From left: Mel Arnold, Conservative; Kyle Delfing, People’s Party of Canada; Shelley Desautels, Liberal; Andrea Gunner, Green; and Ron Johnston, NDP, are the five candidates vying for the North Okanagan-Shuswap seat in the Sept. 20 federal election. (Contributed)

From left: Mel Arnold, Conservative; Kyle Delfing, People’s Party of Canada; Shelley Desautels, Liberal; Andrea Gunner, Green; and Ron Johnston, NDP, are the five candidates vying for the North Okanagan-Shuswap seat in the Sept. 20 federal election. (Contributed)

North Okanagan-Shuswap candidates on proof of vaccinations

Meet the 5 candidates running in the 2021 federal election

Meet your candidates vying for the North Okanagan-Shuswap seat in the Sept. 20 federal election.

This week, the five candidates provided a brief biography and answered the first of three questions asked by Black Press:

Where do you stand on COVID-19 vaccination passports and how might you encourage social and economic recovery?

Mel Arnold, Conservative

Mel Arnold, Conservative

Mel Arnold – Conservative Party of Canada

I was raised in Notch Hill and have had the privilege of living in the North Okanagan-Shuswap my entire life. My wife Linda and I met in high school and are looking forward to the imminent arrival of our first grandchild.

Citizens from across our region have identified affordability of living as a top concern. After 6 years of out-of-control spending, inflation is the highest its been in years. Conservatives have released our Canada Recovery Plan that will support affordability by fighting inflation and the rising costs of necessities like groceries.

As a former small business owner, I know how red tape, labour markets and taxation challenge business operators. I will continue to advocate for policies and legislation that promote economic growth and security for everyone.

Recently, we have seen the federal government encroach on freedoms of speech and expression. These freedoms should not be up for debate, and I will continue to defend them.

The Conservative plan will fight climate change, increase rural Internet services while also expanding government accountability, mental health supports and more. I believe our plan for national recovery will secure Canada’s future and I ask for your support so we can follow through with that plan.

On COVID-19 vaccination passports:

Canadians have the right to make their own health choices and deserve clarity from all levels of government as they navigate their decision-making processes.

Provincial governments are responsible for determining health guidelines including policies on mandatory vaccines and vaccine passport systems. I encourage citizens to contact their provincial representatives with questions related to provincial policies.

I believe vaccines are a safe and effective tool for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and I continue to encourage every Canadian who can be vaccinated to do so. Increasing rapid test availability for unvaccinated persons is necessary to protect those who are most vulnerable and to revitalize our economy.

The Conservative Canada Recovery Plan is a fulsome and viable strategy that will deliver the resources and actions needed to drive social and economic recovery. With our plan, we are committed to increasing resources to secure health, especially mental health, services across Canada while also increasing opportunities for Canadians to access skills training, home ownership and careers they can count on.

Our plan will lower inflation and costs of living making life more affordable for Canadians.

There is much more to our plan and I encourage everyone to explore our strategies for recovery at www.conservative.ca/plan

Kyle Delfing, People’s Party of Canada. (Contributed)

Kyle Delfing, People’s Party of Canada. (Contributed)

Kyle Delfing – People’s Party of Canada

Kyle Delfing is a Vernon businessman with a background in logistics, heavy equipment operation and management. Politically, he has always paid attention.

As a citizen, he has worked with the local government to get roads paved and have unfair policies rescinded. His political career started in 2019 with the People’s Party of Canada, running as a candidate for the North Okanagan Shuswap, garnering 2.7 per cent of the vote that year. In 2020 he was asked to run with the Conservative Party of British Columbia. He accepted the invitation and ran my campaign based on honesty and policy, garnering 12.5 per cent of the vote. He successfully sought out the presidency of the Conservative Party of British Columbia in early 2021, where he worked towards bringing common sense politics to British Columbia.

He has since stepped down and am running once more with the People’s Party of Canada, knowing this election is vital for Canada. We have a choice, vote for one of the big four and continue down a path of unimaginable debt, relentless lockdown cycles, and vaccine mandates, destroying the fabric of our society and our economy.

Or, we can vote for the People’s Party of Canada, get Canada back to work and back to normal.

The Peoples Party of Canada is the only Federal party offering Canadians their everyday lives back.

We also have some excellent economic, healthcare and environmental policies.

On COVID-19 vaccination passports:

I, Kyle Delfing, and the People’s Party of Canada stand against any form of the vaccine passport system. Canadians deserve better than being segregated by medical status, regardless of whether by choice or due to a preexisting condition. The vaccine passport will do more than placing restrictions on the rights of the unvaccinated. It will place restrictions and an added burden on businesses and their employees to earn a paycheque. There is no need for this type of draconian system in a western democracy like Canada.

We would phase out CRB, get unemployment insurance back to normal again. We need to get out of this state of limbo. The deficit spending supporting Canadians is creating a higher inflation rate than the average of 2.5 per cent annually.

Our current situation is making Canada unaffordable to many average Canadians. Getting Canadians back to work and our society back to normal will benefit everyone.

We are the only party in Canada opposed to vaccine passports. The Conservatives have fired a candidate in the Yukon due to his opposition to MANDATORY vaccination. Electing a People’s Party of Canada MP will give Canadians a voice in Ottawa. A voice to hold the next minority government accountable to all Canadians and prevent the vaccine passport from being implemented.

Shelley Desautels, Liberal Party of Canada

Shelley Desautels, Liberal Party of Canada

Shelley Desautels – Liberal Party of Canada

I was born and raised in Vernon and have lived in Salmon Arm for seven years with my husband and two children. I have spent my entire life in North Okanagan-Shuswap and am intimately familiar with both the dynamic and the people of this riding.

