More than a few times during this federal election (and probably a few more times before it comes to a merciful end Oct. 21), it's been depressing to look at the federal party leaders and wonder why they aren't as smart, decent and politically astute as their riding candidates. The numerous shortcomings and missteps of Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May (Mad Max Bernier and his pathetic people's party? Spare us, please) have been well-chronicled elsewhere so let's instead focus on the two Prince George ridings and how our own local candidates have been better than the people who "lead" them.
The best example in either riding and any party has been Cariboo-Prince George's Conservative rookie MP Todd Doherty. On so many occasions and so many files, he's been more articulate than Scheer. When confronted on abortion at an all-candidates forum at Trinity United Church (so many national and regional issues so let's talk about something that was settled legally more than 30 years ago?), Doherty's response, as reported by myprincegeorgenow.com, was that he personally opposes abortion but respects the right of women to make their own decisions and refuses to judge them should they terminate their preganancy.
Unfortunately, Scheer has been unable to state a similar view with the same eloquence and has been unwilling - past and present - to be more tolerant and less judgmental on this and other social issues.
Mavis Erickson, the federal Liberal candidate in Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, has more education, more leadership qualities and is far more well-spoken than Trudeau. A Prince George lawyer, Erickson got her law degree from Harvard(!) after obtaining two bachelor degrees from UBC. A former Carrier Sekani tribal chief, Erickson led the charge in calling for a federal inquiry into missing and murderered Indigenous women and girls across Canada.
The NDP's Heather Sapergia, a medical technologist at Northern Health, lacks the polish and political experience of Singh but brings a far more educated and mature approach to guns and gun ownership than her leader or her party as a longtime and active member of the Prince George Rod and Gun Club.
The Green Party's Mackenzie Kerr has no problem talking about forest industry and agriculture jobs as fixtures in the community and essential pillars in a more sustainable economy, in stark contrast to May's long-held and irrational views on logging (trees actually have to be cut down to create wood products) and farming (pesticides, fertilizers and genetically-modified crops feed millions of people who might otherwise starve).
The list goes on. Bob Zimmer has done fine work on cyber security and data privacy, while his leader has been silent. Tracy Calogheros has made more sincere and meaningful efforts at Indigenous reconciliation and partnership in the last four years leading Exploration Place than Trudeau has in four years leading the country.
Prince George area voters are blessed to have such strong candidates. Too bad their party leaders couldn't be more like they are.
-- Editor-in-chief Neil Godbout