Monday, October 19, 2020

BC Liberal candidate's Virtual Open House explores rural and urban themes

BC Liberal candidate Roy Jones Junior hosted two online
virtual Open Houses on Sunday

This past weekend offered those voters who have still to make up their minds in this 2020 Provincial election, an opportunity to review the campaign themes for BC Liberal candidate Roy Jones Junior, with the candidate hosting two virtual Open Houses through Facebook.

The online open house, for the most part serving as the 'new normal' of electioneering in times of COVID, and for Mr. Jones he split his campaign live streams into two segments.

Over the course of the afternoon, the candidate touched on the two issues which dominated the weekend; that of some comments about him from Stikine NDP candidate Nathan Cullen, as well as the return of the SunWave pulp mill days to the local campaign.

However those elements took up just a small portion of the two hours, with the candidate covering a lot of campaign territory through the afternoon of conversation.

The first a 1 PM session which for the most part focused on issues and themes of note for those living outside of the urban area of Prince Rupert/Port Edward,  with health care, housing, resources and tourism some of the topics that made for much of the sixty minutes.

Economic viability for the fishery and the communities that depend on the industry was a key topic for the first hour, with Mr. Jones noting of the challenges that those who fish are having these days.

"I talk to many fishermen throughout the riding here that come to Prince Rupert and they talk about not being able to afford to keep the upkeep on their boats and not getting the fishing time in to even be bread winners for their families and this is a real serious problem. We know what the problem is and it's controversial for the simple reason that you know people are making decisions for us in places like Ontario and other metropolitan areas in the world of how we should fish ... and it's mainly protecting one or two species over another and that's what's impacted on our coastal communities."

Mr. Jones looked towards how governments should approach the post COVID period, observing as how the current programs are coming to a conclusion and some remedies for the ongoing challenges will be required.

Housing made for another area where the Liberal candidate took note of the housing problems and some of the social concerns of the riding particularly in the Prince Rupert area, among his main themes was to restore dignity for residents in the communities and how in his opinion the current homeless shelter programs aren't working.

"The housing situation in Prince Rupert is really important that we get that back open again and then we have to get this housing so people can restore their dignity, if their street people they need a place to live, theses shelters are  not working ... How do we change these things, these things are changed by having somebody in government that's going to really fight for the North Coast and not be silent. This is what I said to Andrew Wilkinson in our meeting, you're on notice too, you know everybody in that room will be on notice including John Horgan. It doesn't matter who is on the top people are going to start paying attention the North Coast"

He also tackled the issue of fishing resorts, speaking to some of his experiences as part of the Board for West Coast Fishing Resorts, noting of the employment that industry provides for and what may face the sector in years to come.

"I got to learn a lot about the resorts and how they work. We're going to have to really work to find out how we can find common ground and ensure that the employment opportunities are there and work hard with our communities"

He noted how the COVID situation impacted on those communities making for suspicions and challenges on Haida Gwaii through this past summer.

On the topic of representation and communication for constituents, the Liberal candidate observed how if elected he would be accountable to those who live in the riding and represent all that live in the region.

The second session came at 3  PM and it largely remained focused on themes of note to residents in the larger urban centre, among them environmental protection, health care and making sure that the North Coast has a voice in the Legislature among the dominant topics for the sixty minutes.

Mr. Jones was most effective on the health care themes, raising a number of concerns he has heard from residents and including some of his own personal family experiences that brought those topics some immediacy and intimacy it seemed.

High on his health care list is to ensure that patients that have to leave the North Coast or Haida Gwaii for medical care, are provided for a way to come back to their home community.
The candidate recounted a local incident from recent months and observed that the need to ensure for a return to home communities  is something which he says is a must for this area.

"I will promise you that anybody sent out for medical; no matter what the cause is. The BC Liberal Government will be responsible to ensure that person gets home, even if they have to medevac them back home. There is nothing more disturbing when you see that and  it's happened time and time and time again"

Mr. Jones also called attention to how Northern Health sends patients to hospitals far from their home community which adds an additional burden on the families that want to support them.

He offered up his support to the region's nurses, noting of the tough work that they face throughout the year and not just in times of COVID, observing how he receives some first hand accounts of some of those challenges from his daughter who is a nurse on Haida Gwaii.

"How can we help the nurses? Their job is to service and help people is very challenging and during this pandemic too, to go into a hospital anybody who enters a hospital where the pandemic is alive and well is putting their lives at risk and they have to go home to their families later ...  The other thing that our nurses are faced with , with or without the pandemic, is Security and Safety ... these things all need to be looked after because their work place is a dangerous place when our people are having a lot of trouble"

Mr. Jones also raised the issue of how we are coping with COVID at this time, as well as to the issue of how we care for our elders and seniors.  

On that theme he shared how he had to say goodbye to his own dying father in hospital from a parking lot, unable to visit him at the time and unable to have a funeral for him in the period following due to the COVID protocols in place. 

A story which no doubt resonates strongly with many across the North Coast, Haida Gwaii and Central Coast who have had similar burdens in the last nine months.

"I talk about my Dad a little bit. You know, he didn't want to die alone so he spent his last days in the hospital and COVID came along, and we weren't allowed to visit him in the hospital. We would stand outside in the parking lot and get our waves in ... that was tough you know, and someplace along the line we're going to have to sort out that issue alone. Our elders are lonely, they're not sick they're just ... they're giving up after awhile and how do we keep that dialogue going. Look the modern technology we've got here I'm able to communicate with you anywhere in the world with modern technology, but it doesn't replace the hug"

You can explore the full range of his comments and the currents from the two presentations below:

With the limitations that COVID has brought much of the campaign seems to be that of a social media affair, with the three candidates using their Facebook feeds and other options to try to get their messages across.

You can catch up on what they believe are the key themes for their campaign below:

For more notes related to the 2020 northwest campaign see our archive page.

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