WEST KELOWNA - Green party candidate Robert Mellalieu decided to run for MP when his 19-year-old son started getting into politics.
“We homeschool and that’s how this all came to be. He asked who I was going to vote for so we took a list of candidates and started highlighting the things we agreed with. The green candidate got more highlighter. I was green all along I just didn’t know it.”
Mellalieu, 50, describes himself as a computer geek. A resident of Kelowna for more than 20 years, he now owns his own computer repair company. He drives a Smart car and would rather spend his time fishing than running for office.
“That’s part of the problem with politics,” he says. “The apathy. Everybody wants to be out fishing or Sea-Dooing but something’s got to be done about what’s happening out there. The voters are so disenfranchised about the whole system. It’s a terrible state of affairs with how the government is running.”
Mellalieu was born on Vancouver Island and went to tech school in Calgary. He also lived in Winnipeg but moved to Kelowna 23 years ago. He is running for member of Parliament of the newly formed riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
“My special ability is being nice to people,” he says. “The Green Party is all about evidence-based decision making. In my business you keep quiet, let people talk, and glean what you need to figure things out. It’s the same when making decisions about the environment and the government. It’s a people business.”
Mellalieu believes his time as a small business owner has prepared him to represent the average, working person struggling to support a family. Aside from his concerns with how Canada plays on the international stage and land and water use issues, he wants to see his riding better able to provide livable wages for everyone.
"We have to make sure there’s a living wage for everyone," he says. “We’ve got good employment numbers in the valley but are those jobs really livable?”
Not surprisingly, he also sees climate change as being a significant issue in the upcoming election.
“Climate change is affecting us everywhere,” he says. “We’re almost too late in the whole process.”
He also believes in total marijuana decriminalization and that there are enough pipelines to keep industry going.
As a former Sea Cadet and with a father who fought in WWI, he believes veterans need better care and the Canadian military needs more funding.
“I’d like to see the armed forces get some decent ships. The armed forces are seriously underfunded. We have a large coastline and we need to get our armed forces up to snuff so we can help out with NATO and UN efforts and protect our sovereignty.”
He says although he falls in line with the majority of the Green Party’s platform, there are some issues where he disagrees.
“With the logging issue they’re a bunch of tree huggers and they don’t realize it’s a crop. We can log sustainably and make sure we’re not wrecking the environment. We certainly don’t need to be shipping raw logs, that’s ridiculous. When we sell a 2x4 we should market it as a sustainable 2x4.”
Mellalieu says his election strategy won’t rely on vast numbers of supporters or staff but on getting his message out and meeting as many people as possible.
“Once they meet me they can’t not vote for me. I’m wonderful,” he says. “Social media is good but it doesn’t get you votes. Signs are somewhat important but we don’t want to clutter up the landscape until we need it. I’m just a regular guy who goes fishing on the weekends and runs a business. But that’s what politics needs. If you keep doing what you always did you’re going to get what you always got.”
For more information visit the Green Party of Canada website.
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