Trent Derrick will carry the NDP banner in the Cariboo-Prince George riding.
The Prince George businessman was elected as the party’s candidate last night, following voting in Williams Lake, Quesnel and Prince George. He beat out fellow candidates Debora Munoz from Prince George and Laura Zimmerman from Williams Lake.
“It’s time for a change,” he said in an interview when he announced his candidacy. “My entire life I’ve wanted to do what’s best for people and to help them out. Right now when I look at where we are with how the Harper Conservative government has run things, it’s a great opportunity to move Canada in a new direction.”
Part of that new direction will be dealing with the recently-released Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which outlined 94 recommendations for dealing with First Nations in Canada. Derrick, a Gitxsan, says what happens with the report will likely be a key issue in Cariboo-Chilcotin.
“The Conservatives have ignored the Highway of Tears,” he said. “They’ve ignored the lost and missing women.”
With recent court cases, most notably the Tsilhqot’in ruling, Derrick said Canada needs to deal with First Nations on a nation-to-nation basis.
Another key issue in the riding will be the Northern Gateway pipeline, which the New Democrats have said they will reject if elected.
Not specifically a Cariboo-Prince George issue, but one that will affect everyone, is Bill C-51, the anti-terror bill.
“The NDP and the Greens are the only two parties that have said they oppose it and the NDP have gone on record saying they will repeal it,” Derrick said.
He added there is a large grassroots movement to repeal the bill, he said, adding “you can never underestimate a grassroots movement.”
With Mount Polley Mine set to possibly restart in the next few weeks and the continual push in the southern parts of the riding to approve Taseko Mines’ Prosperity Project, Derrick says finding that balance between jobs and the environment is also key.
“I think the NDP give the best option for protecting the environment while also trying to stimulate small business growth,” he said. “That is the NDP’s strength is that they are really focusing on building the economy through small business.”
As for Taseko, he said the key to build relations with the First Nations in the area, first.
“If they can do it properly, if they can extract is clean and green, then I think they have a shot,” he said.
This is Derrick’s first foray into federal politics. It’s not, however, his first foray into politics. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in Prince George in 2005, which was followed by unsuccessful bids for council, one in 2008 and one in 2014. With trips around the riding planned, he says, getting to know the people of the riding, and them getting to know him, is what will help him win the nomination.
“Winning the nomination is just as important as winning the actual election, because that’s where you’re building the relationships,” he said. “That’s where you’re building the trust. That’s where you’re building people’s confidence in you as a candidate.”
Part of his allure, he says, is that he brings a “completely different image” as a candidate for the New Democrats. He’s been a business owner for more than 10 years and has worked with both the federal and provincial governments as well as non-profit organizations. In his spare time he’s coached baseball, worked with youth at risk and youth with disabilities.
Building a strong middle class is a big plank in the NDP platform, one that Derrick, obviously supports wholeheartedly.
“That’s what our country is founded on, a strong middle class,” he said. “And that’s what I’d like to bring us back to.”
This brings to six the number of candidates seeking to win the riding: Conservative Todd Doherty, Liberal Tracy Calogheros, Green Party candidate Richard Jacques, independent Sheldon Clare, and Christian Heritage Party candidate Adam de Kroon.