The upcoming federal election is over a year away, but one candidate for the South Okanagan – West Kootenay riding is getting a head start on her campaign with a stop in Trail.
Connie Denesiuk, federal Liberal Party candidate, has spent the last few days touring Trail and the surrounding areas, including a camping trip in Champion Lakes. On Wednesday morning, she stopped by Lil T’s Cafe in Trail to have coffee with voters and to hear their concerns.
During her trip, Denesiuk says the one thing that stood out to her was how beautiful the area was and the potential for more tourism.
“It is absolutely stunning out here,” she said over a cup of coffee. “The history in this area is remarkable and I don’t think people understand how beautiful Trail is, especially to tourists. I think you guys have a gem here. Even the communities surround Trail, like Fruitvale and Montrose – they are just beautiful. There is the nature that surrounds the city, the ski hill in Rossland – it is just great.”
The reason behind Denesiuk’s early tour of the riding was just to connect with the people who would be heading to the voting booths next October.
“Firstly, I want to understand the communities (I am representing).” she said. “Secondly, I want to hear from the people and what their concerns are and that is exactly what they have been doing.
“I don’t believe a member of parliament can adequately represent people in a riding if they don’t know what those people are thinking, what they are concerned about and what they are hoping for.”
The main thing Denesiuk has heard from voters in Trail is how the area has potential for more.
“I have had a chance to talk to a number of people from different businesses and some employees from Teck, just to get different perspectives,” she said.
“It is a hard working city and I believe that this is an area where people are looking for something new and they are looking for something from their representative.
“I have a sense of hardworking people who are interested in building up the community. There is a great sense of community, but I can also sense a bit of frustration and people are ready for the city’s potential to be realized.”
As a former school board trustee and former president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, Denesiuk has a unique perspective on the current labour dispute between B.C. teachers and the province. Although the matter is provincial, Denesiuk weighed in from a federal candidate viewpoint.
“I think (the dispute) has to play its course,” she said. “I feel for the parents and the kids and every teacher I have talked to. They all want to be back in the classroom. Mandating teachers back to work isn’t ideal. It’s about fair wages, fairness to the taxpayer and fairness to the teachers. I am very hopeful for a negotiated settlement.”
For the rest of her time in Trail, Denesiuk will be touring the area, exploring the city and talking to residents about what they need from a federal representative in Ottawa.