Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror                                  Dallas Smith is the Liberal candidate for the North Island in the upcoming election.

Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror Dallas Smith is the Liberal candidate for the North Island in the upcoming election.

North-Island Liberal candidate Dallas Smith is about “pragmatic solutions”

Smith transitioned from a First Nations leader to a community leader

Dallas Smith considered running for the Liberal Party once before. He said he was asked to step in after Stan Hagen passed away, but, at the time he didn’t think he was ready.

Now, with a mortgage, kids and a little more experience, he thinks it is time to take the things he has learned as the founder and president of the Nanwakolas Council and serve the greater community on the North Island.

“We’ve always sort of been in an advocacy role and never been in the decision-making circle and I think that’s what I’d really like to be, is be in the decision making role and help bring some of the issues to a place where they can actually be told,” he said.

Smith is a member of the Tlowitsis Nation, which is part of the Kwakwaka’wakw. He has been a cultural leader in his nation for many years and began to realize not only was he a First Nations leader, but a community leader.

“I wouldn’t classify myself as a politician probably until 2006,” he said. “And that’s probably because in 2006 I gained awareness that solutions I brought to the table needed to be solutions that worked for local non-native communities as well. So that’s when my intent became beyond just advocating for First Nations, I started advocating for the region.”

Through his position on the Nanwakolas Council he has developed relationships with not only government officials but businesses and environmental groups.

“I’m really a middle of the road guy, you know I’m not too left I’m not too right,” he said. “I’m just about pragmatic solutions.“

What are some major concerns you have about the province right now?

Reconciliation is definitely top of mind. It’s kind of a loaded term because it’s so big. It’s reconciliation of First Nations issues, reconciliation of health care issues, taking the fear away from people. People are afraid to get old because it costs more. People are afraid to get educated because it costs too much.

I think once you have a strong economy, complacency sort of kicks in and you don’t put the due diligence to decisions that need to be made.

I think in this day and age of social media we make smaller problems bigger than they really are. I mean I understand it but we still need to be logical and pragmatic and try to take some of the emotion out of it. That’s what scares me a little bit you know the left and the right they all have this emotional battle that they’re trying to bring in, people get caught up in that and lose focus on what the actual issue is in the day.

How do you respond to critics and people who don’t agree with you?

With as much respect as I can. It goes back to listening, I’ll hear emotion but I’ll listen to concerns. As a First Nations leader I’ve gone through my fair share of critics because there’s so much anger and mistrust and frustration in First Nations communities. That being said you have to listen, you have to hear people out because it scares them more if they’re talking to a wall or not hearing what they have to say.

I’m not afraid to sit down with both sides of that equation and say okay, how can we limit the impact of this organization, or how can we let this organization know that you have valid concerns in your community that need to be addressed.

Since a vote for you is a vote for the Liberals, why should we vote Liberal?

That goes back to my decision of why I decided to run for the Liberal banner. With a strong economy you can make the investments that are needed to solve problems.

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it, but if you put the proper procedures in place the strong economy gives you the ability to invest in those.

Since I’ve had children and taken on a mortgage those sorts of things, the fiscal prudence of a balanced budget really means lots. The idea of leaving a debt for my children or my grandchildren to pay just doesn’t sit comfortably with me. And that’s why I support the Liberal Party.

Campbell River Mirror