Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be a coveted riding in the general election, and with that in mind, a second federal leader paid a visit over the B.C. Day long weekend.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was in Nanaimo on Monday to campaign with candidate Bob Chamberlin, just three days after Green Party leader Elizabeth May was in town to help MP Paul Manly launch his re-election campaign.
Singh and Chamberlin were meeting and talking to voters along the Harbourfront Walkway, asking for support in the Oct. 21 general election.
The NDP finished third behind the Greens and Conservatives in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection May 6, but Singh said general elections are “very different” and a time when voters consider “all the struggles they’re facing, not just one thing.”
He said the NDP is trying to get across its priorities of creating affordable housing, improving health care with universal pharmacare and expanded services, and environmental protection including job creation through energy retrofits.
Singh said Chamberlin is a candidate who brings spirit, positivity and experience.
“He knows how to fight for communities, he knows how to stand up for what people need and he’s someone who has a proven track record of being on the people’s side,” Singh said. “In Ottawa, there hasn’t been that strong presence for people … People need better housing, they need better healthcare and they need someone who’s willing to stand up to big polluters and fight for a brighter future for our young kids and create an economy that works for everyone.”
The NDP leader said the current Liberal government and the preceding Conservative government have seemed to prioritize the “people at the top – the wealthiest, the richest” and Chamberlin agreed.
“I am personally offended with all the deals that get cut for the corporations,” he said. “I ask people, ‘how many people do you know that own corporations?’ There’s zero on my list, but everyday Canadians, I know them.”
Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer recently announced that a Conservative government would increase health transfers to provinces, but Singh criticized health-care spending both by the previous Conservative government and current Liberal government.
“Mr. Harper planned to cut health-care funding and Mr. Trudeau implemented those cuts,” Singh said. “What we need to do is invest in health care and that means increasing investments, but it also means expanding services.”
He said beyond pharmacare, the NDP want “head-to-toe” medical coverage that includes dental, hearing and vision care, addiction and rehabilitation care and mental health care.
On the environment, Singh said the NDP “cares deeply” about protecting air, land and water and wants to show that through stopping subsidies to the fossil fuel sector and investing that money into clean energy. He said the party’s energy retrofit will reduce emissions, save families money and create local jobs in communities.
Chamberlin said one of the things that the NDP could have done better in this past spring’s byelection was communicate his history of environmental advocacy. He said for 14 years he’s been on the ground “fighting” for wild salmon and against LNG development, Site C and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. During the byelection, he said, he heard people’s concerns about the LNG industry and the Site C dam, in particular.
“So what we’re facing are provincial decisions. There could have been a better understanding there, but it is what it is and the people spoke with their hearts,” Chamberlin said. “I am clearly on the record on both of those topics and TMX … I’m not trying to pick a fight with Premier Horgan. He knows where I stand on those; he’s heard from me.”
Singh was in the Comox Valley earlier Tuesday, attending Comox Nautical Days with North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney. The NDP leader will also be in Nanaimo on Tuesday, where he will make a health-care-related announcement and then visit striking mill workers at Duke Point.
Aside from Chamberlin and Manly, the other Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates are John Hirst, Conservative Party; Michelle Corfield, Liberal Party; and Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada.