Below are profiles of the seven candidates that will be seeking election in the May 2 Federal Election in the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding in alphabetical order by party name.
Canadian Action Party
The Canadian Action Party has selected Maggie Braun as their candidate for the current election.
Braun is a resident of Jack Pine Flats, a small agricultural subdivision located outside of Terrace. She says she decided to run for the party because they offer “positive solutions” to the problems facing the riding.
Braun says that one of the reasons people should vote for her is that they will get an MP not bound by the strict party-discipline found in the other parties, which she says causes MPs to vote in ways that are not always in their riding’s interest.
“Our party is really looking at practicing different forms of democracy. We’re really bringing the power back to the people. Instead of voting for a member of a party who will have to tow that party line, voting for the Canadian Action Party means that you are voting for yourself because the concerns of the people in the riding will be the concerns I will be bringing forward,” says Braun.
The two biggest concerns of the Canadian Action Party’s platform are the preservation of Canadian sovereignty and civil rights.
Braun believes that so much is changing, and so quickly, on the international level, that sometimes the government doesn’t keep the preservation of sovereignty in mind while making deals with other countries. Braun points to a potential deal for an integrated border with the US and the potential selling of Canadian water sources to private businesses as two problems facing Canadian sovereignty,
On the economy, Braun says she would push to reduce the amount of interest payments the country has to pay on its debt through banking reform. The plan would be to pay off all federal debt owed to private banks and then only use the Bank of Canada. She says this would cut down on interest payments and free up more money to be invested in communities to create jobs.
“There is no reason why people can’t be working here. We have resources, an employable work force, and we have Canadian entre-preneurs with good ideas waiting for the opportunity to get this economy going again. And we’re spending so much a day on interest payments alone, we have to get out of that,” says Braun.
Braun says she believes that people in Skeena-Bulkley Valley are ready for a change.
“When I go out, I get a sense that people are dissatisfied with our current political system. They really want something to happen, I sense a lot of despair and if I can do one thing for this riding it will be giving these people back a voice.”
Christian Heritage Party
Rod Taylor is once again running as the candidate for the Christian Heritage Party, of which he is the deputy leader.
Taylor says he is the only option for those who are looking for truly conservative representation in Parliament. He says that the Conservative Party has abandoned conservative principles, as an example he points to Stephen Harper’s refusal to reopen the abortion debate even if he were to get a majority.
“The respect of innocent human life is a strong policy plank for us, that’s a non-negotiable…We are the only party with a policy of protection of human life from conception to natural death,” says Taylor.
Taylor says that he supports families as the foundation of Canadian society and says that if he were the MP he would push for a $1,000 a month allowance for families where one parent, either the mother or father, decides to stay home to take care of the children.
When it comes to the economy and jobs, Taylor says that the Federal government should try to be as hands-off as possible which he believes will let people’s natural ingenuity to thrive. But it should make sure what businesses adhere to environmental standards.
“The government should not be in the business of building business, the government belongs in the business of regulating so that there is justice and fairness.”
Taylor says he is against the Enbridge Pipeline because he says the project is an “immoral” one because of its environmental risks, popular opposition, and its unwanted intrusion into the territory of First Nations.
Running for the Conservative Party is Clay Harmon, a businessman from Terrace.
Harmon says that he and Conservative Party are the ones who will vote in favour of jobs, and that Cullen has squandered opportunities to bring jobs to the region by being a “professional protestor,” and made himself an obstacle to job creation in Parliament.
Harmon says that to create jobs he would seek economic analyses from professionals and base economic policy on that information, instead of jumping to conclusions on an issue before any assessment has taken place, which he accuses Cullen of doing.
Harmon says that federal government is going to be involved in a lot of economic future projects in the north and the region would be better off with a Conservative MP.
“It seems to me that this riding will be better if it’s got a representative that’s part of government as opposed to being in the opposition. I see an opportunity to lobby for the constituents in the Northwest to bring jobs here,” says Harmon.
Harmon says he does not have a position on the controversial Enbridge Pipeline project, which Cullen has come out as strongly against. He says that there has been too much hype and not enough impartial environmental analysis on the project in order to judge it.
“I’m an accountant, so I’m a cynic. I want facts not innuendo before I’ll take a position on it. All we’re gextting on this is a lot of opinion without a factual base,” says Harmon.
Harmon says his experience working with First Nations, and in the business world would be useful for mediating agreements between companies at the Prince Rupert port and Aboriginal groups.
“I‘ve worked in big business and small business, so, I really do have an understanding of the situations that are happening in the riding and the perspectives people have,” says Harmon.
Harmon says he supports the corporate tax cuts being proposed in the Conservatives now dead budget. He believes lower taxes will allow companies to expand and create jobs, and says that the NDP’s position that well funded social programs will attract corporations to the area as “ not based in logic.”
Harmon also supports a “tough on crime” approach to justice, and says that tougher sentences for drug trafficking will help cut down on the drug crime in the north.
Roger Benham is photographer and environmentalist from Smithers, and has been picked as the candidate for the Green Party in this election.
Benham says the main issue for him in this election is awareness of the developing enviro-nmental problems facing the area and the rest of Canada. Benham says that too many people are uninterested in the perils of issues like global warming and are only “paying lip service” to the environment.
“I’ve been talking about things in this campaign for years and I just don’t get the impression that people want to hear about all this stuff. I ran provincially last time, and I humorously referred to myself as being from the ‘doom and gloom’ party,” says Benham.
Benham is steadfastly opposed to the Enbridge Pipeline project, which he considers to be an inevitable environmental disaster just waiting to happen. He says no amount of assurances or precautions from Enbridge or the government will make the risks involved in oil tanker traffic acceptable.
