Norm Facey, the B.C. Liberal party candidate for North Island, says he was born and raised in the province’s forestry industry.
Following his grandfather and father into the sector, Facey worked weekends and summers in mills and ran boom boats and tugs before heading to university for an engineering degree that saw him work his way into management positions for large mills and forestry companies.
“I love complex problems,” said Facey.
“And I'm pretty good at pulling people together to resolve them, which sort of describes the progression of my career as I worked my way primarily through paper mills into executive levels of leadership.”
The Campbell River resident’s most recent stint in the sector saw him in executive positions at Western Forest Products from 2007 to 2012, his last three years as senior vice-president of timberlands.
Before that, he was Catalyst Paper’s vice-president of operations for the former Elk Falls Mill in Campbell River.
North Island has been hard hit by a forestry crisis that the NDP government has aggravated, said Facey.
“The NDP (and) our previous MLA in particular were just absent when it comes to forestry issues, particularly over the last 12 to 18 months,” said Facey.
More than 3,000 Vancouver Island forestry workers spent eight months on strike before ratifying a new agreement with Western Forest Products in February.
The strike hit North Island families and communities hard, particularly in Port Hardy and Port McNeill.
Though challenged, the forestry sector is critical for North Island communities, Facey said.
Norm Facey, @bcliberals candidate for North Island, says government needs to help "get forestry back on its feet” as part of its COVID-19 recovery plan. #bcpoli @ForestryBC
“There has to be a willingness to listen and go in and actually get forestry back on its feet,” said Facey, adding that revitalizing the industry sustainably will be a priority.
Beyond forestry, COVID-19 recovery is a key election issue, said Facey, as is the issue of homelessness, which he noted has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“How are we going to manage the economic recovery in an inclusive manner so that we don't leave anyone behind? I mean, that's just a huge challenge,” he said.
Facey recognizes the riding, held by the NDP's Claire Trevena since 2005, will be tricky to capture.
“We’re the definite underdog,” Facey said.
“But part of my passion for running is that I don't appreciate the fact that we're being called back to vote in the midst of a pandemic.”
Given Trevena won’t be seeking re-election in the Oct. 24 vote, the race will be more competitive, Facey said.
Facey is running against NDP candidate Michele Babchuk, the B.C. Green party’s Alexandra Morton and B.C. Conservative candidate John Twigg.
The NDP captured 48 per cent of the vote in the 2017 election in the North Island riding, followed by the B.C. Liberals at 35 per cent and the B.C. Greens with 15 per cent.
The B.C. Liberal party is the best choice for seeing the riding and province out of the current crisis, said Facey.
“The (party's) track record is one of financial expertise and proven capacity,” he said.
“Government needs to provide services, but it also needs to be fiscally responsible.”
Rochelle Baker/Local Journalism Initiative/ Canada's National Observer