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Surrey South byelection candidate Q&A: Harman Bhangu

Conservative Party of BC candidate answers five questions for PAN readers
Small-business owner Harman Bhangu is the Conservative Party of British Columbia’s candidate for the Surrey South byelection. Voters go to the polls Sept. 10. (Contributed photo)

1. What do you consider to be your top priorities for ensuring quality and timely health care for residents in the Surrey South riding?

While I am certainly in support of building a new Surrey hospital (one that the BC Liberals rejected when they were in government), the long-overdue second hospital is not expected to be finished until 2027 and does not solve our big problem today – staffing. In the short-term, we need to eliminate the outdated and unnecessary vaccine mandate that has single-handedly caused the biggest disruption in our public health service and is an entirely self-inflicted wound by the NDP government. These workers were our heroes a year ago and are now on unpaid leave despite the massive staff shortages. We had big problems before COVID-19 and the NDP have made it that much worse. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health spends $5,000 for every British Columbian and many of us cannot get a family doctor or a timely surgery! We need to explore all options, public and private, to fix our broken healthcare system. Just months ago, we had the Minister of Health win a lawsuit against a private medical clinic that was giving timely access to much-needed healthcare services – we need to encourage private sector innovation of healthcare, not crush it like the NDP has! Canada has 10 times as many health administration bureaucrats per capita as Germany; let’s direct resources away from the inefficient bureaucracy and more to hiring front-line nurses and doctors.

Finally, as a former amateur football player and current coach, promoting physical and mental health through fitness is one of my passions. No matter your age or ability, keeping physically active is proven to be beneficial to your health. As your MLA, I would promote the power of healthy, active aging and this will help keep people outside our hospitals.

2. What projects and approaches would you support to improve transportation, both public and private, for residents of Surrey South (particularly those who commute to their place of employment).

My approach is simple – we need to expand transportation infrastructure for both public transit and private vehicles. The reality is that cars and trucks are necessary means of transportation and we need to keep pace with the rapid growth in our city while also encouraging businesses to employ people within Surrey so they do not have to cross a bridge or tunnel to get to work. As a trucker, however, I need to travel across the Lower Mainland and every minute my concrete loads are delayed is a minute where a building is not constructed – transportation delays increase the cost of everything.

3. What measures should be taken to ensure that residents of Surrey South can find affordable housing, whether as buyers or renters, and to offset the general rise in the cost of living?

An immediate measure to address housing affordability is to curb foreign ownership. It is not acceptable that British Columbians are forced to compete for housing with the richest of the rich from all over the world who, for the most part, do not pay Canadian income taxes on the money they then spend to inflate our housing market. I do not blame them for exploiting our system, I blame our government for keeping it going at the expense of most BC residents.

Secondly, non-arable and unusable ALR land should be made available for housing while protecting viable agricultural lands. Thirdly, the costs and time of permitting processes need to be reduced by streamlining and cutting bureaucratic red tape. Lastly, the Liberal/NDP carbon tax increases the cost of almost everything and in these days of extraordinarily high inflation needs to be scrapped immediately to make the cost of living more affordable for families.

4. What measures would you support to address the current toxic drug crisis in B.C. (including Surrey South)?

As a reminder, the “four pillars” approach is supposed to include prevention, treatment, enforcement and harm reduction. All the other major parties have focused solely on harm reduction (the BC Liberal and NDP governments approved of giving away hard drugs, something I am completely against) and the results have been terrible, as evidenced by ever-increasing overdose death rates. My priority is advocating for prevention, treatment and enforcement as it is crystal clear that harm reduction alone has been a disaster. On-demand treatment and rehabilitation facilities need to be available immediately when users ask for help, before they change their minds. Waitlists of months and years for treatment facilities are costing lives.

5. What measures would you support to ensure that agricultural land is protected in the Surrey South riding?

Truly arable and usable agricultural land needs to be preserved to protect local food chains. The best way to preserve agricultural land is to ensure they are economically viable – carbon taxes and fertilizer bans prevent this. As MLA I will work to make agriculture more productive and economically sustainable for the farmers who grow the food that all of us depend on.

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