Barriere’s Mayor Ward Stamer announced on Monday, Mar. 8, that he would be seeking the Conservative Party of Canada nomination for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding. At the time of this writing he is the fourth individual to put their name forward as a candidate, joining Tourism Kamloops CEO Bev DeSantis, Tobiano developer Michael Grenier, and Crown prosecutor Frank Caputo.
All four will be seeking MP Cathy McLeod’s seat, after her announcement last month that she will not be seeking another term when the next federal election is held.
Why has Barriere’s mayor decided to throw his hat into the ring of federal politics?
“I think it’s important because that’s the kind of person I am,” said Stamer, “I’ve been a Lions Club member for over 30 years and I’m really proud of that. Our motto is ‘we serve’, and I believe that also means what we do in life. We serve our constituents when we’re at the political level, and we serve our residents, our families and our friends at a personal level when doing something in a service organization. It’s pretty important to do that, and it is really important now more than ever to have a representative in government who is experienced.”
Stamer says he has always wanted to take another step in politics but the time never seemed to be right.
“When I got out of high school I started working for my dad, then became a junior partner which was pretty much a 24/7 job, making it pretty difficult in most of those years to do anything on the side other than being a member of the Lions Club.”
As the business evolved he found more time to get involved at the political level. Finding extra time to attend meetings, and meet people representing other communities.
“Now I have the time to be able to do that, and to do it at the level that is necessary to be effective and I really enjoy that.”
Stamer served as chair of the Barriere Improvement District, served on the Barriere Fire Department Board, and he was elected to the District of Barriere’s first council after incorporation in 2007. In 2016 the provincial Liberals approached him to put his name forward for the Kamloops – North Thompson riding, but says the time just wasn’t right.
“We had just sold our logging business and I really didn’t know what I was going to do, or what I wanted to do,” said Stamer, “Quite frankly, at the time my heart wasn’t in it, and I think I just wasn’t ready for it. But now I have more flexibility in my work schedule, and more time do other things.”
In 2018 he was elected mayor of Barriere.
“I feel very fortunate to be the mayor of Barriere. I have really enjoyed it. At the TNRD level I get the opportunity to work with all the municipalities of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) at the same table. The TNRD is inter-regional representation, you’ve got representation in Clearwater, you have representation in Sun Peaks, and in Kamloops. You speak for everyone, not just Kamloops.
“I fully enjoy participating at that level with all of the other communities within our riding, but at the same time I also want to do more. Now it’s a natural fit to be able to move to the next step and the federal government level so I can coordinate the bringing of services to our communities and people directly.”
Why federal Conservative?
“My political beliefs have always been center to right, not as far right as some people would think, but some things maybe, some things not, I’m certainly not left.
“As a business owner I think that we need flexibility on how people do things in their business, but at the same time, referring back to the Lions Club, there are people in our community that need our help, and that’s what governments are for.
“I want to encourage investment and encourage economic growth while at the same time be looking out for the less fortunate. I think the Conservatives have that balance in their platform.”
Why should people vote for him?
“Well, I have the experience, the focus and the energy, and I’m still a fairly young guy. But as a business owner, and a councillor, and now a mayor, I understand not only the day to day challenges of modern day governments, but the long term planning that is necessary in achieving our goals.
“My focus is to insure that we have strong fiscal policy and transparency – that’s very important – the transparency part. We seem to be lacking that lately with the federal Liberal government.
“We have some huge economic growth throughout the region, forestry and agriculture are still our main economic drivers. But we also have a lot of federal provincial government agencies in Kamloops. We have TRU (Thompson Rivers University) which is a huge win for us. That’s not just about the advanced degrees, but also on their education and skills training. Our building and trades community is growing in leaps and bounds.
“Royal Inland Hospital competing phase two with surgical, maternal, mental health, ambulance, heli pads for the whole region. Plus long term planning with our tourism and hospitality sector which has been especially hard during COVID-19. We need a collective strategy to encourage, co-ordinate and deliver when restrictions are lifted in late spring and early summer so we can get those people back to work.”
Stamer says First Nations are also important to him.
“We have a number of First Nations communities within our riding. I believe it is important to be involved in the consultation process, talk about reconciliation, and more than ever continue to build on our relationships.”
Stamer says as mayor of Barriere, he has strong connections with Simpcw First Nation Chief Loring and band council. He is looking forward to meeting and working other First Nations in the riding, understanding their concerns and challenges, and working towards solutions and working agreements.
“I believe that I have the experience and I have the ability to do that.”
What is your next step now that you have announced you will be running for the Conservative candidate?
“Right now I’m going through the nomination process which could take a couple of weeks. In the meantime we’re building a team, setting up a Facebook page, and email address. We are encouraging support, and enlisting volunteers. Because of COVID-19, pretty much everything we do will have to be online. Unfortunately, we can’t do a lot of door knocking, but I will be travelling to the other communities to see certain people who are tied to the team – 100 Mile, Clearwater, Sun Peaks, Kamloops. For the most part though everything will be done online, the forms are online, and the election will be online. We’ll also be encouraging membership and asking people to join our team.
“In the meantime the importance is in getting our message out to the members of the entire riding, because ultimately they will be the ones who will decide who their candidate will be for the Conservative Party.”
Any comments on how the current federal government has handled decisions made during the pandemic?
“I find it really disappointing when we are ranked 42nd in the world for rolling out vaccines. We’re a G7 country and we’re 42nd. That is going to cost us not only in time, but it’s going to cost us in jobs, cost us in the economy, and it could cost us for some of our long term stability because of how long it’s going to take to get everyone vaccinated. Hopefully the Conservative Party can do something about that, and maybe the next time around we can start making our own vaccines instead of having to rely on somebody else.
“I think people are going to be quite shocked when they realize how much money the federal government has thrown in the wind these last 12 months – it’s shocking. We need a majority Conservative government to get this right. Now more than ever it is important to have a representative in government who is experienced, connected with the region, and has the best interests first and foremost for all the residents of the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.”