Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidate profile: Jesse McCormick, Liberal party

Meet Jesse McCormick

This week, Castanet Kamloops is going to help you get to know the seven candidates looking to represent the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding in Ottawa. We will be posting a video and a Q&A for each of the local hopefuls running in the Sept. 20 federal election. Each candidate is asked the same questions and their answers are published in full.

Here is the lineup for this week's special election coverage: Monday: Bill Sundhu, NDP; Tuesday: Bob O'Brien, independent; Wednesday: Jesse McCormick, Liberal; Thursday: Corally Delwo, People's Party of Canada; Friday: Iain Currie, Green; Saturday: Frank Caputo, Conservative; Sunday: Wayne Allan, independent.

Castanet Kamloops: Who are you and why do you want to be MP? Tell us about yourself — where are you from, what do you do and what will you bring to the table?

Jesse McCormick: "My name is Jesse McCormick, I’m the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. I am a father, a partner, I have two little kids, a two-year-old and a four-year-old. My wife is a local emergency physician, we're raising our children here in the southern Interior.

"I'm a lawyer by trade, I have had the opportunity to work on behalf of First Nations on many major infrastructure projects in B.C. and across the country. I've also had the opportunity to support our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, as her director of policy and Indigenous relations, and I work to support the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada as his director of rights implementation.

"I’ve had the opportunity to work federally in relation to environmental policy, justice policy and reconciliation as well.

"I'm originally from Ontario, my wife is from Lillooet. We've been together for over a decade and have spent an enormous amount of time in B.C., and lived in Vancouver for a while, and have always spent a lot of time up in the Interior. We're very pleased to be living here now, and spending some time and taking advantage of this opportunity to put forward a very progressive and positive vision of what Canada can be for the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo."

What experience do you have that makes you qualified to represent this riding in Ottawa?

McCormick: "I went to law school in Ottawa. And during that time, I worked for the Parliamentary Secretary, what was then the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. I've worked with, as I mentioned, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General as a political advisor.

"What that means is, in relation to their major policy decisions, in relation to their participation in cabinet, in relation to their federal provincial territorial meetings and their meetings with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples, I've been involved in helping to support them in those meetings and those decisions and those processes.

"During my time in Ottawa, I was able to participate in some enormous and important policy changes to support environmental protection, reconciliation and to help fight climate change. With all that in mind, I believe I'm very well positioned among all the candidates for this riding to have an immediate impact in Ottawa. That knowledge, that experience, that understanding of how Ottawa works is one of the things that makes me a very effective candidate in terms of being able to advocate for the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo."

What local issues do you think you would be able to tackle as MP?

McCormick: "I’m interested in many local issues. And I think one is climate change. It's certainly a local issue, but it's also a national issue and a global issue. We've experienced the hardship of fighting wildfires in the midst of a pandemic here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, and I experienced that firsthand. My family was evacuated from south of Lillooet, B.C. where we were staying with Brandi’s mother and father. So we did have that experience. And my heart goes out to everyone who's been impacted by the wildfires, and my acknowledgement and thanks to everyone who has participated in the tremendous work of responding to the wildfires and the pandemic.

"We have to think seriously about how do we address climate change, both at the national but also the local level. In terms of adaptation and mitigation, what measures are we putting in place to help leave a legacy of climate action for our children. That may involve other opportunities to improve the measures put in place to build back and support those communities impacted directly by wildfires, what measures are we putting in place to manage fuel supply, such as pine beetle wood and other potential risks in the fire seasons.

"I think we have the opportunity to work collaboratively between the federal government and provincial government to improve matters relating to criminal activity, and how they are affecting local communities and local businesses.

"I also believe that we have the opportunity to help support natural resources industries here. I would also add, I’m a First Nations person, I’m Anishinaabe. I grew up in a house with a residential school survivor and have spent most of my career helping to advance the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples. And with that experience, both in government and as a lawyer. I believe I'm well situated to help address matters relating to reconciliation at the local, regional and national level."

What are your thoughts on vaccine passports, as introduced by the B.C. government last week?

