Climate, housing hot topics for Coquitlam youths

Students at Maillard middle can’t vote but they have lots to say on federal election

They may not be old enough to cast vote in the Oct. 21 federal election but Maillard middle students have strong opinions on who should hold office.

Wednesday morning, the national campaign came to the Coquitlam school, which held a Port Moody-Coquitlam all-candidates meeting, giving the Liberals’ Sara Badiei, the People’s Party of Canada’s Jayson Chabot and the NDP’s Bonita Zarrillo a chance to present their platforms. Conservative candidate Nelly Shin and Green Party candidate Bryce Watts were invited but did not attend.

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“I think it was very informative,” said Kai Smith, a Grade 8 student, after the event concluded.

As someone who is going to be moving out on his own in a few years, Smith said housing costs are a concern and he was listening for candidates looking at ways to address the affordability crisis.

Port Moody-Coquitlam Liberal candidate Sara Badiei (left), NDP candidate Bonita Zarrillo (centre) and People’s Party of Canada candidate Jayson Chabot (right) presented their platforms to Maillard middle students on Wednesday. Conservative candidate Nelly Shin and Green Party candidate Bryce Watts were invited but did not attend. - GARY MCKENNA

“It is not good if it is really expensive in the future like it is now,” he said.

Devyn Hartley, another Grade 8 student, concurred, saying while she supports the Liberals, she liked some of the things the NDP’s Zarrillo said regarding housing and helping people so they don’t become homeless.

“She was very real and connected with the community,” she said.

Dana Mizuguchi, Grade 8, told The Tri-City News she was torn between the NDP and the Liberals. She liked some of the things the Liberals were saying about the environment but said the NDP was better about supporting people with mental health problems, an issue she believes is not being addressed by the major parties.

Bonita Zarrillo, the NDP candidate for MP in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam, speaks to students at Maillard middle school Wednesday morning during an all-candidates meeting also attended by the Liberals’ Sara Badiei and the PPC’s Jayson Chabot. - GARY MCKENNA

“There isn’t much about that at the moment,” she said. “There are many people that suffer with mental health [issues] and it is so much harder than outward injuries. It is a very hard thing to suffer through and I want the government to help with that.”

Davis Gray, Grade 8, said he supports the Liberals and is running under the party banner in a mock vote the school is holding Oct. 16.

All four students’ thoughts on climate change put them at odds with PPC candidate Chabot, who said during the event that increased carbon in the atmosphere is a benefit for the environment. Chabot told students that warmer air increases growth of plankton, which fish can eat. Seals eat the fish and polar bears eat the seals, he added, noting that higher temperatures could be a benefit for the bears, as well as lengthening growing season.

“I didn’t really agree with the things he was saying,” Hartley said.

“Especially about climate change,” interjected Mizuguchi.

“It is a real problem but he was kind of…,” added Hartley.

“Brushing it off,” said Mizuguchi, finishing her friend’s thought. “I didn’t really like that.”

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