Prince George’s first all candidates meeting took place at the downtown Ramada this morning, hosted by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and the Northern Regional Construction Association. Moderated by the Prince George Cougars’ Dan O’Connor, the panel focused on issues affecting the construction industry, from job training opportunities to resource development.

“It was very subdued – very respectful, said Mike Morris, the incumbent Liberal MLA in the Prince George Mackenzie riding. “The crowd was focused on the construction industry and infrastructure and whatnot, which I think is key to any platform in BC whether NDP, Liberal or Conservative or Green.”

Despite being billed as an all candidates meeting, only half of the candidates in Prince George’s two ridings attended. Both NDP candidates – Natalie Fletcher in Prince George-Valemount and Bobby Deepak in Prince George-Mackenzie – were notably absent. Deepak tweeted that he was on his way to Mackenzie due to a prior commitment about 15 minutes after the forum commenced.

There is another all candidates meeting in Mackenzie this evening.

Organizers said they were informed last week that the NDP candidates would not be attending. Green Party candidate Nan Kendy – who is running against incumbent Liberal Shirley Bond in the PG-Valemount riding – was also missing.

Green Party candidate Hilary Crowley made her first campaign appearance at the forum. Crowley registered in the PG-Mackenzie riding just before the April 18 deadline. She said the forum could have been a tough crowd, with many attendees involved in the province’s construction industry, but it wasn’t.

“People from oil and gas and from pulpmills and that are in the crowd but I think I presented the green party platform quite fairly and honestly and everybody received it well. I never got booed. I thought we had a good discussion.”

Candidates answered 5 pre-submitted questions and another two submitted by the crowd after a brief break in the proceedings.

Question 1: What are your party’s plans to support a healthy and vibrant construction sector?
Question 2: Explain your party’s position on investing in infrastructure in northern British Columbia?
Question 3: Explain your party’s position on resource development in northern BC?
Question 4: Comment on how your party will improve and encourage educational opportunity for people entering the skilled trades and technical design fields?
Question 5: Can we build major energy and infrastructure projects in British Columbia without relying on temporary foreign workers?

Audience question 1: Does affordable housing actually mean affordable social housing?
Audience question 2: How will you assist northern communities to upgrade or replace their below ground infrastructure?

The full audio from the forum is below. Part 1 contains the pre-submitted questions; Part 2 is audience questions.