Top row, left to right: Bob Chamberlin, NDP; James Chumsa, Communist Party; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; John Hirst, Conservatives; and bottom row, left to right: Paul Manly, Green Party; Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party; Geoff Stoneman, independent; and Echo White, independent. Not pictured is Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada, who did not submit a questionnaire response.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates share priorities and reasons for running

Eight of nine candidates in the riding respond to Black Press questionnaire

We co-operated with our sister paper the Ladysmith Chronicle to send questionnaires to all nine candidates in the riding: Bob Chamberlin, NDP; James Chumsa, Communist Party; Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; John Hirst, Conservatives; Paul Manly, Green Party; Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party; Geoff Stoneman, independent; and Echo White, independent. All responded except Clarke. These responses will also appear in print in the next issue of the News Bulletin.

BOB CHAMBERLIN, New Democratic Party

What is your background? Both in terms of work, and life experience.

I grew up in Harewood in Nanaimo, raised my son there, and live downtown. I love this beautiful community.

I had the privilege of being elected chief councillor for the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation on northern Vancouver Island for 14 years where I worked on improving housing, health-care access and water treatment. I’ve served as vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs for three terms. I’ve presented at National Energy Board hearings and to Senate committees on many issues – environmental assessments, drinking water, the effects of climate change on food security – and in opposition to projects like Enbridge and Kinder Morgan.

Protecting salmon has been my greatest passion. I was lead negotiator for the first jointly developed government-to-government framework for shared decision-making to transition fish farms out of the Broughton Archipelago.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

People here work hard and deserve a good life with good jobs in a safe and healthy environment. Under Justin Trudeau that has all gotten harder. People here need someone who gets results and stands up for them. I understand the challenges people are facing. The NDP is committed to building new affordable housing, bringing in pharmacare and dental care for everyone, and taking action now to cut climate pollution and create good jobs in a clean economy.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work in Parliament for your constituents?

I raised my son as a single dad so I understand the struggle to pay the bills, cover housing, and provide healthy food. We’re paying too much for housing and healthcare. The NDP will bring 1,500 affordable, energy efficient homes to Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

I’ve heard from pensioners, families, and young people that they haven’t filled prescriptions because they can’t afford them. We’re fighting for expanded pharmacare so people don’t have to pay out of pocket for medications and for dental coverage. Not only will this help workers without extended health plans, businesses will save money because they won’t have to pay for it.

Our cellphone fees are among the world’s highest and that’s unacceptable. Cellphones are vital to our way of life whether it’s to communicate with family or for business purposes. I’m proud of the NDP plan to introduce a price cap on cellphone plans.

How have things changed since the byelection and what do voters need to know before heading to the polls for a second time?

We knew whoever got elected in the byelection would only be in office for five months – and because of that less than half of the people here bothered voting. Now a full term is at stake and people are deciding what direction they want Canada to go in. We can make an investment in good jobs that help put the breaks on climate change, make a commitment to the health of all people with a health care system that supports that, and stand up for indigenous rights. I’m someone with the leadership experience and success rate that can help make these things happen.

JAMES CHUMSA, Communist Party of Canada

What is your background? Both in terms of work and life experience.

I was born and raised on the Island and grew up in the Cowichan Valley. I moved to Nanaimo to attend Vancouver Island University and have recently graduated with a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in sociology and minoring in history.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

I am running as a candidate for the Communist Party of Canada to let people know that there is an alternative to the capitalist parties. The Communist Party is the only party running in this riding, as well as many ridings, that is proposing a socialist alternative. During the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the economist Francis Fukuyama declared the triumph of capitalist liberal democracy as the end of history. In recent years, Fukuyama has since rescinded his statement made three decades ago, saying that this is not the end of history. Many are beginning to see how capitalism is not sustainable, how it has widened the gap between rich and poor while causing the climate crisis. History marches, the class struggle continues, and communists still need to openly put forward their aims, goals, and tendencies.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work in Parliament for your constituents?

