Port Moody-Coquitlam BC NDP candidate Joe Trasolini wants another term
"Hello, hello!" Joe Trasolini picks up his cell phone mid-interview to take a call from a concerned voter. After promising to meet with the individual later, Trasolini turns back to the conversation.
"You see?" he says almost gleefully. It's part of his personal set of beliefs that democracy is important so he takes every call even if the person on the line has a complaint or a beef.
"How can we say we have a mandate from the electorate if people don't vote?"
Trasolini's hands-on style may be bothersome to some but it's a charm for others who voted him consecutively into the mayor's chair for 12 years. Now, he's seeking votes as an incumbent MLA after a year wearing NDP orange. How does he feel?
Confident. "Now I'm more seasoned as to what's happening in Victoria."
Provincially, he says he has more of a grasp on issues after touring the province, visiting hinterland towns mostly during the dead of winter (including driving the Salmo-Creston Highway in two feet of snow). With his grab-bag of critic portfolios — housing, construction industry, business investment — he was using the opportunity to ask questions on a range of topics and came away feeling more could be done to boost the economy.
Skills Training for youth? "Young people are leaving for Alberta, especially from the construction industry."
He says the BC NDP is moving in the right direction with a promised $100 million in annual funding to boost grants for post-secondary students and $80 million phased in for skills training and apprenticeship.
Affordable housing? Trasolini says the provincial government should take a lead role and bring the federal government back to the table. Instead of selling land assets, as he says the BC Liberals propose to do.
He says developers he's talked to are interested in new ideas. "I was very surprised at the level of engagement. They want to be part of the community."
Trasolini says he is "galled" at the way the BC Liberals are portraying Adrian Dix as a careless spendthrift who couldn't manage a candy store. He said the 1990s weren't a bust, culling stats from a BC Business Council study that suggest growth in the 2000s was the same as in the 1990s under the NDP. "It's basically a wash," he says, adding that the Liberals' balanced budget assertion is inaccurate because assets must be sold, among other things, to square it.
He also disagrees with the BC Liberals' proposal for a referendum on TransLink funding, preferring the BC NDP idea to use carbon taxes to pay for transit. He also says he would like to see the transportation authority reformed and made more accountable, but stopped short of saying it's an NDP promise.
Closer to home, he's concerned about the School District 43's deficit and job-cutting plan. "There is enough blame to go around," he says, preferring to look ahead with the NDP's promise of $100 million a year for education, although it's a relatively small amount.
"Nobody is saying we're going to solve all the problems that were 12 years in the making. We're saying this is an investment to improve class size and composition."
It's part of his mantra now, one often heard by the NDP leader himself, that a new government won't be able to do everything at once. But small steps might get part-way there.