Here are biographies of the Opposition critics for key social ministries as announced by the BC Liberal party this week following on the heels of last week’s cabinet appointments.
Advanced Education, Skills Training and Sport – Coralee Oakes
Coralee Oakes was elected MLA for Cariboo North in 2013, 2017, and 2020. She currently serves as Opposition Critic for Emergency Preparedness.
Previously, she served as Minister of Small Business, Red-Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch, and Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
Prior to her election to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Coralee was a two-term Quesnel City Councillor, and served as the Executive Director of the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce.
Coralee is a Past President of the British Columbia Chamber Executives and has also served as a Director on the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Chamber of Commerce Executives, Cariboo Chilcotin Tourism Association and numerous local not-for-profit organizations.
In 2007, Coralee was appointed to the provincial Small Business Roundtable, representing rural small businesses, and was appointed to the Minister’s Council on Tourism in 2009. The same year, Coralee received the B.C. Chamber of Commerce Executive of the Year award. She has also received the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association award of contribution.
Citizens’ Services – Bruce Banman
Bruce Banman was elected MLA for Abbotsford South in 2020.
He has been a proud resident of Abbotsford since 1982. Having served as the mayor of Abbotsford from 2011 to 2014, Bruce entered politics out of a desire to better serve his community.
He entered municipal politics again in 2018, this time running for City Council. Bruce is a strong advocate for agricultural issues and affordable housing.
Before entering politics, Bruce worked as a chiropractor and owned his own small business.
Bruce brings a combination of experience, passion, and vision necessary to build a prosperous and inclusive community. His broad background provides him with the expertise needed to advocate on behalf of Abbotsford South.
Children, Family Development and Child Care – Karin Kirkpatrick
Karin Kirkpatrick was elected MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano in 2020.
Building on her background as an entrepreneur and educator, Karin Kirkpatrick is one of British Columbia’s most accomplished non-profit leaders.
As CEO of Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Karin has led some 500 employees across 12 locations providing front-line support services to some of the Lower Mainland’s most vulnerable citizens.
Karin has served as CEO and Registrar of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC, as CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of BC, and as Assistant Dean of UBC’s Sauder School of Business. She previously started up and ran a recruiting agency.
Karin has been a board member of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Family Services of Canada, the Vancity Community Foundation, the BC Degree Quality Assessment Board, and the BC Council for International Education. Karin also served on the Judicial Council of British Columbia for six years.
Education – Jackie Tegart
Jackie Tegart was first elected in 2013 and re-elected as the MLA for Fraser-Nicola in 2017 and 2020. She now serves as the official opposition’s critic to Regional Economic Development and Small Business and is a Member of the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food.
Prior to being elected as an MLA, Jackie served three terms on the village council in Ashcroft. She was a member of the school board for 17 years, serving as chair for 15 of those, and was also president of the BC School Trustees Association.
Jackie was a facilitator for BC Healthy Communities’ Interior Region, a coordinator for Community Futures, and a partner in Painted Ladies Gallery and Gifts.
Jackie has served as Government Caucus Chair and the Liaison for the Community Poverty Reduction Initiative. She has also been a member of a number of committees, including most recently the Cabinet Committee on a Secure Tomorrow, and the Environment and Land Use Committee.
Jackie has four children and nine grandchildren with her late husband, Gordon, who lost his battle with cancer in 2009. Jackie and Gordon met in Ashcroft, where she raised her family and continues to live today.
Finance – Mike Bernier
Mike Bernier was re-elected MLA for Peace River South in 2020.
Mike is currently the Official Opposition Co-Critic for Transportation and Infrastructure and sits on the Select Standing Committee on Legislative Initiatives.
In the past, he has served as Minister of Education, and as Parliamentary Secretary for Energy Literacy and the Environment for the Minister of Environment. He has also served on the Cabinet Committee on Strong Economy.
Before being elected to the Legislature in 2013, Mike served as mayor of Dawson Creek, elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. He also served as a Dawson Creek city councillor from 2005 to 2008.
