He may be young, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have political experience.
Twenty-two-year-old Jon Van Barneveld has seven years of behind-the-scenes political experience and that will help him as he carries the NDP banner in Cariboo-Prince George.
“We need to start engaging people in the political process,” Van Barneveld said Monday.
The natural resource management student at UNBC has worked on Bulkley Valley-Stikine MP Nathan Cullen’s campaign in the past, has worked with the local riding association and was fought hard against the harmonized sales tax through the citizen’s initiative. When not working behind the political scenes, he has been a forestry worker.
Van Barneveld also leveled his sights on incumbent MP, Conservative Dick Harris.
“The North has been let down by Dick Harris and the Conservatives,” he said, adding that the federal involvement in implementing the HST shows “Dick Harris is not in touch with the people of the province.”
Van Barneveld said main issues in the riding are improving the forestry, mining, and agricultural sectors.
“They promised the North $1 billion help the forestry industry transition in these difficult times, yet they haven’t delivered most of it,” he said. “In a region that depends on the forestry industry for their livelihoods, this is unacceptable.”
The federal government’s decision to not approve the Prosperity gold/copper mine west of Williams Lake speaks more about the project, than the process, he said.
“Mining is a historical aspect of the Cariboo economy,” he said. “ … We need to consider First Nations values, we need to form a good partnership with First Nations.”
He is against the Northern Gateway project, which would see a pipeline constructed from Edmonton to Kitimat.
“It’s too risky,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if there is a spill, but when.”
As for the possibility of a coalition government Van Barneveld has one comment: “A coalition is not an option at the ballot box.”
He also pointed out that Prime Minister Stephen Harper flirted with forming a coalition when he was Opposition leader.
Van Barneveld said he also wants to tackle voter apathy and feels his energy will help combat that problem.
“We’re going to bring a fresh, new perspective to the riding,” he said. “We have a lot of energy and momentum. New Democrat ideals are definitely compatible with the North.”
Van Barneveld’s campaign has gained support from across the floor, as well.
Drew Adamick, who ran for the Liberals in Cariboo-Prince George in 2008, has endorsed the New Democrat.
“Jon is a dedicated, energetic individual, and his dedication to the North and to northerners is unshakable. We need his energy to fix Ottawa and to make it work for the North, and I’m proud to give him my support.” Adamick said.