Provincial Election Questions #12 & #13 for Shuswap Candidates …

fish farm open net… are on the provincial school curriculum teaching about gay and lesbian relationships and on banning open-net salmon farming on BC’s coast.

Readers’ questions have been coming in but there’s still room for a few more before the election. If you have a burning question for the candidates, click here for further information to submit it to Aim High. Your questions should be geared to all of the candidates and not just for one of them. Last Chance folks!

question mark

* Each question is forwarded to the declared candidates about a week prior to the question actually being posted online here at Aim High. The candidates then email me their responses to be included with the initial question. Readers and the candidates can discuss via the Comment section.

Here are this week’s questions as submitted by readers.

Candidate Responses (in the order received):

Question # 12:

Should the provincial school curriculum include teaching about gay and lesbian relationships?

Tom Birch (BC Conservatives):

This is a somewhat misleading question as Planner 10 covers all relationships which includes gay and lesbian relationships. The Learning Outcome is for students to “demonstrate an understanding of skills needed to build and maintain healthy relationships” and to “analyze factors contributing to a safe and caring school”. There are best practices that the BCTF follows for talking about gay and lesbian issues in class which are covered periodically as they arise and normally would arise during this section.

Also, Gay and Lesbian issues such as human rights and community are covered directly in the second Learning Outcome of Planner 10 and there is a day of coverage in the optional Social Justice 12 course that is focused on the history of human rights as it relates to gay and lesbian people and discrimination.

I suspect that the question actually relates to the 2002 Safe School Taskforce report that recommended additional curriculum coverage as a means of reducing discrimination and misunderstanding against the gay community. My understanding of the issue is that the Corren Agreement grew out of this taskforce and that the elements that I noted as being in the curriculum are a (court facilitated) compromise on its recommendations.

We are a multi-faceted country with people from many different races, religions, orientations and backgrounds. When we collaborate for common goals like education, we must respect all our backgrounds. On top of this, I believe that parents must be first and foremost in the raising of their children. School curriculum is not intended to be a forum for special interest groups. But, our schools also cannot allow prejudice and discrimination to be tolerated or to grow. Therefore, I am in favour of age appropriate curriculum that allows us to understand all the segments of our society, of which the gay and lesbian community is only one small piece. But this must be done without violating the rights of parents to know and have input into what their children are being taught. I believe that respecting others who are different from ourselves is at the core of all religious and social structures and understanding is the foundation of respect.

Chris George (Green Party of BC):

The provincial school curriculum already covers human sexuality, including reproduction and family planning. Why are they not covering gay and lesbian relationships already? Are they not a part of human sexuality and family planning?

A Green government will ensure that all British Columbians are treated equally.

Steve Gunner (BC NDP):

New Democrats have always been the party at the forefront of social justice and social issues.  With all the awareness around LGBTQ issues, we believe that educational professionals are most able to determine how best to include LGBTQ issues into the curriculum.

New Democrats have committed as part of our election platform to ensuring that students are respected and that policy exists to deal effectively with homophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia and other forms of discrimination.

Greg Kyllo (BC Liberals):

No response received


Question #13:

I know that there is a 7 year moratorium on new fish farms in BC waters.  Would you ban all open-net salmon farming on our BC coasts asap?

Tom Birch (BC Conservatives):

As I understand it, all wild fish (except Sturgeons) belong to the people not the crown. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is charged with protecting, managing and enhancing these stocks on behalf of the people of Canada. When they were given the task of licensing and regulating fish farms, that are private fish owned by industry, they were put into a conflict of interests. If there is a conflict between the people’s fish (wild salmon) and the private fish (farmed salmon) then how can they chose which to protect?

I believe that we should remove the responsibility of licensing fish farms from the DFO. However, this is federal and so all I can promise is to put pressure on them to do so. 

If it wasn’t for that conflict of interest I would say that the DFO needs to make the decision if open net pens should be immediately banned. However, since they are in a conflict of interest it is hard to evaluate their position. 

I understand from my Green Party opponent that there have been substantial successes in raising farmed salmon inland rather than in open net pens in the ocean. If this is now possible (previously the fish were dying if not directly in the ocean), it only makes sense to move the farmed fish away from the wild salmon.

I would work with industry to find ways to relocate the farms without shutting them down. At the end of the day, government must protect the people’s fish first. That is our mandate and it only makes sense. I hope that both can co-exist but the wild salmon are the priority. 

