Tom Friedman entered politics in 2009 as the B.C. NDP candidate in the Kamloops-South Thompson knowing he would not be beating out long-time incumbent Liberal Kevin Krueger for the coveted MLA seat. With the retirement of Krueger this year the election is different, Friedman says. Not only is he running with the intention of winning, the mood of the voting public has changed too.
Friedman, an educator at Thompson Rivers University, says he realized he had potential in the political arena when he became a member of the union where he works. He says the experience brought out his ability to develop a consensus and help build solutions.
Since his first run at provincial politics four years ago, Friedman has spent even more time getting involved in the community, developing his community profile and engaging with the public whenever possible.
“To be a successful MLA you have to be identified as someone with community values, community aspirations,” he says.
The government plays such a big role in those not-for-profit and community organizations, Friedman says, noting this is part of the reason why he feels comfortable running for the NDP.
“These are my values, values I was raised on, values that build community,” he says of his three core concerns for the province and for Kamloops – seniors, health and education.
At a local level Friedman wants to see better home support for those who need it and more affordable assisted living facilities. He says both would help relieve some of the push on the hospital. The government needs to ensure proper primary care is available for the people of Kamloops as well, he says, as more than 10,000 people are currently without a family doctor.
Education, always a passionate subject for Friedman, is also a point of contention. He wants to see more training and better education opportunities for youth and those wanting to get into one of the many resource-based industries available in the province.
Training to fill these jobs is just one piece of the NDP platform though. Friedman also wants to ensure these jobs will be created and filled without causing irreparable damage to our environment.
“Every proposed project needs to be looked at through the filter of long-term sustainability,” he says, “if we have a rigorous process, that includes a joint panel review, an objective recommendation can be made – people deserve that.”
Running under NDP leader Adrian Dix - a leader that has been questioned repeatedly about his past fraud charges - is not something Friedman is worried about either.
“Who do you trust more? Adrian is thoughtful, thinks of what's needed. He made a mistake in the past, but he acknowledged it, took full responsibility. I think people realize that people make mistakes. If you look at his record since, he's very committed to doing the right thing for British Columbia.”
Friedman also appreciates the clean campaign the NDP are running under the Dix leadership.
“We're running the campaign in a positive way, we'll criticize, but we won't be mudslinging,” he says of tactics he believes turns off a lot of voters, especially the younger voters.
Friedman has spent a lot of time trying to encourage the younger generation to take part in the political process – to make their voices heard. He offers a non-partisan message while speaking at schools and simply tells the students to get involved, to make their voices heard.
This message has carried over to his youngest son, who just turned 18 and will be graduating high school this year.
“He is excited to vote for the first time,” Friedman says with a huge grin, noting his son has also been helping out on the campaign.
His eldest son shares his interest in the arts and is taking music composition at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
The legacy Friedman wants to leave for the next generation is a healthy environment, jobs and opportunity. He hopes this message gets across to youth today, and they start to voice their opinions.
Your other Kamloops-South Thompson candidates:
Peter Sharp, Conservative
Todd Stone, Liberal
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