British Columbia

Oppal gets a rough reception in new Delta South riding

B.C. Liberal candidate Wally Oppal got a rough ride in his first all-candidates meeting in his new riding Thursday night when he faced off in Ladner against four others at an all-candidates debate.

B.C. Liberal candidate Wally Oppal got a rough ride in his first all-candidates meeting in his new riding Thursday night when he faced off in Ladner against four others at an all-candidates debate.

More than 100 people filled the Delta high school library in the suburb south of Vancouver for the forum organized by the Delta Teachers Association, the district's Parents Advisory Council and CUPE.

At the meeting his new constituents forced him to defend his government's funding for teachers, public schools and special needs children. Many were upset also Oppal didn't oppose controversial high-voltage power transmission line upgrades that ran through several residential parts of the riding.

"If you were passionate about Tsawwassen, you would have done something," shouted one audience member during a noisy exchange.

Oppal, who was first elected in the Vancouver-Fraserview riding in 2005, and has since served as B.C.'s attorney general, switched to Delta South, where he lives, for the May 12 provincial election.

Independent candidate and former city councillor Vicki Huntington also took on Oppal for not representing the constituents' interests.

"I know Delta South needs more from our next MLA," she said. "I'm neither a pawn nor an apologist for any party."

But Oppal fought back, saying a vote for any Independent is a waste of a vote.

"You know it's easy for her to say that because she will never, ever be in a position where she can do anything about it," said Oppal.

"I know of no one in the history in this country where an Independent has ever made law, made policy or done anything significant," he said.

Huntington's supporters, who appeared to fill the audience, responded with boos. Oppal said afterwards that the crowd reaction was expected.

"It was a stacked crowd. But you know, that's a part of a democratic system and I'm not complaining about it. It was a debate and so we all gave, and we all took, and I'm pleased about it," he said.

There is another debate for the candidates on Monday.

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