Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP candidate Lisa Marie Barron and Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh spoke with Brooke Vermeersch and Katherine Russell, co-owners of Funk Revival in downtown Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler photo)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP candidate Lisa Marie Barron and Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh spoke with Brooke Vermeersch and Katherine Russell, co-owners of Funk Revival in downtown Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler photo)

Jagmeet Singh says NDP is the ‘only opposition party fighting for Canadians’

Singh spoke on supporting small businesses at a stop in Nanaimo on Saturday, July 10

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh stopped in Nanaimo to talk about the NDP’s plan for small businesses alongside Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP candidate, Lisa Marie Barron.

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustee selected as federal NDP candidate

Singh and Barron were quick to condemn the Trudeau Liberals for their track record on small businesses.

“While small local businesses are struggling, Justin Trudeau is letting big companies take millions in public COVID relief and pay millions in dividends to their rich shareholders,” Singh said. “Many small businesses had to shut their doors because of the pandemic and the lack of support from the Liberal government. New Democrats fought for struggling small businesses to make sure they get the help they need.”

Part of the NDP’s plan includes putting in an excess profit tax on profits generated by large companies during the pandemic and placing a cap on credit card fees which are charged to small businesses on each transaction.

At the beginning of the pandemic, businesses struggled to keep their doors open and keep customers, who were wary of being in public spaces. But now business owners are struggling with finding workers. In an effort to get people back into the workforce, the NDP is proposing a hiring bonus to pay the employer a portion of employment insurance and the Canada Pension Plan for new or rehired staff.

Singh also said that the NDP pushed to increase Canada Emergency Response Benefit payments to $2,000 a month and increase the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy from 10 percent to 75 percent.

An election around the corner

Singh says that he believes a federal election is near, but that’s not something he wants.

“I want to be clear — I’ve said from the beginning [an election] is the wrong thing to do. We should not be having an election while we’re still fighting a pandemic.”

Nanaimo-Ladysmith had two elections in 2019, a byelection triggered by Sheila Malcolmson resigning to seek a seat in the B.C. Legislature, and the 2019 general election. Both contests were won by the Green Party’s Paul Manly, with then NDP candidate, Bob Chamberlin, finishing third overall.

RELATED: Green Party’s Paul Manly re-elected in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Despite the NDP’s poor performance in the past two elections, Singh says that when people vote for an NDP candidate, they get a candidate who “fights for them.”

“I can say with full confidence that in this pandemic, [the NDP] has been the only party in opposition that has fought for and won victories that have made peoples lives better,” Singh said. “… No other opposition party has led the charge in fighting for and delivering the help that people need.”

Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s Green MP Paul Manly pushed back on that statement, saying that the NDP has been following the Green Party’s lead on issues.

“We’ve had a lot of really good wins in the House of Commons,” Manly said. “The NDP claims to have made big changes with COVID relief programs. I sent a letter asking the minister to increase the wage subsidy from 10 percent to 75 percent two weeks before the letter the NDP sent. They claimed victory even though their letter was sent hours after the prime minister’s announcement.”

The NDP letter, which was signed by leaders of several prominent Canadian unions, was delivered to the PMO on the morning of March 27 when Trudeau announced that CEWS would be increased to 75 percent. It came days after both the NDP and the Greens released statements online calling for CEWS to be increased.

Manly slammed the federal NDP for their record on climate change and said that there’s no difference between the federal NDP and the B.C. NDP.

“The NDP’s record on climate change is terrible,” Manly said. “They had an opportunity to hold the Liberals to account and make climate change part of holding up this government and they didn’t do that.”

Manly said that the Green Party is the leading party on climate change and issues like a guaranteed livable income.

RELATED: COVID-19 pandemic sparks calls for progressive federal policies

When asked about the recent turmoil inside the Green Party, that saw Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin cross the floor to the Liberals, Manly said that all parties go through turmoil and that the Greens’ troubles are behind them.

A few days after that statement, Green Party top brass decided to withhold $250,000 for leader Annamie Paul’s campaign in Toronto Centre.

Manly said that it’s a mistake not to ensure that Paul’s campaign is properly funded.

“I’ve donated to her campaign in Toronto and I’m looking forward to her winning in Toronto Centre,” Manly said. “Funding from the party did not play a significant role in my 2019 campaigns because I have tremendously strong support here. Toronto Centre is a very expensive media market so that additional financial support is important.”

Manly says he feels confident that if an election is called he will be re-elected as MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.