Lib. hopefuls bash NDP

BC Liberal leadership hopefuls touted their ideas for bolstering the resource sector and tackling the province's opioid overdose crisis during today's debate in Prince George.

Mike De Jong, Dianne Watts, Michael Lee and Andrew Wilkinson were critical of the current NDP government consideration to cancel the controversial $9-billion Site C dam project.

They say it would result in job losses in rural communities and discourage the development of future infrastructure projects.

Former transportation minister Todd Stone says rural communities are worried about the effects of new U.S. tariffs on the softwood lumber industry and encouraging the tech sector to set up in rural areas would bring jobs that support resource industries.

Sam Sullivan, a former Vancouver mayor, says the opioid overdose crisis is no longer only an urban issue and health care services need to be flexible to adapt to the needs of rural and remote communities.

Candidates also warned the party's next leader must to deliver a campaign strong enough to defeat the NDP's proposed referendum on proportional representation, a model that Watts says would prevent the Liberals from ever holding another majority government.

There are four more debates scheduled across the province before party members elect a new leader in February.

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