BC VOTES 2020: A candidate guide for Port Coquitlam

Meet the candidates in Port Coquitlam vying for your vote in the 2020 provincial election

We are in the final week of the B.C. provincial election campaign and the Tri-City News is taking a closer look at the ridings in our area. Here are the candidates vying for a seat in Port Coquitlam. 

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Mike Farnworth, NDP - Submitted photo

Mike Farnworth, NDP

Occupation: Incumbent MLA

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Brief bio: Mike Farnworth was re-elected as MLA for Port Coquitlam in 2017. He was first elected as MLA for Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain in 1991, and re-elected in 1996, 2005, 2009 and 2013. He is the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Mike served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Justice (Public Safety and Solicitor General), and as the Official Opposition Caucus House Leader. Mike was raised in Port Coquitlam and has called it home since 1969. He earned a bachelor's degree in geography at Simon Fraser University, and was elected to Port Coquitlam city council for three terms starting in 1983. As MLA, he served in numerous cabinet positions, including Minister of Health and Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. From 2001 to 2004, Mike worked in Bulgaria, the Balkans and then Iraq on democratic governance programs to help build multiparty democracies in former one-party states.

What is your most important issue, platform or idea you'd like to express to voters, and why?

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been working across party lines in the legislature, with business and labour, communities and the federal government, to do everything we can to protect the health of British Columbians. Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing a recovery plan that protects peoples’ health and fosters a long-term economic recovery are critical to Port Coquitlam and the province. That’s why we have been investing in health care, education and the services that the people of Port Coquitlam rely on, as well as making strategic investments in critical infrastructure and targeted supports that help business. We’ve initiated programs and supports that help families, such as the $1,000 COVID-19 relief benefit.

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

Critical to ensuring housing affordability are our governments investments in building affordable housing. We have a 30-point plan to deliver 114,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years. The speculation tax, which 99% of British Columbians do not pay, has resulted in 11,000 rental homes coming into the rental housing market. A key part of our plan is the creation of the “Housing Hub,” which brings together non-profits, community organizations and churches who may have land together with experts in development and building to get new housing projects built. We are also committed to working with local government to identify opportunities for affordable housing.

A shortage of childcare spaces and the high cost of childcare are two big issues for the area. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve access to childcare in the area? 

Since forming government in 2017, implementing a comprehensive child care plan has been a key priority of our government. New schools being constructed now have child care spaces in them, for example the new Irvine elementary school will have 55 child care spaces. For Port Coquitlam families, over $8 million has been put back in their pockets through reduced child care fees.

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is your plan to help the people of Port Coquitlam get back on a solid footing and restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

Earlier this year, we announced $5 billion of funding to deal with the pandemic and the health and economic challenges it has caused. Our plan ensures that the health care and social supports that protects your family are in place. Even before the pandemic, we have been focused on affordability issues for families in Port Coquitlam, such as eliminating tolls on the Port Mann bridge and getting rid of MSP premiums. Since the pandemic, we’ve brought in protection for renters and the COVID-19 relief benefit and beginning Oct. 1 the child opportunity family benefit (up to $2,600 per family with two kids) starts to further help families. For economic recovery, we have a plan that invests in infrastructure, such as roads schools and hospitals, and urgent primary care centres such as the one announced for the Tri-Cities. With these public infrastructure projects will come increased opportunities for young people in the form of apprenticeships, for example. Our plan to help business includes a 15% tax credit for new hires that builds on the existing tax credit program, a 100% PST exemption on machinery and equipment to encourage investment, plus 300$ in recovery grants to help small and medium sized business.

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Lewis Dahlby, Libertarian - Submitted photo

Lewis Dahlby, Libertarian

Occupation: Runs a trucking and excavating business

Brief bio: Lewis Clarke Dahlby, 66, was born in Chilliwack B.C. He’s married and lives in Port Coquitlam and has two daughters, ages 28 and 31. Lewis first became a Libertarian in 1979 after watching a 10-part series by Milton Friedman called “Free to Choose.” Lewis tried to run for the B.C. Libertarian Party soon after it was formed in 1986, but failed to get the required signatures, so first ran in 1988 for the federal Libertarian Party. Lewis believes greater economic freedom increases prosperity.                 

What is your most important issue, platform or idea for voters in this election and why?

I believe the most important issue in this election is lack of freedom and excessively large government. The Libertarian Party was formed to counteract the trend towards an ever increasing large, intrusive government. The growing taxation burden, which is 43% of the average person’s income, creates a drag on the economy and reduces freedom. There are more than 200 different kinds of taxes, many of them hidden, but still reflected in the cost of items. But it’s still not enough because we’re expected to have a $15 billion deficit to add to the $88 billion total debt. The Libertarian philosophy is based on the non-aggression axiom. No person shall initiate violence against another person to force them to do something against their will or to prevent them from doing something peaceful, so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. We believe there are two ways to conduct human interaction: The peaceful civilized Libertarian way of voluntary consent or the aggressive, coercive, barbaric way of everyone else. Democracy, as we know it, is not a morally valid concept unless there is voluntary consent of every single adult within the area where the democracy is imposed.