McCormick: "As I mentioned, my wife is an emergency physician and she works right here in Kamloops. And one of the things that I've heard is that many of the staff, the doctors, the nurses, the people working in the hospital, are very frustrated by the challenges presented by people who have the opportunity to get vaccinated and have chosen not to get vaccinated and are then becoming ill with COVID-19 and presenting risk to everyone in the hospital and everyone in their community.

"I believe that we need to take strong measures to inspire people to take that small, but important step of getting themselves vaccinated for the protection of themselves, for their community and the vulnerable members of our community.

"I understand that the vaccine passport is a provincial initiative and it's still being developed. It's not fully scoped out, but I'm supportive of the idea that there are certain elements of society that you should have a mandatory vaccine in order to participate."

Are you double vaccinated for COVID-19? If not, why not?

McCormick: "I am double vaccinated for COVID-19."

What do you think needs to be done to combat the social issues plaguing Kamloops streets and, if elected, what would you do about it?

McCormick: "The social issues plaguing Kamloops streets are in part a product of a lack of resources. We need to find additional resources to support communities in crisis, individuals who face mental health challenges, individuals who have entered into what can be a revolving door of the criminal justice system.

"I think there are challenges in terms of the effectiveness of prosecution and the activities of police forces to respond to criminal activity in Kamloops particularly, but also I understand that many rural communities have been impacted by crime as well.

"I think it takes a multi-faceted approach. We need to reconsider our approach of essentially warehousing some of these problems, putting people in jail and locking them up and throwing away the key. We need to look at the root problems that are contributing to criminal activity, the hardships, the socio-economic challenges, mental health issues. And we need to pair that with effective collaboration with the criminal justice system.

"The challenge there is there are so many actors and so many players involved in that work. It really takes an element of political knowledge, capacity and expertise to be able to bring the right people together, to set the right political objectives, and to hold to account those people who are responsible for bringing solutions so that you ultimately see changes on the ground, in communities, and improve circumstances both for those people who might be suffering from mental illness, but also for all those business owners out there that are working hard — especially in the context of COVID-19 — to keep their businesses afloat and thriving. They need the support of federal, provincial and municipal governments to address criminal activity and ensure that their businesses can thrive."

What are your thoughts on climate change in general?

McCormick: "I think climate change is first and foremost caused by human activity. It is one of the most significant threats to our well being and our economic prosperity. It is a global problem with local impacts. And developing effective climate solutions requires participation from all levels of government, requires international collaboration, but it also requires the opportunity for local communities and Indigenous peoples to be part of the solution and part of defining what the solution should be.

"I believe climate change is something we need to prioritize, not only in terms of mitigation and adaptation, so responding to the change in temperatures and what does that mean, whether it's through impacting salmon stocks, or increasing the risk of wildfire, but also taking measures to reduce our emissions. That can be things like investing in infrastructure for electric vehicles, or helping to convert companies that are generating a lot of emissions to less impactful means of generating electricity.

"I think there is a complex, multifaceted challenge. I think we do have the capacity, the people and the interest to be world leaders in responding to climate change. I think we have to do it for not only ourselves and our own prosperity, but for our children."

The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding area is routinely impacted by wildfire. If elected, would you endeavour to take any steps to prevent or better fight wildfires? If yes, what would they be?

McCormick: "The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to investing $450 million, if reelected, to help support measures to respond to wildfires, including here in B.C.

"Included within that is a commitment to train a minimum of 1,000 forest firefighters, including some locally trained and Indigenous forest firefighters as well. So as part of the political commitments of the Liberal Party of Canada, wildfire response has been a significant commitment on our part. I think there's also the opportunity, if I were to be fortunate enough to be elected by the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, to be an advocate for both climate response, but also the necessary coordination and allocation of resources to this riding to ensure that we are better prepared to address wildfires in the years to come."

If elected, what would your first priority be for the riding?

McCormick: "I believe that government needs to be responsive to citizens, and that requires effective dialogue between constituents and elected representatives.

"The first step would be to begin those discussions, to seek the input of the constituents here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, to determine and prioritize those issues they want to see addressed at the very start. I don't want to be presumptuous in terms of deciding for the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo what their priorities are. The beauty of this campaign and the opportunity to participate in discussions such as this, is opportunity to share ideas and understand from residents what do we need to do as a government to improve lives right here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo."

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