My priorities are the environment as well as the rights of workers and indigenous people. We need to strengthen the trade union movement, as right now forestry workers on the Island are on strike against Western Forest Products’ concessions. There are also many non-union workers in retail and fast food who are making minimum wage with no benefits. Even worse, many are precariously employed with apps like Uber and Skip the Dishes that exploit legal loopholes to pay workers less than minimum wage. This is why the Communist Party is proposing a labour bill of rights which would legally defend the rights for workers to strike, unionize, and bargain collectively. Many are also working over 40 hours a week at multiple jobs just to pay for rent and living expenses, and I believe in a $20-per-hour minimum wage and a reduced standardized work week of 32 hours with no loss in take-home pay.

Homelessness is a big issue in Nanaimo, as highlighted last year with Discontent City. As MP I would fight to ensure that no one pays more than 20 per cent of their income for rent and that 1 million units of social housing are built across Canada. We also need to enact laws that defends the rights of tenants and recognizes housing as a human right.

Fighting racism can be a huge task in a country founded on the theft of indigenous land, and I am willing to work with others to implement UNDRIP and the recommendations proposed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Hate groups and hate speech needs to be criminalized was well as racism within our law enforcement. I believe simply having more indigenous or racialized officers is not good enough; we need the RCMP as well as local and provincial police forces under civilian control and to hold officers more accountable. This would mean stricter consequences for officer misconduct and the banning of racial profiling.

MICHELLE CORFIELD, Liberal Party of Canada

What is your background? Both in terms of work, and life experience.

Michelle Corfield is the former chairperson of the Port of Nanaimo. Michelle founded Corfield and Associates in 2006 to provide consulting and project management services to First Nations, individuals, and organizations. She has also served as the chairperson of the Legislative Council of the Ucluelet First Nation for eight years, the first multi-nation that is implementing a modern treaty. Michelle is the co-founder and executive-in-residence for a master of business program at Simon Fraser University with a specialized focus on indigenous business and leadership. She is also the marine training advisor for Camosun College.

Michelle has served on the boards for more than a dozen organizations and societies including serving six years on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. In addition to the professional experience that Michelle brings to her consultancy, she holds a doctorate in organizational leadership management, a masters of conflict analysis and management, and a bachelor of arts in First Nations studies.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

I am running to be the Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP because I believe we need to have an MP that has a seat at the table. For too long, this riding has not had a strong advocate for this region with the government in power and we have seen these results in the minimal services and infrastructure investments for decades now. I have worked my entire life to bring me to a place where I believe I am ready to serve the constituents to make Nanaimo-Ladysmith a priority. My work, board, and educational experience have provided me with a deep understanding of the legislative framework our county is founded on.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work for constituents in Parliament?

My priorities are the priorities identified by the constituents of this riding: national pharmacare, climate change, housing affordability, and advancing youth and senior initiatives while working to grow our economy based on good regional jobs.

How have things changed since the byelection and what do voters need to know before heading to the polls for a second time?

Things that have changed are the Liberal government has implemented over 90 per cent of the 2015 platform, higher than any other governing body. Canadians now know this government has worked hard to keep Canadians moving forward.

JOHN HIRST, Conservative Party of Canada

What is your background? Both in terms of work, and life experience.

For years I have been giving back to my community through groups like the Gyro Club and the Young Professionals of Nanaimo. Being born and raised in Nanaimo I have always loved this community and it’s the city I will raise my own children in.

After graduating from high school in Nanaimo I spent several years working in Alberta because of the lack of opportunity on the mid-Island. We don’t have enough well-paying jobs where a young person can work hard to get ahead. I saved my money and paid my way through business school after which I started with a financial services company for whom I now manage the north Island.

An important part of my life was in October 2017 when we lost my father to suicide. For years he struggled with addictions and mental health. As a family we decided to be as open as possible about this because it still carries a stigma. I am extremely passionate about mental health and addictions because of my father. If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can always reach out to available resources such as the Vancouver Island Crisis Line.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

As a local born and raised I have been frustrated with the representation we have had in Ottawa and the lack of results they have delivered for our community. For too long we have sent MPs from third- or fourth-place parties who stare at government from across the aisle. The issues we face require an MP who will advocate for us in government. I intend to be that MP for the mid-island.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work for constituents in Parliament?

