The three candidates in the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding for the provincial election are addressing the issues frequently brought up during their campaigning.
“Homelessness and community safety are two issues that I hear from many people about,” noted the BC Green Party’s Chris Istace. “People want safer, healthier communities. That’s something that should not be out of reach. Those are challenging issues but there are real, long-term solutions. The main thing is that we need a new approach. We need to stop applying the same band aids hoping for a different outcome.
“The other thing I’m hearing is concern for our small businesses. Chemainus reinvented itself and reinvigorated our local economy through tourism. We need to ensure a strong tourism future, one that includes the re-opening of the Chemainus Theatre. It’s essential that we put every possible measure in place to help our local businesses survive, and thrive.
“I’ve also heard a lot of concern about the pollution and disruption caused by the freighter anchorages off our shores. Those anchorages are federal jurisdiction and I’m ready to work with our local MPs on that issue.”
“I continue to hear concerns around affordability, housing and health care,” observed the NDP’s Doug Routley. “The pandemic has really shown the importance of having a strong and well-funded health care system and that is something that seems to be top of mind for a lot of people I talk to. I feel that my constituents are ready for the task ahead of rebuilding and recovering. They need certainty and a plan that helps them and their families and all of us to pull on the rope together. We feel very confident that our plan and platform delivers that certainty and hope. We have done a lot but there is so much left to do as we work together to deliver on our province’s great promise.”
“The most common issue I hear is, ‘who is our MLA?’” responded the BC Liberals’ Duck Paterson. “Quite a few people don’t know who their representative is or what party. The other one is, ‘why are we having this election?’ There is no need for it at this time and to put everyone at risk is a disgrace. As far as issues go, ‘how are we going to pay back the billions of dollars we’re in the hole?’ is at the top of the list.”
Candidates also identified some specific needs for the riding.
“We need to take a preventative approach to the social problems that are hurting our communities,” Istace indicated. “Mental, physical and social health are intertwined. When we neglect mental health we pay the social cost. Family breakdown, addiction, loss of employment, declining physical health, homelessness, crime. These impact the health and safety of the entire community. These social costs require enormous public investments. Those public investments are very expensive band aids. Each of us probably knows someone who would have had a better outcome if they had received the mental health care they needed. Addressing our social problems begins with making mental health care part of public health care.”
“Every community in our riding is slightly different, but one thing that is consistent is housing and health care continue to be a top priority throughout our riding,” pointed out Routley. “Even with increased investments we still have people struggling to find and maintain housing throughout our riding and many people are still living without access to a primary doctor. We need to continue building more affordable housing and expanding public health care networks to ensure people can access health care services closer to home.”
“I think most ridings in the province are facing pretty much the same issues,” noted Paterson. “Being able to live comfortably and safely is very important. As well, homelessness is being talked about quite a bit and how we as a province can deal with this, where the vulnerable are treated as human beings instead of being shuffled off like they are right now, but also where they can be worked with instead of just being handed drugs and pushed aside.”
All of the candidates wanted voters to know about some of their personal qualities that would make them a good MLA.
“I’m a compassionate person and through my advocacy work and my time as a city councillor I have learned how to truly represent people’s interests and keep them informed about the issues that matter to them,” Istace outlined.
“I have worked in the forest industry and construction,” Routley explained. “I have served as a union rep, school trustee and MLA. I have lived and taught in Japan and I built a bicycle manufacturing and distribution business with outlets in B.C., Ontario and California. All this experience and more has allowed me to see and understand so much of what my constituents face in their lives. I have served as MLA for 15 years, in which time I have built strong relationships with local governments, organizations, First Nations, businesses and people in our community. These relationships provide me with a strong connection and understanding of our local communities, which provides valuable insight that I use in advocating for specific investments and policy changes.
”Our riding has three municipalities, two regional districts, two school districts, six First Nations and dozens of non-profit organizations. These relationships and connections are crucial to being able to effectively represent our riding. This, along with my extensive knowledge on government and policies, would be my strongest qualities as an MLA.”
For Paterson, “I believe that my many, many years of community service has made me a better person,” he declared. “I’ve had huge fun. My 45 years as a Kinsman has taught me how to work with people and get things done, as has my 30 years of being involved in the Festival of Lights and quite a few other organizations and events.
”Also my 32 years as a councillor for the Town of Ladysmith has given me opportunities to meet with people and discuss a huge variety of subjects and listen to concerns, both good and bad. It’s given me a great insight into how people see their taxes being spent and what their expectations are. Also noteworthy are my ties with Stz’uminus First Nation, both through my council career, but also on an individual basis. I believe strongly in resolving the issues that First Nation communities are facing and I think that I can be a voice in steering talks in the right direction.”