Coralee Oakes is throwing her name in the polital ring as the candidate for the B.C. Liberals Cariboo North.
Before the nomination meeting that occurred Nov. 7 in Quesnel, Oakes told the Tribune she believes this is the most critical election of our time.
“It will most certainly determine how we as a region diversifies,” she said. “ Many local businesses are starting to benefit from our growing mining sector and mining is as important to our future as it was the purpose for our initial existence.
“Our forest sector is changing and it is becoming an energy producer and a manufacturing producer. These provide good paying jobs for families and it helps us pay for all of the services we have grown accustomed to.”
A two-term city councillor and executive director of the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce since 1999, Oakes was born and raised in Quesnel.
Her family moved to Moose Heights in 1933.
The two main things that are driving her desire to enter politics are the experience her family went through after her grandfather experienced a fall, and the financial stability of the province.
“When you look at the health care system and some of the stresses we’re going to have in the future, it made me realize we need to figure out something that works better,” Oakes explained.
When she thinks about the next generation, and the burden they will have with increased health care costs and all of the other rising inflationary costs, deficits and taxes, she said the province needs a party that is disciplined and committed to not pile additional debt on to future generations.
“Every dollar we add to the debt will balloon into a significant cost to the next generation. Past experience has demonstrated how destructive four years of a different government can be for our economy.
“This concerns me. I also want to ensure that we have the best possible education system grounded in excellence and preparing our children for the global economy of the future. Jobs are critical to maintaining our quality of life.”
Oakes is past president of the British Columbia Chamber executive and has served as a director on the BC Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce executive, Cariboo Chilcotin Tourism Association and numerous local not-for- profit organizations.
In 2009 she was the recipient of the BC Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year award and was the recipient of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association award of contribution.
Oakes said she knows her opponent Cariboo North Independent MLA Bob Simpson well.
“We sat down before I put my name forward and I told him I’m hoping we’ll be able to elevate debate. I think what’s a win for all of us in this region is that election times are a good time to get some much-needed exposure,” Oakes said, adding she wants people to know what opportunities exist in the region.
For example, she added, Quesnel has outgrown its trade facility at the College of New Caledonia, even after a expansion last year.
“Look at all the activity that Williams Lake has right now with mining activity in the region. At least it’s diversifying our economy. Even the announcement of the new planer mill for West Fraser. I’m seeing a level of confidence come back to the communities,” Oakes said, adding there are many challenges too.
With the fibre supply, there will be challenges, but the region needs to be attracting investment and championing what opportunities exist, she suggested.
Oakes was the only candidate and said she had hoped the nomination meeting could have taken place in Williams Lake.
“I will certainly be doing something in Williams Lake in the near future and I will be down there, roads permitting, for Remembrance Day laying a wreath on behalf of the province.”