Election 2021 Q&A: Bob O’Brien, Independent

The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidates answer the Free Press’ questionnaire

Bob O’Brien, Independent

Bob O’Brien, Independent

What will you do specifically for rural communities?

I will listen to the concerns and needs of the riding. I will address the issues from the riding to the appropriate people in Ottawa. As an independent candidate, I will not be a political threat to any party so I will be able to approach people without having a political party holding me back.

How do you plan to prepare our rural communities for future wildfires, flooding and other natural disasters?

Climate change is very real. These fires were 100 per cent predictable as are the mudslides and floods that will result from the fires. The Canadian Military should be trained in the disasters that will affect us, from climate change fire fighting, flood control, mudslides blocking salmon rivers. The cost to fight the 2018 wildfires was $615 million. If we are going to fight a war on climate change, we should bring an army.

How will you ensure health care specialists are available locally to rural residents?

This is a problem that has been ignored for too long and now it is going to take a long time to fix. As the population ages, we do not have young people to replace them. There are fewer students graduating than people retiring. This problem is not only related to healthcare specialists but also concerns plumbers, electricians, carpenters. I will be working towards a system of a reduced cost for education.

How will you address issues with childcare in rural areas?

The reason for childcare is so the parents can go to work and with such a labour shortage, we need this. The parents need to work to pay the bills. If we don’t help with daycare they can’t work and will require social assistance. So, it is better to help with the daycare and get the parents working than pay social assistance.

How will you ensure affordable housing in rural communities, especially for seniors and those on fixed incomes?

Affordable housing is a concern everywhere in this whole riding. It can be divided into four categories. The homeless who need shelters, the lower-income who need housing, seniors who need housing and a new category: “people who can make rent payments but can’t save up for a down payment.” This is a matter local, provincial and federal governments will have to become creative with. As a project manager and licensed residential contractor, I am aware of programs that can help with issues. I will work with community leaders to guide them through the government red tape.

What do you intend to do to get people back to work during and after COVID-19?

I recently had this question asked to me at a talk at TRU. My answer was Sun Peaks will be short almost 500-600 workers this year. I have talked to many business owners who cannot find staff. So, my simple answer is: get your resume out there.

What commitments will you make to addressing climate change locally and nation-wide?

Climate change is the biggest issue we should be focusing on for the future. It affects every other issue. One-third of the carbon emissions in four out of the last five years have come from uncontrolled wildfires and have cost 2.4 billion dollars over the last five years.

Now let’s think outside the box.

How about free solar panels or wind generators.

Here is how it works. Your property is assessed to see what would work best. Your bills from the last two years are averaged out to say 400.00 dollars a month

After your solar panels are installed, the savings are calculated and you pay the difference. Say you saved $300. You would pay 100 to BC hydro and $300 back to the solar initiative. So, your bill doesn’t change. after 10 years the panels are paid. For the next 10- 15 years you have free electricity saving money and the planet.

How will you address Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations?

The first step in any relationship is to establish trust and respect. Then to fully understand the concerns and the reason the concerns are there in the first place. I will represent all of the people of this riding to Ottawa and not be the Ottawa representative to the people. That is the advantage of being an independent.

In the North Thompson, what are your plans regarding bringing natural gas into the corridor?

In order to bring Natural gas to the North Thompson, we will have to prove to Fortis that it is viable project.

What will you do to remove inter-provincial trade ticketing barriers?

This is a case where we must decide the risks versus reward. If the reward is greater for the riding, then we must work towards making this happen. If the risk is greater then we must try and stop it.


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