by EVAN MATTHEWS, editor

A while back, I wrote an editorial about the need for rival candidates for incumbent MLA Shirley Bond in the May election. Since then, the NDP’s Natalie Fletcher and the Green’s Nan Kendy have presented themselves as alternative options.

I commend them for putting their names on the ballot, and though Prince George will ultimately decide who wins the region based on its population alone, the NDP and Green candidates have their work cut out for them against a very well established politician.

In the last few weeks even, MLA for Prince George-Valemount and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and the Minister Responsible for Labour, Shirley Bond, has proven again she’s here for The Robson Valley.

Now we have the competition, which provides the Robson Valley region with an opportunity. What issues do you care about? What issues do you want to see addressed? – Evan Matthews, editor

She’s proven it in the wake of the BKB Cedar Mill Fire in McBride. She was on-scene within a day of the incident, and was rallying the troops. The Province has even added $50,000 in Rural Dividend Funding under the “Special Circumstance Provision.”

Of course, Shirley isn’t the only one who should be acknowledged for efforts associated with the fire, as all levels of government, many non-profits and community members in the region deserve credit for rallying around the Basran family and the employees of BKB Cedar.

The Goat is here to support everyone involved as McBride rebuilds.

Going back a little bit further, we just saw the signing of Valemount Glacier Destinations Master Development Agreement – the final phase of government approval before construction.

Some people — at least half the locals I’ve spoken with — at some point or another lost faith in the project. Many didn’t believe it would happen.

But Shirley continued to work to get the job done, and her list of accomplishments is extensive beyond the two I’ve listed.

Keep in mind I’m saying this as an undecided vote, and in fact, I’ve never actually lived in B.C. during a Provincial Election in order to cast my vote.

But here is my point: Previously, I was saying competition is good for political elections, as competition sparks conversation and debate — I still believe this.

Now we have the competition, which provides the Robson Valley region with an opportunity.
What issues do you care about? What issues do you want to see addressed?

We’ve seen MLA and Minister Bond continue to get results, but now is the electorate’s opportunity to get hardened promises during an election cycle.

There are two topics I hear about relatively consistently: rural education and healthcare.

Locals have been vocal about lack of equity with the current rural education-funding model, so ask the candidates if they’re willing to work to change it.

Ask them if they’re willing to work to improve access to healthcare in rural areas, and ask what the change would tangibly look like.

We know Shirley will work to get the job done, but let’s make sure as rural communities our issues are at the forefront of the election campaigns.

When it comes time for the next election, it should be apparent as to what’s changed here in the valley.

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