NDP candidate Mark Olsen has lived in Vernon for nearly 30 years, and he doesn't like where things are headed for his hometown.
That's why Olsen, a full time school bus driver, is taking action.
"There's an important decision coming up: more of the same, or change for the better," Olsen says, sitting in the lobby of his campaign office on 31 Avenue, a bold orange tie blooming from his collar.
Olsen believes the election's central issues—the economy, health care, and the environment—are all deeply connected. Solutions to any of the three, Olsen says, will be mutually beneficial to the others.
"We'd promote skill training in the green economy," Olsen says, noting alternative energies are ripe for development in B.C. He says encouraging green development would help the environment, create construction jobs, and teach valuable skill sets.
As a father of two, and grandfather of three, Olsen is thinking ahead, envisioning the world future generations will live in.
"I want a place they can enjoy, that will be safe," Olsen says.
He'd start by banning cosmetic pesticides on public parks. "We want to be able to have our kids play on the grass without breathing in pesticides."
Another of the NDP's focuses is revising the Carbon Tax. Olsen says big corporations get a disproportionate benefit under the current system, and he'd see a return to 2008 tax levels.
"We'd take the revenue, and use it for green initiatives," Olsen says, adding it would also stimulate job growth.
Some funding would go to a marketing plan—Grow B.C., Feed B.C., Buy B.C.
"Feed B.C. would involve encouraging hospitals to eat locally grown food. It ties in so well with helping the local economy, and assisting with health, because people will be eating more nutritious food."
Olsen says the NDP approach is all about taking things one step at a time. The Buy B.C. program would eventually encompass other products, but the initial focus would be on agriculture.
Same goes for meat processing regulations. "I'm dissapointed. It was fixing a problem that wasn't there," Olsen says, noting he's never heard of anyone getting sick from local meat. But he says immediately reversing to how things used to be would be costly, and disruptive.
"We're not going to do any HST-like surprises. How do we turn it back? One practical step at a time. If we need to increase class E licenses, we'll do it. We have to look at the needs of the community first."
As for seniors' issues, the NDP would appoint an independent representative to report on needs and concerns relating to the elderly.
"We've got a hospital that is overcrowded daily, and 14 new beds just isn't enough," Olsen says of the Liberals' recent announcement to finish Polson Tower. "We need a representative that will take these issues and get something done, independently of any party."
Olsen says millions have been promised by the NDP for seniors home care, and preventative mental health programs to ease the burden on the hospital. "We want to keep seniors in their homes longer, and reduce unnecessary visits to the hospital."
Olsen earned a close second in the 2009 election.
"I'm hoping to reverse that result this time around," Olsen says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)309-5230.