B.C. will host a provincial election on Oct. 24 and five candidates are currently in the running for the Mid Island – Pacific Rim riding’s seat. Scott Fraser has been the West Coast’s MLA for 15 years, but recently announced he would not be seeking re-election. In partnership with Black Press Media newspapers in the riding, the Westerly News has given each of the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to West Coast voters. Each candidate was given a 500-word limit to present themselves and their platforms. The following is the submission filed by Independent candidate Graham Hughes.
Graham Hughes – Independent
My name is Graham Hughes and I am running as an Independent in this election because I do not believe the other candidates will do more than vote the way their party tells them to. I fear for what will happen if we have another four years of “leadership” being one person paid $111k to do nothing but go to meetings in Victoria. We need leadership in our streets, not just in a seat in Victoria.
For the past 16 years, I’ve worked within the Port Alberni non-profit sector and for 16 years I have seen people in our community have less and less available to them. From health and education to things like backroad access, I believe most of our government and non-profit services are mismanaged – and it needs to be investigated, exposed and changed. The crisis of criminal negligence needs to be addressed.
No one in our community is getting the support services they need. Our high school no longer has certified counsellors available to our youth due to arbitrary contract changes made by some minister’s whim. Children with suspected developmental disabilities or learning delays are not eligible for assessment and diagnosis until third grade. Upon diagnosis, there is still a vast shortage of qualified professionals available to help them or their parents. In our schools, not even the basics are being provided—I just received an email from a parent who is scared and angry because they say a local elementary school reopened without appropriate hand-washing facilities in every classroom.
Ever year, millions of taxpayer dollars are funnelled into our community, yet people keep dying due to negligence and there is never so much as an investigation. Chronically ill people spend their lives in referral limbo, while thousands of people who urgently need mental health services are on six-month waitlists. Despite millions a year allocated by the province to address addiction issues, we don’t have a recovery facility available to those begging for help. The public can’t even access our backroads even though they’re public lands. I’ve lost faith that the parties will do more than they have so far – and all they’ve done so far is ignore us.
The problem in our community is negligence, apathy and a complete lack of accountability. We can fix this. We need to.
There are five people running in Mid Island-Pacific Rim who will tell you they know how to fix our problems. Instead of telling you to vote for me, I’m going to ask that during this election you ask us all how we’ll fight for you if we win – and how we will fight with you if we don’t.
Oct. 24 we vote, and it is my hope that on Oct. 25 we still have five leaders fighting to fix what needs fixing. We don’t need an MLA to solve our problems. What our region needs is leadership.