NDP supporters in Boundary-Similkameen have two very different nominees to choose from when they select their candidate for the next provincial election.
Not only do the two women vying for the NDP nomination come from different communities but they also bring very different viewpoints and backgrounds. Whichever they choose, though, will have the task of trying to unseat Liberal MLA Linda Larson in the May 9 provincial election.
Brenda Dorosz, who became a very public figure advocating for School District 53 to keep Osoyoos Secondary open, said a number of people asked her to run, including former Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells.
“I’ve thought about it throughout the years and thought now is a good time,” said Dorosz. “My son just graduated high school, so it’s a good time for my family.”
The experience of working to preserve the high school played into her decision, she said, but that wasn’t her only experience in politics.
“I’ve run for school trustee in the past and have always been involved in school situations and on different boards throughout town, so I just decided well I may as well jump for it,” said Dorosz. “I am a self-starter and a leader and I just want to bring that to the table.”
Dorosz said she grew up in an NDP household, so choosing to try for the NDP nomination came easy.
“Their policies are in line with what my values are, so that’s why I chose to run for them,” said Dorosz, adding that she has strong connections to the riding.
“I have family throughout the entire riding,” said Dorosz. “My family roots go back to 1920s so I think I have a very good idea of the area and what we need here.”
Colleen Ross, a first-term Grand Forks councillor, brings more of a global outlook to her campaign. Being a councillor isn’t, she said, her first exposure to politics and government.
Read more: Candidate: Colleen Ross, city council
Ross said she has been involved in provincial, federal and international politics for a long time, not as an elected official, but as an advisor to members of parliament and working with government organizations through the World Trade Organization and the United Nations.
“I’m not at all inexperienced in terms of leadership at an executive level and I’m not at all inexperienced in terms of working in the political arena,” said Ross. “For me to do this is something that’s really well within my comfort zone.”
Like Dorosz, Ross has a solid background with the NDP.
“I’ve been a long time NDP member,” said Ross, adding she has worked with NDP MPs and found them much more open minded, willing to discuss policies and do their homework.
“So the NDP though has been a really comfortable home for me,” said Ross. “It’s not that I’m saying that the NDP is the be all and end all. I think we could always do better. But definitely, I see the most potential (in the NDP).”
The B.C. Liberal Party has held the Boundary-Similkameen riding since 2009, but both nominees say the time is ripe for a change.
“I think the Liberals have made a lot of mistakes provincially and for sure in our riding,” said Dorosz. “They’re just they’re not showing up. They’re showing up for pictures and they’re not providing services for people that live here.”
Ross said the way to unseat Larson is by offering better solutions.
“Linda, respectfully, has been a huge disappointment,” said Ross, explaining that she had tried to work with Larson on changes to the agricultural land reserve and commission.
“We lobbied her hard,” said Ross, who said Larson came to Grand Forks to hear a presentation from ALR advocates. “She heard us and she understood us, but she did nothing about it.”
“I just feel that we need a true voice and we haven’t had that from the Liberals so it’s time to shake things up and get some action,” said Dorosz, who said education, health care and changes to the ALR are a big issues for her, as is raising the minimum wage.
“I think that will bring a lot of families out of poverty. I’m working with homeless people right now. People think Osoyoos doesn’t have homeless but we do,” said Dorosz. “Myself and a couple other ladies started a project here that’s helping the homeless and helping families that are falling through the cracks.
Ross said the issues she hopes to work on aren’t unique to the Boundary-Similkameen.
“What I’m hearing from community members, and I’ve travelled throughout the constituency, is their concern about water. They’re concerned about the two-tier billing in power. They’re they’re concerned about health care, elder care, education,” said Ross. “But those concerns are concerns that are echoed across Canada and even in communities outside of Canada.”
Ross said an MLA needs to have the courage to push back on their own party when a decision has negative ramifications for their constituency.
“I don’t find Linda Larkin courageous enough,” said Ross. That lack of courage, she said, was also shown in the controversy over closing schools last year.
“She refuses to face an angry crowd because she doesn’t have an intelligent rationale for the decisions that are being made,” said Ross. “Sometimes making a difficult decision means that you’re going to be popular with some people. Take the backlash and I’m willing to do that.”