What sets you apart as a candidate?
I think what sets me apart as a candidate is my background as an academic and environmental consultant and the life experiences that has given me.
I taught at UBC for 15 years, and was a museum curator there as well.
I have written several books on the natural history of British Columbia, and have used that knowledge to serve my province on the B.C. Environmental Appeals Board and the B.C. Forest Appeals Commission.
Locally, I also co-founded the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance and the Meadowlark Nature Festival.
I have learned how to bring practical change to protect B.C.’s environment through my conservation work, and I have also learned what it takes to navigate the political process and the impact, good and bad, that government has on people’s lives.
But I’m not a career politician, at heart I am a scientist who wants to use my knowledge and experience to give back to my community; to examine the evidence and find the solutions to the problems we face as a province.
What would you do to strengthen the economy in this riding?
I believe there are two practical steps we can take to improve our local economy: expand Penticton Regional Hospital, and support our agricultural sector.
PRH is in dire need of an upgrade, and Adrian Dix also understands the health care needs we face and agrees that the hospital expansion must and will be built.
But in addition to improving health outcomes this project will bring a much needed boost to our local construction industry, giving us ever more reason to fight for health care spending to be based on need not partisan politics, and stop the political games that have delayed this and many other infrastructure projects.
Agriculture is also an important part of our local economy, and New Democrats will encourage hospital purchasing of locally grown food to support local farmers and orchardists, expand funding for replant programs to allow orchardists to plant higher-value crops and increase their competitiveness, and undertake a comprehensive review to modernize B.C.’s archaic liquor laws to support local wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
What would you do to encourage job creation?
The lack of jobs in B.C. is slowly becoming a crisis. While we have seen many flashy ads for Christy Clark’s B.C. Jobs Plan the sad reality is that since the plan went into effect our province has lost 34,000 jobs.
But the problem is not just that people do not have jobs, it is also that there are many jobs out there that cannot be filled because there are not enough workers with the skills needed to do those jobs.
There is a growing skills shortage in B.C. and many local businesses are suffering because we have not invested enough money in skills training and post-secondary education. The B.C. Liberals have ignored this crisis and cut funding to post-secondary education.
The B.C. NDP will actually address this problem by creating a $100 million needs-based grant program to reduce the cost of higher education, increasing apprenticeship spaces, and improving processes to assess and recognize the foreign credentials of immigrants. Job growth is going to come from investing in skills training, and in the people of British Columbia.
If you are elected but your party does not form the next government, how will you ensure the needs of the riding are addressed?
I will fight for the interests of this riding in the legislature and make sure that whichever party forms government does not take the voters of this area for granted like they have been for the last several years.
I will have an open-door policy to meet and listen to all concerned citizens, and will take those concerns to the B.C. NDP caucus and to the legislature.
I was born and raised in this valley, and so were my parents, and while I have travelled extensively this place has always been home for me. I will not be discouraged from continuing to stand up for my home, and working to bring change for the better to this riding and this province.