By David F. Rooney
He may be campaigning to become the next Member of Parliament for this riding, but like most Canadians Conservative candidate David Wilks doesn’t think the country really wants an election at this particular time. But what he wants and what he has to do are two different things.
“I wasn’t expecting to be going into a campaign so soon,” said the Sparwood resident during an interview at Sangha Bean on Wednesday afternoon. “I guess I’m like most people — I would have been quite happy to leave the government in place for another year until we had to have an election.”
Wilks may not be household name — yet — but he is no stranger to Revelstoke. As a Mountie in Golden he sometimes had to come here on police business and, after he retired from the Force and opened a bowling alley in Sparwood, he frequently came here for youth and adult bowling tournaments.
He hasn’t been here very much recently because, as mayor of Sparwood, most of his attention has been focused on public business in that town in the Elk Valley east of here. So he was happy to make Revelstoke one of the first cities he would visit during the federal election campaign, which he regards as being — in reality — a struggle between the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party.
Because of that, Wilks has given thought to some of the issues most Revelstokians would regard as relevant and important to them.
“Trans-Canada Highway improvements are direly needed from Three Valley Gap up towards Golden,” he said. Improving the TCH could be an economic driver for the northern half of the vast Kootenay Columbia riding and the simple act of making travel on the country’s single most important national highway would have “a trickle-down effect” by making the transport of goods more efficient and by reducing health costs.
Wilks has also given some thought to the Columbia River Treaty between Canada and the United States. After 2014 either signatory can signal their intention to seek renegotiation of the treaty in 2020. The dams that have been built on both sides of the border benefit both countries. He also believes the federal government can play a more significant role when it comes to promoting Canadian timber “not just in the United States but in Asia, too.”
The 51-year-old describes himself as “a conservationist” when it comes to the environment and believes “we need to convince people to do more towards water conservation so of our children and grandchildren will have clean water.”
While Wilks’ initial campaign visit here Wednesday was, of necessity, a relatively quick one, but he does plan to return for two days on April 17 and 18. Unfortunately he cannot be here for the April 12 All-Candidates’ Forum because he was already committed to be somewhere else on that day. Still, Revelstokians may be able to see him respond to the same questions asked of other candidates at the forum during a planned TV interview on RCTV to be taped when he returns later this month.
You can find out more about David Wilks at his website.