Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Five for Skeena-Bulkley Valley

With the Federal election now safely into the second week, the various federal parties have secured the nominations of the candidates for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley and are ready to turn them loose on a waiting public.

While the Daily news featured a few early introductions last week for Hondo Arendt of the Green party, Sharon Smith of the Conservatives and Nathan Cullen for the NDP, they began what appears to be their larger profiles on Monday with resume reviews of sort, for the Liberal’s Corinna Morhart and the Christian Heritage Party’s Rod Taylor.

And in honour of recycling we guess, we also gained another look at the candidacy of Mr. Arendt, providing some more details on the Green agenda for the North Coast.

The trio of political updates appeared in Monday’s edition of the Daily News. The question for North Coast voters is are they in your five?

Morhart leads the Liberals' charge
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, September 15, 2008
Pages one and five

With speculation mounting in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding, the Liberals now named the candidate who will represent the party locally.

Social Worker and Prince Rupert resident Corrina Morhart is on the slate having announced her candidacy this week for the local riding.

"I was born and raised in this riding and I plan on staying in this riding," said Morhart on Friday.
Morhart also sits on the Northern Health advisory board and said that health care issues, for her, were going to be key in her campaign.

"I've seen a lot of health care issues that I would like to raise that are important right across the whole riding," she said.

Morhart was born and raised in Terrace but moved to Prince Rupert to complete her social work training and since then has made a home here.

Her mother, Gerry Rhyason (nee Edgar) is originally from Rupert and Morhart has strong ties with her First Nation heritage, which is Tsimshian from Lax Kw'alaams.

Because her family roots have been planted for 5,000 years in the area, Morhart believes she can deliver a stronger message the local public would like to have Ottawa hear. She said she was tired of having coastal communities clumped as one mold when there are major differences between east and west.

"The West Coast is different than the East Coast because you can't put us all together. The Maritimes are not the Pacific," said Morhart.

Another issue for Morhart is economic development. She said she would like the power brokers in Ottawa to understand that the riding has been hurt by some economic decline.

She said even though the port of Prince Rupert is growing, Ottawa still needs to understand that the job isn't done.

"We've lost some industries and I would like to see that noted," said Morhart.

"I think there has got to be a lot more from Ottawa for businesses and individuals in this riding and opportunities should be available, too."

"Because we are the gateway to the Asian Pacific Market I think everyone along the corridor could benefit," said Morhart.

"We have many resources leaving this riding and I think it is time we have a voice from (Prince Rupert)," she added.

While incumbent NDP MP Nathan Cullen has been re-elected, Morhart is confident about her chances and about those of the Liberals in general. She said the leadership of Liberal boss Stephan Dion is a big reason for her confidence.

"I think he is awesome. When he ran for party leadership our party selected him for a reason."
Come Oct. 14, Morhart hopes Ruperites will find out that reason.

Veteran candidate Rod Taylor is set to run again
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, September 15, 2008
Page three

Rod Taylor is ready to run again in the upcoming federal election.

The Christian Heritage Party has announced that Taylor will represent the party in the political sprint for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding's finish line.

Taylor filed his candidacy on Friday and said he is looking forward to the election.

"There is a lot of periods of time when we don't get to put our message out and this is a time when the window opens up a little bit and some of the things we think are important for Canadians to be thinking about and taking action can come to the top of the discussion. It's a good time to be talking to people about issues," said Taylor.

Taylor said there were two issues he will push hard on this election: First Nations reconciliation and family values.

Taylor said that his party is the only pro-life party and that he will be fighting for families this election because the party has strong anti-abortion views and is calling for a Royal Commission to study the issue of families. He has written several letters to the Daily News in the past about the need to pass a law to protect the legal rights of unborn children.

"We believe in the traditional family values, strengthening the family so that young people growing up can handle the challenges that life throws at them."

Taylor added that the economy was also at the top on the CHP agenda.

"It's always important for people to provide for their families and being always able to maintain that family life and put bread on the table," said Taylor.

He said that he would push for a $1,000 per-month family tax credit.

Taylor added that it was high time that the federal government took responsibility for the mess that Canada has made of Aboriginal affairs.

"There are so many First Nations that have been waiting and working towards a resolution of issues surrounding land and surrounding treaty rights. One of my concerns is that Canada takes a step forward and deals with the actions of the past and recognizes traditional governance of First Nations before European contact."

He said a big issue was the unfair advantage the four major parties receive going into elections.

"About $30 million dollars a year goes to the bigger federal parties from the taxpayer. It's definitely a significant issue. We think it's wrong to take the taxpayer dollar and use it for political purposes," said Taylor, who warned voters not to vote strategically but with their heart and with their conscience.

