Corporate taxes and proper representation – those were the two main points repeated often by New Democratic Party candidate Mark Shmigelsky in an interview with the Times Review Tuesday afternoon.
However, the first thing the 41-year-old forestry worker talked about upon entering the Times Review office was about the Trans-Canada Highway.
“Holy cow! The potholes are 6-8 inches deep,” he said. “The transportation infrastructure in Canada is suffering horrendously. When you look at just municipalities, speaking as an ex-mayor, we have our own challenges in our own towns from lack of funding. Then, you look at the highway system across this country and how important it is to the economy, it’s just atrocious how little is being spent on it.”
Shmigelsky was in Revelstoke campaigning on Tuesday in advance of the all-candidates forum being held that evening. The former mayor of Invermere, B.C., said health care and affordability were the two big issues he was hearing about on the campaign trail.
“It goes back to the corporate tax cuts,” he said. “That issue is resonating with a lot of poeple. They’re paying less, they’re making a lot of money; we’re paying more, we’re making less money.”
He defended the NDP plan to raise corporate tax rates to 19.5 per cent from the current 16.5 per cent, saying that corporate profits have been increasing while their taxes have been decreasing.
“They’re hoarding that cash, they’re not re-investing it, they’re not creating jobs,” he said.
The Conservative Party plan calls for lowering the rate to 15 per cent starting next year while the Liberal Party proposes raising the rate to 18 per cent.
He also talked about the need to support seniors and aid the struggling forestry sector. Shmigelsky was laid off two years ago when the Canfor mill in Radium, B.C., closed down. He now works for Tembec in Canal Flats, B.C.
However, Shmigelsky’s second biggest campaign plan was on the matter of representation. He raised it several times – while discussing the Columbia River Treaty and the long-gun registry.
“The member of parliament has to be the member of parliament for everybody. I’m committing to regular meetings with elected officials in every community,” he said. “I’m committing to regular meetings with the Chambers of Commerce, labour, environment and social groups. If I’m elected the MP, you’re going to see me in Revelstoke and the area more than just at election time.”
On the matter of the gun registry, which Conservative candidate David Wilks said he would vote to get rid of, Shmigelsky would not answer directly if he personally opposed of supported the registry but said that, if elected, he would vote as his constituents wanted.
“I’m not a gun owner so I don’t think I understand how they particularly feel about it,” he said. “I’ve committed to developing a committee of people that are for and against it and figure out the best way to determine how the riding feels.”
Shmigelsky faces an uphill battle if he hopes to defeat Wilks in Kootenay-Columbia. Retiring Conservative MP Jim Abbott consistently won the riding with around 60 per cent of the vote. Further compounding Shmigelsky’s challenge is the fact there’s three other candidates competing with him for the left-wing vote, compared to just Wilks on the right.
“I can only put myself and my platform out there and ask people to support what I’m saying and vote with me,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to do the right thing, get someone in there that’s going to work for everybody and I hope they take it.”