With four times as the MLA for Fraser-Nicola or Yale-Lilloet, NDP candidate Harry Lali said he has attained a familiarity with this riding and that he can serve it with his eyes closed.
“I’ve travelled to every nook and cranny and every corner of it and I know people in every area, and I know the issues,” said Lali. “I don’t have to learn anything.”
Lali trumpeted his achievements in his years as MLA in every single community within the current Fraser-Nicola riding. Locally, Lali said he managed to save 300 mill jobs at J. S. Jones Timber Ltd. mill in 1999 and said he helped build the Hope and District Recreation Centre.
“I worked with the community, with Mayor Bud Gardner at that time and with the area directors to make sure that was a reality,” said Lali.
He also said he managed to get $11.4 million for re-decking, widening and putting lights on the Fraser Bridge.
Asked what he would do if elected as MLA, he said he would focus on health care, highway maintenance and keeping schools open.
Lali said hospitals should have a variety of services so that people do not have to drive to Chilliwack or Abbotsford. He blamed the B.C. Liberals for cutting services at the Fraser Canyon Hospital.
On highways, he focused on snow clearing and improvements of transportation infrastructure such as bridges and roads. He said the last time any significant amount of money was spent was when he was the highways minister.
Lali wondered if the C. E. Barry Intermediate School, which was closed and torn down, could have been put to better use.
“They could have turned it over to the community for a dollar and used that to house people,” said Lali.
Lali elaborated that it could also be used for whatever the community wanted it to do. He cited a similar experience in Princeton, where a school was closed. The Town of Princeton took over that school for $1 and turned it to a community centre.
For the economy, Lali said we need to protect jobs in the forestry industry. He believes that Hope will not see a rebound in the form of a breakdown facility or sawmill.
“But there’s always an opportunity for value-added remanufacturing where they would buy whatever lumber that they need from a sawmill somewhere and be able to actually utilize that to make value-added products,” said Lali.
Lali faces Aaron Sam for the nomination on March 18, although in Hope there will be an advance nomination on March 13 morning.
“My opponent can’t beat [Fraser-Nicola MLA] Jackie Tegart,” said Lali. “He’s never been an NDP member until just recently.”
Lali refuted recent reports saying that B.C. NDP leader John Horgan prefers Sam. Quoting the Indo-Canadian Voice of Jan. 25, he said Horgan asked him whether he would support Sam as the NDP’s candidate. Lali thought about it and said he had more to offer and Horgan agreed.
He also said that he has “unanimous support” from the Fraser-Nicola NDP executive, except for a recused member.