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Prince George 2020 candidate profiles: BC Libertarian Raymond Rodgers wants smaller, more accountable government

Rodgers wants to provide a new option for voters on the Prince George Mackenzie ballot
Raymond Rodgers. (via BC Libertarian Party)

The 2020 B.C. provincial election is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24.

PrinceGeorgeMatters has reached out to all candidates in the city's two electoral districts for interviews to bring you these profiles.

During his first time running in a provincial election, B.C. Libertarian candidate for Prince George – Mackenzie, Raymond Rodgers hopes to provide a voice advocating for smaller government with more personal freedoms for all.

Rodgers joins BC Liberal candidate and two-term MLA Mike Morris, along with BC NDP candidate Joan Atkinson, the current mayor of Mackenzie, and BC Greens candidate Catharine Kendall in vying for the provincial seat.

Rodgers is described as a journeyman electrician in the mining, forestry and oil and sectors who has lived in Salmon Valley for the past year-and-a-half.

Rodgers whose been a Libertarian Party member for two-and-a-half-years says he was already planning on running during the general election next year, before this month’s snap election was called.

“As a libertarian, I am trying to find unity between traditional conservatives and liberals," says Rogers.

“We believe you should be able to do what you want with your own body and your own private property as long as you aren’t causing harm to someone else.”

He gave the example that Libertarians completely support the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, while also supporting the rights of gun owners.

Founded in 1986, the party's mandate says it advocates for individual liberty, lower taxes, free markets, and social tolerance.

Rodger’s says he believes in smaller, limited and a more accountable government.

“We believe individual freedoms for everyone will all go up when we have a more accountable and smaller government.”

One of the issues Rogers says he would like to see addressed is changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve, to give farmers more control over what they can do on their property.

“There are farmers who are up here who can’t build a second residence for their grandma and grandpa, an uncle, or someone to live on their farms and help out,” says Rogers.

“I would love to see changes to the ALR because it is frustrating to see the centralized decision making of Victoria limiting what people can and can’t do up here.”

Another B.C. party platform the libertarians have been advocating is the dismantling of ICBC in favour of private auto-insurance.

“We still have a monopoly on ICBC, that is a huge thing our party has been advocating to dismantle, so it’s frustrating now the B.C. Liberals are willing to privatize it and do what we want to do,” adds Rogers, noting the B.C. Liberals Oct. 6 promise to end ICBC’s monopoly.

“But we are also looking at dismantling other monopolies in B.C. like B.C. Hydro and B.C. Ferries.”

As the Prince George-Mackenzie riding is still suffering the effects of the downturn in the forestry industry, Rodgers says a solution to revitalize the industry would be to declare B.C. a free trade zone within Canada.

“If we could declare B.C. a free trade zone within Canada it would stimulate a lot of trade in-and-out of our province and we already have a lot of timber, mining and oil and gas coming out of the northern part of the province,” says Rodgers.

He says fewer taxes would also allow more wood-fibre products to be made locally.

Another issue facing Prince George-Mackenzie and the province as a whole is the opioid crisis, which has escalated during the pandemic.

Rodger’s explained that the libertarian approach to tackling the opioid crisis would be to decriminalize drugs with the aim to transition to legalization, so individuals could access a safe supply with informed consent.

“I do support those individuals going to a legitimate storefront and accessing a safe supply and that those individuals who are choosing to buy are informed of the risk and at least they have a clean source of their drugs,” says Rodgers, adding libertarians do not see drug users as criminals.

“We would be creating tax revenue by selling drugs to those adults that are consenting to use them and an easier step to transition too would be to decriminalize it right away.”

In terms of addressing social issues like poverty and addiction, while advocating for limited government and less taxes, Rodgers says the libertarian approach is to provide charitable tax rebates to allow the public to support social causes directly through charities and non-governmental organizations.

“We want to reduce the need for the government but we have to reform our welfare systems to see our nonprofit system strengthened to raise money from the public directly in order to solve the problems,” says Rodgers.  “When we have more choices we will all make better decisions for ourselves.”

The BC Libertarian Party ran a total of 30 candidates in 2017's provincial election. Rodger’s is running alongside Libertarian Candidate Sean Robson in the Prince George – Valemount riding.

“I want people to make sure they have all the information and they can make the best decision about who they want to represent as their MLA,” says Rodgers.

 “I want to let everyone know that I am willing to stand up and do my public service and hopefully I can do what is best for the Prince George-Mackenzie riding at the same time doing what’s best for British Columbians.”

- with files from Jess Fedigan, PrinceGeorgeMatters