“The majority don’t want the election,” said Hill. “They can’t understand why we are wasting $300 million of taxpayer money when we can waste it next year (at the end of the four-year term).”The Trail resident owns Septen Financial in Trail and Grand Forks and is confident that the opposition made a serious mistake in rejecting the federal budget.“It’s going to bode well for the Conservatives; one: I’m going to get elected and two: we’re going to get a majority government,” he said.The 47-year-old father of two described the defeated budget as “phenomenal.” He suggests it affords income relief to seniors, will lift 680,000 Canadians out of poverty, provides benefits to caregivers and addresses environmental concerns by adding $400 million to the retrofit housing program.The candidate can’t understand why the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, former Trail resident Ken Georgetti, supported the budget while the NDP rejected it, forcing a non-confidence vote.He deems the tenure of current Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko as an economic failure, on a federal level but more importantly, in his own riding.
Stephen Hill started knocking on doors almost immediately after Friday’s non-confidence vote set the country off on its fourth election in seven years.
The Southern Interior Conservative candidate hit the road Saturday canvassing Rossland, Warfield, Trail and Nelson before speaking to over 100 geologists and miners at a B.C. Chamber of Mines meeting in Nelson Saturday night.
Throughout his door-to-door launch, the reaction of residents to the election was apparent.
“We (the Southern Interior) have the highest unemployment rate in all of British Columbia . . . I’m a job creator, I’ve created 10 jobs here in my business in the Kootenays, I’ve reopened the Midway mill that would create 35 direct jobs in Midway to start and will create a further 35 in the bush.
“Through my work and my clients, I’ve created hundreds of jobs in the last 15 years; ask Alex how many jobs he has created.”
While Hill recognizes the need to balance industry with environmental concerns, he views industry as both an economic necessity and a contributor to environmental remediation.
“We are a resource economy . . . we are a mining, fishing and forest extraction nation and it’s all about balancing those activities,” said Hill.
According to Hill, the NDP policies on punishing polluters, increasing corporate taxes and prohibiting free trade would threaten local companies like Teck, Celgar and Interfor and eventually destroy those industries and communities as well.
“(If that happens), hell we might as well just pack up and move away.”
In the 2008 election, the NDP took 48 per cent of the vote with runner-up Conservative Rob Zandee at 36 per cent. But Hill attributes the loss to a low voter turnout – 45 per cent – and is determined to get the electorate engaged.
“We have to get after the apathy. Alex didn’t win, it was the apathetic vote, the non-vote and the ‘I don’t care’ vote and the ‘none of the above.’ So I have to get after those people to get them off the couch.”
Hill reminds voters that the riding has been in opposition to the federal government for 80 of the last 100 years and says it’s time the Southern Interior stopped being a professional protest area.
“We need to build bridges, we need to improve (Highway 3), we need to improve Highway 395 connector, we need to improve our cell service, we need to improve our schools and hospitals, we need to build infrastructure and we can’t do that by constantly protesting and constantly being on the wrong side of the government.”
The Conservative candidate continues his campaign in the Okanagan this week, canvassing in Oliver and surrounding communities.