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Resource community issues front-and-centre for Conservative candidates

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies Conservative candidate Bob Zimmer (left) and Cariboo-Prince George candidate Todd Doherty speak at the opening of their campaign office in Prince George. Bill Phillips photo

The local Conservative candidates laid out exactly what they want to fight this election campaign on: resource-based communities are under threat and only a Conservative government will help them.

“We will stand up against the unfair pieces of legislation aimed at land-locking Canada’s resources,” Cariboo-Prince George candidate Todd Doherty told about 50 people at his, and Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies candidate Bob Zimmer Tuesday. Both are incumbents.

Doherty said he, Zimmer, and the the Conservatives will do everything they can to repeal Bill C-68, which gives the federal fisheries minister the power to maintain fish stocks at a sustainable level without defining those levels; Bill C69, the Impact Assessment Act, which sets up a new authority to assess industrial projects, such as pipelines, mines and inter-provincial highways, for their effects on public health, the environment and the economy; Bill C-48, which prohibits oil tankers along B.C.’s north coast; Bill C-88, which amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act; and the carbon tax.

“All that (legislation) does is make other countries more competitive and it takes jobs away from hard-working families here at home,” he said.

Zimmer echoed that sentiment saying that mill closures, which are inevitable in B.C. now, weren’t inevitable when the Liberals came to power four years ago.

Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies Conservative candidate Bob Zimmer. Bill Phillips photo

He said the Liberals promised a softwood lumber deal within 100 days of taking power in 2015 but even a trip to Ottawa by then U.S. President Barack Obama didn’t result in a deal.

“With Trump as president, it’s definitely not going to happen,” he said. “It really just showed us how important the prime minister thought of rural communities. The way we put food on our tables, a roof over our head, is developing lumber, oil and gas, agriculture. All those combined is something that seems optional to our current prime minister.”

Zimmer said the Conservatives support “responsible” resource development.

“I’ve never seen it as dire with our natural resource-based communities as we see it right now,” he said. “With C-48, with the tanker moratorium on the west coast, with threats to our whole way of life the message is getting out loud and clear that four more years of this government and I don’t know what our communities will look like. I think they’ll look anything near what they look like now.”

Doherty also struck out at some of the negativity that can permeate social media and can also be aimed at family members. Doherty wracked up more travel expenses for his spouse than any other MP last year. He said the “hate” messages he and his wife have received about the issue have been horrible.

“I place a high priority on our family and maintaining our family unit,” he said.

Cariboo-Prince George Conservative candidate Todd Doherty talks with supporters at the opening of his campaign office. Bill Phillips photo

He called his first term an “incredible journey,” highlighted with the passage of a private members bill helping first responders with post traumatic stress disorder.

He said the majority of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency at the end of the month and that has to change.

“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything in our power to put more dollars in your pocket,” he said. “A dollar in your pocket is better than a dollar in the government’s pocket.”

Even though he is the incumbent in a riding that has elected a Conservative MP for decades, Doherty isn’t taking anything for granted.

“It is going to be a dog fight,” he said. “There is no such thing as a safe riding.”

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