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Federal Election 2019: Tracy Calogheros believes Liberals can continue ‘spectacular record’ in finding solutions to Canadian issues

Exploration Place CEO had second-most votes in 2015 election
Tracy Calogheros is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the Cariboo-Prince George riding in the 2019 federal election (via Jess Fedigan)

On Oct. 21, Prince George residents will be voting for a member of parliament (MP) in either the Cariboo-Prince George or Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding.

PrinceGeorgeMatters has sent out a list of questions to those vying for a seat in the House of Commons.

Name: Tracy Calogheros

Age: 49

Running for: Liberal Party of Canada, Cariboo-Prince George

Profession: Chief Executive Officer, The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre

Neighbourhood you live in: Tabor Lake

Previous political experience:

I ran in 2015 also for the Liberal Party. I’ve been the riding’s association president from back to the 1990s. I was the co-president of the President’s Council for the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. at one point. I actually ran Jeannette Townsend’s campaign in 2000 for the Liberal Party here at the time when it was Prince George-Bulkley Valley.

Who is your political hero?

If I’m going to pick one, I’d go with Paul Martin. He really got it. He spent a lot of time here in Prince George both before he was Prime Minister and he’s been very involved afterwards in the Indigenous files across the country. He really paid attention to Canadians and Canadians’ views. Coming from the interior of British Columbia, it's great when you get the opportunity to have someone come spend time in the riding and get to know what the local issues are.

In three sentences or less, what inspired you to enter the election race?

We do things very differently here in rural Canada and there’s so many issues right now that are global in nature that they’re not going to be constrained by geopolitical boundaries, nor are they going pulled tight in a four-year election cycle. So, in my view, we need to be doing the kinds of work on a national scale that we’ve always done on a rural scale. That's finding the best answer wherever that answer may come from and its something I’ve been doing for 25 years at Exploration Place and that set of skills, I think, is something that I can take to Ottawa so that we’re taking our voice there rather than just bringing the party’s voice over here.

What’s the number one local issue at the federal level? 

It has to be climate change. Obviously, everything we’re talking about here is forestry, but forestry is interconnected to climate change. Regardless of whether we think its something that humans caused or not, we still have to deal with the impacts of a changing climate. You can see it in beetles, in forest fires, you can see in the class four drought we had at the confluence of the rivers last year. Dealing and mitigating climate change has to be the number one discussion.

Beyond Prince George, what’s the number one issue facing Canada? 

The divisive nature of public discourse at the moment. This hyperpartisanship is getting in the way of the good governance that we need in order to be able to address situations like climate change that are going to move beyond the election cycle. So if we’re so busy spending every minute after we’re elected simply campaigning to be re-elected or taring down the work of an opposing party, that is not getting us to the root of what Canadians expect us to do when we are elected. We need to be focused on how we move forward as a country. We need everybody’s voice at the table.

What’s the best way for the country to deal with climate change?

It's not just a Canadian issue. Climate is not going to be constrained by geopolitical boundaries, so we need to not only have policies and innovations here within our own footprint, but we need to have relationships with partners all around the world. So I do believe the kind of investments we’re making in clean new technologies, making sure that students are having the opportunity to experiment, make mistakes, and learn, that’s the place where I think, within Canada, we can have a real impact. My generation doesn’t have all the answers, but tech is changing so fast that that’s where we really need to pay attention.

What is the biggest issue facing your party’s chance at success?

I think that our party has a spectacular record to run on. I think we’ve done a lot of good and I think we’re part-way through a lot of solutions that Canadians told us loud and strong in 2015 they wanted us to work on and I’m still hearing a lot of those same progress points when I’m talking with people here in 2019. I believe what we need to do is keep communicating the good work we’ve been doing and that will speak for itself when it the time comes for people to vote.

Younger voters typically vote less than older voters. How will you engage and encourage young voters to participate in this election?

