Derek Parks might not have lived in Thunder Bay for the past two decades, but he’s adamant he understands the issues facing the Northern Ontario city.
Parks, who’s running for the Conservatives in Thunder Bay-Superior North, said he’s anything but a parachute candidate.
“I actually volunteered. No one sought me out for this position. To the party’s surprise, I stuck my head out and said, ‘Can I go back home and give this a shot?’ They said, ‘Would you be willing to,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, sure,’” Parks said, after jumping into the race after the original Conservative candidate, Tamara Johnson, was dumped by the party for controversial statements she made about First Nations business practices.
Parks says years in the mining business, developing projects from Labrador to Manitoba makes him a perfect fit for Northern Ontario.
“I’ve been successful bringing mines into operation, which I think is a key thing for Northern Ontario at this time. I mean, we grew up and watched forestry go downhill. Our fate is going to be tied to the mineral resources and getting those jobs going,” the 38-year-old said.
The red tape, which has hindered development in the Ring of Fire, must be cut, he added.
“Even talking with local junior miners … they’re not even interested in working in this province,” Parks said.
Parks, who took time off from campaigning to get married last month, says he’ll support funding for a proposed $100-million event centre in Thunder Bay, if the city asks.
“I would lobby on that behalf. But the reality for that situation is that everyone is going to be coming to the table. I will push that mandate, but I don’t know if that will get funded at the provincial level. I’m just being honest for the people of Thunder Bay,” Parks said.
He’d also like to see hospital gridlock addressed, calling it a crisis created by the Liberals.
“They shut down two hospitals to make one hospital with fewer beds. I think a Conservative government, when elected, would focus on getting those issues addressed. It’s one of my main concerns in this area.”