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Parties make their last push before Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection

Byelection campaigns will turn attention to getting out the vote
Nanaimo-Ladysmith will elect a new member of Parliament on May 6. NEWS BULLETIN photo

Time is running out on the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection campaign, but there’s a crucial task left for the parties and their candidates: get out the vote.

The campaign has reached its last weekend and voting day is Monday, May 6, so candidates are trying to make the most of their final opportunities to share their messages.

Green Party candidate Paul Manly and Green leader Elizabeth May were at Curious ComicCon in Nanaimo on Saturday, May 4 – May tweeted out a photo with the hashtag #elizabethmaythefourthbewithyou – and Manly said other plans this weekend involve main-streeting, sign waving, community events and door-knocking.

“We’re trying to get out meeting as many people as we can and encourage them to get out May 6 to vote,” Manly said.

May wasn’t the only leader to visit in the last week of the campaign, as the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh was in the riding for three days last week supporting candidate Bob Chamberlin, meeting high school students, holding a ‘roadside rally’ and hosting a coffee house on affordability.

Michelle Corfield, Liberal candidate, secured an endorsement from former prime minister Paul Martin this week, and has re-iterated her priorities and her party’s plans to grow the local economy, create jobs for the middle class and protect the environment.

“With our community heading to the polls in just a few days, I am working harder than ever to ensure Nanaimo-Ladysmith elects the strongest voice for our region,” Corfield said in a press release.

John Hirst, Conservative Party candidate, was knocking on doors and taking advantage of the sunshine Saturday.

“We’re hitting the doors as hard as possible today and tomorrow and then switch our efforts to get out the vote on Monday,” he said.

Candidates say ballot box is the poll that matters

Hirst said he’s encouraged by what he’s hearing on doorsteps, positive indicators from advance voting, and also national polls that show the Conservatives out in front.

“The momentum, especially over the last couple of weeks, has built so much that I’m really excited for Monday,” Hirst said. “As time goes on, it looks more and more like a Conservative government in the fall and we just need a voice as part of that team.”

Singh said his party sees “some disturbing signs of Conservatives gaining steam,” and said voters need to band together.

“We know in Nanaimo, that means supporting New Democrats and that’s how we can prevent Conservatives from gaining any more momentum,” Singh said. “It’s so important that we come together and vote so that we can have a strong voice in Parliament that’s going to stand up for what people need, and Bob is that voice in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.”

Manly suggested his campaign has a different view of the landscape. The Green Party of Canada commissioned polling by Oraclepoll Research that showed that as of May 1, Manly led with 36 per cent support, Chamberlin was at 24 per cent, Michelle Corfield of the Liberals was at 19 per cent, Hirst at 17 per cent and Jennifer Clarke of the People’s Party of Canada at four per cent. The Greens said the margin of error was 4.4 per cent 19 times out of 20.

A regionally adjusted poll aggregator, 338 Canada, shows that as of April 28 in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, the Greens were at 27 per cent, the NDP at 26 per cent and the Conservatives and Liberals at 23 per cent. The margin of error is listed at 5-6 per cent.

“The prediction polls show that the Conservatives aren’t running that strong in this riding. The Conservatives and the Liberals are kind of vying for third place and we’ve seen that for a while,” Manly said.

He said the polls are good to see and show positive numbers, but he said he isn’t putting stock into it and isn’t resting.

“They are just polls. The only real poll that counts is the one that gets counted after 8:30 on Monday, so we’re working for that one,” Manly said.

Candidates make final pitches to voters

At the second all-candidates’ meeting Monday at the Harbour City Theatre, hosted by the South End Community Association, the six candidates attempted to distinguish themselves and their parties and make an appeal to voters.

Chamberlin said through his work as vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, he’s a known quantity in Ottawa and the best-positioned candidate to be able to get things done in a short stint in Parliament. He talked about affordable housing, pharmacare, childcare and a clean alternative energy plan.

“The NDP are committed to developing and implementing that and seeing good-paying jobs come about as we develop that infrastructure and make the switch from the carbon-burning fuels that we’ve become too accustomed to,” he said. “The Earth cannot tolerate it anymore.”

Corfield said Nanaimo-Ladysmith needs to create meaningful employment for graduates. She said there needs to be continued investment in transportation and infrastructure and said that’s happening now with the Liberals. She highlighted the government’s oceans protection plan and national housing strategy, initiatives for seniors, and the work being done toward pharmacare.

“We need to be able to have someone in government so we can advocate for what Nanaimo needs most,” Corfield said.

Manly said Canada needs a government that will take responsibility for the climate crisis rather than ask consumers to change their behaviour, and one that will stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.

He said electing the NDP, Liberals or Conservatives will mean an MP who will toe the party line from the backbenches.

“If you elect me, we are going to fire up this country and we are going to get some things done because they are going to notice that people in Nanaimo-Ladysmith care about climate change, you care about the next generation, you care about the future,” Manly said. “It’s important what we do here.”

Hirst said his party can offer effective government and as MP he would be able to help the lives of constituents. Hirst said the NDP has shown a lack of results for the riding, the Green platform is based on emotion, and the Liberals will increase taxes and debt.

“If the latest polls are to be believed, we will have a Conservative government this fall and if I’m elected as your MP, I will deliver results,” he said. “We will have a voice at the table to help form federal policy before the fall.”

Clarke said her party wants to stop irresponsible and wasteful spending, curb divisive “identity politics” and put an end to corporate welfare.

“There has been a steady erosion of our core values by our own government,” she said. “Our country has never been as divided as it is right now, both culturally and economically.”

Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party candidate, said his party would work for the betterment of all Canadians equally, rather than appeal to what he called the politics of regionalism and movements.

“The Progressive Canadian Party is a party of progressive conservatives, or Tories who look to the principles of Sir John A. Macdonald and the progressive conservative balance of progressive social policy, fiscal responsibility and political economy and of nation building,” Marlatt said.

Voting day approaches

Nanaimo-Ladysmith will elect a new member of Parliament on May 6. For information about where to vote and what identification to bring, visit or call 1-800-463-6868.

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Greg Sakaki

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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