ELECTION 2015: Candidates outline their strengths

North Island-Powell River: We asked the candidates “What would be your strengths as a Member of Parliament?”

In addition to the candidates’ answers to the questions posed to them at Thursday’s all-candidates forum at the Tidemark Theatre, the Mirror is also providing the candidates space to address three separate questions this week to help voters get to know them better.

Today we asked the candidates “What would be your strengths as a Member of Parliament?”

Their answer are reprinted below.

Note: Green Party candidate Brenda Sayers has not responded to our invitation to participate.


Rachel Blaney, NDP: I’m proud to be the NDP candidate for North Island – Powell River. I was elected last November by over 700 local NDP members. Since then I have been working hard: speaking with people, listening to their concerns and building strong relationships throughout the riding.

My husband, Darren and I have two teenaged sons who are currently in school here in Campbell River. My stepdaughter recently gave us a beautiful grandchild. I have lived in Campbell River for almost 20 years and have worked, most recently, as the Executive Director at the Immigrant Welcome Centre and prior to that, was the Employment Officer in Homalco. My educational background includes a B.A. in First Nation Studies, and my family is from Stellat’en First Nation, near Fraser Lake, BC.

My greatest strengths are my high work ethic and my ability to listen to people. I believe in collaboration. I know that the job of MP for this riding will be a challenging one, but I know that I am up for the task of connecting with and working diligently for everyone in this riding. People here have felt neglected for a very long time and I am committed to building a new relationship between your elected MP and the citizens of North Island – Powell River.


Brenda Sayers, Green Party: For the past two and a half years, I was the Hupacasath’s portfolio holder for the Canada China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) court challenge. We took the Federal government to court to stop the ratification of the Agreement, because it was a threat to the rights and freedom of First Nations and all Canadians.

While traveling across our great Nation on the Canada-China FIPA tour to raise awareness, it was blatantly visible that MP’s were not speaking for their constituents. I want to listen to the constituents of the North Island – Powell River riding and bring their voice to Parliament. They deserve representation on every issue.

I brought together many other groups so they could work collectively on the issue. I did the strategizing, communications, press releases, public awareness documents and videos, working with the legal team, public speaking engagements, fundraising and media interviews.

After FIPA wound down, the opportunity arose to be the candidate for GPC and it was the natural next step. I want to continue serving the people; for me it is the highest honour.

My experiences have given me the skills to continue to work for the people of Canada. I bring energy, innovation, and loyalty to everything that I commit to.


Peter Schwarzhoff, Liberal Party: I was born in Ocean Falls, but grew up in Campbell River in a pulp mill family. I know this region very well. From the early days of the mill to the transition we are in now. I enjoyed a career in public service – in the Air Force and Environment Canada as a meteorologist and later as a manager of environmental research.

I am one of those scientists who was muzzled by the Harper government and I that needs to change. Good policy requires good science, and trust of policy requires transparency. You and I need to know that we can trust government to protect our environment while ensuring our nation’s prosperity.

My first-hand experience will help restore the trust that has been lost in the environmental assessment process.

Important to me are the men and women who have served in uniform.  My grandfather, also named Peter Schwarzhoff, saw action in the great battles of WWI. My father served in WWII. I served in Germany at the very end of the Cold War.

Our treatment of our veterans is disgraceful. I am proud that my party will restore and improve benefits to meet our sacred obligation to our vets.

This election is about change that restores public trust in the idea that government acts for all Canadians.  Justin Trudeau has assembled the most competent, best prepared cast of Cabinet ready players among all the parties and I believe I have the qualifications to make that team.

Be assured I will make it my mission to strongly and faithfully represent your interests to government rather than simply serving as a government messenger back to you.  By working for you, I too commit to helping restore your trust in government.


Laura Smith, Conservative Party: My greatest strength as an MP would be my experience, both here at home and in Ottawa.  I have lived and worked in many corners of the riding, and I understand the particular challenges and opportunities of life in Coastal communities.

After a 14 year career in forestry, I also understand the importance of balancing environmental and community sustainability, and our pressing need to develop a strong, stable local economy.  Importantly, I also have direct, on-the-job experience having spent six years working in Ottawa for MP John Duncan.  I have been helping to advocate for our communities for years; I understand the job and I know how the system works.  I know how to get things done and I can hit the ground running in Ottawa.