Four contend in Boundary Similkameen

Jobs and the economy among the top issues in riding of outgoing MLA John Slater

Four candidates have stepped forward in the Boundary Similkameen riding for the May 14 provincial election.

The candidates agree there are many issues residents want to hear addressed, but jobs, the economy and environmental issues seem to take priority.

“That’s why I’m excited to be running for the NDP,” said Sam Hancheroff. “With 80 per cent of the new jobs in B.C. requiring post-secondary education, I’m thrilled with our commitment to skills training and education.”

Hancheroff said the NDP is committed to building opportunities for all British Columbians, and that is how they will build a sustainable economy, create good jobs, attract investment and sustain a strong middle class. The candidate has lived in the constituency his whole life, growing up in Grand Forks and working for 33 years as a teacher in Okanagan Falls.

“I’ve also been involved in community politics here for the last 30 years. That’s given me a strong knowledge of the issues facing this area in terms of water, agriculture, education and the local economy,” he said. “I also bring from community politics an ability to work together with people from a variety of backgrounds to build consensus at the local level.”

Running for the Liberals is Linda Larson, who has taken a leave of absence from her position as an Oliver council member. She said jobs and job creation without compromising the environment is an important priority for those living in Boundary Similkameen.

“The Liberal party has a lot of very positive job creation programs and skills programs in place. Creating a stable environment has got to be the most important thing. I don’t want the government to create jobs, I want industry to create jobs, and they aren’t going to do that if they are worried about their taxes constantly. I think the B.C. Liberals have been very upfront … saying we aren’t going to tax you to death, we want you to create jobs.”

Larson said her experience is what she brings to the table for voters. She is a former mayor of Oliver, owned a small business, is a local volunteer and sits on the Community Futures board.

“I have invested not only a lot of time and effort into my community, but also to growing my knowledge of the province as well,” said Larson.

Mischa Popoff is running under the B.C. Conservatives banner. The Osoyoos resident feels the two main issues for the riding that tie together are the rate hikes for electricity and the carbon tax, which the B.C. Conservatives promise to get rid of.

“There is a lot of seniors, farmers and families down here who don’t have a lot of extra money, and they are forced to make decisions on where to put their limited resources because of these rate hikes,” said Popoff. “The carbon tax is indirectly responsible for the rate hikes … it is encouraging us to quit burning carbon and move to electric, and then as soon as we do that we get dinged on electric. It is just a vicious circle.”

Popoff said what sets him apart is that he is not a last-minute, back-up plan.

“Both the NDP and Liberals are going with plan B right now, they both kicked out their leading person. I was always going to stand for this riding as a Conservative,” he said. “I’m not plan B, I am plan A. I was always planning to stand for people’s rights in this riding.”

Oliver resident John Kwansnica is the Green Party candidate for the riding and feels environmental issues are a priority, ranging from the national park to global warming and rising electricity rates.

“Water is another big sticking point in our riding. We just had another boil water advisory in Oliver and I am concerned about that,” said Kwansnica. “If we don’t have these basic things to count on and draw on, then what do we have? Everything else seems pretty insignificant.”

Kwansnica wants the Green Party to be viewed as more than just a protest vote.

“I would like to see them vote for us because of the platforms on which we stand, which is largely the environment and less emphasis on fossil fuels,” he said.