BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s latest campaign stop at a 500-head cattle farm in South Surrey Tuesday morning may have served as an opportunity to milk out a few more votes as the province quickly approaches a “high-steaks” election.
Absent of cow jokes that could easily have been butchered, Wilkinson and a few of his candidates visited Nicomekl dairy farm at 4764 184 St. where he bottle-fed a calf, took questions from the media and beefed about the NDP.
Wilkinson took jabs at NDP for “not encouraging voter turnout” and promoted a number of promises in his party’s platform, including removing provincial sales tax for one year and eliminating “tent cities.”
Wilkinson was asked if his party would place a rent increase cap on commercial spaces, similar to that of residential properties.
Since the start of COVID-19, Peace Arch News has written about three businesses on the Semiahmoo Peninsula that have closed, or were at risk of closing, due to their landlords imposing commercial rent increases between 25 and 200 per cent.
While Wilkinson did not say he would put a cap on commercial rent increase, he did speak to other promises in his platform relating to small businesses.
“We’ve said the federal programs, rent subsidies, need to be continued. We said it’s time to look at a review of property taxes and commercial rents generally because we cannot see our small businesses annihilated by this pandemic along with the taxes and the rents they already face,” Wilkinson said.
Last July, PAN wrote a three-part series that focused on trauma, mental health, and its connection with substance use. In that series, PAN spoke to a number of Semiahmoo Peninsula health and addictions experts that have signed the “Urgent Action for Kids in the COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery” open letter addressed to the government.
The letter suggested that children with complex needs, disabilities, and those marginalized by poverty, racism and structural violence are going to be most affected by the long-term impacts of COVID-19.
Asked about his party’s plan for addressing the long-term psychological effects of the pandemic, Wilkinson said his party vows to not cut social services during their time in government.
He said part of his platform is to create a better system for screening and diagnosing of disabilities early in the school year “so that these kids can get the help they need right away and avoid the kind of things we’re talking about now.”
“We have an explosion right now of loneliness, of tensions inside families because they’re spending all of their time together, of kids with special needs – like my younger sister was – who are left without the necessary supports because of COVID. We’re in a very tough situation right now for families with kids with disabilities. We have to make sure those kids are supported.”
As of Tuesday, Wilkinson is the only provincial party leader to make a campaign stop in the Surrey South riding. No leaders have yet visited Surrey-White Rock.
B.C. goes to the polls Oct. 24.