Rosalyn Bird is the PG-Valemount MLA candidate for the BC Conservative Party. Before beginning her career in politics, Bird served in the Canadian Armed Forces for over two decades./ (BC Conservatives)

By Rachel Fraser

The Conservative Party of BC is campaigning on common sense in anticipation of a fall election. Retired Navy Lieutenant and rookie candidate for Prince George-Valemount Rosalyn Bird was recently in Valemount and shared her time with the Goat to dive into some of the issues the party platform identifies as needing this common sense.

On the values and priorities that led to the decision to run, she said a primary catalyst was some government actions she saw over COVID-19.

“I was not excited about mandates. I wasn’t excited about the government forcing decisions or choices on people.”

She said cost of living is one of the biggest issues for folks she’s been speaking to in the riding.

“Everybody wants the carbon tax gone.”

“Our healthcare system is in big trouble, we don’t have enough doctors, nurses… There needs to be balance within the system. We need to find mechanisms to reduce the weight.”

Bird said the party is exploring privatization, including potentially the option for out-of-pocket, if it didn’t give an advantage to either those paying or using publicly-funded options.

“If Canadians want to pay for health care, they will fly to another country and pay for healthcare. They’re already doing it. If there’s a mechanism to be doing it in the province, that offsets our current issues, yes, we should look at models to do that.”

Cracking down on violent crime
“Our court system is overloaded, we have criminals who are continually being caught and being released,” Bird said. “We need to figure out why the system is not operating in the capacity that should be and what it is that is missing and/or overburdening it, and we need to figure out how to make it more effective again.”

She would like to see a proactive approach to preventing crime through educational programs, such as the Strive crime prevention program in Prince George.

Despite feeling that the system is overburdened, Bird opposes decriminalizing small amounts of narcotics.

“I do not believe that legalizing that is reducing crime, I actually think it’s adding to the issue,” she said. “What the sentencing for carrying a small (amount) of narcotics should be and what mechanisms to deter people from continuing those activities would need to be researched.”

Get pipelines built
When asked what she felt was preventing pipelines from being built currently, she said that a lot of the areas across the province that pipelines would run through are located in First Nations territories or on land claimed by First Nations.

In negotiations where Indigenous communities might take a stand against a particular project through their territory or want to require it to meet a particular ecological standard, Bird reiterated that there are industry standards governing forestry, pipelines, oil and gas.

“Does a particular interest group get to determine whether or not those standards are or aren’t significant enough on a project that will benefit a large number of British Columbians?”

She feels the community should benefit from the projects, not just economically, but with better health care, education, better grocery stores due to investment in the community by industry.

Bird feels that it’s impossible for us to meet our climate targets within the current timelines because the electricity infrastructure isn’t there. She said there are other options to look at, such as wind, solar, possibly nuclear, but that fossil fuels are still part of the picture.

When asked what checks should be in place to prevent industry from putting profit over environmental responsibility, Bird said “I think heavy industry needs to be proactive in their ability to reduce the impact as much as you can on the environment. The oil and gas industry [is] very proactive in implementing mechanisms that ensure that they have the least impact on the environment. It’s currently government-regulated and it will continue to be.”

Parents’ Choice
“I’m not happy with the current education system in the province and I think our education system needs a complete overhaul. Parents have different ideas of where they would like their child to go to school… private schools, independent schools, charter schools, even homeschooling … resources should be available for every student. I can’t say what the funding model would look like, but I think every child deserves to have an education on an equal spectrum.”

When asked about trans kids and specifically whether the BC Conservatives want to make changes similar to Alberta, given that parental consent is already required for puberty blockers and any hormone therapy, Bird said “ Particular choices and specific choices that are made within families need to stay within families. And if a family mechanism is not strong enough, then resources need to be available for that child, that youth, that young adult, to explore and understand the choices they are making.”

Lower taxes, less waste
When asked how the Conservatives planned to resource schools and healthcare, handle increased incarceration and increased drug enforcement while lowering taxes, Bird said, “I’m not sure “cuts” is the right word. I’m sure there are places where you can cut, but I think more importantly is having a look at reallocation. The other piece of it is increasing our resource sector and supporting small, medium, large businesses so that we are actually bringing investors back to the province, and we’re building and increasing our economy based on the resources we have available in our province.”