On April 5, MLA candidates from the four BC political parties in the North and South Thompson ridings met in the TRUSU lecture hall to answer questions and deliver their message to students.
The B.C. NDP, Liberal, Green and Communist parties were all present and represented by both of their Kamloops MLA candidates, except current Kamloops–South Thompson MLA Todd Stone (Liberals), who was in Victoria on MLA business, according to the TRU student volunteers representing him.
There was a large turnout at the TRUSU event. Many students, professors and a few local citizens were present to get informed prior to the election on May 9.
Usra Gohan, a third-year business student, was looking to learn from the candidates.
“I want to find out what their values are, their party platform and what they’re going to do if elected. I also want to judge how they answer questions and get a read for who they are,” Gohan said.
Natalie Speranza, an interdisciplinary studies student, was interested in learning more about the plans concerning education.
“What they’re going to do about tuition cost, transit problems and provincial economics is important to me and most students,” she said.
The BC Liberals replicated a “pin poll” that was held at the University of British Columbia to determine where student values lie. Students were asked to place a blue pin under what they were most concerned about, and a white pin under their second biggest concern. The seven categories were: university funding, job opportunities, provincial student loan increases, rising housing costs, the economy, transit and pipelines and the environment.
Of the 21 blue pins placed on the board, nine were under the university funding title, with five white ones accompanying. The second biggest concern to TRU students was pipelines and the environment, with four blue and five white pins. Pulling up the rear was job creation, with one blue and two white. The economy and provincial student loan increases were tied with two blue pins each.
As much as the students wanted to learn from the candidates, the candidates all had messages to deliver to the future voters.
Beat Klossner, Communist Party of British Columbia candidate for the Kamloops–South Thompson, emphasized a message of equality.
“We’re different from all of the other parties, we have only member funding. Our resources are fewer and we cover things out of pocket, so our party is really in this for the people.”
When asked about education, Klossner had strong feelings against the current university system. “Education should be about education, not about business and profits.”
Fellow Communist party candidate Peter Kerek had a similar message. “We want to see equal campaign funding for all parties and to really stop the flow of big corporate and union donations.”
The Green party candidates, Dan Hines and Donovan Cavers, of the Kamloops–North Thompson and Kamloops–South Thompson respectively, communicated a message of long-term thinking.
“We want to change the short-term political thinking currently present to one where we plan past what will win an election,” Hines said. “For people, it’s important to vote by your values. Find the party that fits your beliefs and vote that way.”
Cavers agreed with both points made by Hines, emphasizing the long-term thinking of the Green party.
“We want to break the cycle and create a forward-thinking government,” Cavers said.
Nancy Bepple, BC NDP candidate, is proud to be a part of a young NDP. “We’re focused on youth and we really want to engage with them. Moving forward, we’re supporting renewable energy, forestry support, and growing tech companies outside of the Lower-Mainland.”
Mayor of Kamloops and BC Liberal candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson, Peter Milobar’s message for students was about voting and how to become a responsible voter. “I suggest people get informed about the issues and the different stances on them. Vote your values, but make sure to fact check and follow up [with] what you hear.”