A local rancher is determined to set himself, and his party, apart during the upcoming 2019 federal election. Ken Finlayson lives in the South Cariboo and is the People’s Party of Canada candidate for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding.
Finlayson has been ranching for most of his life and is currently enjoying a semi-retirement position at Singing River Ranch, a small cattle operation in Lac la Hache. Finlayson was born into a ranching family in Saskatchewan, where he once ran as a Conservative and later an independent candidate in the last federal election.
“Idle hands are the devil’s workbench, so wouldn’t you know it, I got involved in politics,” he said of his choice to run in this year’s election. Finlayson has always been interested in politics, though. “Politics is kind of a common affliction. People who are interested in politics, it’s a chronic illness.”
Finlayson self-identifies as conservative in his views but was born into a liberal family.
“My great grandfather was a Liberal member for about 30 years out in Saskatchewan, so when I was born I didn’t have any choice, I had to be a liberal. But I got over that as I got older. I always had this interest in politics, ever since high-school I guess. I got involved as a volunteer in various campaigns, and two years ago, I actually ran as an independent in the federal election. I tried to run as a conservative. There were five candidates vying for the nomination, but the betting committee turned me away because I wouldn’t stay on script.”
Most political parties don’t allow free speech, said Finlayson, but in Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada, he said you’ll see all different kinds of people. “And not just [in] ethnicity, but [in] their outlooks.”
At the time that Finlayson ran for the Conservative nomination, his constituents wanted to discuss rural crime, which he was asked not to talk about: “I didn’t think that was right. Anyway, they kicked me out. So I ran as an independent.”
As an independent, the race was an uphill battle. After his independent run was unsuccessful, Finlayson moved to British Columbia, where he has since been involved with the People’s Party.
It was not his original intention to become the candidate for this year’s election, he said, but no one else stood up.
He feels that some of the other parties out there are run by “the good old boys”, who disallow those who don’t fit in, requiring members to play by their rules.
“One of my best workers is a woman who was in the Green Party, so we’ve really got a cross-section. Everybody thinks that the People’s Party is all conservatives. No, they’re not. They’re people that are sick and tired of not having an alternative. When we look at the difference between Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau, it pretty well comes down to the colour of their socks. Other than that, their policies are just about a mirror of each other.”
Finlayson feels that in other political parties, MPs are censored and operate like trained seals: “They’re told when to stand up, when to sit down, when to shut up. We don’t have that in Max Bernier’s organization. We’ve got people with diverging opinions. Max says that free speech is important. Therefore, indirectly, that’s how you get to represent your constituents.”
Despite his roots in Saskatchewan, a local concern for Finlayson is the downturn of B.C.’s forest industry.
“We don’t have a lot of trees there, but you’ve got lots of them here, and they’re not just ornaments. They’re the biggest single driver of the economy in the interior of B.C. Our lumber industry is facing a crisis that you don’t just fix overnight. The tree business is like a 20 year cycle, and a couple of things have lined up to make it a perfect storm. One was the beetles.”
The lumber industry stepped up to the plate in past years to utilize dead timber created by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, said Finlayson, but now that those trees are gone, he believes mills are shutting down without that capacity.
Overall, Finlayson said that his party wants to put Canada first.
“We take a stand,” said Finlayson, “But, we also believe in free speech, so if you want to have a diverging belief, that’s fine, but we’ll make you defend your case, defend your position. We don’t believe in just a bunch of name-calling.”
Finlayson invites residents to go online and read all about the People’s Party’s principals and platform, which includes freedom, fairness, respect, and responsibility.
“Politics should be about more than just winning. It should be about principals and it should be about different approaches. I think our approach is really different.”
Finlayson said his party likes to tell it like it is: “We don’t like political correctness.”