With the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding heading to election come October, its people will have an alternative option in Peter Kerek.
“If we’re going to evolve into a more fair and just society, we need an alternative to the capitalist system, so I offer that by running through the Communist Party,” said Kerek, who has been involved with the party for around seven years, and said there were a few motivating factors for him choosing to run. “One is that every other major party, especially in this area, running is a pro-capitalist party and unfair capitalism has only led to a greater need for food banks, greater homelessness, and greater disparity between the wealthiest and the poorest.”
Another issue he mentioned was the area not having an adequate number of family doctors. Kerek said it was partly a provincial issue, but also said that federally, Canada is not assisted by the free trade agreement or corporate rights agreements.
“They sent so many manufacturing jobs offshore and it’s leading and has led to deindustrialization of Canada as a whole. Those agreements have allowed products to be made more cheaply elsewhere so they can be purchased but in the global scheme we are losing purchasing power and the real wages of the middle class have been stagnant for decades.”
Local mills, such as Chasm and Norbord, closing or eliminating staff is part of the deindustrialization, Kerek said.
He mentioned that the Labour Movement, which he was heavily involved in for a number of years, called for a ban of the export of raw logs and nothing should leave Canada unless there has been value-added.
“That’s been ignored by the major parties. The NDP didn’t make it part of their campaign either,” he said. “Beyond the trade agreements, which led to the closing of many of our mills, we can look at the properties of the trees. The lots of the trees are awarded to foresters. There should be stronger regulations that forest products should be manufactured, harvested and processed within the area from which they are harvested. Put a 100 or 500-mile radius or something like that on… instead of just extracting it from these smaller communities [and] closing shop in all these communities and expecting people to move away and hollowing out the Interior of B.C. by closing off the important drivers of the local economy.”
Kerek also takes issue with Canada’s foreign policy, calling it terrible in terms of its humanitarianism efforts and violating the sovereignty of other nations.
The Kamloops-based politician said he knows he can’t really change things as an MP, but he knows if he is elected his messages can get across with his elevated position.
Another issue Kerek noted is the Canadian government’s (both Stephen Harper’s and Justin Trudeau’s administration) treatment of First Nations people. He said both Trudeau and Harper paid lip service to First Nation voters, promising the idea of bringing up living standards and addressing the economic injustices and education.
“They have not done anything meaningful, even in just addressing the shortfall in education funding to Indigenous communities that non-Indigenous communities have enjoyed for decades. I mean, this was successfully challenged through the Human Rights Commission and Canada lost and even though they lost, they didn’t implement the changes that were required by the Human Rights Commission decision,” said Kerek. “There needs to be a lot more respect paid at the federal government, and all levels of government, to the indigenous people, especially here in B.C. who did not cede any of their territories. We’ve just walked in and declared them ours.”
All things considered, Kerek said he just thinks people in this riding need an alternative to the current capitalist system.
“If you want to ask one of the capitalist parties’ candidates a trick question, ask them what the ideal unemployment rate is because it’s hard to get an honest answer from them. If they say, ‘oh, I don’t want any unemployment,’ that’s a socialist or communist position. If they say they like 10 per cent, well so what 10 per cent of the population are they condemning to poverty for their lifetime? We don’t need any exploitation of the working class and we don’t need these great disparities between the wealthy and the poor. We already have so many billionaires in Canada already. We don’t need their philanthropy. That money they took from hard-working people, all that profit they extracted and they’re throwing back into communities here and there through their so-called philanthropy. They shouldn’t have been permitted to accumulate that wealth in the first place. That should have been democratically taken off their profit margin and democratically decided what we should do with these extra resources.
Most people probably would say things like ‘oh, I would sure like a family doctor’, or ‘I sure wish my kids wouldn’t have thousands of dollars of debt after they finish university’ or ‘I sure wish I had a home’.”