Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidate profile: Frank Caputo, Conservative

Get to know Frank Caputo

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 seven 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; and 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?

Frank Caputo: “I’m going to break that up into a few different answers here. Who am I, my name is Frank Caputo. I'm born and raised in Kamloops, I love the community. I've lived here my whole life. I chose this community to raise a family and I intend to live here for the rest of my life.

“Why do I want to become an MP? People need leadership — they need leadership now. The people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo have told me that their views aren’t being respected, that their voices aren’t being respected and that their wallets aren’t being respected. For instance, recently [we] had a lot of wildfires and the Prime Minister was in the area and didn't stop by.

“I love this community, I want what's best for it. I want to have my children have the best life possible, and their children to have the best life possible. I want my neighbors’ children to have the best life possible, whether they live in 100 Mile House, Clinton or Vavenby. I want to bring a number of things to the riding.

“Now, in terms of why I want to be MP and what I want to do here, this area needs more rural healthcare and more attention paid to rural healthcare. Doctors are a huge issue. Healthcare practitioners are at a major loss in the area, and I would like to see more specialists and more funding specifically focused at places like this riding, where we don't even have a family doctor for a number of people.

“I also want to have as much prosperity as possible through jobs, and that begins with infrastructure. People in Barriere and in Clearwater have told me that they don't have the necessary infrastructure when it comes to internet and natural gas. When you develop infrastructure like natural gas and internet, that can have an impact on somebody from Heffley Creek when it comes to work, which impacts somebody from Kamloops, which impacts somebody from Savona. So there's trickle-down effect and I want to see as much prosperity possible.

“Now, on the most general level, I want to be a strong, passionate voice for the people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo — someone who's local, who believes in local priorities, who will take those local priorities to Ottawa and do as much as they can for the riding.”

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

Caputo: “Well, I'm born and raised in Kamloops, so I have my finger on the pulse of the community. I've worked in this community and in this riding my whole adult life. As a parole officer, I often traveled up the North Thompson. As a Crown prosecutor, I have worked throughout the riding prosecuting offences from shoplifting to murder.

“One of the key things that I have found in doing my professional work is that I've got to know a lot of people throughout the riding and I have a good sense of what they want, what they need — and, generally, what they don't have. Teaching at the law school has exposed me to a number of the young people of the riding and their struggles, and also what they bring to the table, and the joy that the people in this community have.

“So, I want to build on that and I want to build on the work of [outgoing MP] Cathy McLeod, who I've worked with closely. Over the last 10 years I've been on her board of directors, so that experience will be very helpful in moving forward in becoming an MP for all people in this riding.”

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

Caputo: “The people in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo are telling me that they have three major issues of crime, affordability and spending.

“When it comes to crime, that's a multifaceted solution. So I am prepared as a federal Member of Parliament to do my part. One of the things when it comes to crime that I would like to do is advocate for a lab for local testing of firearms and for analysis of computers. Now, a lot of people don't know this about me, but one aspect of my work that I focused on as a Crown prosecutor is sexual offences against children — particularly as they relate to the internet. So I feel that that's an issue here just as it is nationally, and I want to try to make the community safer for children especially when it comes to their online activities. And I want to take that to Ottawa and I want to have the support of the citizens of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in doing so.

“When it comes to affordability, Kamloops was traditionally a safe haven. The citizens here are telling me that is often no longer the case. So, I want to look at affordability, and I believe in Erin O’Toole’s plan when it comes to things like divestiture of government assets up to 15 per cent, involving people who are traditionally in occupations who may not be able to get mortgages by eliminating a stress test, or perhaps looking at seven- to 10-year mortgages, things that address the issue of supply and demand.

“We don't have a lot of supply and we have a lot of demand. So, as a government, and our platform emphasizes creating as much supply as possible, hopefully a million new houses [will be built] in the next three years in order to deal with the demand for people who want to enter the homeowners’ market young and old.

“And then the last one was spending, that's another thing that people are concerned about. We just need to rein in spending — that's fairly self explanatory from my point of view.”

