Wilkinson Liberals
(BC Liberals)

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has called for three televised leader debates at a campaign stop in Vancouver’s Yaletown Friday morning.

Wilkinson was in the community to talk about homelessness and stories of “intimidation” and crime in the area.

The Liberal leader blasted the NDP for “warehousing” unhoused people throughout the province, saying that the Horgan government had left vulnerable people without addiction support.

“We know that the NDP have decided that harm reduction is the way to go, but we also need effective treatment and prevention programs,” he said.

In response, at a campaign event in Coquitlam, Horgan discussed the benefits of providing affordable and supportive housing with wraparound supports for homeless people, and touted the fact that his government “cleaned up Pandora Avenue” in Victoria.

“Every one of us could find ourselves without a place to live… The best way forward is to help people because you could very well be needing help yourself,” said Horgan.

Wilkinson said the issue deserves its own debate, along with two other debates: one about the economy, and the other on the future of the province.

He added that COVID-19 has limited campaign engagement and multiple debates are needed to inform the public.

“We don’t have the opportunity to have large groups of people, we don’t have the interchange, we don’t have the level of information that people deserve,” said Wilkinson.

“We have said get the information in front of the people of British Columbia. Let people decide for themselves. Let’s have three debates to get the truth on the table.”

In response to a question from Victoria Buzz, NDP leader John Horgan said he would leave the matter of debates up to the media consortium that organizes them.

“I’m ready to talk about any of the matters that affect British Columbians,” said Horgan.

A spokesperson for the BC Green Party said leader Sonia Furstenau is ready to participate in as many debates as the election will allow.

“Bring it on,” Furstenau said in an emailed statement. “Let’s give voters lots of opportunity to understand the issues and make informed choices.”

With files from Brishti Basu.