If made the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Benham says he would push for the removal of all subsidies from the oil and nuclear power industries, and create more incentives for clean energy projects.
He says that he believes that there are plenty of potential jobs in renewable energy projects.
Benham is in favour of raising corporate taxes as a way to help fight the deficit, and creating new tiers of taxation where companies working towards the long term benefit of Canada are taxed less than those that are concerned more with the short term.
He is also in favour of a carbon tax that, he says if implemented correctly, would eliminate the need for income taxes.
He is, however, against all new mining efforts in the north, which is something Cullen has been pushing for with the new Northwest Transmission Line.
With the election campaign now a week old, the Liberal Party of Canada has finally nominated a candidate to run in Skeena-Bulkley Valley in hopes of gaining a seat in the riding.
Kyle Warwick, 22, is a fourth-year Political Science student at the University of British Columbia and lives in Vancouver. He is not from the riding, but says he has travelled through it while working in the Yukon for Logan Resources, a company that studies the feasibility of potential mining projects. He says that he won’t pretend that he’s well versed in the issues facing the riding, but he is ready to listen to what voters have to say.
“I’m going to be very receptive to the concerns of people who are from the area. One thing I’m absolutely not going top say is ‘I know what’s best,’ or anything like that, I’m going to hear what people have to say,” says Warwick.
Warwick believes that people should vote for him over the incumbent, Nathan Cullen, because he represents an opportunity to vote for Michael Ignatieff’s platform, which he says is resonating with Canadian’s across the country.
“As we’ve seen, the Conservatives’ lead in the polls has shrunk from 15 per cent to six per cent in only a week. There’s a Liberal momentum, and I think voting for me is the only real way to make sure these policies come into place.”
This is not Warwick’s first time in politics, he has been actively involved in student politics at his university, having just won an election less than a week ago to be the chief AMS representative for the UBC Arts Undergraduate Society.
Warwick has been the Liberal candidate for only a short period and has not yet acquainted himself with issues such as the Enbridge Pipeline or the Northwest Transmission Line. He says as a student and life-long Liberal, he is very in favour of the Liberal’s Learning Passport, which promises every high school student who goes on to university or college a tax-free $1,000; $1,500 for low income students.
“One thing that is crucial for jobs these days . . . is to increase access to education beyond the secondary level. I think in the long to medium term, the education passport will definitely help to achieve that.”
Warwick says he will be touring the riding and talking to voters in the different communities sometime after April 20.
New Democratic Party
Nathan Cullen is the NDP incumbent in this election, and has been re-elected twice since first being sent to Parliament in 2004.
In this election, Cullen says he’s running on a platform focusing on jobs, healthcare and trust. Cullen says that he should be re-elected because he believes that he has shown that he can be trusted to defend the region’s interests in Ottawa.
“I can be trusted. I do what I say I’m going to do. I spend more time on the road visiting and listening to people than anybody has in this position in many years. I feel that I have raised the voice of the Northwest consistently and kept us on the map, and that I attract attention and support for our region, which we desperately need,” says Cullen.
Cullen says that the Conservatives can’t be trusted, that have become arrogant and out of touch, and that they put politics ahead of good policy.
“I’m just interested in getting things done, the politics doesn’t excite me. I think this divide the nation strategy from the Conservatives is unfortunate, it’s not what a Canadian government should be about,” says Cullen.
On the economy, Cullen says that a balance needs to be found between creating jobs and protecting the environment; a balance where the region can push for things it wants, like the Northwest Transmission Lines or expanding the container port, and reject things it believes are too environmentally risky, like the Enbridge pipeline.
Cullen now believes that the pipeline is on its last legs, and would rather push for alternative projects instead of continuing to fight a battle that the he thinks the company has already lost.
“We need alternatives. It’s a bit diabolical to say ‘you must take this or nothing’ and that’s the way some people want to view the Enbridge project. That’s obviously not the case,” says Cullen.
Those alternative economic projects Cullen says he will push for is a revised commercial and sports fishery where commercial fishermen would be able to fish longer throughout the year, a new way of allocating fish and stronger policies for lodges which Cullen says don’t give much back to the local economy.
Another economic initiative Cullen says he will push for is to limit the amount of raw logs that can be shipped out of the region, so that jobs will be created though processing projects. This would require cooperation with the provincial government, but Cullen says to continue to let raw logs leave the region is “a path to nowhere.”
Rhino Party of Canada
He isn’t in the race to win it, Laurence Knowles said, but he does want to make people think more about the issues in the upcoming federal election.
Knowles is running for the Rhinoceros Party, a party which operates more “tongue-in-cheek” he said.
“I’m just there to put some points out, that everyone keeps sidestepping,” Knowles said.
“I’m hoping the younger kids like my platform and want to get involved.”
His interest in politics, oddly enough, came from his apathy towards it in high school, he said.
As there was a federal election during the time in high school, they organized an in-school debate, with students dividing between the parties to discuss the issues. He and a few others were put in the Rhinoceros Party group.
“The idea was we could predict the election before the election was held based on how it went in the class. But our party won, so it backfired,” Knowles said.
Issues he would particularly like to bring up have to do with gun control. Hunters, he said, should have to use machine guns, the bigger the better, but the real issue here is the need for registering staplers. Another one of his stances is to see Haida Gwaii removed from Canada.
Knowles grew up in Prince Rupert, and now lives in Masset, B.C. on Haida Gwaii. A commercial fisherman from a young age who now works in the mining industry, it would be the best thing for the island, which is vastly ignored unless there is an election, he said.
“We don’t see any jobs up here,” Knowles said. “
Regarding the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project, Knowles said he would, if Enbridge paid $1 billion per member of First Nations throughout the project, with a monthly rent paid afterwards.
Knowles hopes to take part in the all-candidates discussions, but it depends on funding, he said.