After 10 years on the job, a new decade is dawning for Prince George-Peace River MP Bob Zimmer.
As expected, the 52-year-old from Fort St. John was re-elected handily for a fourth term in Monday’s federal election.
With 207 of 225 polls reporting, Zimmer had 19,210 votes (59.2 per cent), comfortably ahead of NDP candidate Cory ‘Grizz’ Longley, with 4,913 votes (15.1 per cent).
People Party of Canada candidate Ryan Dyck, 3,134 votes (9.7 per cent) moved into third place ahead of Liberal Amir Alavi, with 3,055 (9.4 per cent); followed by Catharine Kendall, Green, with 1,236 votes (3.8 per cent); David Jeffers, Maverick, with 868 votes (2.7 per cent); and Phil Hawkin, Canada’s Fourth Front, with 38 votes (0.1 per cent).
“It’s just a really good show of support for us and we appreciate everybody’s votes today, you just never know how elections turn out and I’m just so thankful for the support we have going into the fourth term,” said Zimmer.
“I think we have work to do. We’ve seen some of the other groups who have drawn Conservative votes and we have work to do just to gain those voters’ trusts and obviously across Canada we have work to do to even form a minority government.
“Being 10 years on the job, I’ve learned how to make a difference, whether it be local or national. You just have to push and work hard and I’ve seen it work. We were hoping to make that difference as government, but we will continue on working for the people of Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies.”
Justin Trudeau fell short of his goal of the 170 seats needed to gain a majority but Canadians, who struggled with the idea of an election during the fourth wave of the pandemic, have re-elected Trudeau’s Liberals for a third consecutive time. As they did in 2019, the Liberals will form a minority government, with the Conservatives as the official opposition in Parliament.
The Conservatives gained 34.07 per cent of the popular vote, compared to the Liberals 31.98 per cent, but it wasn’t enough to defeat them.
“I think once again it’s that whole popularity - we got Canadians’ support but it didn’t come out on the seat count - and we saw that last time,” said Zimmer. “We have some work to in some areas we haven’t won this time. It’s a very tired Liberal government and we need to be seen as the government in waiting and the people will trust us to give us their vote.
“We’re seeing now there’s really no change (from the 2019 election results). I know the numbers are up and down, but it doesn’t look like it. I hoped the Canadian public would make the prime minister pay for that bad decision but they will form the government again. To me, it’s $600 million during a pandemic when nobody wanted it. It didn’t accomplish much.””
Zimmer was first elected to Parliament in 2011, and was part of the Stephen Harper government until 2015, when the Conservatives were defeated by the Liberals. Zimmer won his second term in 2015, the year the riding was renamed Prince George-Peace-River-Northern Rockies.
He said his priority and that of his party will be to kickstart the national economy that’s suffered greatly during a pandemic that’s dragged on since March 2020.
“We’ve talked about getting our energy sector firing on all cylinders again and we can do great for the environment and the energy sector all at the same time and really start to see some of that come to fruition, and we’ll see if the Liberal government will do it,” he said.
“I know our economy is struggling right now. Inflation is double what the Bank of Canada projected it to be and we’re in deep waters. My hope is the prime minister will see we do need to get our natural resource sectors going again.”
He aims to convince the Liberals of the need for a pipeline that will deliver Western Canadian-produced oil and gas to eastern Canadian markets, while continuing to try to develop green energy initiatives.
“I can tell you, we have Quebec MPs that are Conservatives and they say Quebeckers want to buy Canadian oil and gas, but it needs to be done the right way,” said Zimmer. “We need to do something about foreign oil that keeps coming into Canada. Canadians pay a price for carbon tax for our own resources but foreign energy can come in untaxed. We need to do better, we need to get our domestic products to Canadians and I think Quebeckers and all Canadians will appreciate that.”
Zimmer says he’s heard alarming reports from scientists who have raised concerns about spikes in water temperatures which has the potential to threaten salmon and other fish species and he knows climate change is one of the most pressing issues MPs from all parties will have make a priority.
“We’re committed to that and we think we can do carbon sequestering,” said Zimmer. “There are some great initiatives in Saskatchewan and one of the best ways to sequester carbon is to grow trees, one thing we do well in B.C.
“We have such huge potential for hydrothermal (energy). We have a project in Valemount we’ve talked about for years and they’re looking at it in Fort Nelson as well, some great ideas.”
The Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding has been a Conservative/Reform stronghold since 1972, when Progressive Conservative candidate Frank Oberle Sr., won seat, then known as Prince George-Peace River. It was last in Liberal hands in 1968 when Robert Borrie won during Pierre Trudeau first term as Prince Minister. Oberle Sr. swayed voters through federal six elections until Jay Hill took over under the Reform Party banner in 1993. Hill held the riding through seven elections until he retired in October 2010, opening the door for Zimmer.
Longley, in his first election, was elated to finish second to Zimmer in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies vote.
“After 50 years of Conservatives in this riding and me running against six other candidates, I’m the orange, long-haired freaky person and I came in second,” said Longley, who plans to return to his job as a pipefitter for the City of Dawson Creek.
“If you look at the numbers from tonight, I am taking nothing but victory, that’s exactly what this is for the NDP. All the supporters and all the people who came out and voted for me, they voted for change. They voted for something we haven’t seen here and that bodes well. My job is to smash up the concrete so I can get some seeds growing here, so I can some people to feeling OK coming out and voting for the things they need, to change some minds.”
Longley intends to run again in the next federal election and he’s already looking forward to that challenge.
“For 10 years this guy (Zimmer) has been in there,” said Longley. “Sometimes, in the rear-view mirror it says things are closer than they appear, that’s exactly me in Bob’s mirror, because I’m not going anywhere.”