History really does repeat itself and seeing my long time friend and associate Debra McKelvie back in the running for Quesnel City Council in 2022 makes my heart soar like a hawk.
I still recall vividly interviewed Debra in my former newspaper The Radical back in 1999 when she first set out on the political highway. It was Quesnel Civic Election ’99 and Debra’s aspirations for her home city remain as true today as they did 23 years ago. Her slogan at the time was “There are no small issues and all the people deserve to be heard.”
“There are no small issues and
all the people deserve to be heard.”
– Debra McKelvie
Back in 2020 when mayor Bob Simpson and the bulk of Quesnel’s city councillors (with the exception of Ron Paull) decided, in their infinite ignorance and arrogance, to relocate the giant Quesnel Gold Pan City sign from its original location at the intersection of Hwy 97 and the Barkerville Hwy (#26) it was Debra McKelvie who took the pro-active approach of organizing a protest rally at the site where the sign was removed in the night.
It was at that rally where then Councillor Ron Paull spoke out about the issue and afterwards was severely attacked by mayor Bob Simpson (a subject I will be covering in another upcoming article).
Today’s campaigning largely takes place on Social Media and it’s there on that digital soapbox that I found Debra’s pre-Thanksgiving FB platform which I present to readers today.
Debra McKelvie’s pre-Thanksgiving FB Platform
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my heart is heavy yet hopeful.
Woke up this morning grateful that I did but also with an uneasy feeling in my gut on the state of our community. So much work to do…so much. (Granted, we have much to be thankful for and Quesnel has the kind of community spirit, commitment and determination that can and will overcome our troubles. It’s not all gloom and doom.)
Wanting a seat on Quesnel City Council brings with it one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Most of my adult life has been spent raising a family, working and playing here. I’ve lived through all of the local governments and their decisions whether negative or positive and how those decisions have affected “we the people”.
Not ever in our local history have we witnessed the kind of transition that has been quite frankly, insulting over the last 8 years. It’s as though every Council that came before 2014 knew absolutely nothing about strong leadership and how to manage a vibrant City. Modernization does not necessarily mean replacing, eradicating or destroying everything that was before.
Change with progress is inevitable. Promoting the growth of our community and having the people embrace that growth is a delicate balance that requires infinite finesse. Leaders require a strong understanding and respect for the people who remain, who relocate and for ALL those who pioneered the heritage and history of this City.
The ability to put egos and agendas aside when our electorate oppose our leadership decisions are qualities currently lacking. Are we having enough fun yet? How much fun can we afford? Society has become so politically correct and easily offended that common sense has become unfashionable and left the building. Revisiting and correcting the odd bad decision shows strength and promotes confidence within the whole community. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
Quesnel boasts 8 tent cities. The most visual and problematic being the tent city beside the river walk on Front Street. Tent cities have morphed in our communities because we as a collective society at all levels have allowed it. Blame can be shared locally and with our provincial and federal governments.
Where are Environment Health Services? (Not operational due to staff shortages apparently.) I see that Conservation was down there last weekend with a trap as the accumulating garbage stench is attracting the bears. Our bylaws are not being enforced and who can blame them? These officers are not trained to cope or deal with these issues that could escalate into violence and bodily harm. The building codes are not being enforced. Our frustrated RCMP are watching and standing down. The justice system and the courts are enabling the opiate/mental health crime issue with their bleeding heart policies and revolving door justice.
We all ignore it because we don’t know how to fix it and we are terrified this might creep into our own our back yard and neighborhoods.
People certainly deserve creative control over their lives but there must be accountability for all of us, no matter what our circumstances. Embracing and implementing new methods, models and ideas is threatening to communities where there isn’t nearly enough funding, outreach and give a damns to begin with.
Twenty years of “harm reduction” should tell us that it is NOT working and causing more harm than reduction. All we need to do is recall Quesnel 5 years ago.
Bring the warriors to the table who work in the trenches for viable solutions. Those of us who have been there and can offer the proven viable solutions. Ivory tower bureaucrats know little about the realities of trauma, PTSD, and the suffering that can cause addiction and homelessness. And even less on how to resolve it or where the money needs to go.
Resources is the bottom line. How do we attain and apply the money within a new model to our homeless, mentally ill and addicted population? We lobby. We reinvent the wheel. We work with our MLA, our CRD directors our MP. We go places we have been afraid to go. We start admitting that the old model is clunking along like the broken machine it is. We begin taking responsibility for ourselves and our communities at the local level.
This is the most important election in our history to date. Think carefully how you cast your votes. Examine the behaviour of incumbents who were silent and went along with the status quo to avoid humiliation and the wrath of “innovative leadership”.
In closing I want to extend a sincere wish to you and your families to enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving. Huge love to all of Quesnel angels and organizations who work tirelessly to provide for our marginalized community.