Mike is the past president of the North Central Local Government Association. He has also served on the Peace River Regional District, B.C. Mayors Climate Leadership Council, Community Energy Association, Council of Resource Community Mayors, Northeast Regional Advisory Committee, Site C Regional and Local Government Liaison Committee, Northern Development Initiative Trust, and the South Peace Economic Development Commission.
Mike has lived in Dawson Creek since 1993 and has 20 years of experience in the natural gas industry.
Gender Equity, Accessibility & Inclusion – Stephanie Cadieux
Stephanie Cadieux was first elected MLA for Surrey-Panorama in 2009, and elected MLA for Surrey-Coverdale in 2013 and re-elected as MLA for Surrey South in 2017 and 2020. She currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic for ICBC.
She is a member of the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations and served as deputy chair of the Committees to appoint the Representative for Children and Youth and the Human Rights Commissioner. Stephanie served as Minister of Children and Family Development, Minister of Social Development, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, and Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government.
Stephanie worked with SCI-BC as director of marketing and development and was manager of accessibility for 2010 Legacies Now. She has been an active community volunteer and was the president of Realwheels Theatre Society, a member of the advisory panel with International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries (ICORD), and a mentor with the YWCA.
Health – Renee Merrifield
Renee Merrifield was elected MLA for Kelowna-Mission in 2020.
Renee is a dedicated public leader who has effectively led with results in her community, province, and nation for the last 20 years. She is committed to strong, effective advocacy for her community, bringing forward all the elements that aid in making Kelowna–Mission the best place to live, work and play.
Renee is a devoted mother of five in a blended household. She is an entrepreneurial and successful business owner, employing 50 amazing people in the local construction industry. A person of faith, Renee feels blessed to live in such a great country where all people are treated equally.
She is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back, and helping those in need through service, time and fundraising. She is environmentally conscious, believing in sustainability for future generations.
Housing – Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart was elected MLA for Westside-Kelowna in 2009 and 2013. He was re-elected in a by-election in 2018 in the riding of Kelowna-West. He currently serves as the Official Opposition Co-Critic for Trade and Citizens’ Services.
Mr. Stewart previously served as Minister of Citizens’ Services, Minister of Community and Rural Development, Minister of Agriculture, and as Government Whip. He served on the Special Committees on Cosmetic Pesticides and Timber Supply, and as the Ministerial representative on Treasury Board, the Priorities and Planning, and the Legislative Review Committees.
He also has extensive experience serving the community as a board member for numerous organizations such as the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation and Okanagan College. He was also as a founding director of a venture capital fund for local business development in British Columbia.
In 1989, he founded and built Quail’s Gate into one of Canada’s leading estate wineries. Later, under his leadership as chair of VQA Canada, that organization successfully resolved a number of significant issues such as International trademark protection and international mutual recognition agreements. He is recognized as a global leader in small lot premium wine production and a pioneer in Pinot Noir clonal research and wine-making.
In October of 2013, Stewart was appointed British Columbia’s Special Representative in Asia to act as the province’s official on-the-ground representative in Asia to further strengthen BC’s government-to-government relationships in China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia.
Ben lives in West Kelowna and has three children and five grandchildren.
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation – Peter Milobar
Peter was elected MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson in May 2017 and re-elected in 2020. He is the Official Opposition Critic for Labour and is a Member of the Select Standing Committees on Crown Corporations.
Before entering provincial politics, Peter was mayor of Kamloops for three terms, after previously serving two as councillor. He served as chair of the Thompson Regional Hospital District for five terms, and was a director for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District since 2005.
Peter has also worked on the BC Transit Board of Directors, at PRIMECorp, and on the Local Government Contract Management Committee.
Peter and his wife Lianne are lifelong Kamloops residents, and the proud owners and operators of a local small business. They have three grown children.
Mental Health and Addictions – Trevor Halford
Trevor Halford was elected MLA for Surrey-White Rock in 2020.
Trevor’s roots run deep in both White Rock and Surrey. Born and raised in South Surrey, he is a graduate of Elgin Park Secondary and Trinity Western University. His mom has owned a small business in the riding for 30 years, and he and his wife Holly operate a daycare out of their home.
