Environmental assessment top concern in telephone town hall

SMITHERS – Changes to environmental assessment was ranked the issue of most impact to the Northwest during Tuesday evening’s telephone town involving 8,498 callers and hosted by MP and House Leader Nathan Cullen and Opposition environment critic Megan Leslie.
“Over 52% of people responding to this question told us that EA changes worry them most,” Cullen said.  “This certainly fits with the explosion of grassroots activism we’ve seen the past year, especially with opposition to Enbridge and the attempts of Conservatives to stomp all over the Fisheries Act.”
A veteran of many telephone town halls, Cullen said he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of Northwest residents for the call.
“It was a great call.  We had close to 8,500 participants; an incredible 93% of the people who picked up the phone joined our event.”  Last year’s first-ever telephone town hall in the riding also attracted over 8,000 participants, or 86% of the calls answered live.
Cullen said the electronic town hall technology is useful in a sprawling riding such as Skeena-Bulkley Valley as it “unites and brings together thousands of people to talk about common issues of concern.
“I wish the government would listen in on these calls to get more in touch with what people are thinking and saying about the stuff coming out of Ottawa.”
Three polls were conducted during the town hall to canvass constituents regarding action they want Cullen to take on issues affecting the riding.  Significantly, 82% of 448 people answering whether they agree or disagree with the Conservatives putting so many changes into the budget bill said they oppose the move.
Increased post-secondary funding topped the list of where people would like to see the federal government spend money.  Over 30% of people choose this option, followed by 26% favoring increased pension spending for seniors, 22% tapping additional northern living allowance tax credits, and 10% pointing to universal dental care.
182 people asked questions on the call.  While time allowed only 11 questions to be answered, notes of all questions will allow individual follow-up over the summer.

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