"We think that if you vote for the party that represents your views then it's not a wasted vote," said Taylor "Splitting the vote is part of the democratic process."

Hondo Arendt gets Green machine on election trail
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, September 15, 2008
Page three

The grass still grows for the Green Party in Skeena-Bulkley Valley. The question remains can voters see it?

That's a particular question 43-year-old MP candidate Hondo Arendt is trying to solve. After finishing third in the last North Coast provincial elections, with a modest 6 per cent of the vote, he faces yet another uphill battle against well-funded, well-tutored foes.

But Arendt doesn't think his competitors are ignoring his party any longer. In fact, he thinks, it might be more sinister then that.

"The major parties definitely try to marginalize us because they know if they are not getting the votes, some will come to us," said Arendt.

He was speaking about decisions in the past that have prevented his party from getting greater exposure in elections due to federal policies and rules that he said have stood in his party's way.
One was fixed this week when Green Party leader Elizabeth May was finally allowed into the October leaders debate in Ottawa.

Another facet of suppression that Arendt said had been overcome were the funding rules the four major parties (Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecoise) installed in 2003. Canadian federal political parties are given $2 for every vote they garner and the major parties wanted to make it a rule that a party must achieve 2 per cent of the vote to receive the grant.

However, after an appeal led by the Green Party, Marijuana Party and the Christian Heritage Party, the Supreme Court of Canada abolished the proposal in 2006 having ruled it went against the Canadian Charter of Rights.

"They've tried to do whatever they can do to marginalize us, try to keep us out of the debates, to tell everyone (the Green Party) is not going to win," said Arendt.

But now the field has been leveled somewhat for the Green Party, it isn't just about getting noticed now. Arendt said it's also about effecting real change.

Arendt wants there to be a focus on sustainable economic planning for the riding and he points to Prince Rupert as prime example of a community that has not got the message yet of how to do that.

"In the 2001 census, Prince Rupert was the fastest population-dropping city in Canada. In 2006, we did it again. That's a direct result of the attitude of the frontier lands of Canada," said Arendt.
His concern is the idea that there is a mentality that to make a buck in this town you have to extract resources for a company whose headquarters could be in Montreal or Toronto. He'd like to see that change.

"We have to get past the idea that short-term is what we want to think about - that we can spend or consume your way out of economic turndown. These are obviously broader concepts that are not just specific to Prince Rupert but I think places like Prince Rupert are really hit by (resource-focused) thinking like that," said Arendt.

One of the things Arendt said his party would like to see is more local production and consumption.

An example is the work he is doing in his own backyard - literally. Arendt was in the middle of re-shingling his backyard shed when Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election.

He wonders why the shingles he needs to buy can't be purchased from a local manufacturer.
"It makes no sense to cut down a tree in our region, truck that tree to Stewart, have it transported across the ocean, cut up into pieces in an Indonesian saw mill, then transported back across the ocean and sold to me to put a shingle on my roof," said Arendt.

His economic comments are also meant to show that his party is no longer a one-trick pony, that it can convince the riding that the Greens have other ideas outside of the environment.
Heck, Arendt promises he won't even bring up the environment in any of the debates as he claimed "everyone knows where we stand on that anyways."

He says that legalizing Marijuana, questioning military spending and a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and food safety are also big issues that his party would address if elected.
But if elected how will he be personally affected?

Arendt, who is a political science teacher at Northwest Community College, and his wife Katie, 39, on Friday hosted a small campaign kick-off party at his typically Rupert home. It's a life he's grown accustomed to.

If he was elected, he recognized that his quaint Rupert life would change.

Arendt has three daughters ranging from the eldest, Dianna a 19-year-old university student, to Madelaine Shade, a six-year-old elementary school student. Sandwiched in between is Ember, his 10 year-old.

"I think my family is top priority if you ask me. If you ask me who would you rather be - a dad or a prime minister? - I'd pick being a dad in a second. And quite often the Green Party falls back on that kind of thing. Sometimes, we think: "I am so tired why I am doing this, we're probably not going to win the election anyways" and I think ..."

For the luck of it all, before Arendt can finish that sentence his daughter interrupted to announce that nine Green people had arrived to his house for dinner.

"It sounds corny, and I think about why am I doing this and I think to myself do I want this sort of world for my kids? One of the most basic sort of things is my daughter will sort of say some things like why don't people vote Green? Don't they like arctic foxes? Really simple things like that I can't justify saying: "aw, forget it"."

Although winning an election is the ultimate goal, Arendt realizes the likeliest scenario this time around is growing the party presence in Skeena-Bulkley Valley. If the party can get a bigger piece of the electoral pie then that might be a victory of sorts.

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