Below are some long-format video conversations with other municipal candidates about the issues Kelowna faces. Every candidate was offered the opportunity to sit down with me and engage one-on-one. This gives potential voters uncensored access to our perspectives on the issues that matter most to them.
I've always been a fairly private individual, as my life has had more than its share of pain and humility. It took me over twenty years before I felt comfortable sharing my personal history with other people. However, now that I'm making a much more visible commitment to politics, I feel obliged to share parts of my life: an abridged timeline to highlight the foundation of my critical thinking, morality, and truly who I am today.
Before I share my personal history, I'd like to share how I feel about Canada's legislative outlook. I'd like to acknowledge that we have centuries of law that defend our rights in almost everything we experience in our day-to-day lives. Some of these laws the majority of Canadians would fight for, have died for. One of the blessings of our society is that we have the law, and that the law is our greatest equalizer. The law underlines our rights and most importantly, our freedoms. Most laws are there to provide guidance and protection, and although there have been numerous harmful and discriminatory laws passed throughout our history, the foundation of law is truly humane. The basis of our laws should be about protecting the innocent, the hard-working, the average Canadian with no ulterior motive but to simply live, let live, and pursue happiness by whatever means fit their lifestyle without due harm to others. That should be the spirit of each of our laws.
Growing up I had a lot of brothers and sisters, but I felt absolutely alone. I was the one that everyone called my ‘mother's favourite’, it would mean that for whatever the reason of the day was, I would get a beating. It became so normalized to me: my mother’s angry, better go stand on the fireplace while she gets a stick. And it started out with smaller sticks, but eventually became broomsticks, mop-handles, coat-rods – imagine how messed up your childhood is, when you’re happy your dad bought a metal coat-rod, because you know it doesn’t hurt as much as the wooden ones, and at least it eventually breaks?
It wasn’t just the physical abuse, when we were seven my parents separated, and I remember most nights I was the seven-year-old walking my new-born brother to sleep. I was still scared of the dark, so I did it with my eyes closed and made short-steps, so I didn't walk into the dresser, or trip over the bed. Add to that, we went through transition houses and I got to face the full brunt of ridicule and racism from other kids.
One good memory of my childhood I had was my older brother explaining to me what fantasy was, and introducing these text-based online games called MUDs to me. This is back during dial-up, so I couldn't just play anytime I wanted, I had to wait until usually the wee-hours of the night, so I could sneak out when noone else needed to use the phone line. Back then, I would always play a Paladin, a righteous Knight, someone that could protect people from the injustices that I knew all too well. But if only that was the ending, finding solace through online commmunities. It was a helpful break, but not a real enough escape. I would often tell people I 'grew up fast' whenever they mentioned my maturity, the reality is I've been on the fast-track for growing up for quite some time.
Everything changed when I turned twelve, my dad finally gave in to my pleas and allowed me to get a paper-route, four paper-routes to be exact, all spread across town. The day didn’t have enough hours for me to get a fifth otherwise I would’ve. This was my first outlet into something productive, I loved it, I loved working. My miniscule paycheques would have to go back to the family, to help put groceries on the table or cover one bill or another, but I managed to sneak a few dollars for myself and buy my brother chips, or some cookies from the corner-store. It was a taste of freedom.
Trying to read above my level, studying, working, the only bad time I had was downtime – I couldn’t be left alone with my thoughts. I hated my past, my lack of childhood, seeing other people have fun and feel like I just had responsibilities. I distinctly remember reading ‘Kick The Can’ by Jim Lehrer at my local library, and it opened up a different kind of world to me, to be honest, knowing there was any other world than the one I lived in gave me a little inspiration. And now I knew exactly how I would change my entire life: hard-work.
Not only did I dedicate my life to working, but to becoming the best I could possibly be. I didn’t find self-help books compelling enough, I went for biographies of successful people. I was drawn to books about history and existentialism, anything that challenged my world-view and allowed me to look at things through a different set of eyes. I was uniquely positioned in life to have so many people despise me without even knowing me, that it gave me an opportunity to demonstrate everything I was learning in terms of showing respect, humility, obedience.
By the time I was eighteen, I had worked several jobs, and finally found one that wasn't seasonal and actually had an opportunity for long-term employment. I got really good at working twelve-hour days, taking on side-projects without asking for any pay, and really doing anything I could to show that I was a valuable employee. Eventually my ridiculous commitment to my job paid off, as I got an opportunity to run the branch - one of the owners told me I wasn't the manager though, I was the person the owners relied on to run the branch, but not as manager. I didn't care what they called me, by nineteen I was earning well above what most people my age would be earning, and honestly people twice my age would be content with. Sure I was working 12-16 hours a day, but I knew people that couldn't even find work, so this was a godsend.
Every day I pushed myself, do more, do better, be more, be better.
There's so much to share about my boxing achievements, my personal relationships, my faith, and the amazing people I've met along the way. But I digress. When it came to work, my early adulthood was when I learned how to stop being just a good employee, and become a strong manager.
In learning from other managers, I found all the most successful ones had one thing in common: they empowered the people around them. When I started out as a manager, I would often find that I didn't have the right level of patience for people, as the amount of time it took them to learn how to do something right, I could've completed the task multiple times! It wasn't until strong leaders in my life taught me there's only so much you could do on your own, that empowering people ultimately made life easier.
