When you live in the seventh-largest political riding in Canada, you have to be used to long drives.
Luckily Greg Brown has plenty of experience as a hockey dad.
He says the time spent on the road since announcing his candidacy on April 1 has been a great opportunity to meet the diverse communities across the riding, which scales out at a whopping 327,275 square kilometres (in case you’re curious, that’s just slightly bigger than Norway).
And while he admits the drives are long, he said they have been well worth it.
“I’m inspired by the geography, I’m inspired by the people and it’s a constant reminder of the unique qualities of each of our communities,” he said.
“I think these nomination races are a bit of a test for if you can handle the fast life as a politician.”
Brown also said he thinks it’s important to remind NDP members the nomination process is done by a ranked ballot and that, if you like more than one candidate, you don’t have to feel like you are pigeonholed into just choosing one.
He added he encourages all NDP members in the riding to try and get out to one of the four remaining all-candidates meetings being held until May 5, adding the race is an important decision for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
“They’re attended by very engaged people … the questions are informed and tough,” he said with a laugh.
Brown, who said he was first intrigued by local politics while working for the City of Whitehorse between 2001 and 2003, noted that, sometimes, all it takes to get someone hooked is getting them out to a local town council meeting.
“People will show up for a topic and then they’ll come back for meetings later and they say, ‘yeah, I’m just really fascinated about how this is all working’,” he said.
“With those folks, I say to them, ‘well, maybe you’ll run someday’.”
When asked about partisan issues and how he would handle a situation where constituents and a party whip were telling him to vote two different ways, Brown said he would tend to err more on the side of constituent issues over party.
“You can be responsive to the party and the caucus or you can be responsible to the country as a whole,” he said.
As for bridging the political divide? Brown said he is interested in context and how people with differing views arrived at them in the first place.
He adds that when people ask him tough questions on social media he tends to ask them to call him because he feels the platform is not the best for those kinds of discussions.
With regard to one of those controversial topics, the ongoing territorial disputes between Wet’suwet’en and Coastal GasLink, Brown said the courts have been crystal clear.
“We [should] rely on the higher level courts — that is, the Supreme Court of Canada — and not the Supreme Court of B.C. that gave out the injunction that was used in the arrest, he said.
“So it goes back to these scales … you have to hold the interest of the country.”
Brown adds that he thinks his time playing competitive hockey and figure skating will help prepare him — both for the spotlight and with regard to being a team player.
He said he thinks the area needs a leader who is candid and honest, but also compassionate and willing to build bridges where they can be built, adding he hopes the ranked ballot system means that people don’t feel like their votes are wasted.
“This is a competitive race and I don’t think any one candidate is going to get 50 per cent plus one in the first round of voting, second and third choices will matter as the rounds of voting proceed.”
NDP members meet in Terrace on May 25 to select a candidate.
The NDP slot in the riding is up for grabs after Nathan Cullen announced March 1 he would not be seeking re-election to a potential sixth consecutive term.