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Morris hopeful third term as MLA will provide opportunity to work on public safety and forest biodiversity

Prince George-Mackenzie Liberal candidate Mike Morris. Bill Phillips photo

Unfinished business.

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.


Election 2020
November 23, 2020After initially saying he would stay on until the BC Liberals have chosen a new leader, Andrew Wilkinson has decided to step down immediately. Wilkinson announced shortly after the Liberal election loss last month that he would step down as leader of the party. “It is now time for me to leave the role of Opposition Leader, as the voters of British Columbia have made their preference clear,” he said in a Facebook post Friday. “In doing so, I welcome the selection of an interim leader from our caucus and will fully support her or him as our caucus prepares to act as the Official Opposition once again.” Suggestions are that the interim leader could be either Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond or Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar. “My past role, and the role of the new interim leader, requires a great deal of humility and a willingness to listen to people from all over B.C., to learn from them so that our work reflects the dreams and desires of the people of our province,” Wilkinson said. “Indigenous communities will need to be engaged as partners on projects and initiatives that will bring prosperity to everyone who lives here. That work must now be undertaken with renewed energy and commitment, so that our caucus and our party can fully reflect the views of everyone who calls this land their home, and work with them to provide a prosperous, respectful, and healthy future for everyone.” The party could name an interim leader as soon as today.New conversations are happening about what is important to people now,” Wilkinson said. “Things like access to housing that works for the different ways that people live their lives. Affordable and efficient transportation and quality healthcare must be a priority for every government going forward. Equality and opportunity for everyone and protection of LGTBQ2S rights need to be integral parts of policies and plans throughout government, because these are fundamental to the fairness and equality that we all seek.Our party, the interim leader, and our members have a lot of work to do. We need to rebuild and renew – and that starts with tough conversations and sincere reflections.” [...]
November 20, 2020Elections BC has updated its estimate of voter turnout in the 2020 provincial general election from 52.4 per cent to 54.5 per cent of registered voters. The updated estimate is based on the number of registered voters at the close of general voter registration on September 26, and the number of valid votes and rejected ballots cast at all voting opportunities. As voters in B.C. can register when they vote, the number of registered voters on Election Day (October 24, 2020) will not be known until post-election processing is complete. Once this figure is known Elections BC will report the final turnout rate for 2020. In total, 1,900,353 voters voted in the provincial election. While this was 86,021 fewer than in the 2017 Provincial General Election, when 1,986,374 voters cast a ballot, it was the second highest total in B.C. electoral history. A record 724,279 voters requested vote-by-mail packages in 2020, a massive increase from past provincial elections. 596,287 voters returned their package by the close of voting, representing a return rate of 82.3 per cent. This return rate does not account for voters who requested a vote-by-mail package but decided to vote in person. This figure is still being determined, and will be reported on in the Chief Electoral Officer’s report for the election (to be published in 2021). In the 2017 provincial election only 6,517 voters voted by mail, representing 57.8 per cent of packages issued for that election. This was also the first election in B.C. in which more voters voted before Election Day than on Election Day. The table below shows the percentage of votes that were cast at each type of voting opportunity in 2020 compared with 2017: Voting opportunityPercentage of total votes cast in 2020Percentage of total votes cast in 2017Advance voting35.4%30.2%Voting by mail31.4%0.3%Absentee voting4.4%8.7%Voting on Election Day28.8%60.8% For interim voting results by voting area (or “poll by poll results”) see the data file at the link below. The final Statement of Votes for the election will be available in the Chief Electoral Officer’s election report. Links: Interim Statement of Votes – Voting Results by Voting Area (Excel)Voter Turnout in the 2020 Provincial General Election Infographic (PDF) [...]
