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B.C. election 2020: Vernon-Monashee incumbent seeks fourth term

Click to play video: 'B.C. election 2020: Vernon-Monashee incumbent seeks fourth term' B.C. election 2020: Vernon-Monashee incumbent seeks fourth term
B.C. election 2020: Vernon-Monashee incumbent seeks fourth term – Oct 23, 2020

Both federally and provincially, north Okanagan ridings are known for consistently leaning to the right.

The provincial riding of Vernon-Monashee is no exception.

The Liberals have held the seat since 1996.

In the 2020 provincial election, incumbent BC Liberal candidate Eric Foster is seeking his fourth term as MLA for the riding.

This time his three challengers are all veteran campaigners who will likely be familiar to Vernon voters since they have all run for office in the region before.

Read more: B.C. election 2020: Vernon-Monashee results

Foster served as a municipal politician in Lumby before running provincially.

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First elected to the Legislature in 2009, Foster said his years of experience have benefits.

“The more experience you get, the more comfortable you are with the work and the easier it is to make decisions,” Foster said.

Read more: Campaign promise to cut B.C.’s PST gets mixed reviews in the Okanagan

The incumbent feels recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic is the biggest challenge facing the region.

“There are several things that we are proposing to help with that. The first was the big announcement early on in the campaign: the elimination of the PST for a year, and then reduced to three per cent the following year,” Foster said.

Foster said that if the Liberals take office, the provincial government would also guarantee bank loans for small businesses struggling due to COVID-19.

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with BC Liberal candidate for Vernon-Monashee Eric Foster' Extended interview with BC Liberal candidate for Vernon-Monashee Eric Foster
Extended interview with BC Liberal candidate for Vernon-Monashee Eric Foster – Oct 20, 2020

Also vying for the seat is BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu.

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A registered nurse at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Sandhu has previously run for the NDP both federally and provincially.

“Being a nurse, I’m always advocating for people,” Sandhu said.

Among other priorities, as an MLA, Sandhu would like to advocate for a mental health and addictions treatment centre in the Okanagan.

“I believe in finding the root cause and treating that instead of band-aid fixes,” Sandhu said.

She added that she favours a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to addressing mental health addictions as she feels that will ultimately save tax dollars to be spent on more targeted solutions.

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with BC NDP candidate for Vernon-Monashee Harwinder Sandhu' Extended interview with BC NDP candidate for Vernon-Monashee Harwinder Sandhu
Extended interview with BC NDP candidate for Vernon-Monashee Harwinder Sandhu – Oct 20, 2020

The BC Green Party candidate will also be a familiar face to Vernon voters.

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Keli Westgate ran for the Greens in the last provincial election.

Read more: Here’s your last-minute voters’ guide to the 2020 B.C. election

The sales and marketing director for a local compost company feels all issues should be looked at with an eye to environmental protection.

“To me, it seems like the other parties have put that on the back burner for too long so those issues haven’t been addressed,” Westgate said.

Westgate believes her party’s strength is its long-term vision.

“We are not just looking at four years. We are looking at how we can support people over the next few years, looking at becoming carbon neutral, supporting climate crisis solutions, and thinking more generations beyond,” Westgate said.

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with BC Green Party candidate for Vernon-Monashee Keli Westgate' Extended interview with BC Green Party candidate for Vernon-Monashee Keli Westgate
Extended interview with BC Green Party candidate for Vernon-Monashee Keli Westgate – Oct 20, 2020

Rounding out the ballot is Conservative Kyle Delfing.

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The entrepreneur ran for the People’s Party of Canada in the last federal election.

He would like to increase tourism to the area’s Monashee Mountains.

“It could be a great tourism destination for a lot of people around the world and from Canada,” Delfing said.

“I think Vernon has great opportunity for small businesses. We just really need to talk to them and find out what we need to do to get them building again.”

Click to play video: 'Extended interview with Conservative candidate for Vernon-Monashee Kyle Delfing' Extended interview with Conservative candidate for Vernon-Monashee Kyle Delfing
Extended interview with Conservative candidate for Vernon-Monashee Kyle Delfing – Oct 20, 2020

Read more: Foster wins third term in Vernon-Monashee

This weekend it will be up to north Okanagan voters to decide whether to return the incumbent to Victoria for a fourth term or change course.

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