A different kind of politician: Matt Shaw

Trent Ernst, Editor


Matt Shaw says he got into politics specifically because he didn’t want to be your typical politician.

A resident of Prince George for over two decades, Shaw grew up on near Vanderhoof. He has spent his time in Prince George working for the Prince George School District as an adult educator.

This experience, he says, has shown him how a high-quality education can open doors and create economic opportunities in people’s lives.

Shaw served as the Clinical Counsellor for McLeod Lake Indian Band near Mackenzie from 2011 to 2013, and authored Great Scots! A book on the history of Scottish people in Canada. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Education with minors in French, History, and Political Science from Simon Fraser University, and his Master’s degree in Humanities from California State University. He received his Professional Teaching Certificate from the British Columbia Ministry of Education in 1991.

Shaw is an avid outdoorperson, which is what has brought him to Tumbler Ridge. “My wife and I love Tumbler Ridge, as we are outdoor enthusiasts, and we often talk of retiring there someday. We think Tumbler Ridge is one of the most beautiful towns and geographic areas anywhere. I know the North, love it, am committed to it, and want to do what I can to help its people thrive.”

Shaw says his interest in politics is not for status, perks, power, or ladder-climbing. “I am entering politics with a sincere spirit of public service and a desire to do what politicians are actually supposed to do: tirelessly represent the interests of the people in my riding. Like most Canadians, I am very cynical when it comes to politics and politicians. That’s why I want to shake up the status quo and become a populist politician who always speaks the unvarnished truth, who is not an automaton for a party, and who tirelessly represents the interests of working people and small business.”

Shaw has no political experience, but has always been interested in politics. “I hold a bachelor and master’s degree in political science and political theory, I speak French, and I have a lot of public policy experience.”

Shaw says one of the things he brings is nigh-boundless energy and enthusiasm. “My plan is to be extremely visible and present in all northern communities in my riding, including Tumbler Ridge. I will consult with municipal leaders very regularly and always be current with local issues, problems, and concerns. Yes, it’s a big riding with a variety of people, but vast improvements can be made with regard to representation.”

Shaw says he believes he can win this election. “I would not have entered the race otherwise. The reason I am confident that I can win is because before I sought the Liberal nomination, I talked with hundreds of people and came away with the distinct impression that a vast majority was looking for an alternative to the broken, scandal-plagued, authoritarian Harper Government. I decided that I wanted to become that alternative and offer a platform that was rooted in good management and common sense. In actual fact, although the Conservatives call themselves conservative, they’re really not. They have been very poor money managers and have squandered vast amounts of tax payers’ dollars in all sorts of wasteful ways. I want to help change this. Good economic management and supporting free enterprise is a large part of what I stand for.

“As a trading region, it’s critical that we continue to develop our resources, get them to market, and sell them successfully. This is how our wealth is produced, and I want to seek ways to support, facilitate, and constantly improve this process. I also want to help put more dollars in the pockets of working people, and this would be done by cutting the middle-class tax rate and giving a tax-free child benefit to families who are raising children. These changes would amount to hundreds of extra dollars per month for the average family.”

Shaw says Tumbler Ridge is an area of endless possibilities. “I would consult very deeply with municipal leaders and explore strategies to help Tumbler Ridge grow and thrive, if that is what the people want. For example, there may be ways of securing federal funds to help promote Tumbler Ridge as a tourist destination.”

However, Shaw’s doesn’t think that wind energy is currently the solution for Tumbler’s problems. “The Liberal Party wants to promote wind energy and other green technologies through tax incentives and research and development funding. I believe that while wind energy could be a valuable supplement to the electrical grid, it will never be a primary source of electrical energy, and also, it’s very costly to get off the ground and to maintain. For me personally, the costs versus benefits of wind energy, in its present stage of development, do not seem very compelling.”

There’s always a tension in resource extraction communities between protecting the environment and providing jobs. Shaw says that economics is largely about calculating risks versus rewards. “Mines, mills, and pipelines all pose risks to the environment, but in most cases, the economic rewards for working people far outweigh the risks. I, and the Liberal Party, understand that the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding relies heavily on extracting and selling resources. Are there ways that would could continue to mitigate environmental risks? Yes, and we should continue to look for ways to do this. Can we create tax incentives to promote the use of greener technologies? Yes. There are processes that we can put in place to make sure that the North thrives economically but also that resource extraction is done in an environmentally responsible way.”