November 9, 2020Just as Americans waited days for election results, so did we here in British Columbia … albeit a little less breathlessly and with less on the line. When voting was completed October 24, it was pretty clear the NDP had formed a majority government, even with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots yet to be counted. Now they have been counted and the NDP solidified its majority by picking up two more seats, at the expense of the Liberals. The Liberals also picked up a seat, at the expense of the Green Party (although a recount will be held in that riding as the Liberals are ahead by only 41 votes). At the conclusion of final count the election results were as follows: Political Party Members elected BC Green Party 2 BC Liberal Party 28 BC NDP 57 Voting results for each electoral district by party and candidate are available on the Elections BC website atresults.elections.bc.ca. The results did not change in either Prince George riding with Liberal Shirley Bond retaining Prince George-Valemount and Liberal Mike Morris keeping Prince George-Mackenzie. Following the conclusion of final count, a candidate is declared elected in each electoral district and the District Electoral Officer returns the writ of election to the Chief Electoral Officer. The Chief Electoral Officer then reports the candidate elected to the Clerk of the House, formally ending the 42nd Provincial General Election in that electoral district. A writ cannot be returned until at least six days following the end of final count – the period within which a judicial recount can be requested. The writs of election will be returned the week of November 16 in every electoral district except West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, which is subject to an automatic judicial recount. An automatic judicial recount must take place when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 1/500 of the total ballots considered. For more information, see https://elections.bc.ca/news/media-advisory-final-count-complete-in-west-vancouver-sea-to-sky-judicial-recount-to-be-held/. The Supreme Court of British Columbia will determine when the judicial recount takes place. West Vancouver-Sea to Sky’s writ will be returned once the judicial recount is complete. For more information on judicial recounts, see Elections BC’s Guide to Voting and Counting athttps://elections.bc.ca/docs/guidebooks/879-Guide-to-Voting-and-Counting.pdf. Premier John Horgan issued the following statement after the final results were released. “I’m humbled and honoured by the support British Columbians have shown for our BC NDP team and want to wish a warm welcome to the newest members of our team of 57 BC NDP MLAs.“Thank you Elections BC staff and volunteers for making voting easy and safe for everyone. Thanks to everyone who put their names forward as candidates. “COVID-19 is presenting us with new challenges each day, and we need to keep the focus where it belongs: keeping ourselves, our families and our communities healthy, safe and secure. We will get through this together.“Just like we have for the last three and a half years, we’re going to do our level best each and every day to keep BC moving forward and build a better future for everyone.“That’s my commitment to you.“ [...]
November 4, 2020Preparations are nearing completion for the final count of mail-in and other absentee ballots in the provincial election. Final count is scheduled to begin across the province on November 6 and is expected to take at least three days to complete. In Prince George-Valemount there are 4,105 more ballots to be counted. On election night, Liberal Shirley Bond had 7,560 votes and her nearest rival, New Democrat Laura Parent had 3,477 votes. In Prince George-Mackenzie there are 4,437 more ballots to be counted. On election night, Liberal Mike Morris had 6,361 votes and his nearest rival, New Democrat Joan Atkinson, had 3,874 votes. Note that these figures do not represent the final number of absentee and mail-in ballots that will be counted in each district. All certification envelopes must be screened before being accepted for counting to ensure legislated requirements are met, and to prevent multiple voting. Certification envelopes that do not pass screening are set aside and not opened. During final count, certification envelopes that are found to contain no ballot or more than one marked ballot will also be set aside and not considered. Candidates and at least one representative per candidate may be present at final count, and must make a solemn declaration of secrecy before observing. Starting at 10 a.m. on November 6, voting results will be updated as counting progresses at results.elections.bc.ca. Once a district completes counting a type of absentee ballot, results will be reported for that type of ballot, and the Elections BC website will be updated. There are several different types of absentee ballots that are counted at final count, including ballots cast at district electoral offices and ballots cast outside the voter’s electoral district of residence. Results will be updated on the Elections BC website on an ongoing basis during the counting process, and at the end of each counting day. Counting is expected to continue until 6 p.m. each day until final count is complete, but counting hours may vary by district to ensure that final count is completed as soon as possible. As final count progresses, a report on the Elections BC website will show the number of certification envelopes that have been considered in each district, and the total number of certification envelopes to be considered. This report will be available once final count begins.  [...]

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