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  • Gayle Baker

ASK Salt Spring Bids a Sad Farewell to MLA Adam Olsen

July 5

Twenty-six joined this ASK Salt Spring gathering to welcome Laura Parker, Outreach Coordinator, and to bid a sad farewell to MLA Adam Olsen who has decided not to run again. The clear message throughout our time together was our support for his decision to focus his attention on family and personal opportunities as well as heartfelt appreciation of the terrific job he has done representing us over the years.

We began our conversation with Adam’s Territorial Acknowledgement , reminding us of the uniqueness of our islands and that it should be our privilege to belong to them rather than owning or dominating them.

When asked what “excites and delights “ him by facilitator Grant Fredrickson, Adam explained that he was thrilled to be able to speak openly about feelings that had been growing for him. At 48 with 16 years of elected service behind him, he began to think that it was time for him to move into his next phase. Not retiring - he has plenty of work yet to do! - Adam recognized that another four-year commitment was longer than he and his family could give at this point.

Concerned about the toll his work is having on his family, he is delighted to look forward to a time when he can focus on his children as they mature, be fully there for his wife, and savour the deepening relationship with his parents. We learned that his dad always tells him about complex family relationships and connections. He is clear that this is the time to both enjoy his Dad but also to listen well. He knows that someday his family will come to him to better understand these connections.

Still committed to be at the table seeking solutions with many different people each with different roles, he will simply not be there as a politician. He is finding it harder and harder to remain intellectually engaged with politicians who seem to be able to focus only on serving their own interests and getting elected again. He is saddened by their apparent lack of interest in examining and improving our public policy. He is disappointed with the political resistance to asking the hard questions and seeking change.

While sure he will still be at the table discussing the issues about which he feels so deeply, he is not sure which table that will be. He has a suspicion, though, that he will continue his deep interest in governance, untangling the jurisdictional web of responsibilities and making sure our acts support more effective co-governance models. He has taken that first step by completing the Masters of Art at Royal Roads focused on Indigenous governance. 

Adam recognizes that he brings a very different perspective than others. He cited the Land Act ( as an example of this. He preferred the proposed changes to the Act furthering reconciliation by simplifying land agreements between Indigenous groups and Crown governments. However, he is disappointed by the approach of some who favour relying on our court system. In Adam’s opinion, this reliance on legal decisions pits sides against one another, making it okay to call each other names rather than sitting down face-to-face listening and solving issues.

A participant spoke of his horror about what is happening in the United States, asking Adam what we should do. Adam responded that he, too, is very concerned, dismayed that the Republicans have nominated a felon to lead them while the Democrats have nominated a candidate with diminished capabilities and an inability to hold his competitor to account. He is concerned that Trump will become an autocratic dictator, bringing in tariffs that will create a meltdown in the US economy as well as crippling the world economy.

Adam expects that there may be an increase in the number of professionals wanting to leave the US and move to Canada. He hopes that our somewhat cumbersome processes in place for workers we need, like health care workers, can be streamlined. 

While the US drama has caught the world’s attention, Adam reminded us that similar issues are being repeated all over the world. And, that Canada is not immune to challenges to democracy. He spoke of the NDP’s growing proclivity toward autocratic and self-serving governing practices, including pushing through laws and shutting down debate. In Adam’s opinion, their only truly democratic action is the election. His best advice for us was to do something about the politicians we elect.

And speaking about elections. . . .ours is coming fast: October 19

He suggested that we keep asking the difficult questions and expect our politicians to work hard for us. He also reminded us not to allow the government bureaucracy to take over all projects, often adding complexity, delays, and costs. Instead, use the energy of our community to empower volunteers, seek donations, and create together rather than expecting our government to do everything for us.

Saying that Adam has been an amazing MLA, a participant wondered about his priorities for the time he has left as our MLA. Adam responded that he will focus his attention on preparing the office for our new MLA. He is pleased that his Sidney office will be retained, making it easier for the person we elect to begin working immediately instead of having to spend time finding a space and setting up an office. Adam will support our new MLA. He wants to be able to spend time going over things he has been doing as well as a briefing of an estimated 100 open files.

Adam is convinced that we will get a good field of candidates, because, of course, this is the very best riding! And, while some of this is Adam’s appreciation of us, it is backed up by statistics: 70% of the registered voters in this riding vote, a very high number, especially when compared to the 25% in other ridings.

Will he tell our new MLA about ASK Salt Spring? Cognizant that Adam will only be able to tell our new MLA what he/she wants to know, Adam will reply, if asked, that ASK Salt Spring has been immensely valuable to him. Not only do large numbers read the reports of his visits each month, but Adam also uses his time with us to try out new ideas, honing has message, and gauging responses before taking them to a larger audience. With a smile, he said, “They will ignore ASK Salt Spring at their peril.

Our time together sadly over, we applauded Adam, devastated to see him leave us but supportive of the important family and personal choices he is making. We were unanimously appreciative of his hard work, vision, commitment to his ideals, availability to us when we needed his help, and that, for five years, he has taken time from his busy days to join us at ASK Salt Spring every month. (Thank-you, Laura and Adam!

Please join us this Friday, July 12, 11-1, in the SIMS (former Middle School) Classroom next to the Boardroom to welcome Local Community Commissioner and Chair Earl Rook, with backup from Gayle Baker.

What would you like to ask them?

  • What do you hope to accomplish in 2024?

  • It has been a year since you were sworn in June 20, 2023. During that year, what are the most significant LCC accomplishments?

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the LCC?

  • Can you describe any changes in the scope of responsibility of the LCC that you would like to see by the end of your term, October 2026?

Please join us Friday to welcome Earl!

Just in case you are interested. . . .This report has been written by Gayle Baker, Ph. D., founder of ASK Salt Spring, currently also a Salt Spring Local Community Commissioner. This report has also been edited by this week’s special guest.

Want to help? We welcome volunteers to join the team.

Please join us making ASK Salt Spring ever better!

Big News:

ASK Salt Spring now has ongoing funding! A heartfelt THANK-YOU to the Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA) and its Executive Director, Peter Allen !!!

***New fundraising option***

You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.

Any questions, anytime:

Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings, and

monthly schedule of upcoming gatherings?

Want to listen to interviews of our special guests?ASK Salt Spring Answered

Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15

Our Partners. . . .

Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA), Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings' Simple Generosity grant.

A heartfelt Thank-You!

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