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

A Libertarian administration would make housing more affordable by reducing unnecessary regulations and the size of government, thereby increasing overall incomes and eliminating the ALR, thereby lowering the cost of land which represents a huge cost of a home. ALR land comprises 22% of the Fraser Valley. A Libertarian administration would also reduce taxes, which are incorporated in the final cost of a home, and eliminate minimum home size regulations, which cut poor people out of the market. It’s clear that a 100 square foot warm, cozy home with electricity, heat and a bathroom with hot and cold running water is vastly superior to living under a bridge or in a wet tent, as thousands are doing now.                               

A shortage of child care spaces and the high cost of child care are two big issues for the area. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve access to childcare in the area? 

A Libertarian administration would not implement a government-run child care plan and would therefore not require the extra taxes to pay for the bloated bureaucracy of highly-paid government employees. It is immoral for some people (government) to use coercion against another person and steal from them through taxes to pay for someone else’s childcare. Let people voluntarily make their own arrangements in caring for their children. Live and let live. That government is best that governs least!                                    

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is your plan to help the people of Port Coquitlam get back on a solid footing and restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

A Libertarian administration would end the damaging lockdowns and thereby revert the economy back to normal. Sweden, which didn’t have any lockdowns, has proven lockdowns don’t work. Sweden has had 333 deaths so far with a population of 11 million while Canada has had almost 10,000 deaths with a population of 37 million. Lockdowns were put in place without any scientific basis and without regard for the huge damage they do to the economy and the other deleterious health effects they create. The poor and vulnerable suffer the most under lockdowns, suicide rates go up and people suffering from other illnesses such as heart disease and cancer are less likely to get treatment. Thousands of small businesses go bankrupt and unemployment goes up. Protect old people and the most vulnerable that have co-morbidity and allow individual businesses to operate however they like, by choosing mask and social distancing policies they prefer.  

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Erik Minty, Green Party - Submitted photo

Erik Minty, Green Party

Occupation: Project management, consulting

Brief bio: Professionally, people know me as a deep problem solver. I am an SFU engineering ccience grad with over two decades experience as an engineer, project manager, consultant and entrepreneur. I’m constantly volunteering somewhere in PoCo, the community where I chose to raise my family in 1997. I served on the PoCo Soccer executive, building the referee program, and was a beloved soccer and hockey coach for many years. My leadership style is open and approachable; I take time to respond thoughtfully to people’s concerns. This city will get to know a completely different style of leadership with me as their MLA.

What is your most important issue, platform or idea you'd like to express to voters, and why?

It’s hardly a secret that this election was a self-serving move by a premier who has lost touch with people. What has made these times so difficult for people is the fragility of our basic economic systems. When COVID-19 hit, we were not prepared. This is why we also need a real plan that focuses on building economic resilience within our local communities. My first personal initiative is a center of excellence for home energy retrofits located in Port Coquitlam. This will bring entrepreneurs, homeowners, innovators and skilled tradespeople together to create local jobs and accelerate our transition away from reliance on fossil fuels. Most of the tools are already in place to make this possible, though a few critical pieces, like property-assessed clean energy (PACE), have been delayed by the NDP, who have shown us they are more interested in subsidizing the fossil fuel industry than investing in our local economies.

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

This problem has been growing for decades under both NDP and Liberal governments. Currently, 43% of renter households pay more than 30% of their income in rent. Many people also live in strata properties and face rapidly rising strata insurance rates. Many people need immediate relief. The Greens will begin to address these with a rental supplement and a means-tested grant for low and moderate income earners, as well as expanded supports for co-op housing. When the BC Financial Services Authority completes their investigation into rising strata insurance costs, I will ensure their recommendations are put into action. The Speculation and Vacancy Tax has not produced the promised results. I propose a moratorium on foreign absentee ownership of homes. Looking forward, affordability also means building resilience into local, more livable communities. This means more opportunities for meaningful work close to where we live, so we can reduce the time and financial costs of commuting to another city to provide an income. My plan to create a centre of excellence for home energy retrofits in Port Coquitlam will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy and benefit eco-entrepreneurs, skilled tradespeople, and homeowners.

A shortage of child care spaces and the high cost of childcare are two big issues for the area. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve access to childcare in the area? 

My own kids are now grown, but I know first-hand the challenges of finding child care. When you’re a parent with young children, nothing is more important. The Green plan addresses affordable child care at every level and it goes hand-in-hand with recognizing early childhood education as a valuable public service. Working parents with children under three will have free child care, and those families with a stay-at-home parent will receive a $500 monthly support. Recognizing that every child and family has its own unique circumstances, I’d like to consult with business and labour unions to explore more flexible work arrangements to support working parents to better balance their options. We need to recognize early childhood educators as skilled professionals, with standards of practice and certified qualification programs. This will ensure the spaces we create will be fully staffed with professionals equipped to meet the needs of our children. Three and four year olds will have up to 25 hours per week of ECE available.

