Communist Party of British Columbia candidate, Peter Kerek, is vying to be Member of Parliament for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding, noting his leadership skills as one aspect that makes him worthy of the vote.
“I try to lead by example and call out the powers that be, (often) risking my personal safety and economic benefit,” said Kerek, adding he’s lost work in the past due to his criticism of the governing New Democratic Party.
“My employer was a major union in B.C. and I lost my job within a few days; it resulted in a human rights complaint and a resolution, though it was an eyeopener not just for myself, but other union activists that they were not going to be free to speak openly if their criticisms were against the party the labour movement most tied itself closely to.”
Kerek said it takes a certain amount of leadership to speak out against authority while knowing that doing so could result in personal and professional sacrifices.
One of the issues he sees in the riding includes the problems in the forestry sector, which he said is due to shuffling of corporate interests and big businesses putting profits above community interests.
The Communist Party would like to put resources under the democratic control of citizens to stop these types of shutdowns from happening and eliminate the political control corporations have over government, he said,
“The people go to vote and they only have parties to vote for that largely represent the interests of corporations, and are never challenging the authority of these corporations—those people have no choice but to only support that status quo and the diminishment of their own democratic rights in their community,” said Kerek.
“So I run as the Communist Party candidate in opposition to all those status quo power structures.”
When it comes to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Kerek said his party is against the project, noting limited economic benefits and the short amount of time for any benefits the pipeline would provide.
The biggest reason the Communist Party is against the pipeline, however, is the lack of support the project has from many of the Indigenous communities.
Kerek said these projects are also notorious for spills, using pipelines in places like Michigan as an example where even newly built infrastructure can be just as vulnerable to leaks as older pipelines.
“You only have to look at Michigan and other parts of the U.S. where they’ve had terrible spills and massive contamination of the waterways with pipelines that were only a couple years old when the spills happened,” he said.
“I think it’s culturally insensitive for us to say (to Indigenous peoples), ‘Hey, just get with the program, develop your land and if there’s a big spill and we destroy your land, just move on. We all did.’”
In a situation where such a project will inevitably have to happen, Kerek taps into the same philosophy he has for the forestry sector, saying citizens should receive any resulting benefits and there shouldn’t be any profitability for corporations to capitalize on.
In terms of political experience, Kerek has been president of the Kamloops and District Labour Council twice and has been part of the organization for 15 years.
He also ran for Kamloops council in 2014, has extensive experience in labour relations as well as community social services where he worked with people who have special needs.
“I think a lot of my experience comes from being at the front line of working people’s struggles against the power dynamics that exist in our society, especially people becoming victim of corporate decisions and having to readjust their lives and the instability that brings,” said Kerek.