The News sent a questionnaire to all candidates in the three local ridings. Candidates were given strict word limits and instructed not to go over, lest their answers be cut off.
Name: Michael de Jong
Current occupation: Minister of Finance
Notable past achievements/titles/jobs:
1. Abbotsford MLA since 1994, BC Finance Minister since 2012.
2. Tabled 5 consecutive balanced budgets, unmatched anywhere in Canada.
3. Maintained BC as Canadas only triple AAA rated province.
Where do you live? Matsqui Prairie for the past 45 years.
If you have run for office before, what have you learned? If you have not, why are you running now?
Respect the taxpayers. The dollar that government spends belong to the taxpayers.
Tell us about yourself. I.E.: Where were you born, where did you go to school/college etc., what jobs did you have over the years:
I grew up in Abbotsford, where I went to school, played hockey and started a law practice. I have served as Member of the Legislative Assembly representing Abbotsford for more than 23 years. I was named Minister of Finance and Government House Leader in September 2012.
I have served in government cabinet as Minister of Health, Attorney General, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Labour and Citizens’ Services, and Minister of Forests.
Before my election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I served two terms as a School Board Trustee for Abbotsford School District 34, and was a practising lawyer with my own Abbotsford firm. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University in Ottawa and a law degree from the University of Alberta.
I still enjoy playing hockey. In my teen years, I was a member of the Abbotsford Pilots Junior B hockey team. I attended Mouat Secondary School and I still live on the Matsqui Prairie farm where I grew up. I hold the rank of Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces Air Force Reserve.
Why would you make a good representative for your constituents in the legislature?
I was first elected to public office (school trustee) in 1990. Since 1994 I have had the honour of representing Abbotsford in the Legislative Assembly. I have always endeavoured to discharge my responsibilities honestly and to the very best of abilities. I am proud to be from Abbotsford and along with my colleagues, have advocated for the needs of our community. The people of Abbotsford have had my performance as MLA and in this election I hope they will judge me worthy to be re-hired as their servant.
What are the three most important issues facing Abbotsford and how would you address them?
1. Jobs and the Economy
The foundation of our plan is a strong, growing, and diverse economy that creates good-paying jobs for British Columbians. BC is Canada’s strongest and fastest growing economy. We are number one in job creation. Because of this, we can invest in the things that matter to British Columbians, like health care, education, and supports for some who may need help. Since 2011, our plan has resulted in BC jumping from 4th to 1st in the country in economic growth. We have moved from 9th to 1st in job creation with over 226,000 new jobs. We have more to do. Our plans focus on a few main areas. 1. Keeping government small and controlling spending. 2. Maintaining the most diversified economy in Canada. 3. Leaving more money in the pockets of British Columbians by freezing personal income taxes and capping bridge tolls at $500 annually.
2. Education and Training
Under the BC Liberal government, education funding levels are at a historic high of $5.1-billion to public schools for 2016-17. This is 32% higher or $1.2 billion more than when the BC Liberals formed government. The province has invested more than $167 Million in the Abbotsford School district since 2001. Children are our future. Ensuring that our children receive the best education and the greatest opportunity for success is a must.
3. Public Safety
Public Safety continues to be at the forefront of our priorities. We recently announced a new $155 million justice centre and courthouse for Abbotsford. We also invested in initiatives that will function to suppress criminal activities in British Columbia including $23 Million into the Guns and Gangs Taskforce. We will continue to invest in programs to address issues of crime as well as provide support to its victims.
Tell us a surprising or unique story about yourself:
As a child, I was lucky enough to attend Ridgedale Elementary school on Matsqui Prairie. We were 48 students in grades 1-5. Although I would go on to attend universities and graduate with multiple degrees, I learned my most valuable lessons in the 2 room schoolhouse on Matsqui Prairie surrounded by the farms that were home to the students.
Abbotsford is split into three ridings, all of which have changed a little since the last election. Click here for a map of the Abbotsford-Mission riding. Click here for a map of Abbotsford South. Click here for a map of Abbotsford West.