Welcome to the 2015 Cariboo – Prince George discussion with our local candidates! Each week, there will be a question from me and a question from a reader … here are the first two questions and each candidate’s responses:
Question 1 – What are the specific leadership values and specific leadership skills that you will bring to both our local and national contexts if you are elected?
Tracy Calogheros – I believe that leadership is about finding talented people and developing them as part of a team of equals. While the leader is the one who is ultimately responsible for direction and long-range planning, a successful leader finds team players who are committed to the purpose at hand, and who have skills that surpass their own. To be a good leader, one who inspires trust and commitment, you must be open and honest; approachable and fair, and be willing to do any job you would ask your team to do.
I have spent my career entrusted with the public purse, operating a registered Canadian charity while growing an organization that is both relevant to the Region and as self-sufficient as possible. I have built partnerships with all levels of government, First Nations, private sector businesses, non-profits and individuals through mutual support and respect. My approach to consensus building is to find common goals between the parties involved and to find ways that we can work together in support of our community.
I have a talent for finding synergies between groups; stewarding relationships to benefit the greater community as well as the participant partners. Throughout my career I have been involved in a diverse array of boards, committees, events and projects; giving me a broad understanding of our Region and the people within it. I have negotiated agreements with governments and supervised junior staff. I have operated as an entrepreneur to grow revenues for my employer so that we could afford to operate other programs at a loss because they were to the benefit of the greater community.
In short, I am well qualified to steward a discussion about the future of our Region that will result in stronger relationships and a stronger voice to build an exceptional tomorrow together.
Todd Doherty – If elected, I will continue to do what I have done throughout my career – highlight the business needs and opportunities in our region. I’ve worked as a representative for our region on this front throughout my career in aviation. I was involved in building the business case for the airport cargo station, getting more flights to Prince George, and promoting the tourism industry in our region.
I’ve always been a fan of actions speaking louder than words. Since September, I’ve been working hard to prove not only to members of the Conservative Party but to the people of Prince George that I have what it takes to represent our riding – I’ve logged over 40,000 kilometres on my truck, been to numerous community events, visited our rural communities, knocked on thousands of doors to hear from and speak to countless people in our riding.
Adam De Kroon – There are many things I can say but one thing is I think that many people feel that the government isn’t listening to them and considering what the people want. I would seek to make the wishes of my constituents heard in parliament. I am a good negotiator, communicator and problem solver, and I would work together with different groups of people to find solutions that solve the issues that face our country today.
Sheldon Clare – In a word: honesty. While fully acknowledging that this forum is an “attack free zone,” the issue of centralized power in the PMO is well known to all and cannot be ignored: our broken party system forces even the most well intentioned Member of Parliament to misinform their own constituents, often knowingly, as well as act against their own conscience without question.
This sad state of affairs can only be repaired by electing representatives that can shrug off the party whip and deliver honest answers instead of talking points drafted by PMO staffers.
My record as an advocate within my union, my community, and my presidency of the NFA is very clear: I do not truck with lies or politically correct ways of obscuring the truth. I have consistently embodied a leadership style that puts facts and personal integrity at the forefront of all I do, and this will continue to be the case when I am elected.
This election is going to be very close, and on October 19th, we will need to make a choice between voting the way we always have, or committing to change in Ottawa, and our region. I know I am the right candidate to bring that change – all I need are the votes to do it.
Question 2 – I realize nothing is a simple as it seems to be, however I must ask where are all the Syrian refugee families the government announced that would be part of the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program? From my research, only 2 Syrian refugee families have come to Canada through this program despite many, many groups and individuals who are qualified, able and yet are still waiting to sponsor Syrian families. I am concerned that Canada’s year-old commitment to assist these displaced people is an empty promise.
Tracy Calogheros – The Conservative refugee and immigration programs have become cynical and unsatisfactory. Canada has long been the country which many oppressed people around the globe turn to for help. We have traditionally accepted tens of thousands of refugees but today, the BVOR program will only allow 1000 refugees access to a safe haven in Canada.
The Liberal Party of Canada has called for the government to expand the number of Syrian refugees we will welcome to 25,000. These people need help, right NOW, from countries all around the world. Canada has the capacity to give more victims of war the opportunity to start a new life here with us. I support that call; it’s the right thing to do.
I’m frustrated by the barriers to immigration that have arisen in the last decade, and the uncaring attitudes behind them. The Conservatives have quadrupled fees and doubled processing times, unnecessarily putting up new barriers for aspiring citizens. The English language requirement has been made more difficult, credit time for international students has been scrapped, and families are finding reunification harder than ever.
Todd Doherty – Actually, by the end of this year, Canada will have admitted and settled over 25,000 Iraqi and Syrian refugees through various programs since 2009. We have also promised to settle another 20,000 from Syria and Iraq in addition to those already settled in Canada. Not only is our promise fulfilled, we’re willing to commit to bringing in more refugees and helping them resettle in a safe and secure country.
However, resettlement must be understood in the context of a larger plan. If we stand on the sidelines the problems in Syria and Iraq won’t merely cease once ISIS has full control there. As we’ve seen, they are gaining momentum and expanding to countries in West and North Africa, Indonesia, and are also attracting thousands of radicalized citizens from Western countries to fight for their cause.
Our party is the only one who has committed to stopping ISIS from committing acts of genocide and terror. The other parties think that humanitarian aid will be enough, but they fail to understand that even aid cannot be delivered without security for these people in need.
A re-elected Conservative Government would continue with our comprehensive plan. We’ll continue working with our international partners to address the refugee crisis and support humanitarian aid efforts. We will also work with our allies to stop ISIS from gaining ground. Again, watching from the sidelines as Justin and Mulcair would have Canada do would only result in the refugee crisis in Syria and Iraq become worse.
Adam De Kroon – You are right, this definitely sounds like an empty promise. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for a government to make promises that they do not keep, especially if something changed which would make it less advantageous to keep the promise. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to this specific program but if the government committed to this then I believe the government should follow through with its commitment. As your elected representative I would work to find out what the issue is that is stopping these families from coming to Canada and find the best solution.
Sheldon Clare – To be honest, this was the first I’d ever heard of the program. My campaign manager, Nathan Giede, had heard of something like it through his parish, St. Mary’s, which has successfully sponsored a family from the troubled Middle East to come and live in Prince George, BC.
After a little bit of research, as the question writer pointed out, it becomes clear that this program has not been well promoted: the explanatory youtube video has less than 1500 views, and the link to apply to be a sponsor is not prominent on the Citizenship and Immigration website.
While this is unfortunate, it appears that even more troublesome is the fact the the UN has sent several pages of recommended families to our embassies in the Middle East and surrounding area. Yet, the names of these families have not been processed and the families themselves have not even begun the screening process.
One hopes that this is due to a lack of physical resources or perhaps even information overload. However, no conclusive answer can be had without a full report provided by civil servants on the ground and at CIC headquarters. If elected, I would make such an inquiry a priority.