- Our Town
NDP nominee Aaron Sam says he represents change
Before The Journal can start talking to Fraser-Nicola NDP nominee Aaron Sam about his thoughts in the run-up to the nomination meeting on March 18, he asks if he can say something.
“Did you get the press release Harry Lali sent out about him receiving the unanimous endorsement of the Fraser-Nicola NDP directors?” Upon receiving an affirmative answer, Sam says “I was quite disappointed with Harry Lali’s press release. I’ve spoken with many members of the executive, and it was clear to me it was not a unanimous endorsement.
“It’s important to have leaders with integrity. We need to move past the old style politics and embrace real change, which is inclusive, ethical, and democratic. We need leadership committed to a new way of doing things.
“And it’s important that the nomination process be fair, that all the candidates be given equal treatment by the local executive so grassroots constituents can make their own decision in regard to who the best candidate is to take on the Liberals.”
That out of the way Sam, a lawyer who is in his second term as chief of the Lower Nicola Band, says he’s really excited in the run-up to the nomination. “I’m looking forward to the results on Saturday, but there’s lots of work to do.
“There was a really good turnout at the advance nomination meeting in Merritt on March 12,” he continues. “People are really excited, and the turnout was higher than expected. The democratic exercise taking place right now is great for the party.”
Speaking of the Emergency Department at Ashcroft Hospital, which is only open from Friday evening to Monday morning, Sam says “Emergencies don’t just happen on weekends. I think it’s clear to everyone in the area that they deserve the same quality of health care as B.C. residents who live in more urban centres.
“When I am elected as MLA I am committed to sitting down with community members, local government, and health providers in Ashcroft and area. To provide quality health care we need a range of people with different areas of expertise, and we need to find a collaborative way to recruit, and provide services to all local residents.”
Noting the importance of tourism to the region, Sam says it’s imperative that government foster an environment where it can support small businesses and entrepreneurs. “They need to be able to do business and ensure people come and stop by for longer periods, instead of just gassing up on Highway 1.
“And in Merritt and many other areas of the riding over the past ten years or more, mills have been shutting down and raw logs have been leaving our shores. I believe what we need to do is look at policy, and take decisive steps to ensure we keep jobs in our communities.”
Talk turns to First Nations matters, and Sam says that education is very important. “I had the good fortune of doing post-secondary education. It’s important for the government to invest in education, for First Nations people and everyone. If people get their Dogwood diploma [grade 12 graduation] they can go on to post-secondary education, get jobs, and contribute to the economy.
“The Liberals have done a terrible job in education, for Indigenous people and people at large. Investing in education has long-term benefits for everyone. And if we invest in training and education, everyone is better off down the road.”
When asked to sum up, in two or three sentences, why he should receive the NDP nomination in Fraser-Nicola, Sam says “I’m educated, I’m young, I have lots of energy, I’m hard working, and I have integrity.”
He pauses. “Is that enough?” When told he has another sentence or two, he laughs.
“I haven’t lost to Jackie Tegart and the Liberals, and I have the best chance of beating the Liberals in this election. This election is about change, and I represent that change.”