Embarking on a voyage over the rough seas of politics should be no problem for North Island Liberal candidate Norm Facey.
That’s because he’s just back from a five-year, round-the-world sailing voyage.
“To a small degree, going around the world on a boat brings you a different viewpoint too, and that’s appreciating what we’ve got and learning to protect it,” Facey said.
Facey returned last year from his five-year voyage around the world on a steel-hulled boat that he spent 15 years building.
“I didn’t go to the big cities as a priority. I was going to well off the beaten track,” Facey said. “I’ve been to atolls that aren’t on charts, aren’t owned by anybody and the only way you can get there is to literally sail there or have a fish boat that’s got pretty huge fuel tanks because that’s how you get there. Enjoyed interfacing with locals in a way that you never would from a hotel.”
Along the way, he did things like work with cyclone recovery groups.
“It was, literally, a worldly experience,” Facey said.
Now Facey hopes to launch a new experience in provincial politics. It’s not something he’s a stranger to having worked on his son Nick’s provincial election campaign previously in 2013. But his reasons for running this time are informed by his voyage.
“I believe in good governance,” Facey said. “I believe in the system that we have. Canada has an enviable governmental record compared to almost everywhere else in the world.”
Facey saw a lot of countries on his voyage and met a lot of people who “wished they could come close to having the governments that we enjoy.” He saw a lot of corruption, uncontrolled lawlessness and communities whose roads were laced with potholes.
“And those are the ones that are safe enough to stop at,” Facey said. “We are born into such a wonderful position. Specifically in B.C. I want to see it persist and I am willing to stand up and work to be a part of that.”
Facey added that he “was not pleased by being called to an election at a point in time where it was not required. There was no instability, there were no major issues, this is a power grab by one party, not something that is good for the population of B.C. That, I think, has to go challenged.”
In terms of issues facing the province at this point, Facey said the over-arching one is the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing the ongoing diligence required to ensure that we don’t go off track.
He said that we do have to give credit to Dr. Bonnie Henry and the work she’s done and reassure everyone that she will be supported by whomever gets in power after the Oct. 24 election.
“So, that’s step 1, you’ve got to be vigilant and not drop that (pandemic) ball,” Facey said.
Step 2 is determining how to get the economy going during the existing phase of COVID and preparing for afterwards. Everyone’s been spending money to minimize the impact of COVID and that is the right move, Facey said.
“That actually needs to continue and be stepped up,” he said.
Facey would like to move away from COVID and tackle the economy but before you do that, you still have to deal with the effect of COVID on the homelessness crisis in the province.
“COVID has exasperated issues and homelessness just pops into your head,” he said. “What’s been happening with tent cities is not right and it needs to be dealt with and not accepted.”
People need a permanent housing solution, not a temporary housing solution. But over and above that, address what is driving homlessness.
“We need to identify the causes and solve the causes,” he said.
In some cases its simple economics, in other cases its going to be addiction and health issues, he said.
“And both of those are provincial responsibilities,” he said. “They are health responsibilities and they have to be dealt with as health responsibilities. They haven’t been, so far, and that’s gotta change.”
Underneath those issues, there are myriad smaller issues that have to be dealt with as well. Facey suggested ICBC is one of those.
“Lot’s of cost not enough benefit. It’s time to deal with that monopoly. Give everyone fair access to, in this case, our car insurance.”
In the North Island riding, the economy is “clearly driven by natural resources” and so Facey prioritizes forestry, aquaculture and tourism as needing attention. The province can be pro-active in ensuring that we optimize on a sustainable basis what we do in logging and aquaculture.
Tourism is a different situation with it being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to go out and support tourism businesses, answer their call for help and ensure they are still there after COVID is gone.
Facey said he brings training, experience, a willingness to listen, a background in engineering and experience running small businesses and large – he was the former Elk Falls Mill manager.
“I have got a wide range of qualifications to running significant businesses and in this case, government, to a financial degree, is a business,” he said. “But through those roles I have had to listen to stakeholders and address their concerns and that includes unions, and First Nations and communities, all of which, (is) pulled together if you’re doing a good job of running a business. And I believe that is transferrable to government.”
FACEY will be running against NDP candidate Michele Babchuk, Green candidate Alexandra Morton and BC Conservative candidate John Twigg to replace incumbent MLA Claire Trevena, who will not be seeking re-election after four terms.