Trent Ernst, Editor
“My phone hasn’t stopped since I signed up on Monday,” says Barry Blackman, a Tumbler Ridge resident and the sixth and last candidate to sign up to run in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies electoral district.
Blackman submitted his papers in on September 28, two days before the September 30 cutoff date for candidates to declare.
Why was he so late to the party? “Because I really didn’t want to do it. I got volun-told,” he says, jokingly.
Blackman is a veteran, having served in the Gulf War (“I served with Larry White,” he says,) and he’s running because he is a veteran. “It’s my veteran’s group that got me involved in this,” he says. “There’s a bunch of people from the PC party that are veterans.”
PC in this case stands for Progressive Canadian, but really means Progressive Conservatives. The Progressive Conservative party nearly died after the 1993 election, being supplanted by the Reform Party, which became the Canadian Alliance.
In 2003, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives merged, forming the new Conservative Party of Canada.
“They stole our name,” says Blackman. “We’re trying to reclaim our name. The Alliance flooded our leadership convention with their own people. We went to court and won the case, but it was all moot; we weren’t allowed to take our name back. They took our constitution and absorbed it.”
So, what is the difference between a Conservative and a Progressive … Canadian? Blackman says the Progressive Conservative party was founded by John A MacDonald. “Conservatives are traditionalists. Conservatives uphold traditional values. What we have now with the Conservative party is not true conservatism.”
He says the current government is more libertarian than conservative. “We are fiscally conservative but socially responsible. We’re not going to burn our bridges for ideology. We’re not going to throw people under the omnibus. We’re loaded with veterans, people who have served before and know what it takes. Pat Strogan ran for the party the last time. He was the ombudsman for Veteran’s Affairs. I wish he would run this time.”
Issues of Veteran Affairs are high on the list for the party. For Blackman. “We keep losing veterans to suicide,” he says. “In 2003, the Government had a surplus, yet 128 veterans committed suicide.” Blackman says the government could have done something, but chose not to act.
Other hot issues for Blackman include gun control. “I’m all for banning of the long gun registry. That’s something that, if it is regulated, should be more local. They went overboard on that. We are too large a country to restrict owning guns.”
He says he’s in favour of projects like Site C and the Northern Gateway. “But I’d like to see refineries built here in Canada. Our unemployment rate is at, what, 11 percent up here? When I first moved up here, there was a minus unemployment rate. I’ve never seen it this high. We need some sort of stimulus. You tax during good times, you stimulate in bad times. You balance the books around the cycle, not the year. You stimulate when companies can’t stimulate.”
Blackman joins Green Party candidate Elizabeth Biggar, NDP Candidate Kathi Dickie, Libertarian Candidate Todd Keller, Liberal Candidate Matt Shaw and incumbent Bob Zimmer in the race for the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies electoral district.
Blackman says the party stands a good chance in the riding. “This is conservative country; I’ve always been conservative. The Progressive Conservative name is not what Harper’s Conservatives are about. PCs have historically been known as the Red Serges; people who serve the conservative value. It means loyalty.”
Blackman, who was recently laid off when LaPrairie shuttered their offices here in Tumbler Ridge, says his basic principle is to just get his name out there. “I’ve just gotta go and do it. I’m pretty fearless. I just jump in, and learn on the fly.”