I had the opportunity to interview Premier Gordon Campbell a little while ago although unfortunately our schedules couldn’t match up to make it actually happen. As such, the Premier took some time to answer a few questions for my readers (some of the questions were sourced from my Twitter contacts as well).
Question from Twitter: The social media community in Vancouver organized “Mental Health Camp” this past weekend and with this in mind – on top of the pressing topic of homelessness, are there any plans to support the untreated living in the Downtown Eastside?
Answer from Gordon Campbell: I think we have made a breakthrough in meeting the challenges of homelessness. The first step is to see it as a personal problem, not simply a political label. There are many causes of homelessness â€“ mental illness, addiction, family breakdown, isolation, lack of income. The way to deal with it is one person at a time. Thatâ€™s why we have started the outreach program â€“ it has helped 4,600 people already. Itâ€™s why we allow people to stay in shelters instead of closing shelters part of the day. The new Burnaby Center for Mental Health and the addiction center at Karameos are also helping.
The 43 new buildings we have acquired has stabilized housing for vulnerable populations and the partnership we are building with the city of Vancouver will add thousands more units. Addiction services, new mental health services, and more safe and healthy accommodation is a start â€“ it has taken a quadrupling of our investments but it is beginning to result in real benefits for the people we are trying to help.
Question from Twitter: Parties are running attack ads but the public would rather see positive messages about what the parties have done and can do for them (rather than what the opponent lacks). What would you say are the top three highlights of the Liberal government past, present or going forward?
Answer from Gordon Campbell: We are not running attack ads, the NDP is. Weâ€™ve chosen to focus on the most important issue facing B.C. â€“ jobs and the economy and the positive steps we can take to make BC a better place to live. British Columbians worked very hard after 2001 to get the provinceâ€™s financial house in order. We balanced B.C.â€™s books, cut taxes to the lowest in Canada, and worked to make B.C. one of the best-positioned economies in North America. Going forward, weâ€™re focused on creating more jobs for British Columbians and keeping our economy strong. Weâ€™re investing $14 billion to build schools, roads, hospitals and other public infrastructure, which will create about 88,000 jobs. Weâ€™re lowering taxes on the small businesses that support over one million B.C. jobs and encouraging the investment that creates jobs.
Question from Miss604: Although Vancouver is the hub of activity in B.C., what are your main concerns or areas of focus throughout the rest of B.C.?
Answer from Gordon Campbell: So far this campaign Iâ€™ve travelled through the Cariboo, the Kootenays, the Interior, Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, and everywhere I go people are concerned about the economy, their job, and their family. The people Iâ€™ve met want a government that is focused on building a stronger BC economy, on creating jobs, and on building our economic competitiveness because they know all our public services need a strong economy to get ever better. They know we can come through this global economic downturn stronger than ever. Weâ€™re focused on creating jobs, and on supporting workers in sectors like forestry, mining, tourism and the green economy. The question British Columbians in every corner of the province are asking themselves in this elections is: â€˜Who is best suited to guide British Columbia through these difficult economic times?â€™
Question from Miss604: Youâ€™ve been on Twitter for a while now, posting updates, and even doing blogger outreach â€“ how has social media affected your campaign so far and do you enjoy being part of the online community?
Answer from Gordon Campbell: Iâ€™ve enjoyed learning more about social media tools like Twitter and Facebook â€“ itâ€™s an exciting way to directly connect with people that goes beyond the traditional communication of mainstream media. Traditionally, the only way to directly reach a voter was by phone or through knocking on doors. Social media is a new way to literally â€œknockâ€ on peopleâ€™s online doors and engage voters. I have lots more to learn, but we have a digital campaign group which is specifically focused on digital outreach, including a social media strategy. The most powerful political messages come from regular people telling their friends/family/co-workers why this election is important to them rather than them hearing it from candidates or political parties. We also have a digital activist program that encourages people to get the word out through their own personal online networks. Itâ€™s become clear through recent elections â€“ particularly in President Obamaâ€™s groundbreaking use of social media â€“ that social media is increasingly going to be an important way of connecting with young voters at election time and for all of us in our day to day lives.
Iâ€™m reminding everyone that Tuesday May 12th is election day but that you can also vote in advance polls which are open from Wednesday May 6th through Saturday May 9th. Click here to find your riding and polling station. You can vote even if you havenâ€™t pre-registered. Click here to find out what you need to bring to your polling station.
I’d like to thank Premier Campbell for taking the time to respond and write this post, as well as the other candidates that I have interviewed for this election. I am also trying to setup some email questions/responses from the other candidates for Premier so that I can provide some balanced coverage on the site.
The most important item to note is that every vote counts and be sure your voice is heard on May 12, 2009.