We're doing this together.
Over the past month, I’ve put a couple thousand kilometres on my little red Toyota Matrix and made hundreds of phone calls, talking with NDP members like you in communities across our region. It’s been a rewarding journey, with the long drives providing ample time for reflection. In every conversation, I’ve felt people’s deep connection to this place we call home, and my resolve to fight for our region is stronger than ever.
When I ask NDP members what they feel is important, good jobs, social support services, reconciliation and better resource management are common themes. Many of you also talked about climate change.
Last summer, the Bulkley River that runs by my house was so low you could walk across it. Massive fires in our region forced residents from their homes and choked the sky with smoke.
My daughters Ella (14) and Maddie (12) are a big part of the reason I’m running for the federal NDP nomination. When I think about the climate crisis they’re inheriting, I’m inspired to work even harder for the change that can’t come soon enough. Solutions are at our fingertips but they require political will. From our conversations, I know many of you share my desire and commitment to be on a better path.
I’ve also heard stories that give me great hope. In Prince Rupert, I learned about Coastal Shellfish, an indigenous-owned company growing sustainable scallops. I listened to the chief councillor from Old Massett talk about exciting plans for tidal, solar and wind energy on Haida Gwaii. These are solutions we need right now. If there is anywhere that a new economy can take hold, it’s here in northwest B.C.
People clearly want good livelihoods so they can provide for their families and they want the same for their neighbours. In communities on the brink of an industrial boom, people I spoke with are concerned prosperity for some could come at a steep price for others. They worry about rising rents and increased health and social issues such as addictions.
Homelessness has been a concern in Smithers for decades. As mayor, I spent years lobbying a reluctant provincial government for resources. Progress was slow but we persisted. We collaborated with not-for-profits. We bought a piece of land. I kept calling the minister. This past January, I helped cut a ribbon to open a new apartment building that provides 24 homes for people at risk of homelessness. Some of its tenants have lived in Smithers their entire lives and have never had a stable place to call home. They do now.
Leadership matters. Persistence matters. And focusing on the things that truly count – that matters more than anything. This is as true in Smithers as it is in Terrace, Iskut, Burns Lake, Bella Coola or any other community in this riding.
I hope I can earn your support in the NDP nomination and after that, the election. I want you to know that as your Member of Parliament, I’ll work harder than ever for the future our kids and grandkids deserve.
P.S. I want to thank my wife Michelle and our daughters for their unwavering support, as well as everyone else who has stepped forward to help on this journey. We’re doing this together.