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is your plan to help the people of Port Coquitlam get back on a solid footing and restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

As we rebuild our economy, we can’t go back to the old patchwork of social supports that consistently left certain groups behind. People relying on assistance, like the $300 crisis supplement, need this to be made permanent, and I will work closely with the federal government towards a fully sustainable basic income. Meanwhile, those on income assistance will be able to earn extra income for 12 months without clawbacks to help them get back on a stable footing. Like many, I was distressed to learn that the independent COVID-19 testing facility in Shaughnessy Square was forced to shut down last month due to lack of government funding. Instead of failing to support dedicated physicians, I will work with our local health professionals to ensure everyone has access to the care they need. Right now there is an immediate need for more COVID testing facilities. Independently-operated, community based facilities are adaptable to changing health needs, cost effective and more resilient than large bureaucracies.

 

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Mehran Zargham, Liberal Party - Submitted photo

Mehran Zargham, Liberal Party

Occupation: Project manager with BC Ferries

Brief bio: I am family man and active member of the Tri-Cities community. I strongly believe in public service. I have studied mechanical engineering at BCIT, during which I was the president of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). I have helped spread fair trade in the campus. I also have a Master’s of Engineering from UBC in naval architecture and I am a part-time lecturer at that University. I have worked around the world in Europe and Asia as a project engineer and project manager. I have been an active member of the Tri-Cities. 

What is your most important issue, platform or idea you'd like to express to voters, and why?

The most important issue in this campaign is for voters to realize which party can lead B.C. out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberal platform has brilliant ideas to lead the economy to a full recovery following the discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine. We will get more people back to work and attract investment by eliminating the PST for a year and setting it to 3% the next, we will eliminate small business income tax entirely to help our local businesses and communities, and we will appoint an independent fair-tax commissioner to review all of the provincial taxes, including the 23 new ones the NDP have brought in to ensure people are being taxed fairly. We have a $1 billion dollar seniors plan and $10-dollar per day child care plan that helps families through tough times. We will eliminate the ICBC monopoly and bring competition to the province, so people can choose their insurance provider. We will build a real pathway to get people off drugs and ensure safer streets and communities. It is time to rebuild PoCo and rebuild BC.

The cost of housing, including rents and condos, is expensive and families are having to move out of the Tri-Cities to make ends meet. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve housing affordability in the area?

Over the past 50 years, Port Coquitlam’s population has continually grown. Within the last two decades, the greatest rate of growth was experienced between 1991 and 2001, when the population increased by 28%. Most of us need an affordable place to live and the only way to make renting more affordable and give everyone hope that they can buy a home one day is to increase the supply of housing. I will as an MLA establish an incentive fund for PoCo that will enable demonstrable increases in housing and supply of new houses. I will implement tax and permitting changes to boost housing supply, including rental and market housing to improve the housing affordability in PoCo. I will work with the city of PoCo to review the current property tax structure to incent affordable housing developments. I will develop tax relief measures to help people hurt by COVID-19 economic impacts to keep their homes in PoCo. I will ensure prompt and effective resolution of tenancy disputes, enable affordable condominium strata insurance by encouraging and facilitating self insurance models for strata’s, and I will support the development of co-operative housing and other alternative ownership in PoCo.

A shortage of child care spaces and the high cost of child care are two big issues for the area. What would you do as a Port Coquitlam MLA to improve access to childcare in the area? 

As an MLA of PoCo, I will ensure implementation of the Liberal promise of a $1 billion child care plan to deliver $10-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $65,000, $20-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $90,000, and $30-a-day for families with annual household incomes up to $125,000 is actually implemented. The NDP has made a lot of promises about this but failed to deliver. I will also expand access to before-and-after school care in schools and create incentives for employers to support childcare options for their employees. Another plan that will benefit the residents of PoCo is to increase access to childcare by building an additional 10,000 new child care spaces all across B.C., on top of those that have been added by the NDP. I will ensure to work with the PoCo community to identify the correct locations and build the facilities at the desired locations. Moreover, the Liberals offer more support by encouraging and supporting a variety of non-profit and market-based childcare providers. I will work collaboratively with the federal government to further expand child care options and expand training and support for better-qualified child care workers. 

Many people have been struggling with the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is your plan to help the people of Port Coquitlam get back on a solid footing and restore their confidence in public health and the economy? 

As our society ages and drugs and technology costs increase, the challenges in our health care system continue to grow. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the challenges in our health care system even greater for patients and health care workers alike in PoCo. To deal with these issues, a Liberal government will collaborate with all parties and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. I will also ensure free influenza vaccines for all British Columbians, including PoCo residents, to help reduce the burden on our medical system and help save lives. I will endeavour to establish more primary care networks and community health centres as needed in PoCo. In order to eliminate the shortage of medical workers, a Liberal government will expand opportunities for international graduates in health professions to work in B.C. This includes areas in the Tri-Cities as well.  The Liberal government will also act to improve the BC Ambulance Service response-times for patients and establish an emergency pandemic response committee to work with all parties and the Provincial Health Officer on a collaborative approach to manage the current and future pandemics, including accelerating provincial aid and supports for small businesses and individuals impacted by COVID-19. 

 

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