By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
Last week, The Other Press interviewed Shane Kennedy, BC Conservative candidate for the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding. Kennedy is a Douglas College graduate and finished his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.
Both the other major parties platforms on post-secondary education focus on skills training. Are the BC Conservatives also veering away from promoting liberal arts education?
“I always make jokes about the traditional bachelor’s degree, but there always should be a good blend in society. I feel that post-secondary years are self-exploratory for most people. When I was growing up, there was a focus on white-collar labour, a little bit to the detriment of blue-collar labour. In Europe [tradespeople] are called artisans. There’s a real sense of emotion and pride in it. We do have a skills shortage coming up, but there still needs to be people managing that, and dreaming big dreams. Political science, business, commerce—all those things [are necessary].”
What was your plan, career-wise, in pursuing a political science degree?
“Let’s go way back to 1982. My brothers were pushing for us to all get law degrees and form our own law firm.”
You’d only need one name for the title.
“We’d save a lot of money! First I was thinking of doing forensic psychology, but I found you have to have a tough stomach for that with people afflicted with mental health issues—the fine line between criminality and intent. I thought law might be better for me. I started with political sciences, but I’m not that academic so I finished with solid C+ average and okay scores on the LSAT.”
What is your relation to the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding and what you want to run for provincial seating under the BC Conservatives banner?
“I don’t agree, fundamentally, with everything the NDP has to offer. I joined the BC Conservative Party when I was 14 years old. Going back to the Vic Stephens era, I thought that he had integrity and I respect him. Once again, I got involved with John Cummins, I think he’s very good and has a lot to offer, a lot of experience, and he’s a man of integrity. There are so many problems with both the BC Liberals and the NDP.”
Problems in their policy or in the makeup of the party?
“The optics of their behaviour have been poor. I think the Liberals could’ve gone for George Abbot [as leader] because he’s a lot calmer and educated. I’m not sure what happened with Christy Clarke. I’ve heard people say she went tries all these universities but never graduated from one of them. I have a learning disability—I’m dysgraphic, and I was able to push my way through a degree.
“I think Adrian Dix has done some questionable things as well. People keep talking about the backdated memo but there’s also the issue of riding transit for free. Students have to pay for that themselves. They could’ve picked Mike Farnsworth. [Both parties] went for people with a lot of charisma but I’m not sure how much their substance is. John Cummins is very forthright. He’s not going to create a lot of excitement I’m afraid but when you look at his policy, it’s good policy.”
Do you believe in direct democracy in BC, such as the measure that was taken to revoke the HST?
“I don’t think it’s good for everything. Sometimes it makes the government look catatonic, like in California with everything being a referendum.”
You’ve been a member of the BC Conservatives since you were 14. What’s it like to be a member of a party not on the fringe ideologically, but politically?
“We haven’t elected a member since Vic Stephens in 1979, so there are a lot of challenges that go with it. One of them, of course, is money. When you don’t have sitting members it’s difficult to fundraise. I think people are ready for a third party. When people say that the Liberals are the centre-right party, I’m willing to say that we’re right-of-centre, but the Liberals are further right than us.”
In regards to what?
“I think they have a real obsession with balancing the budget continually. They talk about balanced budget laws and selling off assets to balance the budget. It’s like me selling my house to say I don’t have a mortgage.”
What do you want the readers of The Other Press to know about you?
“I’m the most approachable of all the candidates. Chris Wilson is a big beefcake guy and Douglas Horne looks very much like a judge. I can’t promise them I’ll be the best MLA they’ve ever had or that things will be all wonderful when I’m elected but I’ll do the best I can do.”