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Chilliwack chapter co-hosts World Water Day provincial election all-candidates meeting

Photo by Kai Oshea

The Council of Canadians Chilliwack chapter co-hosted a provincial election all-candidates meeting on March 22, World Water Day.

The promotion for the event had noted, “In honour of the United Nations World Water Day we are co-hosting the first all-candidates meeting of the upcoming BC Provincial General Election for the ridings of Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent. The WaterWealth Project, the Chilliwack Chapter of the Council of Canadians, The Canadian Fresh Water Alliance and Friends of the Camp/Hope Slough are organizing this opportunity for us to explore some of the issues concerning water together.”

The Chilliwack Progress now reports, “Four candidates running for MLA seats in Chilliwack ridings showed up to the first all-candidates’ meeting. They weighed in water-related issues at the Sto:lo Research and Resource Management Centre, answering some complex questions that came from the crowd of about 100 people. Representing the NDP were candidates Patti MacAhonic (Chilliwack-Kent) and Tracey O’Hara (Chilliwack), along with Wayne Froese (Green Party), and Laurie Throness, (BC Liberals).”

The article adds, “Topics ranged from how to reconcile the sovereignty of indigenous peoples over water, the Mt. Polley mining disaster, as well as climate change, fish-friendly dike upgrades, and the Water Sustainablity Act.”

It then notes, “One of the questions was: ‘How do we reconcile the original sovereignty of indigenous peoples over water with the asserted jurisdiction of sovereignty over water that B.C. is claiming?’ MacAhonic mentioned NDP leader Horgan’s promise that the NDP will adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and act on the 94 recommendations. Froese noted that the Greens had accepted the UN Declaration ‘uncategorically’ and said it was the Chilcotin court decision that set precedent in determining water usage. Throness had a different take on it [he says] ‘We are all equal participants, we all have equal privileges and responsibilities’.”

The article also notes, “Regarding the proposed Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline route, and the request by Nestle officials to divert from the original routing, the question was then posed: ‘Is it one rule for business and one rule for the public?’ [Liberal] Throness [who supports the pipeline] pointed out that Nestle had paid to get the pipeline diverted. ‘It’s a private arrangement they came to’, Throness said. ‘I think Nestle supplied some land for them to do that. There’s no two rules. It’s the same rules for everyone.’ [Green] Froese took issue with that assertion. ‘I think the fact that Nestle had this clout speaks to fact that corporate issues trump private issues’, Froese said.”

The provincial election is scheduled to be officially called on April 11 with voting taking place on May 9.

A recent market-based poll projected that the Liberals would win 42 seats on election night, that the NDP would win 40, and the Green Party 5 seats.

And while the undecided vote is high at 25 per cent, the CBC has reported, “The NDP has been polling at between 37 and 39 per cent over the last three polls, compared to a range of 33 to 37 per cent for the Liberals, 13 to 17 per cent for the Greens and 10 to 13 per cent for the B.C. Conservatives.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be speaking on water protection issues in British Columbia next month. Barlow will be in Courtenay (April 6), Nanaimo (April 7), Victoria (April 8), Williams Lake (April 10), and Kamloops (April 11).