My whole life has been dedicated to serving the public, it’s something I am very proud of. When I was 20 I joined the Canadian Forces because I believed in serving my family, my province, and my country. The Canadian Forces provided me an education and opportunities for career training and skill development. I learned responsibility, honour, history, the principles of peacekeeping, and various other aspects of military life and work. But most of all, I learned to serve the people of BC and Canada.
From Combat Service to Public Service
In 2008, I was called to serve my Country on the front lines in Afghanistan. I spent my time outside the wire in the villages providing security and training services to local forces, helping to re-open schools, and providing basic medical services to those in need. I was awarded a General Campaign Star for honourable service in a theater of war. When I returned home I pursued commercial diving and environmental assessment work. My love for the marine environment drew me back to school. I entered into a Master’s program in Interdisciplinary Studies with Royal Roads University. I studied Human Security and Environmental Sustainability.
When my daughter was born she was diagnosed with a lymphatic malformation in her left hand. This meant her tiny hand could not be used in any way and she would be challenged with development as she could not crawl with it. Myself, and my partner at the time, were informed she would require multiple surgeries. As a result, I took time off consulting work and school and sought government employment here at home on Vancouver Island. After passing all the required interviews and exams I was a successful applicant with the BC Public Service and was hired by the Conservation Officer Service (COS). My daughter learned to walk early to avoid damaging her hand further and I did complete my Master’s Degree.
Standing Up for BC’s Wildlife
As many of you know, while acting in an official capacity as a Conservation Officer in Port Hardy, BC, I was given an order to kill two ‘cub of year’ black bear cubs. I declined this order on the basis of my understanding of the Wildlife Act and current Provincial Policy pertaining to re-habilitation of bear cubs. What many individuals don’t know is that the reason I was in Port Hardy at this time was for a State of Emergency which had been declared. There was a forest fire threatening the town and I was seconded to the RCMP to assist in evacuating over 100 homes. We were working back to back shifts over 18 hrs at a time. There were bombers overhead attempting to put retardant on the homes and the fire was literally at the edge of the town. There were many firefighters and TV crews on site. The firefighters helped me rescue the cubs from a tree. I was initially suspended without pay the next morning. The public stood behind me and over three hundred thousand (300,000) people signed a petition for my re-instatement. I remained suspended while the legal battle raged on but my pay was re-instated.
Life Changing Events
I was eventually forcefully transferred to the Ministry of Forests. While my Union fought with the BC Public Service over their actions against me, my daughter was undergoing a major open hand surgery at Vancouver Children’s Hospital. Due to a post-operative infection that would not respond to treatments my litter girl’s hand was potentially going to be scheduled for amputation in the first week of January 2016. On new years’ evening, 2016, a young surgeon from South Africa saved Athena’s hand. We attended the hospital for a bandage change due to swelling and fluid leaking from the infection. He stated that he believed there was an infected abscess embedded within the tissues that was not showing on imagery. He needed me to sign a waiver to do an emergency procedure that was not within her surgical plan. On new years’ evening 2016 I placed all my trust and my little girl’s future into the hands of a new Canadian immigrant Doctor. He saved Athena’s hand that evening. While the scarring is substantial and one more surgery is required when she is older, Athena now has full function of her left hand is finally living a normal life after 4 consecutive years of major operations. This year (2017) is her first year in her short life (4-years old) where she will not have to go for an operation.
In February 2016 (while Athena was still recovering), I had enough of the labour battle with the BC Government over the bear cub situation. I decided to pursue my Doctorate in Social Sciences and stay with the Ministry of Forests. I was accepted into the Royal Road’s University Doctoral program in Social Sciences and I am currently researching government wildlife policies and peace building models that could potentially solve human wildlife co-existence issues.
The Move to Politics
I met John Horgan in 2015 and I saw a leader that could change this province and actually help us all build a better BC. When we talk about our health care system and quality of life, I can speak from experience what it is like to feel lost, to have your little baby girl’s future on the line because of an infection. When I talk about the risks of P3 hospital projects I speak from experience and from the heart. When I speak about environmental issues and wildlife concerns, such as the grizzly bear trophy hunt, I speak from field level experience and an academic understanding of the issues at play. When I talk about mental health services and drug abuse, I speak as a veteran of Afghanistan who has seen individuals suffer from depression and stress injuries and who often self-medicate with various substances. When I speak about education I speak to you as a father of a little girl who deserves, like all our children, to have a future.
With the world that is facing us today, I had no choice. I felt I must stand up and continue to serve the people of my province and country. I decided to seek office and to join the opposition and support a leader and party that I believe can form a new government.
I began my political journey in my home town of Courtenay-Comox. I met amazing people. I had a great experience and I saw awesome candidates – but the greatest need became clear – Oak Bay – Gordon Head. There was no one running in Oak Bay – Gordon Head for the NDP and I was asked if I would make a sacrifice and join the NDP south island team. I agreed because we need to form a new government and we need provincial politics that work for the people of the province. We need a better BC. The Oak Bay – Gordon Head riding association and its members came forward and asked me to represent them. I accepted the challenge. It was a hard decision, but I suppose I make hard decisions all the time. Times like the choice to serve in Afghanistan, times like the choice to spare the bear cubs, times like the choice to trust a new Doctor with my daughter’s future.
My Commitment to You
To demonstrate my commitment to you, my commitment to John and this party, and my commitment to forming a new government – I left my job, moved, and returned to one of my most favorite places on the island – the Capital Regional District.
Oak Bay – Gordon Head is unique because it has retained its independence though generations of change. It has continually stood up for its values and it has formed a community identity that is second to none in BC. It’s heritage, beaches, history, businesses, and people are all what drive me to fight for you in this next election. The community of Oak Bay is close to Royal Roads University where I am completing my Doctorate and I am proud to represent our unique needs in the next provincial election.
What I can offer you and the community of Oak Bay is this – I am unlike the other candidates because I have lived a life of service in both the federal and provincial governments. I have an applied understanding of real issues that affect us and when it comes to forming a new government it is this field level experience that will drive the change we so desperately need. I have experience as a soldier, an academic, and a government environmental employee.
People Powered Politics – People Powered Change
Most of all, I want you to know that I am not alone. People are already coming forward to join this campaign and to be a part of change – people like you! We have a dedicated team of individuals that are the driving force behind building a better BC.
I am proud to take on the challenge of representing Oak Bay – Gordon Head in this next election. I am proud to stand with the people who are standing behind me. And I am proud to stand with our party and its elected leader John Horgan as we move to put people back at the center of our politics and build a better BC.