Today, Trevor and Holly are raising their three young children, Ben, 12, Nic, 11, and Sasha, 6, in the same parks, fields and rinks where he grew up and where he now volunteers as a coach.
Like so many young families, Trevor and Holly know how lucky they are to live in their neighbourhood, but have also experienced first-hand the many challenges that come with living in the Lower Mainland: finding an affordable home for their family, commuting to work, getting childcare for their kids and running a small business.
Trevor understands that building a strong and vibrant economy are fundamental for all families. As a fierce advocate for Surrey – White Rock in Victoria, Trevor looks forward to advocating on behalf of the constituents of Surrey-White Rock.
Public Safety and Solicitor General – Mike Morris
Mike Morris was elected MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie in 2013 and re-elected in 2017 and 2020.
Today, Mike uses his extensive knowledge from his prior experience as an RCMP Officer and Minister to lead a critic role on Public Safety and Solicitor General for the Official Opposition. He has also been appointed to the Select Standing Committee on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills and the Special Committee to Appoint a Conflict of Interest Commissioner
Previously, Mike served as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Mike has also been the chair of the Special Committee to Review the Independent Investigations Office, the convener of the Select Standing Committee of Crown Corporations, and has served on other Selected Standing Committees including Finance and Government Services and Public Accounts, along with the Cabinet Committee for Environment and Land Use.
Before being elected to the B.C. Legislature, Mike had a 32-year career in the RCMP, retiring in 2005 as the Superintendent for the North District. Mike has also been an adjudicator and mediator with the Health Professions Review Board, has served on the Drug Benefit Council for BC since 2009, and is the Past President of the BC Trappers Association.
Mike has lived in Prince George for nearly two decades, and spent the majority of his RCMP career in northern communities. He and his wife Chris have been married for more than 35 years. They have two sons and five grandchildren.
Seniors Services & Long Term Care – Shirley Bond
Shirley Bond was elected in 2001 and 2005 as the MLA for Prince George-Mount Robson, and re-elected in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2020 as the MLA for Prince George-Valemount.
Shirley has extensive experience serving as Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Deputy Premier, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for Early Learning and Literacy, Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister of Health Services. She was the first female to hold the position of Attorney General in British Columbia’s history, a title she held while Minister of Justice. She has been honoured as a trailblazer in the B.C. justice system.
Shirley also served as the Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Strong Economy, Vice Chair of the Treasury Board, as a member on the Priorities and Planning Committee and the Cabinet Committee on Climate Leadership and worked directly with the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council.
Today, Shirley is the Chair on the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Official Opposition’s Finance co-critic.
Before her election to the Legislative Assembly, she served three terms on the Prince George School Board, the last as chair. She also worked with the continuing education department of the Prince George School District, becoming its business manager. She was given the B.C. Interior, North & Yukon Woman of Distinction Award for her work in public education.
Shirley lives in Prince George with Bill, her husband of more than 30 years, and they love spending time with their twin adult children and their families, especially their grandsons Caleb and Cooper.
Social Development and Poverty Reduction – Dan Davies
Dan was elected MLA for Peace River North in 2017 and 2020. He currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic for Education and is a Member of the Select Standing Committees on Education and Health.
Prior to his election to the Legislature, Dan served as a Fort St. John city councillor for 12 years. He was also a fulltime teacher with School District 60, a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces Cadet Instructors Cadre, and regularly worked in the construction industry in the summer.
Dan has long been involved in his community, serving as chair of the North Peace Justice Society, vice-president of the Legion, and as a member of the North Peace Shrine Club to mention a few. He has served as a Canadian Forces reserve officer for the past 21 years and also sat on the professional development committee of the teacher association.
For his service in the community Dan received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and has a Canadian Forces Decoration for his service in the Armed Forces.
Dan enjoys the outdoors through hiking and fishing. He enjoys travel, experiencing cultures and sampling ethnic foods.
Dan earned his Master’s Degree in Leadership and Administration from Gonzaga University and has a Bachelor of Education from Simon Fraser University.
Dan is a life-long resident of Fort St. John. He and his wife Erin have two children.