BC Conservative leader gauges northwestern BC support
BC CONSERVATIVE leader John Cummins toured the northwest last week to spread his party's message and to gauge interest in running northwest candidates in the May 2013 provincial election.
Cummins wouldn't say exactly when nominations will open for the three northwestern ridings of North Coast, Skeena and Stikine but anticipates it will take place early in the new year.
“We're hoping to have a good contest,” he said.
Cummins visited Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert over the course of four days, Dec. 3-6.
He said he now has a greater appreciation of local and regional issues.
“One is the transportation network. You look at road maintenance and you wonder whether more money shouldn't be spent to ensure the roads are in a safe condition,” said Cummins in singling out Hwy37 between Terrace and Kitimat.
“When I drove down there I was not impressed,” he said. “We need safe transportation, and I think that needs to be a priority."
“The other thing I find interesting ... is the whole notion of these fly in camps,” Cummins continued of the growing number being set up as more industrial projects get underway in the region.
He noted that camp-bound workers aren't really contributing to local communities.
“But if something happens to [a worker] when he's in that camp, he's going to use a hospital,” said Cummins, saying he supports the idea of financial support from the province funneling back to services and infrastructure near industrial activity.
“[Communities] do need that support from the provincial government to make sure that these communities are able to provide the kind of amenities that people want and of course that includes health care facilities as well.”
“I'd like to see policies and programs developed that would cause our northern communities to grow and expand and so that the workforce for local projects could be found within the communities.”
And on the issue of local jobs, training is key, said Cummins, who visited Northwest Community College during his trip here.
“Any of these trades training you have to have the appropriate equipment and I think that we need to work at making sure that that happens,” he said.
One thing to look at is spreading training across different facilities, he said.
“I don't think we can afford duplication,” said Cummins. “I think that what we need to do here in the north is to look at that sharing and maybe one college is going to be the college where the plumbers go, and the other is the college where the electricians go, and so on.
“If they continue to work together the way they have been we should look at upgrading those sorts of facilities.”
He made a few stops in Terrace, ending his trip with a luncheon organized by Mike Brousseau who ran for the BC Conservative party in the May 2009 provincial election.
Based on conversations Brousseau says he's had with friends, family and local business leaders, he thinks enough support is here to warrant running again.
“I don't just want to be an option.” said Brousseau. “I want to be a viable option that will actually accomplish something.”
Thirty-five people attended the Dec. 6 luncheon.