The issues I hear from people at the door are the same from all over the riding: affordability, crime and the health care in the mid-island. Many people are struggling to get by and can’t afford more taxes like the other parties are promising. I feel strongly that universal tax cut and other measures our party is introducing will help keep more money in your pocket. Crime has been an issue that I have heard across the riding and needs to be addressed and we are the only party doing so. Health care is an urgent issue on the mid-island. We have a population that is bigger and older than that south of the Malahat and lack many of the services offered there – we need a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo.

How have things changed since the byelection, and what do voters need to know before heading to the polls for a second time?

The byelection results have been encouraging; defeating the NDP in what they considered a safe riding for them. The experience we gained as a team has allowed us to re-organize and better prepare for the general election. We never slowed down either: all summer we have been out knocking on doors, talking to voters, meeting with community groups and hearing the concerns and issues from across the riding. The same concerns keep being shared with me: affordability, crime, health care and the environment. We have a plan to deliver real results and make a real positive difference in the lives of people living in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

PAUL MANLY, Green Party of Canada

What is your background? Both in terms of work, and life experience.

Prior to entering federal politics I was a small business owner and worked extensively in film and television. My films on community watershed protection, international trade deals, food security, First Nations language revitalization, and health care, have raised public awareness and influenced government policy. I also co-ordinated employment skills training programs at Nanaimo Foodshare for youth at risk and people with diverse abilities. On May 6, I became the second elected Green MP in Canada. Since then I’ve been working hard for our communities, and demonstrating my commitment to set a new standard of transparency, accountability and accessibility for a local MP.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

I am seeking re-election because my work for you has only just begun. Our communities are suffering the impacts of the housing crisis and the opioid crisis, and those issues urgently need to be addressed. But the No. 1 threat to a secure, liveable future for our children and grandchildren is the climate crisis. Canada’s old line political parties are dragging their feet and refusing to address the climate crisis with the urgency, and bold action it calls for. In this fight for the future we need Greens on the front line.

What are your priorities for the riding and if re-elected, how will you work for constituents in Parliament?

The Green Party is calling for a renewal of our social contract. One that reflects the reality and urgency of our needs – for affordable housing, mental health care, and universal pharmacare. And increasing the health and stability of our communities also means creating opportunities for careers in the renewable energy economy right here in our riding. I will follow the example set by Elizabeth May and work collaboratively across party lines to find resources and solutions for our communities.

How have things changed since the byelection, and what do voters need to know before heading to the polls for a second time?

When voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith sent me to Ottawa it changed the national conversation around the climate crisis. The day after the byelection the Prime Minister said that the results in Nanaimo-Ladysmith showed that Canadians are “preoccupied with climate change.” Two weeks later the NDP and the Liberals put forward motions to declare a climate emergency. That’s good, because we’re in an “all hands on deck” situation. I don’t engage in hyper-partisan bickering because we have very serious problems to solve, and the only way we can do that is by working together. I made a promise to be an open and accountable representative. During my time in Ottawa I published weekly reports on my website. This summer I hosted 10 non-partisan community meetings throughout our riding, where I reported back to the community on my work in Ottawa, then opened the floor for anyone to ask a question, make a suggestion or bring up any issue. I will continue to publish weekly reports from Ottawa and host two rounds of community meetings every year for as long as I am your MP.

BRIAN MARLATT, Progressive Canadian Party

What is your background? Both in terms of work, and life experience.

Brian is a writer, researcher and former member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada who has contributed to public policy development in parliamentary reform, health care and business innovation and technology, including health-care related patents, and conferences on disabilities issues. He has written on the social determinants of health, epigenetics and bioethics, in science journalism. Graduate studies research in history and sciences has informed academic papers he has delivered and published contributions to a UN conference on natural disaster response and mitigation, which he believes is the best approach to the realities of climate change.

He has lived on Vancouver Island since 2015, where his principal concern has been the health care needs of his parents.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

Brian is running as a PC Party candidate to restore the red Tory principles of balanced progressive social policy and fiscal responsibility, nation-building and national unity for the betterment of all Canadians, in contrast to the politics of region and movements which characterize all of the opposition parties in Parliament today.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work for constituents in Parliament?

