Szpak to carry Liberal hopes
Dr. Keith Martin, longtime Reform/Liberal Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, has been succeeded by candidate Lillian Szpak who edged David Hodgins for the opportunity to run in the next federal election.
Szpak is a municipal councillor with the City of Langford; a graduate of Royal Roads University; married to a Canadian Forces physiotherapist named Robert, and the mother of two grown sons.
The candidate, via email, answered the following questions from the Sooke News Mirror.
• When and why did you first decide to enter politics?
I have been serving my community as an elected official since 2002, when I first ran for Langford council. I have served three terms and when MP Keith Martin announced his intention to step down, I was approached by residents in the riding and by the Liberal Riding Association to consider running as candidate. I love serving my community. I have worked very hard on their behalf for the past several years.
I consider it a great honour to have won the Liberal nomination and look forward to continuing to help improve lives of our residents. When I think about my little granddaughter, and her future as she grows up, I wish to ensure that she has the opportunity for a great life - she and all of our children. Representing our community at the local and regional level over the past eight years has provided me with the experience and know-how to make changes that will benefit the lives of families in our riding.
• What have been the main challenges and rewards since then?
Working for my community as an elected official is a real privilege. It is also a great commitment and a lot of hard work. I can’t think of a better job, or a more rewarding one, than having the opportunity to help others and to give back.
As a federal representative, I will remain close to our residents and work to seek the common ground in making good decisions that impact in a positive way on our lives. As the Member of Parliament I will take a personal approach – always listening and responding in the best interests of our residents and our community.
Since announcing my nomination, then running as a candidate, I have continued to learn more about the community and how important it is to remain connected to our residents, continue to be the representative who cares and looks for opportunities to make our community a better place to live for everyone.
• In your time in Langford have you had many opportunities to visit the areas of East Sooke, Sooke and beyond, and find out about some of their specific issues?
I have cycled often out to Sooke and East Sooke and also hiked, shopped, visited and explored the area by car. A very beautiful part of the riding and also very diverse – jobs and the economy are at the top of the list, and of course, with that is always concern for the environment and the natural resources in the area from logging to fishing to tourism – enhancing salmon spawning streams and ensuring that recreational fishers are able to continue to thrive.
From speaking with residents, at this point in time my understanding is that one local issue is infrastructure.
With the majority of residents driving or using transit into the Westshore or Victoria, Highway #14 is a huge issue. As the only road out in emergencies, it’s a crucial route that needs to function – so when there is an accident, or it is closed because of weather, the residents risk being cut off from the region. The road itself needs safety improvements to address flooding, the shoulders need re-enforcing and sidewalks along the highway into Sooke would be a huge benefit.
The area is also experiencing growth, seeking economic development opportunities and also beautification in the core – other issues/suggestions from residents: connecting the harbour to the town, and that sports fields and facilities need to be expanded with the growing population of young families.
The relationship with the federal government regarding Government Wharf access is an issue as well as governance of the Harbour and Basin.
Those are a few issues that people have shared with me and I look forward to hearing more from the residents as I continue to visit up and down the riding.