By David F. Rooney
Scratch Brent Bush’s political skin and beneath it you’ll find a political lone wolf.
This is the Kimberley resident’s third stab at federal politics and this time he’s doing it the hard way — without the backing of a political party.
Bush ran for the New Democrats during the federal elections of 2004 and 2006 but chafed at the discipline imposed by the party on its candidates. He flirted with the Liberals but decided in May 2010 to not seek that party’s nomination because of Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff’s backing of the HST and refusal to permit a free vote on the long-gun registry. In a letter to riding newspapers at the time Bush said:
“There is something clearly wrong with our democratic system when the internal strategic interests of a political party come before the interests of the people we claim to serve. An obvious recent example is the whipped vote by both the Conservatives and the Liberals to help pass the federal implementation legislation for the HST (otherwise known as the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement between the Government of Canada and The Government of British Columbia).”
It’s not surprising then that this political science graduate has decided to go it alone.
“I think there’s a growing disillusionment among the general public with our political leaders,” he said in an interview. “You send an M P to Ottawa and all your vote is used to achieve are the political objectives of a political party — not what you wanted to see happen.”
So what issue does Bush, who is also a postal worker and City Councillor in Kimberley, thinks resonates with voters?
The Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States which is coming due for renegotiation.
That is, as he admits, “an enormously complex issue,” but it is central to the history of our riding. The damming of the Columbia River and the drowning of so many of our small rural farms and communities in the early 1960s was a direct result of that treaty. Nasty stuff, that. But it also led to the creation of the Columbia Basin Trust and its work to not only bootstrap our people into the future but efforts to get us all to pay attention to the growing importance of water.
It is the importance of H2O that Bush is interested in.
“Increasingly, people will struggle over water,” he said. “I tell ’em that they care about access to water they had better pay attention to the treaty.”
Bush has correctly identified what may be a major sleeper issue in this riding. Community fora held here over the past several years regarding water have all been extremely well-attended and it should comes as no surprise to anyone that there is unease over the shrinking of the glaciers that provide us with water.
Are voters paying attention? The audience was certainly attentive during Tuesday’s All-Candidates Forum in Revelstoke, particularly when Bush pulled out a large map of the riding. But will it win him votes? We’ll see on May 2.
In the meantime, Bush is doing what he always does: forging ahead and trying to make a difference without becoming ensnared in the Tar Baby of party politics.