KAMLOOPS - Steve Powrie’s daughter decided he should enter politics before he came to the same conclusion.
The Liberal candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo says while he complained about the current government at home one night, his daughter threw his own words back at him and told him to follow the 'practice what you preach' mantra he taught.
"If there are things you’re not happy with you can't sit on your hands. It's not just about the negative, it's about where we could be in government,” he says over coffee at PDK downtown.
In a coffee shop of eight people, Powrie knows four. He knows their names and for a couple, the subjects he taught them are etched into his memory. He could have taught them math or music in elementary school or global education in university. Before taking on the campaign he was an education instructor at Thompson Rivers University.
Powrie says the Liberal party resonated with his passion for reason over ideology.
“Reason-based means more intellect, which means advocating for a greater number of people and which means better decisions,” he says. “If you’re going to change Ottawa, you need new voices."
Some may see it as training for a job he’s never had before, but Powrie says his skills are sharpened to be the Kamloops-Thompson-Nicola riding’s Member of Parliament.
"There’s no extra skills required, there’s no personality traits that need to be changed. It’s really about what ways can you get your messages out,” he says. "I evolved into being a critical thinker and that to me is much more of the Liberal approach."
Following a family move to Vancouver and a teaching-practicum in Kamloops, Powrie says he didn’t expect to stay.
“I ended up here thinking it would be a two or three year mission and then I’ve been here ever since. I remember my 22-year-old buddy saying ‘is Kamloops that stinky town on the way to Calgary?’” he says with a laugh.
Before coming to Kamloops, Powrie discovered his passion for advocacy growing up in Michigan and Wisconsin. Born in Canada to a professor and a civil rights activist, his discovery came from watching anti-war groups protesting the Vietnam war. It also came in the form of a flaming cross on his family’s front lawn one night.
“Growing up in this highly highly highly politically-charged environment I think planted the seeds of advocacy. But also about political awareness and awareness of issues and trends,” he says. “I don’t just accept that because someone says this is the way it is that it is the way it is."
Beyond his disagreements with the Conservative stance, Powrie disagrees with his own party in its view on controversial Bill C-51. Rather than attack it with amendments, he says he'd repeal, update and reinstate it.
"Dissent makes for a healthier party," he says.
For more information on Powrie and the Liberal party visit his website.
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— This story was updated at 9:11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015 to correct the riding's name and Steve Powrie's title at TRU.