Chris George (Green Party of BC):

Yes.  As the Green Party candidate in the Shuswap I am pleased to announce that our policy on salmon feedlots is straight forward and puts wild salmon first. A Green government would ensure that the BC coast is free of finfish farms along the length of the east coast of Vancouver Island and the west coast of the mainland from the Fraser River north to the Broughton Archipelago, by not renewing the licenses of finfish farms with annual tenure and by revoking the licenses of finfish farms with long-term tenure. We would provide transitional money so that fish farm processing plants can find alternative sources of soft-fleshed seafood for processing and to establish markets for the resulting seafood products both domestically and internationally. And we would also provide employment security through retraining and job matching for workers displaced from fish farms that close.

The salmon cannot wait for another four years. I encourage everyone to contact your favourite candidate and ask them for their policy on the salmon feedlots that are threatening our run here on the Adams River. This is a critical issue for our riding and I believe it is important for the long term health of our lake. We need to realize that if we kill the salmon we irrevocably alter the ecology of the Shuswap Lake system. Our prosperity, in the form of tourism dollars and waterfront property values, will suffer if we destroy salmonid habitat or pollute the water.

I am attaching the rest of our fisheries policy which focuses on habitat restoration and other changes to how we manage the fishery.

Restoring Our Wild Fisheries

Well-managed wild fisheries can be sustainable and provide healthy food and jobs in many smaller communities. However, many salmon runs have gone extinct due to poor logging practices, road building, fish farming, and urban development. BC Greens will rehabilitate decreasing wild salmon stocks and restore their habitat. We will recognize First Nations’ right to fish. We will also put the control of fisheries back into the hands of coastal communities and small fishers.

Key Goals

Restore healthy natural fish stocks to BC’s waters

Create local jobs in coastal communities

BC Greens Will

Negotiate with the federal government to take over management of coastal marine fisheries

Implement stream-by-stream actions to rejuvenate wild salmon by restoring habitat

Re-evaluate run-of-river projects pending strengthened environmental assessments and better regulation

Phase out bottom trawling and less selective seine and gillnet fishing and replace them with more selective methods

Phase in terminal salmon fisheries to replace open ocean interception salmon fisheries and to restore traditional First Nations fishing practices

Implement transition plans for workers and First Nations communities to ensure employment when fisheries closures are needed to rebuild wild stocks

Reform licensing of fishers, breaking up the corporate concentration in big seiner licenses and reallocating licenses back to small-scale fishers

Protecting Wild Salmon from Fish Farms*

The dramatic decline of BC’s wild salmon began when fish farms were introduced to the province. Wild salmon cannot be saved until open net finfish farms are removed from salmon migration routes, because of their

deadly role in pathogen amplification and introduction.

One benefit of the fish farm industry has been the development of state-of-the-art processing plants in BC. These plants are capable of processing soft-fleshed seafood into high quality products. BC’s wild fisheries could benefit from this local processing capacity. The BC Green Party will ensure that the province benefits from these plants and explores further options for their use.

Steve Gunner (BC NDP):

Many scientists and fisheries professionals, environmentalists and citizens are very concerned about the progressive overall decline of the Fraser salmon run.  This led to the formation of the Cohen Commission, tasked with conducting exhaustive hearings over many months.  The Commission has heard from many stakeholders.  

The final report details many individual reasons as to why the salmon stocks may be declining.  The cumulative effects of everything from global climate change to logging and road building activities, sewage discharge, chemical pollution, agricultural runoff and other human activities could quite likely be putting a lot of downward pressure on the salmon.

However, the feeling in many communities is that many of the DFO scientists were muzzled and that the Cohen Commission has not been able to have complete access to all of the pertinent data in order to conclusively find that the Fraser run has been affected by the existence of commercial fish farms along the migratory route.  British marine biologists have known for decades that situating aquaculture on migratory routes has resulted in pressure on wild salmon stocks.

Justice Cohen states that some evidence from the fish farms is missing.  Given the importance of the salmon to the economy and the ecology of British Columbia, I believe that a full disclosure of the health and the management practices of the fish farming industry should be made in order that the evidence can be evaluated and that sound decisions can be made.

Greg Kyllo (BC Liberals):

No response received


* From Tim: This post will stick at the top of the blog until the next question and responses are posted next Sunday!

– Here are many ways to follow the Declared Shuswap Candidates for the Provincial Election May 14 2013 on the web

… and don’t forget to send in your questions! There is still room/time for more!

… Plus here is the link to the previous questions/responses:

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

2 thoughts on “Provincial Election Questions #12 & #13 for Shuswap Candidates …”

    1. Thanks Jean but especially thanks to Aim High’s readers and the buy-in by the politicians themselves for making this work. The candidates started responding to these weekly questions in mid-February… long before the start of campaigning in most other ridings. While every format for questioning has its up and down sides, these responses have been widely perused.

      Thanks again! It’s been well worth it.

      Plus, be sure to check out the ‘open mike’ post coming in the mid-week.

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