Today’s Poll

BC Election 2017: Michelle Mungall — Passionate about issues that matter to people

John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
By John Boivin Local Journalism Initiative
May 3rd, 2017

In less than a week, Tuesday, May 9 to be exact, voters in BC will elect members to the Legislative Assembly in the 41st British Columbia general election.

To help voters gain some insight into the five candidates vying for the Nelson-Creston seat, The Nelson Daily will profile all five of the candidates running.

Today, The Nelson Daily reporter John Boivin speaks with two-time MLA for Nelson-Creston Michelle Mungall of the BC NDP.

For nearly 50 years, the Nelson-Creston riding has been the NDP’s to lose… only twice since 1972 has another party represented the 44,000 people in the riding.

But that doesn’t mean the NDP incumbent, Michelle Mungall, is taking anything for granted. She’s out on the campaign trail, where she says response is encouraging.

“They’re going really great. It’s really awesome to see such a high level of support out there when I hit the doorstep, which I hit every single day. Going to community events and just being out and around.

“There’s a lot of support, it’s really humbling,” she says.

If elected on May 9, it will be Mungall’s third time as MLA for the riding.

First elected to Nelson City Council in 2002, she is the youngest person ever elected in Nelson. She is also the first woman to elected to represent the riding of Nelson-Creston following her win in 2009.

Though her experience as an MLA has been on the opposition benches, Mungall says she’s worked to ensure Kootenay voices are heard in the legislature. She’s been a vigorous campaigner for environmental protection for the Jumbo region, supported local food production initiatives and fought the government’s clawbacks for child support and maternity leave, among other poverty-related issues.

Michelle has served as Opposition Spokesperson for Social Development as well as Advanced Education. She has chaired the Opposition Women’s Caucus and the Opposition Social Policy Committee and served as Opposition Deputy House Leader the past three years.

Michelle and her husband Zak live in Nelson, where they enjoy skiing, hiking, arts and culture, and their heritage home.

The Nelson Daily: What is the biggest issue facing the Nelson-Creston riding? How would your party address this issue?

Michelle Mungall: While our region is exceptional in many ways, its challenges are not unlike those facing all British Columbians. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet. The entire province is experiencing an affordable housing crisis and costs like ICBC rates, MSP and hydro keep going up –all as a direct result of decisions made by the Christy Clark government.

At the same time, parents are fundraising more for schools, but as the Supreme Court of Canada decision highlighted, getting less in the classroom. Seniors aren’t getting the care they need when 91% of care homes don’t meet minimum standards. And BC’s surgery waitlists are among the worst in Canada.

We can turn this around and build a better BC. John Horgan released the New Democrat platform, that shows we are working for you, not just the richest 2% who got a $1billion tax break from BC Liberals. We will eliminate MSP premiums, freeze ICBC rates, invest in sustainable forestry, agriculture and tech jobs, create $10/day childcare, and we will invest in our schools.

We will also stop the downward spiral in seniors’ care with investments in homecare, ensure that health care is there when you need it, and we will tackle the housing crisis.

The Nelson Daily: What specific party policies do you have in place to address the issue of employment in the region?

Michelle Mungall: A strong economy is when everyone is doing better, not just those at the top. Our plan includes the creation of 96,000 construction jobs across the province to improve infrastructure and retrofit provincial buildings and schools so that they are energy efficient. Many of those jobs will be coming to the Kootenays. 

In meeting with those already working in our growing local tech sector, it is amazing what they will be able to achieve with the supports the NDP is looking to provide, including strategic investment in infrastructure, adding learning opportunities at high school and post-secondary levels and attracting world class talent.

The BC NDP will reinvigorate the clean energy fund to boost investment in groundbreaking new energy technologies.

Through programs like Grow BC, Buy BC and Feed BC the BC NDP will increase the use of BC grown and processed foods in government facilities. Imagine Creston apple juice in Kootenay Lake Hospital!

Nelson-Creston’s artists will benefit from our plan to double investment in the BC Arts Council and we support local ecotourism by ending the grizzly bear trophy hunt.

After losing 30,000 forestry jobs in BC, many of them here, we are committed to our plan of ensuring BC logs create BC jobs.

The Nelson Daily: What is your opinion of the record of the current provincial government in dealing with issues and people’s needs in the Nelson-Creston riding?

Michelle Mungall: Christy Clark serves her big money donors and under her leadership, life for Kootenay people has become less affordable. We’ve experienced major hikes in MSP, ICBC rates and cost of housing. Under her watch, funding for education has not met our kids’ needs and our schools have been placed on the chopping block. I have spoken to countless people who have struggled with the healthcare system, whether it be trying to find a doctor, less homecare or waiting for months in pain for surgeries. Every week, people contact me for help to deal with Christy Clark’s legacy of disservice, but some of the most unbelievable calls came from people with disabilities now paying more for local bus passes because of Ms. Clark’s choices while she flew on private jets.

When bringing attention to these issues and others over the past eight years, I have found some success in getting the BC Liberals to do right by us in the Kootenays. However, the fight needed to just hold the line is huge and most often fails if there is a big money donor with an opposite view attending Ms. Clark’s fundraisers. Losing the 17 full-time family-supporting laundry jobs at Kootenay Lake Hospital is a case in point.

The Nelson Daily: What do you bring to the table as candidate that makes you the best choice for voters in Nelson-Creston?

Michelle Mungall: The Kootenays are an amazing place and I am honoured to stand up for the issues that matter to us in Victoria. I have the experience, the passion, fearlessness and drive to work for our region first and foremost.
Over the last eight years as MLA for Nelson-Creston, I have worked hard to protect our natural surroundings and been a force for Jumbo wild. Our region also values fairness and equality, which has led me to introduce legislation for a poverty reduction plan six times while also successfully fighting to end three unfair government policies that worsened poverty for children and people with disabilities.

Advocating for the healthcare services we deserve and standing up with teachers and parents to advocate for kids’ best interests in schools has always been a priority for me, along with local economic development and good paying jobs through agriculture, tourism and sustainable development.

I love our region and am passionate about getting things done that matter to people. It would be a tremendous privilege to keep doing this work to build a better BC.

The Nelson Daily: What role do you see for yourself if your party forms the next government?

Michelle Mungall: During the past eight years, I have worked hard in the New Democrat shadow cabinet and contributed much to our caucus’s leadership. As the New Democrat Opposition Deputy House Leader, I worked with all my colleagues to develop ideas that improve the lives of British Colombians and bring them forward in the Legislature as bills or motions for debate.

In a BCNDP government led by John Horgan, I would work closely with my cabinet colleagues to make life more affordable and improve the services that you count on and create jobs in a sustainable economy. I look forward to building a better BC with very talented, creative problem-solvers led by John Horgan.

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