a tool that can be used to help deal with the pandemic. On the issue of passports, he said, “They can ask you, but you don’t have to say yes. The notion of a vaccine passport is a made-up one, it doesn’t exist, regardless of what the national leaders want to do with that. Health care is a provincial jurisdiction.”
A young boy came up to the mike and quoted The Taxpayer as saying there is a lot of wasteful spending going on, “so what would you guys do to reduce that? That’s for everybody.”
Neufeld said the PPC plan is in the first four years to drastically reduce spending and balance the budget, including stopping the sending of billions of dollars to other countries. In the next four years after that, they would reduce taxes so the government wouldn’t have that money to spend.
Douglas said a quote he likes says “government should only do what government can do. Frankly we’re in the process of creating a monstrous welfare state. It’s been hard after the pandemic, they want to be safe again. The answer isn’t more government, I know, I’ve been in three governments in this country.”
He said the best approach is to support things like innovation and science and not have bigger governments.
Kitchen praised the boy for being so well-spoken, and said they have to be conservative-minded and not spending money on things they don’t need. With spending in government programs, there is no accountability for what they are doing and they’re not paying attention to how the money is being spent.