My priorities will be your priorities, not just the voice of a movement or party. Among them, your priorities, I believe, and my proposals are: renewed funding commitment to universal public health care, extended to autism treatment, seniors home care, and a national pharmacare through a national purchasing Agency to supply and reduce costs to provincial pharmacare programs without jurisdictional tensions; ensuring post-secondary education is available to all Canadians, whether academic, professions, or trades; mitigation of risk as the core principle of climate change policy and protection of the environment by growing sustainable resources and renewable energy infrastructure; democratic and parliamentary reform that will serve the people rather than movement and party interest; a culture of opportunity for all Canadians, not just the one per cent, through equitable taxation and investment in infrastructure; understanding that Canada’s economy and future is built on the hard work of those who create, especially small business and those who work with them; a balance of progressive social policy and fiscal responsibility in public policy.

How have things changed since the byelection and what do voters need to know before heading to the polls for a second time?

Since the May byelection, movement politics, particularly around climate change, SNC and other posturing for partisan interest has diminished respect for Parliament, our democratic institutions, and confidence in commitment to the public good. I will work to restore that confidence.


What is your background? Both in terms of work and life experience.

Geoff Stoneman is a plumber, generational ‘Shack Islander,’ leader, and father who cares genuinely about our community and our country.

Geoff’s enthusiasm and commitment to finding solutions have made him an invaluable asset to his family, company, and community. As an independent, Geoff can put the community before party interests and will encourage public consultation and participation in all levels of government in order to achieve the intentions and ambitions of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

As a Red Seal plumber/gas fitter, Geoff is fortunate to collaborate in the building of schools, hospitals, fire halls, apartments and condos in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, but appreciates his chances to help individual families feel safe and comfortable in their own home. Geoff believes in the future of this riding, sees it as an amazing place to raise his children, and has a vested interest in the future of this community and the Island.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

Integrity is a big word slung around Ottawa these days, and depending on party policies, there might be a difference in its definition. As an independent, I am working to change that. Working with the members of this amazing community without the constraints of party policies and their obligations will ensure my only priorities are the intentions and ambitions of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work in Parliament for your constituents?

The cost of living in our riding is one of the most discussed topics as I continue to talk with folks in our communities. We have 24 per cent of the youth in our riding under the poverty line. We are losing the ability to afford the most common necessities. We are a unique riding with daily expenses that can exceed the Canadian average with no increase in wages to compensate. The cost of living in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is one of the top priorities for our campaign. We also have a strong environmental platform with new options and technologies that can lower carbon emissions and start the conversation on the use of hydrogen.

ECHO WHITE, Independent

What is your background? Both in terms of work and life experience.

I grew up in China and went to Canada for the master of business administration program at the University of Ottawa in my early 20s.

When I was in high school in China, I was preparing for the university entrance exam under incredible pressure. I just lost my grandma due to a car accident, and my mom was hospitalized, waiting for surgery. I had constant fever for several months, and the doctor thought that I had lymphoma. I was hopeless but fortunately could not find a reason to kill myself. That is why I am here today. If you are in desperation today, don’t give up.

I married my husband and raised three kids in the national capital region. I speak fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Right after the MBA program, I started several online businesses. Later I also had opportunities working in the federal government and a Crown corporation. The highlight of my career is a member of the Team Canada trade mission to promote big projects overseas.

My core values are shaped by my Christian faith. I had a calling from God about three years ago to move our family to Nanaimo because there will be a big revival in Nanaimo.

Why are you running to be Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP?

I see, hear and experience many concerns, frustrations and pain about health care, education, housing, drugs, homelessness and the situation of First Nations people. But we lack a voice in Ottawa to represent our concerns, as the political parties put their interest above ours. It is completely unacceptable to keep the status quo.

As a visible minority, I believe diversity is a strength. I respect and appreciate the difference in communities.

In this campaign, I am going to invite all Canadians to support independent candidates so that their voices are heard in Parliament and are not suppressed by the political party interests.

What are your priorities for the riding and if elected, how will you work in Parliament for your constituents?

My vision and mission for Nanaimo-Ladysmith are to transform the region into an innovation centre of Canada. I will work closely with the First Nations community, municipal, provincial, federal governments and Vancouver Island University.

I believe this election will result in a fragmented Parliament. As an independent MP, I will have great negotiation power for my riding. I will work with other MPs and parties on a case-by-case basis to maximize the benefit to people, such as more tax incentives, government grants, training program and research and development investments.

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