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Conservative leader takes direct aim at Skeena-Bulkley Valley in campaign-style visit

Poilievre holds rallies in Terrace and Rupert announcing BC United MLA Ellis Ross as next candidate

Federal opposition leader Pierre Poilievre continued his tireless campaigning ahead of an unscheduled election, holding a “Bring it Home” rally at the Lester Centre in Prince Rupert on Jan. 23.

The Conservative Party leader used the opportunity to showcase Skeena MLA Ellis Ross as the next federal Conservative candidate for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding after the announcement was first made on Jan. 22.

Poilievre said he was delighted to have Ross, a long-time fixture in Northwest politics, as the candidate to take on NDP MP Taylor Bachrach in the next federal election.

“What an incredible victory for us, he is probably the most respected member of the B.C. legislature,” said Poilievre in an interview with The Northern View.

“He is deeply respected, he is known by everyone in the community. He is loved by the Indigenous people for whom he has been fighting for his entire life and he will be a true voice for this community in Ottawa rather than the other way around.”

After two terms as Skeena MLA, Ross was full of pride for his latest move in what has been a long political road for the veteran Northwest politician.

”It’s amazing. It’s always been amazing. I was incredibly honoured to run for council for my village, and honoured to run as Chief [for the Haisla Nation]. And then I was incredibly blessed to run as an MLA and being MLA for two terms,” said Ross, who will continue to serve as Skeena MLA until the next provincial election.

“It’s just hard to believe that a Native from a small community has been given this type of opportunity to represent his village, to represent the region, to represent B.C., and now potentially I’m being asked to represent Canada. It’s overwhelming at times.”

Looking to expand on LNG projects, Poilievre promised to push through more natural resources projects in the Northwest if elected. He said First Nations would benefit from more projects such as LNG Canada, which he thinks could be replicated 20 times.

Poilievre also plans on repealing the federal Impact Assessment Act if elected, which he labelled as “anti-resource,” instead promising to introduce a bill that would streamline natural resource projects.

“These projects are unbelievably promising for First Nations… First Nations will be overwhelming beneficiaries, they will disproportionately benefit, in fact they will benefit more than any other group in the country,” said Poilievre.

“It could totally eliminate poverty in the First Nations communities and make them the most prosperous communities in the whole country, but you need a government that will get out of the way, permit the projects and make it happen.”

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Ross said he feels confident his views align with those of Poilievre, who he believes would be more attentive to the needs of B.C. residents. Ross, who was a key player in the LNG Canada project, is also hopeful to see an increase in natural resource projects in the North.

“Some of the policies that Pierre Poilievre has come up with have aligned with what I have said for 15, 16 years. I do believe in good governance, I do believe in fiscal responsibility. I believe in law and order. I don’t believe in the decriminalization of drugs without a solid plan to treat people that are suffering addictions,” Ross said.

“We actually drove the LNG initiative in Kitimat in 2004. It was First Nations who drove the shift in mining being included, so I’ve seen it happen for so long, but I think now it’s up to Ottawa to actually close the loop on that and understand, you know, B.C. matters as well. The West Coast matters. And that’s what I see with Pierre.”

Poilievre bashed the Liberals for the housing crisis most of Canada is facing, arguing he would eliminate barriers for building, which he said would be accelerated if he were to get into office.

He did not specify how he would fill labour voids in the construction industry, but argued that other wealthy nations with similar demographics build more homes, more cheaply.

“I just don’t understand, because other countries are able to build homes affordably,” he said. “We have to get the bureaucracy out of the way in order to build more homes.”

Selling off federal land for private use is another way Poilievre plans to address the housing crisis, with the Conservative leader promising to get rid of 6,000 federally-owned buildings and thousands of acres of land if elected.

Crime was also on Poilievre’s mind during his tour of the Northwest.

“Jail not bail” was a popular catchphrase he repeated at his rallies in Prince Rupert and Terrace, decrying the decriminalization of personal use drugs in B.C., while also claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would do the same across the country. Poilievre called for more detox and recovery centres for those suffering from addictions.

“He’s decriminalizing crack, heroin and cocaine,” said Poilievre. “As of March, he’s allowing repeat violent offenders who have committed literally hundreds of offences to get out within hours of their arrest on bail.”

Another talking point for Poilievre was firearms, claiming that the Liberal and NDP party would ban all civilian firearms eventually. Supporters at the Jan. 23 Prince Rupert rally held signs reading “Protect Hunters.”

Poilievre, with Ross as his candidate, believes there is a clear path to victory in Skeena-Bulkley Valley — which has consistently been an NDP stronghold — because, he said, there is no other centrist alternative for moderate voters.

“There is no liberal party anymore. What we have is a radical fringe Prime Minister. Justin Trudeau is not a liberal anymore, he’s a hardcore radical,” the Conservative leader said.

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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