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Vancouver-Point Grey candidates debate goes on without Christy Clark

David Eby speaks while Andrew Wilkinson looks on. Photo by Chris Lane

The stage was packed with seven candidates at the Vancouver-Point Grey town hall -- but the riding’s incumbent, Premier Christy Clark, was not among them. Andrew Wilkinson, a lawyer and licensed physician running for the BC Liberals in neighbouring Vancouver-Quilchena, represented Clark’s party in her stead. He defended her absence, saying that the party leader and Premier has a very busy schedule.

The other candidates weren’t impressed that she wasn’t there. No other candidates' debates have been announced yet, so Clark may well have missed her only chance to debate the other candidates in her riding.

Wilkinson spent his time calmly and deliberately listing off achievements of the Liberal party, prompting Clark’s NDP challenger David Eby to criticize the Liberals for focusing on the past.

With Clark absent, a large portion of the audience was there to hear Eby, who some say has a solid chance of ousting the premier from her own seat. He stuck to NDP talking points, even bringing up their opposition to oil pipeline development in response to a completely unrelated question about public transit. 

Eby argued strongly for getting voters more engaged, lamenting the low turnout in the 2011 by-election that sent Clark to the legislature.

“We’re talking about the very fabric of our democracy,” he said.

Eby and Nickull for reducing child poverty

The debate opened with the topic of child care, with Eby saying that reducing child poverty is the most pressing component of the issue.

Duane Nickull of the BC Conservatives said that despite his party’s goals of reducing government spending, he wants to see more dollars go towards early childhood education.

“This is not an expense, this is a necessary investment,” he said, a view that the BC Green candidate echoed as well.

Palmer, Nickull, Gibbens and Raunet. Photo by Chris Lane

Lowering the voting age discussed

The event was hosted by UBC’s student union, although just a few students showed up to the event in Kitsilano. There was a whole range of ages in the audience, including one 15-year-old girl who passionately told her neighbour, “I wish I could vote!”

A high school teacher in the audience later asked a question about lowering the voting age to 16.

Nickull expressed concerns that authority figures would have too much influence over such young voters. Françoise Raunet of the BC Greens was the only candidate to wholeheartedly support a lower voting age, prompting the 15-year-old to walk up to thank her after the debate.

A wide range of candidates took part

While Clark wasn’t present, there were also three candidates who were not from any of the four main parties. Marisa Palmer of the BC Libertarians railed against taxes and government control, and proclaimed:

“You can’t look to government to provide needs.”

Independent candidate William Gibbens said he’ll stand up and “ask the questions that the party players have been told to keep their mouth shut about.”

“I don’t have any friends, and I’m not looking for any friends,” said Gibbens, adding that he’s “over-educated, under-utilized, and unappreciated.”

Hollis Linschoten showed up for the Work Less Party, but left to go for a beer before the debate got started, calling the debate “kind of a waste of time.”

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