I am a geographical information systems certificate instructor at Okanagan College, teaching mapping and data analysis. I also own my own mapping company where I work with Indigenous community forests. I am the vice-president of the Boxing for Wellness Society, a director of the Shuswap Cycling Club, a director of the BC Community Forest Association, and the Service Officer at the Royal Canadian Legion.

I come to running for MP as a citizen who sees the need for engagement and responsive leadership in our communities. I am committed to listening to and working with everyone in the riding. The people of our riding deserve no less.

Housing is one of the biggest challenges facing our riding. But the number one challenge facing our riding – and our entire country – is, without a doubt, climate change. We must both reach our net zero goals and adapt. It’s not just about protecting the environment but is also to protect our economic competitiveness.

On COVID-19 vaccination passports:

We must protect the vulnerable, some of whom cannot be vaccinated due to their age or for valid medical reasons. A vaccine passport is like a driver’s license; if you choose not to get one, you are restricted from driving. Remember that vaccine passports are under provincial jurisdiction. That said, I agree with federal proof of vaccination records for foreign travel. For decades, some countries have required that visitors be vaccinated against certain diseases. This is no different.

We strongly encourage vaccination to hasten Canada’s social and economic recovery. Vaccination is our best tool to stem the emergence of variants and the cycle of ‘waves’ that disrupt business, travel, and trade. Canada’s excellent vaccine rollout has led to us leading the G20 in vaccination rates.

We will continue to support free vaccinations, and we’re committed to keep fighting COVID-19 by strengthening our public health care system, including increasing primary health care providers by 7,500; creating a more robust mental health system, including the Canada Mental Health Transfer to provinces; and making a $9 billion investment in long term care.

As we emerge from the pandemic, our stronger public health care system will give consumers and investors the confidence they need.

Andrea Gunner, Green

Andrea Gunner, Green

Andrea Gunner – Green Party of Canada

Armstrong resident Andrea Gunner is running for the North Okanagan/Shuswap riding because she believes that we have the ability to change the path we take going forward. Empowering people and communities is at the heart of all she does. As an agricultural economist and an organic farmer, she works at the grassroots level with community groups, farmers, processors, industry associations and all levels of government, including Indigenous.

Andrea’s kindness, persistence, and intelligence have been an inspiration to everyone who knows her, and the fact that she is willing to enter politics for the sake of our community and our environment has been deeply moving for people in her riding. With the climate crisis upon us, Andrea’s agricultural expertise and organizational prowess are desperately needed at a national level.

An active volunteer, she currently chairs or co-chairs the Armstrong Food Initiative Society, The Friends of Rose Swanson Ecological Stewardship Society, the Township of Spallumcheen Agricultural Advisory Committee and Farm Folk/City Folk, B.C.’s oldest and largest food and agriculture advocacy organization. She is a past president of the BC Institute of Agrologists, and a member of both the Township of Spallumcheen Select Committee on Rose Swanson and Shuswap Climate Action.

Under her mentorship, her agricultural clients have been able to implement ecologically sound methods while maintaining or improving efficiency and economic viability. Improving the soil’s ability to capture and store carbon is another critical benefit of sustainable land-use practices. While her vision for a sustainable future is lofty, Andrea’s feet are firmly planted on the ground.

On COVID-19 vaccination passports:

I’ve been happy to reduce the risk to the people I love who are immune-compromised, by getting the vaccine and wearing a mask when I cannot maintain a two metre distance. At the same time, I recognize that one size fits all policies rarely fit everyone well. I believe that there should be exemptions for those who are medically compromised. The rest of us can protect all vulnerable people by washing our hands and getting vaccinated ourselves. More than half the countries in the world have already implemented some type of COVID-19 vaccination passport to support their tourism and business industries. Tourism, restaurants, retailers, the arts, the health care sector in the Thompson-Okanagan need all the help we can give.

These past 18 months has seen the gap widen between the rich and the poor. Canada’s richest 47 people are $78 billion richer, thanks to many of the existing policies. Such extreme inequality leads to worse overall health and social outcomes and slows economic growth. A 1% tax on the super-rich, those with income over $20M would add $10 billion/year to the Canadian economy. This would provide much-needed revenue for long-term public investments in seniors care and child care, affordable housing and climate change.

Ron Johnston, NDP

Ron Johnston, NDP

Ron Johnston – NDP

Born and raised in Calgary, I began my career in mechanical design working in high tech industries before coming to BC in 2000. It’s because of that design background that I have built a very real understanding that complex challenges require creative solutions. I know that if you want a solution to succeed, you need to involve everyone who will be affected and engage them in a spirit of collaboration and equality.

Over the past years, I have worked with both the provincial and federal NDP EDAs, having most recently worked on the successful campaign of current NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu.

The pandemic has hit hard for so many families in the region. Between job loss and rising costs, getting by day to day has become more of a challenge than ever. I understand these challenges first-hand because my family is facing the same struggles.

That was a big part of my decision to run. Working-class people are underrepresented in politics, but I’m running to give power and a voice back to everyday people in the North Okanagan – Shuswap.

On COVID-19 vaccination passports:

The NDP support the need for a vaccine passport for federal workers, as well as the vaccine passport required for international travel. It’s an important step towards fully reopening the country and the economy.

Implementing the wealth tax that is supported by the vast majority of Canadians, yet was voted down by both Liberals and Conservatives this spring is another key part of the economic recovery. Ask yourself: Why shouldn’t those who profited from the pandemic, while workers and families suffered, have to pay their fair share?

Canada Election 2021