It took me a few years and honestly lots of mistakes before I finally got the grasp of it. I had to manage expectations based on what my team was able to output, not based on what I could output if I had cloned myself. And I learned that everyone has bad days, even I did, which was hard to admit as a young man with new responsibilities. There are too many people in my life to name, that I had to learn from growing into adulthood; that challenged me, encouraged me, empowered me to be a better person.
By my mid-twenties I was all too familiar with corporate infighting and politics. However, by then I was really able to drill down on the empirical value of my work and polish my own candor in the office place. You see, when I was younger I had to work hard and be obedient, as my responsibilities grew, I learned how to work hard and be decisive, to show authority while acknowledging all the stakeholders. It was always a fine line between projecting strength while staying humble to my obligations. I was finally there, I felt successful. All the pain, the doubt, the people that saw nothing in me, were now in the shadow of those that helped me along the way, the amazing community of support I found through my church, my new friends. Work was no longer just an outlet, it gave me purpose, and I finally had the means to be the person I wanted to be, not that I had to be.
Whether it's been owning property, different business journeys, or managing food-service businesses, I've been the benefactor of years of truly hard work. Taking personal responsibility for my life has been the foundation of my entrepreneurial spirit, and I continue to do so to this day. I've proudly given much of my time to my local church, been a member of various clubs and volunteered in areas where I could apply my energy and enthusiasm to help others.
I'm currently the founder and owner of a digital content agency, a personal fund, and manage a fairly busy food-service business. Everyday I wake up, I'm proud to call myself a Canadian, to live in a country where people truly do believe in working hard and helping eachother. I firmly believe that those with harmful and hateful views will never be able to tear down the silent majority, people like you and I, that put in so much work behind-the-scenes and truly embrace our shared Canadian values.
I got involved. I did what I hope every Canadian would do, I educated myself on the parties, but more importantly, the people representing them. I’ve worked with lots of different companies, huge multi-billion dollar organizations and small mom-and-pop shops, as well as throughout all three levels of government, and what I found throughout my life is that it was always people – strong leaders – that set the tone for their group. The people we elect to office need to be capable enough to represent their constituents, run an office, manage the political infighting and maneuvering, while still staying true to the people that put them there: you and me.
I had met, discussed and even volunteered where I could, with amazing political thinkers. I had also realized that there are far too many career politicians, that play the game rather than show genuine concern for their constituents. It disheartened me whenever I met politicians that would only espouse party talking points, playing safe around any topics of real substance, such as how we're addressing the visible plight of homelessness in our communities.
Finally, I was disappointed these last few years with Trudeau and the Liberal party in the majority, not seeing the government change in the way I felt we were promised. When Maxime Bernier started the People’s Party of Canada, to me he demonstrated strong leadership in the way he spoke, and how he carried himself. As of right now, with his silence and avoidance of so many issues that a leader of a national party should be concerned with, as well as his persistent embrace of far-right rhetoric and hateful, harmful extremist groups, I’m afraid he's just another career politician catering to a base of supporters, and doesn't have the strength to represent Canadians equally and fairly, and evidently through the turmoil his party is facing, he can barely manage a group of people that do believe in him.
And forget about the political allies and friends I’ve made along the way. I’ve talked about fighting for homelessness and social programs, but siding with a party like the PPC made my friends believe that I didn’t actually care. I grew up in poverty, I’ve relied on welfare, the social security net and the generosity of strangers for almost the entirety of my youth – I don’t just say I care about these programs, I owe a huge part of my wellbeing to them. However, I’ve also worked with government agencies throughout the municipal, provincial and federal levels handling millions of dollars worth of contracts, and I’ve seen first-hand the waste that improper leadership from our politicians generate. This is why I truly do believe in local politicians actually working with their communities, not acting as a speakerboard for their party, and providing the kind of oversight and reform that would help restore faith in our legislative bodies of government.
The PPC had a core message to revamp the equalization programs and get rid of the fiscal feudalism that plagues the services that all Canadians, specifically lower-income Canadians, rely upon. My electoral district of Kelowna-Lake Country would see more than a $100mil pushed back into the local economy, to make a real and significant impact on our social safety net without raising taxes. Of course I could reconcile my social-conscious with this new party, it would help strengthen our social programs while being fiscally responsible, a political unicorn.
It wasn't long after I was elected in as Kelowna-Lake Country's EDA President for the PPC, that the political unicorn unveiled itself as just another betting horse. The fact of the matter is at the junction when I publicly called out Maxime Bernier's lack of leadership, also happened to be when it was very clear that the PPC's intention was not at all to win any seats. Which is unfortunate, simply because rather than having another political entity pushing legitimate concerns and viewpoints, there was an exodus of well-meaning and intelligent members, and what's left is a propaganda machine to bolster Maxime Bernier's own finances and his personal identity in Canadian politics.
I'm not a career-politician and don't intend at all to be, but I see drastic flaws and vulnerabilities in our electoral system, and massive gaps in engaging with the people that vote our leaders into office. Every choice I’ve made up to this point has been done with careful consideration and candid acceptance of the outcome. I stand by and accept responsibility for my decisions as I always have, and I do truly believe that Canadians want to be a leader in the world, and not just elect people that are followers of trends, sometimes harmful trends, simply that could benefit their own personal gain.
Can we please just show the world: Real political discourse. Real local engagement. Real Canadian politics?
Daniel E. Joseph