Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles featuring the North Okanagan-Shuswap federal candidates.
Serious and hard-working are two words Mel Arnold uses to describe himself.
Raised on a farm in Notch Hill, Arnold learned the work ethic early. It’s an attribute that served him well in business, as it led to his first job out of high school when one of his teachers hired him for boat building.
That’s a line of work that stuck.
Arnold, who is running for the Conservative Party in North Okanagan-Shuswap, has operated his Complete Marine Detailing business for 26 years.
“I built that from the ground up – I’m not so much hands on any more. Through that I’ve learned the importance of balanced budgets and planning ahead for possible hard times. And how to make wise investments in the future growth.”
Arnold and his high school sweetheart Linda have been married for 36 years.
“My wife and I are both proud to be lifetime residents,” he says.
Personality-wise, Arnold describes himself as “a listener, very much approachable. Serious. More on the serious side than on the fun-loving side.”
Arnold’s background includes volunteering, with two terms as president of the BC Wildlilfe Federation and six years as chair of governance with the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Asked about his passions, the outdoors tops the list.
“I like to enjoy the outdoors any time I can. Hunting and fishing are my favourite passions but anytime I can be outdoors. And, oddly enough, governance is a passion. That’s why I was chair with the Canadian Wildlife Federation…,” he said. “It has been a sideline passion until now. It’s no longer a sideline.”
Asked if he has trouble reconciling his love of the outdoors with the Conservative government’s much-criticized performance on the environment, he says: “My past roles have been as a conservationist, not a preservationist. I believe in the wise use of resources. The Conservatives have been very supportive of environmental issues. In fact last year, there was $52 million for the conservation plan. That will go towards protecting sensitive areas and programs aimed at conservation of natural resources.”
Regarding potential pipeline spills, he says, “With 21st century technology, I think the risks are reasonable, especially compared with the risks in rail disasters, like Lac-Mégantic.”
As for international criticism of Canada’s position regarding climate change and the Kyoto Accord, he says: “The agreement may have been over-ambitious in light that Canada produces only two per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It’s very difficult to reduce those emissions when they’re already at a low level.”
Another issue the prime minister has received ongoing criticism about has revolved around muzzling dissent and open discussion, as well as potential assaults on privacy such as Bill C51.
“Most of the powers in that bill existed already,” says Arnold. “The change is, it will allow different authorities to share information… about risks to the safety of Canadians, especially here at home.”
The three issues Arnold says he has in his sights are: families sustaining jobs here at home; infrastructure and the highway system; and advocating on behalf of seniors.
Arnold says he believes he would have a voice in Ottawa, were he elected.
“Yes, I’m a team player, a team builder; my previous roles have prepared me for how to bring people on board with your ideas.”
He said he’s confident Stephen Harper would listen to him.
“Caucus is a very open system.”