Both of Kamloops’ provincial ridings will be challenged by candidates representing the Communist Party of BC in the May, 2017 election. The candidates will make their first official campaign appearance at the Kamloops and District Labour Council’s annual Labour Day Picnic at McDonald Park on September 5, from 11am – 2pm.
“We’re really looking forward to broadening the narrow political landscape that has existed in Kamloops for decades now,” says Peter Kerek, candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson. “Trickle-down economics has run its ugly course – it didn’t work on paper, and it doesn’t work in the real world. People are tired of the hoarding, greed and poverty incessant within capitalism, and our party’s the only one running in Kamloops that proposes systematic changes to a bankrupt system.”
“It’s a shame that the major parties in BC accept so much poverty and income disparity in a province that has enough wealth to take care of everyone. Unfortunately, even the now centrist NDP has become so focused on holding onto their second place status that they very much abandoned all advocacy of practices that could eliminate poverty, hunger, homelessness and unemployment,” says Kerek.
“The other parties just offer different shades of the same capitalist system,” says Beat Klossner, Kamloops-South Thompson candidate for the Communist Party of BC. “Capitalism does not work for the vast majority of us and a system that is fundamentally opposed to basic human needs and instincts can not be reformed – it needs to be replaced.”
“We will be advocating for the immediate construction of affordable housing, significant improvements to public transit, electoral reform and a reversal of the tax breaks given to the wealthiest British Columbians 15 years ago,” says Klossner. “That break slashed provincial revenues by over $2 billion annually with the deliberate intention to justify reduced funding for public services.”
The candidates acknowledge that their party will not be running enough candidates to form government, but do hope that their message will help build momentum for future elections and promote progressive values.
“Revolutionary political change doesn’t happen overnight, and, in countries where there’s very little diversity in media or meaningful political debate, it happens even more slowly,” says Kerek. “Regardless of the challenge of winning seats there needs to be real demands for the most progressive ideas to come to fruition, and that’s why it’s important for parties of the Left to always make such demands, especially during elections. And it’s also important for people who support those ideas to vote for them as many governing parties adopt progressive policies in order to avoid losing support to us. But, if people don’t vote for us, then that pressure to adopt people-friendly policies is significantly reduced and we end up with governments only beholden to their political financiers.”
“A small party like ours could potentially hold the balance of power and use that position to help extra-parliamentary movements to block neoliberal austerity policies,” Kerek added.
One of the hot-button issues in the Kamloops area is the AJAX mine proposal. Both candidates have been public about their opposition to the AJAX project and their Party’s Kamloops Club published their official statement of opposition last winter. They are thus far the only candidates in the Kamloops area that are opposed to AJAX.
“This would be a totally different discussion if the entire mining industry were nationalized, then AJAX would need to be of net benefit to the entire community rather than the current situation where we’re weighing the community’s benefits and costs against the profit requirements of the mine owners,” says Klossner.
“The mining industry is the single biggest donor to this Liberal government. Industries don’t donate money without favours returned – that’s the simple truth about politics in ‘Western Democracies’,” says Kerek. “If it was about supporting the democratic freedom of voters to choose the best candidate then they would donate equally to all parties.”
Kerek says the current state of campaign financing continues to disadvantage parties and candidates that openly challenge the status quo and economic injustices.
“In some cases industry does donate to multiple parties, but, that’s usually because they see each of those parties supporting their interests – it’s not done to improve political diversity – it’s actually done to promote just one single outlook and simultaneously quash diversity.”
Kerek is a 43-year-old father of three, husband and stay-at-home dad. He was active on the Kamloops and District Labour Council for 15 years, including holding the position of President, before resigning from his work to be at home with his young children. Kerek also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC and a Bachelor of Journalism degree from TRU. Kerek’s personal Twitter handle is @proletariatkami
Klossner is a 55-year-old husband and father of one who moved to Kamloops in 2002. He works as a baker at a downtown Kamloops bakery. Klossner’s personal Twitter handle is @klossnercommie
The Communist Party of BC is a registered provincial party which campaigns in British Columbia elections. To date, the party has named candidates in four other ridings, including George Gidora in Surrey-Whalley, Peter Marcus in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, Kimball Cariou in Vancouver-Hastings, and Tyson Strandlund in Esquimalt-Metchosin. The party’s election platform will be finalized later this month. For more information, call 604-254-9836, or follow the CPBC on Twitter @cp_bc