Richard Procee is well known around Chilliwack for his long-running store, Hofstede’s Country Produce.
But what people may not know is that he studied general arts in his post-secondary life.
“I’m not a businessman, I’m an English major,” he quipped in a Zoom interview with The Progress. He says he’s an avid reader and loves to talk politics, theology and social topics when the chance arises.
And now, he’s sharing his passion around those issues as a hopeful in the Chilliwack school trustee byelection.
Procee was unsure whether it was the right time to jump into politics, as he is building a new home and also knows “when you put your butt in the air you’re gonna get kicked.”
But he was seeing the school board as polarized, and he decided maybe he can be the one to get in there and “introduce a good conversation into the equation.”
Many are wondering though, with his involvement in his church, if he would bring religion to the secular board table. In particular, many in Chilliwack are wondering if he will try to revive the SOGI 123 issue that embroiled the district via Barry Neufeld’s public comments against it.
And yes, he told The Progress, one of the discussions he wants to bring back to the table is SOGI 123. He is concerned about issues regarding inclusive bathrooms in schools, predators, and even transgender students participating in sports. For example, he notes that a person transitioning to female in track and field could make it impossible for other female athletes to win scholarships.
“It’s really sad when we have anti-bullying days, we have Pink Shirt Days, we have all these days where we want to promote diversity, inclusivity, all that stuff,” he said. “Then the kids look at us and they say ‘what are you talking about?’ … I think it’s really sad we have a culture today where we will promote one section of the equation because we’re afraid to deal with our own inadequacies.”
Still, he says he values every person.
“Obviously (being religious) will have an impact on how I think but I think the biggest thing is that it gives me a strength, and greater strength than people realize.”
And he adds: “Every person has value, worth and dignity.”
He admits he hasn’t so far watched any school board meetings while preparing for potentially joining the board, if elected.
“But I hear sometimes they’re colourful, because my friends in Ontario will text me and say we’re on the news,” he adds.
He doesn’t want to see Canadian politics become as polarized as they are in the United States, and that in order to avoid that, the board members have to “hammer out” issues they don’t agree on.
“We cannot afford in Canadian politics to fall into the abyss of barbarianism, is what I call it,” he said.
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