It’s what is driving Mike Morris right now as he seeks his third term as MLA in the Prince George-Mackenzie riding. And, he says, a desire to “earn his keep” as an MLA.
“(His) first term we were in government, but you’re learning the ropes,” he said. “I was never a politician before that. Then we lost government, didn’t lose the election we lost government, but it gave me an opportunity to reflect.”
He said being in government, especially when a party like the Liberals who governed for 16 years, politicians can get a rut that’s hard to get out of.
“Being in opposition gave me, and many of my colleagues, an opportunity to get out of that rut and stand up and look around at what is going on, and make changes,” he said. “What changes could I make that can affect not only my riding but the province as a whole?”
The former RCMP officer and long-time trapper says his passion has always been biodiversity in the forest sector, but his expertise lies in public safety. So, when considering whether to run again, he looked at those two areas with an eye to what he might be able to change should he be re-elected.
“If we get another chance, I’d like to bring in a biodiversity management program that truly finds that balance in sustainable resource development, particularly forestry,” he said. “But I’d also like to bring in a public safety model that integrates the use of other specialized resources that we have in British Columbia such as social services, BC Housing, Community Living BC, the health authority, because over the years everything has defaulted to the police.”
He adds that at the same time, police investigations in serious crimes have become much more complex and the two leave police stretched thin.
“We need to free up the criminal side, so they can concentrate on these technically elegant investigations, but also add resources to that social justice part in the middle,” he said.
The Car 60 program, which operates in Prince George, is part of that and part of the Liberal platform.
“One car isn’t enough and two people in that car isn’t enough,” he said.
The Liberal platform calls for the hiring of 100 psychiatric social workers and/or nurses to help and 250 police officers to deal with opioid issues and prolific crimes.
Like a lot of people in B.C., Morris is scratching his head over why Premier John Horgan called the election.
“The government was stable,” he said. “Regardless of it being a minority, it was stable. Sonia Furstenau and her colleague in the Green Party were supporting everything that the NDP were bringing to the table. There was no issue over loss of confidence in the government. We could have gone on until October until next year and for public safety reasons, that probably would have been the best bet.”
Another issue Morris has been working on during his term in office is halting the spraying of glyphosate in British Columbia forests. The herbicide is used to kill broadleaf plants, including aspen and birch trees, in order to facilitate faster growing on spruce, pine, and fir trees.
“If I had the power, I’d pull the plug on glyphosate in the use in forestry right now on Crown land,” he said. “I’ve been working to try and convince my colleagues that’s the proper thing to do.”
As a trapper for more than 40 years, he has spent plenty of time in the great outdoors and has seen impact on the forests and, more specifically, the food supply of wild animals … large and small.
“Our wildlife populations have been significantly affected by that,” he said. “Our forests have been significantly affected by glyphosate by eliminating a lot of that aspen and broadleaf plants that we have that are excellent fire mitigation tools. Nature supplies them for us, we should be using them.”
British Columbians go to the polls on October 24. Morris will be challenged in Prince George-Mackenzie by New Democrat Joan Atkinson, Green Party candidate Catharine Kendall, Christian Heritage Party of B.C. candidate Dee Kranz, and Libertarian Raymond Rodgers.