Three political candidates are running for the position of North Coast MLA, in the Oct. 24 provincial elections as listed on the Elections BC website on Oct. 3.
The final list of political pundits names Jennifer Rice Incumbent as the representative for the BC NDP, Roy Jones Jr. as the BC Liberal candidate, and Jody Craven for the BC Libertarian Party.
In a ‘getting to you know session’ Jennifer Rice and Roy Jones Jr. sat down with The Northern View, in separate interviews, to answer questions that will be covered in the print editions leading up to the election day. Topics included candidate backgrounds, education, health care, housing, economy, infrastructure, childcare and reconciliation.
Libertarian candidate Jody Craven has not responded to requests for comment.
Why did you choose to run in this election?
“I’m excited to run as a candidate in this election because I really want to carry on the good work we’ve done under John Horgan’s leadership. We have had an ambitious plan and we have been able to deliver on the vast majority of that plan, Rice said. “Now that we are in a new phase of COVID-19 we need to continue on and have some stability in government. We need to know that the plan we have is aligned with the people.”
Roy Jones Jr.
I’ve been quite discouraged about the way things are going in the north here. I’ve got my pulse on the economy around here. I’ve been invited to join the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. Through that, we have done a lot of environmental (work) and that is something that comes first, then people second and then industry — when we are looking at that human resources everything is really important.”
I’m a Prince Rupert boy. My dad was a fisherman … he fished every summer in Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert has been a home for me — born and raised here in the region.
Tell me about yourself as a person, not as a political candidate:
“It’s difficult to not separate me as a political candidate because I have been then MLA for seven and a half years. Prior to that, I was a city councillor, so politics is who I am. That stems from a background of advocacy. I have always advocated for people and that easily morphed into becoming a political activist. In doing advocacy in the community I worked for environmental non-profits before being elected in 2013 — even being elected as councillor prior to that. The evolution comes from our connection to place, here. I don’t want to be an MLA for anywhere else but here and that’s because of not just the people but the places here — our geography, out fresh air, our vibrant marine eco-system, the temporal coastal rain forest. those are all interconnected with the people. We are such a resilient bunch up north.
“I grew up in Ottawa. I was born and raised there with a brother. For post-secondary school, I went to school here in Prince Rupert. I went to Coast Mountain College. I came out here to complete a coastal ecology program that was offered … the program was 50 per cent university and 50 per cent technical college courses. They had oceanography courses that were available.
“I came out to check out this place called Prince Rupert … that was over 20 years ago. I bought my first house out here. I’ve had a lot of firsts out here.”
Roy Jones Jr.
“My parents made a hammock for me as a little baby in the boat. When it was rocking I was asleep, but when it was still I was crying.”
“Prince Rupert has been a home for me — born and raised here in the region. My wife, (Bonita Jones) grew up in Port Ed. and Prince Rupert as well, so we have family here. We’ve been married 47 years … My parents were married for 71 years.
“I currently live in Haida Gwaii … I’ve always had my home in Haida Gwaii, but have lived and worked in other places and rented homes there like in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert. I have travelled a lot. I’ve been to six countries in Europe. I’ll never forget those trips they are so powerful.
“I have three daughters … one is a nurse, one is in the process of purchasing a pharmaceutical business and the other is an artist in Vancouver.
“I was adopted from a family of 10. I was seven of 10. My aunt and uncle adopted me right from the hospital. We are all Haida and my siblings live on Haida Gwaii.”
What experience can you offer constituents if you are elected?
I can certainly offer them seven years of recent provincial government experience. Three and a half of those years have been as the government MLA. We have fulfilled the vast majority of our platform commitments from 2017. I think we have also demonstrated tremendous leadership guided by people like Adrian Dix, Premier Horgan and the renowned Dr. Bonnie Henry. I think provincially we have shown that we are a very good choice for leading us out of a global pandemic. We have been looked to as a leading jurisdiction in North America. People have looked to us for advice on how we have managed this pandemic. I think that recent experience is really important for constituents on the north coast to have continuity of a government that has their best interests in mind and is looking out for their health and well being.
Roy Jones Jr.
I’m a North Coast boy. Through the fishing industry and the Native Brotherhood of British Columbia — I was 23 years on the executive, I have seen the changes on our coast. All too often I have seen the government overlooking opportunities that basically our coastal First Nations and coastal communities can take on. The death of the fishing industry has been tragic to our communities.
“Thirty-nine years ago I was down in South Moresby in 1981, we saw the seals killing the fish in the mouth of the river. My uncle stood up and said if something wasn’t done we wouldn’t be fishing in 20 years. He was right … With the death of the fishing industry, we are seeing mass poverty and struggle in our communities. Outside of Prince Rupert, the North Coast riding has only one community that you can get to by road and that’s Bella Coola. All the other communities are by ferry — Haida Gwaii, Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Hartley Bay, Bella Bella, Rivers Inlet. It’s a very challenging riding to be running in, but at the same time, I can bring the whole community riding to the legislature. And the history of it — the wealth that disappeared out of pure bad management of the government.
“It is easy to blame global warming and stuff like that. But, we never looked after the source of the salmon industry. That’s where we failed because rivers and streams were being wiped out. This harbour used to be full of boats in the summer. That’s all gone now. We were fishers and loggers and now we are having to diversify. We have to start working to bring that back … We can no longer be managed by the metropolitan world. We live by nature.
“When I talked to Andrew Wilkinson the other day I said ‘nothing is off the table with me. I want you to understand that. When I am in the legislature I am representing the people of the North Coast and if the party doesn’t like what I’m saying, fine, they are going to hear it from me anyway. The gloves are off.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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