A federal leadership candidate had to cancel a visit to Nanaimo this week during a challenging time to be campaigning.
David Merner, Green Party of Canada leadership candidate, had been scheduled to speak at Bowen Park this past Sunday, but opted to cancel two days beforehand.
His campaign stops had already been physically distanced and held outdoors due to COVID-19, and then once smoky skies descended, people just weren’t comfortable outside, he told the News Bulletin in a phone interview.
Merner, who was a federal Green Party candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke in 2019, said he had been looking forward to coming to Nanaimo as part of a final push in his leadership campaign. The deadline to become a party member to participate in the online voting has already passed, but the voting period is still to come, starting Sept. 26.
Merner is one of eight candidates in the running to succeed Elizabeth May as leader and he said it’s a diverse and talented field.
“How do you stand out among that? Well, one way is to stand out as a uniter,” Merner said. “Let’s pull together this group into a fantastic team … and I sincerely believe that I’m the best person to do that and maybe even the only person who can do that.”
He said he’s tried to stand out as a first choice, but right from the start of the campaign, it’s also been part of his strategy to try to be “everybody’s second choice” on what will be a ranked ballot. To that end, he said he hasn’t attacked other candidates, has sought to be positive, and has favoured what he called a “credible approach” to campaigning and creating a platform.
Merner’s major platform plank is a east-west-north electrical grid powered by renewables, which he said can be the largest job creation program in Canadian history and would have a huge impact on COVID-19 recovery.
He’s also campaigning on a social justice agenda and said he’d be proud to carry on the Green Party’s existing support for guaranteed liveable income and free tuition to colleges, universities and trade schools.
To win seats, the Greens will need to be the most socially progressive party but also the most fiscally responsible, Merner said, adding that the party has always costed out its promises and would continue to do so under his leadership.
Another Green Party of Canada leadership candidate, Dimitri Lascaris, campaigned in Nanaimo last month. The other candidates are Meryam Haddad, Courtney Howard, Amita Kuttner, Glen Murray, Annamie Paul and Andrew West. The party will announce its next leader Oct. 4.