Why this 26-year-old decided to run against BC's health minister

Oct 16 2020, 10:59 pm

Written as an opinion piece for Daily Hive by Cole Anderson,  the BC Liberal Candidate for Vancouver-Kingsway.

I was raised to appreciate Vancouver for every ounce of beauty that it offers. My mom’s childhood backyard was a cornfield, so she always made sure that we cherished the mountains, beaches and forests.

As I got older, my love for our province only grew as I began to understand how lucky we are to live in not only an exceptionally beautiful place, but a safe, diverse and egalitarian one as well. This is what ultimately sparked my passion for public service and politics, and it’s the reason I accepted the nomination to run for MLA as a BC Liberal in Vancouver-Kingsway.

It is no secret that 2020 has been a year of challenges and surprises; the manner in which I am running is no exception. I am one of the youngest candidates running in my party, I had 48 hours to decide whether to accept my nomination (due to the snap election), and I am running against BC’s Health Minister who has held power in the riding since 2005.

So why would I agree to run up-against those kinds of odds?

Despite beginning my political career in what feels like murky waters, it is an honour and privilege to be working on behalf of British Columbians, even in less-than-ideal circumstances. I don’t believe that life hands you opportunities on a silver platter. I am not deterred by these obstacles because I feel so strongly about creating a better tomorrow, especially when today feels shaky at best.

COVID-19 has produced a set of challenges that go far beyond the devastating illness itself. In addition to this topline health concern, I am especially focused on mental health issues and the opioid crisis, eliminating ICBC’s monopoly on auto insurance, as well as providing further support for seniors, small businesses, and families through the pandemic.

No matter your age, British Columbians are mentally and financially exhausted with paying the highest auto insurance rates in the country. The rest of the nation doesn’t have to deal with ICBC (or anything like it), so why should we? At a time when finances are so tight and jobs are constantly being cut, the cost of auto insurance should not be climbing. Our province is expensive enough as it is, without the added stress of ICBC’s sky-high rates.

From tent cities to the opioid crisis, I feel that the best approach to truly solve the homelessness issue in British Columbia does not include “quick fixes” like placing our vulnerable homeless populations in temporary hotels, such as The Opus in Yaletown. A long-term, sustainable, and carefully curated plan that strikes at the root of mental health and addiction issues is what is needed.

A BC Liberal government would expand the program that pairs police officers with mental health workers to effectively respond to multifaceted obstacles our homeless population is facing. We have already committed to providing $58 million to hire 100 psychiatric social workers and registered nurses to staff these joint teams with police, answer mental health calls and respond more effectively and safely.

Lastly, to the issue that has changed the landscape of our world: COVID-19. In addition to building new hospital capacity in Surrey, the BC Liberals will go much further. We will eliminate the PST for a year and establish an emergency pandemic-response committee to work with all parties and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Since the virus will be here for some time to come, we will prioritize investment in distance learning programs and providing children with enhanced digital learning tools if necessary.

Additionally, we will work with the federal government to ensure that a fair share of tourism investment makes it into the pockets of the thousands of tourism businesses that are struggling to make ends meet here in B.C. These are just a few examples that are a part of the BC Liberal COVID-19 Plan, which also includes significant improvements to senior’s home care capacity and restaurant support.

It would be an honour for me to serve as the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway. Whether I am elected during my initial attempt or not, this is only the beginning of my journey to contribute to the success and well-being of British Columbians around our amazing province.

I am certain this won’t be the last time I run against a highly qualified and intelligent opponent, and I plan to absorb as much as I can from the experience while learning from incredible colleagues in my own party. If I remain focused, keen, and prepared, I hope one day to be the seasoned and esteemed candidate that some other motivated nominee will run against.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece, as noted in our category and tags.

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