A springtime election is coming up in May and so far three candidates have stepped up to try and garner enough votes to become the Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA.
NDP candidate Norm Macdonald, BC Liberals candidate Doug Clovechok and BC Conservatives candidate Earl Olsen are all preparing for a busy month leading up to the May vote.
Macdonald is the two-term MLA for the area, but sees a difference in this year’s election.
“It is about personal contact. I think in 2005 and 2009 the people here knew they were electing an opposition member. I think what is different about this campaign is that there will likely be a change in government,” Macdonald said.
He added that running a campaign with the aim of forming the government means that the platform laid out by the NDP has to be very clear about what the future plans will be.
“We have spent the last two years laying out a platform where we can make improvement in people’s lives. We have to be very clear that it fits within a constrained fiscal framework,” he said.
Clovechok said that the last two years have been a great experience for him and he is looking forward to the campaign.
“I have been working towards this goal for the last two years. To be this close to the finish line is very exciting,” Clovechok said. “I am humbled by the level of support I have received from the people during this campaign.”
The economy has been on the mind of many of the people who have been meeting with the Liberal candidate.
“What I am hearing from people is that their major focus is to maintain a strong economy. Through a strong economy you end up with a secure future,” he said. “Here in Columbia River-Revelstoke we are seeing businesses close down and we have to start attracting investors here.”
Olsen explained people in British Columbia need to see there is another option open to them.
“We need to have the opportunity to present an alternative to the people in the riding. My involvement started with a belief that we should change what we are doing while we still can change what we are doing,” he said. “I think it is critical. There is very little difference between the other two parties in terms of their financial models, governments policies and the structure under which they would govern us for the next four years.”
Macdonald said the BC Liberals have been making promises about the budget and deficit that just do not add up in the real world.
“I think that people understand where we are going to be starting from,” he said. “Any new spending we have, that the NDP is proposing, has to be explained. So the first thing we have done is, where will any additional revenue come from? It will come from a move from 11 per cent to 12 per cent in the corporate tax rate. There will be a reinstatement of the capital tax on financial institutions which is the bank tax. There will also be a move from 16.5 per cent to 19 per cent on any money an individual earns over $150,000.”
Clovechok said this type of taxation system will not help B.C. move forward.
“The NDP are the NDP. Our party focuses on a strong economy with a secure tomorrow. I think the main difference between us and the NDP is that their tax regime is going to hurt the province. They are going to raise taxes and they do have a hidden agenda provincially. We are the yes party. We want to bolster the economy. We want investors to come into our province. We want to keep taxes low. We want to create jobs. We want people to have a secure focus for their families for their futures,” he said. “The NDP are going tax this and tax that but no one knows how they are going to pay for it.”
Clovechok added that in his opinion the BC Liberals have a balanced budget and that this was important for people to know.
Olsen said that the deficit has grown over the past 20 years under both of the other parties’ plans.
“We need to have less taxation, not more. We need to have better and less government, not more. Less regulations and better regulations,” he said. “It is very scary when you look at the economy out here. Virtually everything throughout the valley is for sale — house after house, property after property. The ‘for sale’ signs are leaning because they are not selling. We as a party represent change. We can bring to this equation new ideas, far more sound fiscal management and hopefully create a business growable economy.”
In the end Macdonald said, “You have to look after children. There will be investments there. You have to look after seniors. There will be investments there. You have to look after the land. You have to get the basics right and look after poverty.”
Meanwhile Clovechok stressed how important this election is for the future of the province.
“This is one of the most important elections in the history of British Columbia. People ask me if it is a right or left wing approach. I say that is not true. The message I would give to people is that we are at a very important juncture. This is about moving forward or moving backwards. If people choose to want to move forward and get this province to where it could be, then that is the BC Liberals. If they want to move backwards and have higher taxes and more government then they have a choice,” he said. “If they close to hire me then they are going to get a way different MLA than they have right now. I tend to be more hands on in working with the communities and people and actually being able to demonstrate some measurable results.”
Olsen said that when he talks to younger people with families in the area, they are leaving because they can not make a living in the area.
“We have to find the things that bring people here. We need to find the things that grow the economy,” he said.
He added that the condition of the Trans Canada Highway is something that must change to help the area.
“That road is a lifeline across the country…It is absolutely pathetic. That road should be a four-lane highway (with a seperation in the middle) or at least a four-way road. To have a two lane road in that condition is pathetic.” he said. “I am running because I believe B.C. has to change. I believe in what we have here. I believe in the people, resource economies and all of the synergies we need to make this the leader it should be,” he said. “If we don’t change we will stay in the same static mud hole we have been in.”