FORMER SPARTAN MAKING A DENT IN PRINCE GEORGE POLITICS

FORMER SPARTAN MAKING A DENT IN PRINCE GEORGE POLITICS
Tory's background runs from rugby to carpentry to politics

Gordon Hoekstra
Citizen staff
ghoekstra@pgcitizen.ca


Bob Zimmer, 42, has packed in a lot of living in his life.

He's worked in the oil and gas sector, earned his journeyman carpentry ticket, worked as a carpenter, played on a pemier league ruby team in B.C., and been a varsity rugby coach at Trinity Western University where he earned a degree at Trinity Western.

He followed that up by earning a teaching degree at the University of British Columbia, then became a high school carpentry teacher, was involved in federal politics and is helping raise a family of four children aged six to 13 years old.

He's often done many of these things at the same time.

For example, while a high school teacher at North Peace Secondary School, he also built three houses in the past five years.

While he was the varsity rugby coach at Trinity Western -- he and his wife already had one child -- he earned a degree in the study of human kinetics, political science and history. Initially, at the age of 29, Zimmer had travelled to Abbotsford to play on a high-level rugby team to pursue a dream of playing for the Canadian national team.

He is sometimes asked how he will juggle a young family and politics at the federal level, but Zimmer notes he and his family have already had much experience with that.

"Busy is something we just do," said Zimmer, who returned to Fort St. John in 2004 after his stint in the Lower Mainland.

Zimmer's first experience in politics was helping out on Randy White's campaign in the Lower Mainland. When he returned to Fort St. John in 2004, he became vice-president of the Conservative's Prince George-Peace River constituency association, and then quickly assumed the role of president.

Asked why he decided to step from his behind-the-scene roll to the frontlines of politics, Zimmer said he didn't set out to become an MP but his growing focus and passion made this the right move at the right time.

His experiences have shown he can get results, said Zimmer.

"I'm driven, a hard worker -- the biggest thing for me is I won't quit until we get something done."

Priorities:

1. The economy.

Specifically for our region -- our resource based economy -- we have to ensure we have access to markets, that our markets are growing rather than getting smaller. Especially in the forest industry, we're seeing challenges in the U.S. market. We need to diversify. It's already happening. We're looking at China. We need to keep that going. In terms of oil and gas, we need to diversify too, and develop more second-level industries where there's a stronger manpower component to what we do. Manufacturing is a big thing for me.

2. Reduce government waste.

In the past we've talked about red tape. Stephen Harper has already announced red tape audits on government programs -- to make sure programs are run efficiently. That's our job, I think, as government to make sure it is efficient.

3. Justice reform.

It bothers me, and I think it bothers others, that sentences are being served two thirds time behind bars. Fifteen years should mean 15 years. And I'd like to see our sentences carried out to their full terms. I like the way the Conservative government is putting more money into bricks and mortars -- more prisons to assist the justice system.

Issues:

Do you support Enbridge's $5.5-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline?

There's a panel reviewing the project now -- representing the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency -- and I'm not going to prejudge what that's going to be at this time. I'd like to see what they have to say, and let all those facts be considered. They're consulting with a lot of communities in the area, in terms of people.

Do you think Ottawa should provide more funding support to municipalities, for example, to help fix roads?

We have seen a lot of development as a result of the economic action plan -- through the Pine Pass, for example, it's already been done. And we've already promised to make the gas tax transfer permanent through the budget. It's $2 billion a year for municipalites basically to invest in infrastructure. We see that as a need, and I believe we are responding in a good way.

A 10-year federal health care transfer deal to the provinces ends in 2014. Should the provinces get more money in a renewed deal?

The way we view it, is the provinces have been getting more money. And the one thing that we promised in this last budget, is we were not going to cut federal tansfers to the provines and that would go in lock step with not cutting funding to health care. Quite to the opposite, we are seeing the transfers grow. Currently it's $2.8 billion for health care alone. And that's a 36 per cent jump from where the Liberals were at several years ago.

Last Updated: 2011-04-08
Author: Scott Stewart