The Interior News asked all the Skeena-Bulkley Valley federal election candidates to provide a short piece on what they believe is the most important issue for the region and what they would do about it if elected.
They were limited to 250 words and given a deadline of Friday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.
Their responses are presented here in the order they were received.
The electoral district of Skeena-Bulkley Valley is geographically the largest federal riding in British Columbia representing approximately 34 per cent of the province’s landmass. It is the fifth largest in the country.
According to the 2016 census, its population is 88,920, the smallest in B.C.
Skeena-Bulkley Valley also has the highest percentage of First Nations voters in the province.
The riding was created from the Skeena, Prince George-Bulkley Valley and Cariboo-Chilcotin ridings in the 2003 redistribution.
Since the 2004 election it has been represented by the NDP’s Nathan Cullen, who announced March 1, he would not seek re-election.
Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 21. Other options include advance polls on Oct. 11, 12, 13 and 14, voting by mail, or voting at an Elections Canada office any time prior to Oct. 15. The office in Smithers is on the corner of Hwy 16 and Main Street.
Dave Birdi – Liberal
Based on my perspective from my direct involvement in various sectors in our community, the most important issue facing voters in Skeena-Bulkley Valley is sustainable jobs. Currently, there is a large-scale dilemma regarding the forestry sector. The phrase, “Winter is coming” can be deemed appropriate here, according to Keith Baldrey, chief political reporter for Global BC who stated: “So far, 6,000 forestry workers either have been laid off or have had to sit idle as their mills are shut down for weeks at a time. The running count is 25 mill shutdowns or closures, affecting 22 communities.”
Fortunately, there is good news in fresh investment in LNG plants and associated gas pipelines. Shell Kitimat LNG plant plus associated gas pipeline investment of $40 billion is the single largest investment in Canadian history. There is another LNG plant plus pipeline investment of $12 billion and these investments have arrived at just the right time.
The Liberal government has overseen the largest growth in jobs in the last 40 years. Over 1 million new jobs have been created since PM Trudeau’s election in October 2015. There are good, solid reasons to be proud of this record.
Alongside these advancements in jobs, as Member of Parliament, I would push first for extension of Employment Insurance benefits. This is immediate relief that needs to be advanced immediately. Skeena-Bulkley Valley is, spatially, a large riding, therefore additional mobility funding must be made available, so that affected individuals can safely travel to prospective job sites without any worry of transportation.
Danny Nunes – Independent
The biggest issue in this election is money in politics and the negative impact it has on democracy.
We are being bombarded all the time with information from dubious sources, which are turning our way of life into a joke. People are no longer certain about anything they see, hear or read. Social media news feeds filled with memes and special interest groups posing as grass roots organizations.
As an independent, I am not taking any money nor am I spending any. I don’t want to owe any favors to my donors. It’s why I reject the party system as well. I feel they have become beholden to their contributors at the cost of Canadians and our democracy. I want to know if money and its influence have surpassed society.
I wear the costume to show the reality and struggle of drawing attention to important issues when you have no money for promotion and no party backing. You have to find some way to stand out.
Dan the Bear is a character who gets approached out of curiosity. They come; they talk to me expecting a joke. I give them a few, they’re un-bear-able, but I can also engage in serious discussions about how our democracy is railroaded away from our communities by monetary influence.
I hope to go viral on social media so my message gets heard. Not because I paid to get it out there, but because people listened to it.
My campaign slogan reflects my cynicism: its #ProveMeWrong
Rod Taylor – Christian Heritage Party
It’s very difficult to name only one issue that stands out as the most important one for SBV. Resources and well-paying jobs are very high on the list. So is the need for more care beds and medical staff to support our aging population. So is the need to improve the working relationships between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in the BC Northwest. The rights and responsibilities of all citizens must be addressed and decisions made for the benefit of all.
People need good jobs to be able to feed their families. Responsible resource development along with the safe and efficient transfer of energy products is essential to the health of families in this region. LNG pipelines will be a benefit to the province, the country and to local workers. As MP, I would work to see relationships improved between the hereditary chiefs and elected band councils as well as with the non-indigenous communities. Band members and all citizens must be able to participate in decision-making regarding resource development, extraction and transportation within Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
Local, provincial and federal governments must cooperate to prepare infrastructure (buildings and equipment) and to provide training and support for healthcare workers in care facilities and in home care. Where applicable, family members providing care for elderly or disabled persons should be included in health care planning and support. As MP, I would promote the construction of care facilities that would relieve the strain on acute care beds.
Michael Sawyer – Green Party
Climate Change is the most important issue in this election.
