Marching orders for local MPs

The Prince George area has given a resounding vote of approval for Todd Doherty and Bob Zimmer as the Members of Parliament for Cariboo-Prince George and Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, respectively. Neither man is a rookie (as Doherty was in his last term) so it's reasonable of their constituents to insist on more results, particularly under a Liberal minority government.

Whatever their leader says (more on that in a minute), both MPs need to reach across the aisle and work with willing MPs in other parties. In the last term, Doherty forged those links while working on his private member's bill on PTSD while Zimmer has done so while chairing the standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.

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Except for Greater Vancouver, the Justin Trudeau Liberals didn't win a single seat west of Winnipeg so they're going to be looking for some accomplishments in this part of the world. Doherty and Zimmer need to put aside their party interests to give the federal Liberals those victories and even be willing to let the Liberals take full credit for them.

It shouldn't be hard to put together a plan to help the struggling forest sector that stresses sustainability, the environment and First Nations partnerships. Tree planting? That's part of Canada's commitment to climate change, right?

Working with their Conservative colleagues in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Doherty and Zimmer should be able to whip up a package so the Liberals can show they care about farmers.

These same Conservatives need to talk about the oil and gas sector in general and pipelines in particular with their federal Liberal and NDP counterparts in the language of climate change, the environment, Indigenous rights and ethical oil. The Trudeau government is invested in the Trans Mountain pipeline. As painful as that may be, Conservative MPs must work with the Trudeau government to get that project across the finish line.

To the west, Taylor Bachrach, the former mayor of Smithers, was elected as the NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, succeeding Nathan Cullen. The two Prince George MPs are well-placed to offer some guidance to the younger rookie, while also cooperating on regional issues of mutual interest.

That's the task for the next four years and Zimmer and Doherty should be up for the job. The task for the next four weeks, however, is to hold their leader accountable and demand his resignation. Andrew Scheer failed to defeat a damaged leader mired in scandals and self-inflicted political wounds. Hey may be a nice fellow but his job was to lead Doherty, Zimmer and the rest of his party back into government. He failed to deliver and he needs to get out of the way for someone else who can. While removing Scheer will give the Liberals short-term joy as Conservatives wrestle internally over the future of their party, a new leader is a smart strategic move that will reinvigorate conservatives and offer something new for Canadians to consider the next time they head to the polls.

Just as the area MPs should hold their leader accountable, so should local residents expect more from their representatives in Ottawa. Under this minority government, it's time for them to deliver.

-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout

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