It was a rainy Saturday morning in Clearwater, but that didn’t stop two Kamloops-North Thompson candidates from heading down to the farmer’s market to mingle with the locals.
BC Conservative candidate Dennis Giesbrecht and BC NDP candidate Sadie Hunter made the trip up Highway 5 to an area they both have connections to, whether it be camping and other outdoor activities or while playing hockey as a youth.
“It’s a great opporunity to be outside and have conversations and interact with people in a way that’s safe,” said Hunter. “I just really want to give people the opportunity to get to know me and put a voice to the name and to the face.”
Setting up a meet-and-greet at the market is one way the candidates can get exposure in the community, while also hearing concerns from the people and let the community know what they stand for and advocate for.
Giesbrecht said his main focus is resources. His background is in oil and gas and his message is that resource-based industries aren’t all bad.
“They bring a lot of good to communities and a lot of good jobs,” he told The Times. “They support families and we need to get the positive message out.”
Giesbrecht has been with the BC Conservatives for a few years and said, “If not now, when?” when asked why he is running in this election. He’s one of just 19 candidates for the party.
“It’s a riding that’s close to my heart,” he said. “I grew up around here, so, no better time than today.”
In giving her reason for running in this years’ snap election, Hunter said “it’s time for a different voice and a different perspective.”
She added her lived experience of living in low-income housing and raising her son on her own while going to university gives her knowlege of what it’s like to adjust. Graduating in 2007 just before the recession, she said, came with similar challenges that we’re seeing today.
“I do understand some of those fears because I’ve lived them, in terms of ‘How am I going to pay my bills? What am I going to do next, do I need to re-train?’” said Hunter. “I think I can speak to a lot of those issues with perspective and experience.”
As far as what the candidates are advocating for, there’s a lot to choose from right now, from economic recovery and boosting resource industries, to providing financial security and child care, while also tackling the opioid epidemic. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these issues.
For Geisbrecht, he reiterated that a positive outlook on resource-based economies and industries are important as they support the community locally. In addition, for Clearwater and the region, high-speed internet is a must.
“A lot of people have realized since the pandemic hit that you can actually work from home,” he said. “If we can get the internet system up to a standard where people can do that effectively I think we’ll see even more growth in the region.”
Hunter, however, said economic recovery, including jobs, daycare and child care costs, education costs and healthcare for seniors are three higher level issues that she considers important.
The pandemic has effected people from all walks of life and has highlighted where society could improve.
But, she added, we also live in a time where we have a climate crisis and a public health emergency with the opioid epidemic.
“There’s a lot of conflating issues,” said Hunter.