I think that’s a generally accepted wisdom, but that’s not what I’m finding. I recognize that the numbers are slowly going up but the millennial group, in particular, is a very large cohort and none of them are slow on the uptick. They have figured out that they have the numbers and they can make sure they’re issues are front and centre. To get them engaged, I think, one, we need to stop the divisiveness and the slinging mud, and two, to make sure that we’re speaking to issues that are top of mind for them, whether that’s climate change, investment in technology, education, and first-time home-buyers and making sure that when you go to start a family, those are the kinds of issues that matter to people in their 20s and 30s.

What is your party’s leader’s biggest flaw?

He gets discounted based on his looks a lot of times. He’s a nice-looking man, but I think people see that much of it and don’t look any deeper.

How will you make sure Prince George continues to be prosperous via federal politics?

We are a central service centre, we are a hub for government and education, and not to mention industry. I think what’s really important is to make sure that the federal government really understands what we’re doing here, what we have to offer, and actually hear what we need in order to meet our own targets. You can’t do that without a strong voice at the decision-making table in Ottawa and that’s what I’m here to offer.

Once elected, you’re job is to represent your entire riding. How do you plan on representing individuals who didn’t vote for you?

The discussion has to include differing opinions, always. If you’re only talking to people who agree with you and vote for you, you're in an echo chamber and you’re in danger of not actually making any progress. In my 25 years at Exploration Place, I’ve been working with people with completely different approaches, opinions, generational stripes, political stripes, and I think anyone in Prince George recognizes the successes it has had because of my ability to work across lines. I like people, I like people's ideas, I like to be challenged on ideas, and that’s how I learn. I have friends in every party and people are comfortable talking to me because I won’t attack somebody based on political preference.

What informs your political stance? What books, publications, relationships or experiences?

I did some reading this summer; there was one book called Don’t Label Me [Irshad Minaj] and it’s a really great book just talking about removing divisiveness. The other one I read after that one is called Biased by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt and her book was really talking about conformational bias. Both of those women’s books were timely and so when we’re talking about informing my approach to politics, it’s personal experience.  

What local project or service would you advocate for more federal spending?

I think infrastructure funding is one of those areas where federal dollars can make a really huge impact because if we can get infrastructure funding into all of the municipalities here, it frees up municipal dollars to do some of the other projects. Those municipal level governments are very close to the ground, they know what their communities need, and so where the federal government can step in and add those dollars to work, I really think that that’s the quickest way to have an impact and not just in Prince George, but in all of the other municipalities in the region.

Was Justin Trudeau’s decision to buy the TransMountain pipeline a good one? Why or why not?

I think it was pragmatic. There were a number of different pipelines being discussed at the time. When you’re talking about the TransMountain twining, you’re already into the ground in a pathway so it makes sense to increase capacity along that same pathway. So the actual TransMountain pipeline over the others, I think it was the right choice to make. For pipelines in general, no matter how you look at things, we’re going to be using oil for at least the near term, 20 to 30 years. If we’re going to continue to provide oil and we’re going to sell our oil on the international market, it makes no sense for us to be trapped in North America and have sell our oil at a discount into one single market. In my view, TransMountain was the right choice.

What’s your favourite place to go for a quiet cup of coffee?

I don’t drink coffee. It’s Earl Grey tea for me. Hot, to quote Captain Pickard.

Who would play you in a film?

Candice Bergen, because I like Murphy Brown.

Complete the sentence...

When I’m not at home or at work, you can find the bush or on the rivers and the lakes, whether it's hunting and fishing or out in the riverboat at the cabin.

The most random, yet interesting fact about me is: 

I’ve ridden a mechanical surfboard in heels for charity.

Have you tried legal weed?

Yes. I’ve bought those CBD pills that have THC in them that help you sleep.


Kyle  Balzer

About the Author: Kyle Balzer

Kyle Balzer graduated with distinction from BCIT's Broadcast & Online Journalism program in 2016. Since moving to Prince George, he has covered a variety of stories from education & Indigenous relations, to community interests & sports.
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