B.C. election 2017: The campaign begins

New Democrat Barbara Nederpel, Liberal Peter Milobar and Green Dan Hines running in Kamloops-North Thompson riding

Cam Fortems – Kamloops This Week

The three parties represented in the legislature, along with the only B.C. Communist members running in B.C. thus far, will vie for the Kamloops seats in the run-up to the May 9 provincial election.

Premier Christy Clark is scheduled to call for an election on Tuesday by asking Lieut.-Gov. Judith Guichon to dissolve the legislature and drop the writ, kicking off the official 28-day campaign.

Opposition New Democrats want voters to see a tired government addicted to corporate fundraising, while the B.C. Liberals are focusing on jobs and the economy. The Greens offer what they portray as a fresh alternative with a serious local campaign, while the two Communists say they will be joined by others.

The six men and two women vying for votes in Kamloops are now in full campaign mode, doing more of what they’ve already been doing for months.

Barb Nederpel, the New Democrat candidate in Kamloops-North Thompson, has been on leave from her job in health care for the past three weeks.

“I’ve been campaigning since September . . . We’re going 100 per cent right now,” she said. “We have a great campaign team behind us with a lot of energy.”

The NDP traditionally brings in experienced campaign managers from outside of B.C.

In this case, Trevor Zimmerman, an Alberta New Democrat, will run her campaign. Nederpel called him a friend with whom she has previously campaigned on health-care issues.

“Hands down, the No. 1 issue is health care,” Nederpel said. “We’re [Kamloops] ground zero in the province . . . I’ve seen the impact first hand: 16 years of cuts and mismanagement by this government. That’s what convinced me to get involved.”

For her Liberal opponent Peter Milobar, today, following the city council meeting, marks an abrupt switch.

While his counterpart on the South Shore, Todd Stone, has been doling out government tax dollars in pre-election announcements, Milobar has attempted to be circumspect during his mayoral duties.

“Wednesday, we’ll be in full campaign swing,” he said. “We’ve been spending time to organize ahead of time and have things ready to campaign for the next 28 days.”

Milobar said he’s been door-knocking on Saturdays and evenings.

“When asked the difference between all of us, we’re focusing our direction on support for the economy and jobs and projects that make things happen . . . I’m the only candidate supporting Kinder Morgan [TransMountain pipeline expansion],” Milobar said. “That hasn’t gone unnoticed on doorsteps.”

Similarly, Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal incumbent Stone said the party’s No. 1 message and issue is “jobs, jobs, jobs.

“We’re going to sound like a broken record on that, just like in the 2013 campaign. At the end of the day, the most important thing for a family is a job,” he said.

Stone is the Liberal party campaign co-chair. On Tuesday, he will travel back to Kamloops from the Coast, where he was part of a leader’s fundraising dinner in Vancouver on the eve of the campaign.

Kamloops-North Thompson Green candidate Dan Hines said he’s been campaigning for months up and down the North Thompson Valley. He estimates he has knocked on 5,000 doors thus far.

Together, Hines and Kamloops-South Thompson Green candidate Donovan Cavers have a campaign office, a manager — Jordan Bober, fresh from a successful electoral referendum campaign in P.E.I. — and a $33,000 war chest raised from individual donors.

“There’s never been a Green campaign [in Kamloops] like this before,” Hines said. “From a party that only raises money from individuals, we’ve done well.”

Cavers took unpaid leave from his seat on council a week ago.

“It was what I thought was good,” he said.

Cavers, who has never run provincially before, said the candidates are running to win.

“We’re serious and when people wake up on May 10 . . . Dan and I could be the MLAs for the region,” he said.

Kamloops-South Thompson New Democrat Nancy Bepple will be attempting to unseat one of the governing Liberals’ heavyweight cabinet members in Stone.

During the 2013 election campaign, the Liberals promised LNG development and “a GP for me”— that every British Columbian would have access to a family physician by 2015. Bepple noted they failed to deliver.

The former city councillor running provincially for the first time said she will focus some of her efforts on the campaigns’ first day on visiting lineups in front of walk-in medical clinics, as she has for months.

“Last week, I met one woman who was standing in line because her husband has stage four cancer and he didn’t have a doctor,” Bepple said.

Unlike in past provincial campaigns, the NDP on the South Shore will be managed by a local, in this case New Democrat Murray Dickson.

Both Communist party candidates, Peter Kerek (Kamloops-North Thompson) and Beat Klossner (Kamloops-South Thompson) said they will be joined by others on the ballots before the nomination cut-off on April 18.

Klossner is a pastry chef who starts work on Tuesday at 4:30 a.m., while Kerek will spend campaign kickoff day driving a school bus on a sports trip up the North Thompson Valley.