Other issues are facing us but none present an imminent existential threat to the survival of humanity. The science is clear; if we don’t take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and that will require radical elimination of carbon-based fuels, the world is heading for a catastrophe of biblical portions.
Since Canada first established GHG reduction targets 30 years ago, we have missed every target and are on track to miss our current target of reducing GHG emissions to 30 percent below 2007 levels by 2030. At our current rate of reduction, it will take 215 years to meet our 2030 target. We are simply not doing enough. Without immediate action, we are faced with the imminent collapse of human civilization – to a world that could only sustain 1 billion people, or less, and where the lives of 6 billion people could be lost. There is still hope, but only if we implement a radical shift to a carbon-free economy.
Without leadership, hope paralyzes us from taking necessary and immediate action. I would champion legislation to immediately eliminate our dependence on carbon-based fuels while aggressively focusing on demand-side-management to reduce energy demand and promote cost effective renewable energy technologies. This includes unprecedented retrofits of existing buildings, net-zero building codes, reform of our transportation systems, including railways, and enacting legislation that requires consideration of climate change implications of all federal government decisions. And the list goes on…
Taylor Bachrach – NDP
I’ve been travelling across this vast riding all summer as the NDP candidate, from Bella Coola to Atlin, Haida Gwaii to Fort St. James, talking with people about the issues facing our region.
Overwhelmingly, the biggest concern I’ve heard is the impact of climate change: the wildfires that devastated communities last summer, the challenges facing our resource industries and the poor salmon returns. The Northwest is on the frontline of the climate crisis.
The time for debating the science is over. What we need is meaningful action to tackle this crisis. Action to cut emissions and actually reach our climate targets, and action to help those whose jobs and communities are under threat.
We need to stop giving billions of dollars every year in subsidies to big oil and gas companies and instead support working people by investing in a clean energy transition.
That’s why I’m so proud of the NDP’s bold climate strategy. Inspired by the Green New Deal and the belief that we can tackle both climate change and economic inequality, it aims to create 300,000 new jobs, invest in innovative business ideas in green tech and tackle the cost of living by retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient.
We’ve faced tough times before in the North. But folks here are hard-working, resilient and hold a deep respect for this beautiful corner of the world. We owe it to our kids to work towards protecting this place and the lifestyle we enjoy.
Together, we can.
Merv Ritchie – Independent
In a word: Truth. For many years the residents of the region have not been provided the full contextual truth on a variety of issues. A good example; a current hot topic issue, is LNG and Fracking. The Green Party promotes maintaining current Tarsands production, yet wants to immediately ban all fracking.
In 2007 the pipeline route from Kitimat to Alberta was approved as a Gas “Import” pipeline as we did not have enough domestic supply to operate the Tarsands processing facilities. Companies then began fracking the shale fields near Fort Nelson, discovering so much they applied to change the permit to export gas. In the process they also discovered “wet” gas to replace the condensate we were importing. If we shut down fracking we would stop bitumen production or begin to import wet and dry gases. The Greens are attempting to Suck and Blow at the same time.
In regards to the FID of LNG Canada, the appropriate thing for all our NDP politicians to do was to inform of the stand of the Wet’suwet’en Nation still in opposition. Playing the role of ‘boosterism’, encouraging people to invest when the project still had hurdles was and is inappropriate and caused much grief.
In regards to using electricity or Site C to power the LNG plants, the region hasn’t the grid capacity and there are no plans to increase the grid capacity.
Besides providing contextual truth, I believe the region requires worldwide exposure as a “World Heritage Site” as the culture, people and environment is unique to the globe.
Jody Craven – People’s Party
The central issue in this election for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is the economy and jobs. A country has to generate wealth and in Canada that wealth is primarily the resource and energy sectors. We have a problem, however, and that problem is twofold.
First, we have allowed foreign funded NGOs to meddle in our affairs. This should be illegal and must be stopped. Often their disruptive tactics require a false choice between the environment and development; “you can’t have both,” they say. This is nonsense. Canada has had for many years some of the highest standards in the world to ensure responsible resource development and distribution. It only makes sense. We live here. As your MP, and under the leadership of Maxime Bernier, we will put an end to this job-killing practice.
Second, we have a Government under Justin Trudeau that has passed legislation that effectively kills new development and new pipelines through too much regulation. It is killing Canada’s reputation in the world as a place to do business. The PPC will work to make Canada strong, again.
We have the responsibility to take care of our families and ensure our kids and grandkids have a future in this region. We need policies that promote opportunities and wellbeing for our communities. We need policies that protect our workers and keep our families together. We, the PPC, have these policies and the courage to enact them.
The PPC: the principled choice for a strong and free Canada.
Claire Rattee – Conservative
Ms. Rattee did not submit