Small business was the buzz word at the All Candidates Luncheon hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Thursday afternoon.
After a light, coastal lunch prepared at the Brentwood Bay Resort, each of the four candidates for Saanich North and the Islands – Gary Holman (NDP), Adam Olsen (Green), Stephen Roberts (BC Liberals) and Jordan Templeman (Independent) – gave 10 minute opening statements while Chamber members settled in with coffee, tea and dessert.
Roberts reminded his audience of his background in economics and stressed that the BC Liberal’s mission is to support small businesses. He said, “their success is our success.” His plans are to lower small business taxes and create new jobs, ultimately growing the economy.
The new face at the table, Templeman, used the event as an opportunity to inform the Chamber of his stance on a variety of topics saying, “As an Independent, I don’t have the ability to put a colour behind me and have you know where I stand on the issues.”
He presented his views on political party donations, the balance of the environment with economics and raising minimum wage. Templeman made it clear to the Chamber that he comes from a family of small business owners and he knows labour costs are some of the largest costs for small business owners, which is why he said minimum wage should be raised steadily to accommodate owners as well as those living on minimum wage.
Olsen opened with a trip down memory lane. He reminisced on how his first job in high school was at Butchart Gardens and how he still lives by some of the things he learned from his training there. He took a more human-centric approach.
“I think we heard ‘business is at the heart of the economy,’” referring to what Roberts said earlier, “but people – people are at the heart of business.”
Another candidate to mention his background in economics, Holman, attacked the BC Liberal’s and the notion of a “debt-free B.C.” He encouraged the Chamber to be critical of “this nonsense that the liberal government doesn’t raise taxes,” adding members should be aware of the fees, premiums and fares the liberals implement.
“Folks are having large amounts of money taken out of their pockets and that’s the money they could be spending on your business,” Holman said.
Following the introductions, time only allowed for a brief question and answer period. Moderator Natasha Richardson, general manager of the Brentwood Bay Resort, asked the candidates only three questions, which had been posed via email prior to the event.
The questions focused on issues pertaining to the Saanich Peninsula; more specifically, the traffic on the Patricia Bay Highway, affordable housing and the idea of amalgamation among the districts.
President of the Chamber of Commerce, Doug Walker, said the rest of the questions time did not allow for would be emailed to the candidates and their responses would be posted on the Chamber’s website.
The forum concluded with two-minute closing statements from each candidate, where similar sentiments from their opening statements were echoed.
Tuesday, May 9 is general voting day in the B.C. provincial election.