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

Caputo: “Vaccine passports are an area of provincial jurisdiction. That being said, I am double-vaccinated. I encourage all people to get double-vaccinated. I believe, and it's the Conservative position, that we cannot force people to get vaccinated — that that may be a personal health choice. However, how that's implemented by the provincial government is within the jurisdiction of the province.”

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

Caputo: “Yes, I am — as soon as I could be. I said that with such exuberance. As soon as I could. I was probably one of the earliest people in my 40s — I got it very early.”

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?

Caputo: “One of Erin O’Toole’s key pillars is securing the future when it comes to mental health. I was very pleased that a couple of days ago, Erin O'Toole talked about addiction as a health issue. I've seen personally, and I've spoken with a number of people on the street in Kamloops who have said, crime has really risen — but that really correlates to the addiction problem.

“So, mental health is a really key aspect of our platform. We want to invest $325 million in the coming years on 1,000 treatment beds and 50 new facilities. Those are the types of beds and those are the types of facilities that are going to help clean up the streets of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.

“If it were up to me, I would get everybody in a room together and I would say, ‘What can the federal government do? What can the provincial government do? What can the municipal governments do? What can the RCMP do? What can housing do?’ Because right now, it's almost as though we're operating in watertight compartments where one hand doesn't know what the other is doing — and I believe we need a collaborative solution to tackle a complex problem.”

What are your thoughts on climate change in general?

Caputo: "I believe that climate change is real. I want to do everything I personally can to combat climate change, and I also want to be a part of a party that does so. Erin O'Toole has put forward a comprehensive plan with respect to climate change, and we have released a plan that is ambitious, but is aimed at meeting our Paris 2030 targets. That plan involves mandating 30 per cent electric vehicles for light-duty vehicles by the time 2030 rolls around.

“And, unlike other government programs that simply tax and then put into general revenue, there's a lot of temptation for government to access money that comes tvia and not returning to the citizens. No matter how much government says this will be returned to the citizens, experience has taught us that that is not often the case.

“Now, Erin O’Toole’s plan is very different, because rather than seeking to return the money to citizens that comes from carbon levies, the money would go directly to the citizens. So, if somebody pays 10 cents a litre on fuel and they have, say, 100 litres of fuel, well, then that would be $10 — that would go into their carbon savings account, and that $10 ultimately could be put to a bicycle or a high-efficiency furnace or an electric car.

“Another aspect of the Conservative platform that I agree with is to emphasize the need for local production of batteries and components right now. So many of those electrical components are coming from offshore. Why not bring that production to Canada, where we have positive marketing conditions, where we respect human rights, where we have effective environmental controls?

“Not only are we not shipping the materials overseas, which itself impacts the carbon footprint, we then also create jobs locally. So, it actually is like a three-pronged approach to attacking climate change.”

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?

Caputo: “This is, again, another multifaceted solution. One thing I want to speak with the provinces about is the need for a national strategy when it comes to wildfires, because this year it's B.C. on fire, a few years ago it was Fort McMurray on fire. Before that, Ontario may have been on fire. And it feels as though we just shift from one place to another to another, and we're bringing in resources from all sorts of other places often overseas or sometimes from other countries.

“The federal government, in my view, needs to come up with a strategy that's prepared to fight fires and assist the provinces, wherever that may be. We also have to attack climate change, which is contributing to the wildfires. And we have to be proactive — and being proactive may mean some controlled burns and things like that. Now, a lot of that is within the provincial jurisdiction, so I would be hesitant to step on their toes, but I believe we do need a national strategy to attack this, especially for when fires do break out.”

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

Caputo: “Listen, an MP should be an MP to all, not an MP to some. And anybody who goes to Ottawa thinking they know exactly what the riding needs has not listened. So my goal in the first few months would be to listen, and to also build respect among my colleagues.

“No matter what the party is, respect is important because when you talk, you want people to listen. And without the respect, they won't necessarily listen. So my view is that you have to cultivate relationships, you have to build trust. And then that way when it comes time to advocate for your riding, which I intend to do with passion, people will be there to listen.”

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