Serving my community is much more to me more than a one-time commitment. It’s a lifetime of commitments, as the time and effort involved in serving my community is truly a privilege.
These days, as a new grandfather I have even more motivation to ensure the needs of all my constituents are strongly represented in Victoria – for their benefit and the next generation’s benefit.
It’s been an honour during the past 15 years to serve the people of Kelowna, Lake Country, and surrounding districts – first on Kelowna city council and since 2009 as their MLA.
I’m now the Official Opposition Critic for Health, Long-Term Care and Seniors.
I previously served for four years as B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture. When COVID-19 hit, I immediately adopted an approach to fighting the pandemic that stressed cooperation between all political parties. I initiated several virtual town halls with representatives from the education, health and non-profit sectors, plus other vital service areas.
The gatherings answered the public’s questions in a “live” format – providing factual information upon which to base decisions.
I believe in leading by example which is why I volunteer at Kelowna’s Inn from the Cold and The Kelowna Gospel Mission, and why I bought a fourplex for the public’s use as a transition home from addictions. I lead the annual Lake Country Terry Fox Run and the walk up Knox for Health and World Peace. I also support food banks and volunteer as a “baby hugger” in Kelowna General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
What is the most important issue in your riding?
There are too many important issues among voters for me to narrow them down to one, and they’re all important. Some include: addressing the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on people and businesses; expanding access to primary care and elective surgeries; increasing the supply of affordable housing; implementing respectful solutions for all to address homelessness; helping people who live with the most severe, complex substance use and mental health issues; funding a new Rutland Middle School; advocating for a new Glenmore High School and replacement for Glenmore Elementary; creating more child care spaces; fixing the bottleneck on Highway 97 at Glenmore and Beaver Lake roads; finding solutions to allow family members to have in-person visit with seniors residing in LTC, home care and assisted living residences; continuing to increase resources and regulations to defend against invasive mussels; seeking more supports for our important agriculture industry; and many more.
What have you done to benefit your community in the past?
Everything I’ve done has been with the help and partnership of others. Some initiatives I’ve led and others I’ve championed. They include securing a key provincial investment that helped make the Rail Trail a reality; millions of dollars for local water infrastructure; millions more to benefit farmers; funding for the new H.S. Grenda Middle School that will open next September; a new Highway 97 from Winfield to Oyama; expansion of Highway 97 in Kelowna to six lanes with intersection improvements; John Hindle Drive connecting Glenmore to Highway 97 at UBC Okanagan; a new Kelowna General Hospital Centennial Tower, Lab Building, Cardiac Surgical Centre including obstetrics, and a medical school; funding for a new multidisciplinary community health centre in Lake Country to open in 2020-21; funds for a new all-season soccer dome in Rutland; improvements to other parks, trails, and bike paths in Kelowna and Lake Country; funding for new local licensed daycare spaces; millions for the new innovation and high tech centre; several affordable housing projects including Pleasantvale Homes and Apple Valley Homes Phases 1, 2 & 3; and expansions at UBCO and Okanagan College.
What will you do to represent your community in Victoria?
Listen attentively and never give up. Between past elections, either I personally or my staff have knocked on doors throughout the riding to listen to our constituents.
I’ll continue to do that.
I’ll categorize their priorities by subject and by location, and work hard to find the answers or resources to achieve results. I’ll also continue to maintain good working relationships with community leaders to benefit from their wisdom and learn more about their challenges.
Remember the individual:
While helping to build hospitals, schools, roads and other important capital projects is important to me as an MLA, so is the day-to-day pursuit of solutions to constituents’ challenges with WorksafeBC, ICBC, MSP, social assistance and other entities. Indeed, the most memorable feedback I’ve ever received was from a mother who thanked me – insisting that I’d saved her daughter’s life by finding an open door for her when everyone else had closed theirs. That experience is a constant reminder that every person and every community deserves compassion and respect.