Election 43 in full swing 

NDP name lawyer Judith Wilson as candidate

click to enlarge PHOTOS SUBMITTED - IN THE RUNNING The Sea to Sky's candidates for the Oct. 21 election (from left): The NDP's Judith Wilson; the Liberal Party's Patrick Weiler; the Conservative Party's Gabrielle Loren, the Green Party's Dana Taylor and the People's Party's Robert (Doug) Bebb.
  • Photos submitted
  • IN THE RUNNING The Sea to Sky's candidates for the Oct. 21 election (from left): The NDP's Judith Wilson; the Liberal Party's Patrick Weiler; the Conservative Party's Gabrielle Loren, the Green Party's Dana Taylor and the People's Party's Robert (Doug) Bebb.

If you were happily oblivious to Canada's federal election campaign to this point, the appearance of election signs along Highway 99 near Whistler Village must have removed any doubt: Election 43 is in full swing.

The first signs to appear near Whistler belonged to Liberal candidate Patrick Weiler, who officially launched his campaign in West Vancouver on Sept. 6 with outgoing MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.

Since then, he's held events in Squamish and on the Sunshine Coast and will be in Whistler on Friday, Sept. 20 for a 5 p.m. meet-and-greet at Caramba.

Weiler said the No. 1 issue he's hearing about on the doorsteps is consistent throughout the riding: the environment.

"On top of that, affordability has really been an issue that keeps coming up, even if it manifests in different ways, but things like affordable housing are really key issues throughout the riding," Weiler said.

For that reason, the Liberal candidate said he's pleased with his party's pledge to expand the first-time homebuyers incentive (by offering up to 10 per cent off the purchase price).

Those in the greater Toronto, Vancouver or Victoria regions, where housing prices are 60 per cent higher than average, will still qualify for the incentive if the home they're buying is $789,000 or less.

"Having that expanded to be almost $800,000 really makes it applicable in a much wider way for Whistler, so I think that's really important," Weiler said.

The Liberal platform is rolling out one announcement at a time: other pledges to date include supporting small business by "reducing red tape" and "cutting more fees," more accessible childcare for families (including up to 250,000 more preschool childcare spaces and lowering fees by 10 per cent across the board), and an increase to the Canada Child Benefit for families with kids under the age of one.

Follow the party's platform announcements at 2019.liberal.ca/our-plan/.

The Green Party's Dana Taylor also held his campaign launch in West Vancouver, with party leader Elizabeth May on hand to rouse his supporters.

"It was very important [to have her there]," Taylor said. "I think that we've, overall as an Electoral District Association, tried to stay close to national on all events, and having the leader there to present—and it's something she does very well, quite succinctly—what the Green Party stands for, and what we hope to achieve, I think was helpful for all."

For insight into what the Green Party stands for, one need only look to its platform, released in full on Sept. 16 (and found at www.greenparty.ca/en/platform), which carries the tagline "Honest. Ethical. Caring. Leadership."

"It all revolves around the climate action plan, which includes transitioning the economy, and making sure that things are tied to that in terms of moving forward," Taylor said.

The platform, which reflects the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals in each of its proposals, includes sections on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, addressing the climate emergency, transitioning to a green economy, renewing the social contract, good governance and more.

"I think it breaks us out of the notion that we're a one-issue party," Taylor said of the platform.

"I think that a lot of the ideas behind the platform itself have been part of what was called Vision Green, and more recently Our Vision; they come from longstanding policies of the Green Party, hopefully made more visible with the platform release as it stands."

The platform is fully costed "to ensure that we can actually pay for what we say we're going to do" and is currently under review by the parliamentary budget office, Taylor added.

The People's Party of Canada (PPC), meanwhile, was buoyed by the news on Sept. 16 that leader Maxime Bernier will be invited to the federal leaders debates next month.

"It's great news. I mean, it's wonderful. It's in line with our policy on free speech," said local PPC candidate Robert (Doug) Bebb.

What does Bebb hope voters take away from Bernier's performance in the debates?

"Just that there's another option," he said. "One that's not corrupt, one that has an entire, inclusive view of the science around global warming, and doesn't fall victim to the hype and the child abuse that the Greens are inflicting on our grade-school children."

Like the Greens, the PPC are floating a broad platform rooted in ideology—but the comparisons end there.

The PPC platform includes policies concerning rejecting climate alarmism, reducing overall levels of immigration, ending official multiculturalism in Canada, removing interprovincial trade barriers and more.

The platform (which can be found at peoplespartyofcanada.ca/platform) is supplemented by policies put forward by Bernier during the 2016 Conservative Party leadership campaign, Bebb said.

"We're not into pandering, and so the idea that we should specifically put forward policies that benefit one group or another, or one geographical area or another really isn't consistent with our theme," he said.

"So the advantages of the people at Whistler are the same for advantages right across the country for all people, and that's what we think true equality is. There is one Canadian, and no pandering to special interest groups."

A PPC government would also abolish the Capital Gains Tax and reduce federal income taxes, Bebb said.

"We're going to really simplify the tax system and there's going to be saving across the board," he said.

"[And] we're going to fund this thing by bringing back all this excessive and wasteful foreign spending we're doing to help out SNC Lavalin and other such companies."

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) candidate, Gabrielle Loren, has been doing her homework in the early days of the campaign, attending local council meetings and meeting with elected officials throughout the vast Sea to Sky riding.

Loren was in attendance for Whistler's Sept. 3 council meeting, and caught West Vancouver's on Sept. 16.

"What's so nice about going to these council meetings is you find out all sorts of stuff about what's important, what's going on, where everything is at," Loren said, adding that she's learned there are almost three distinct, different issues in each part of the riding.

Concerns about ferry service are a big issue on the coast, but not so much in Whistler and the Sea to Sky, for example.

"So that's probably the biggest eye-opener, is that you've got ... 10 municipalities, two regional districts, as well as the Indigenous groups, that all have their own concerns, their own problems," Loren said.

"So it's a matter of understanding what each of those are and then finding out solutions for them, hopefully, in Ottawa."

The CPC platform is also being rolled out plank by plank, with a distinct focus on saving Canadians money so far: a Universal Tax Cut that will see all income taxes go down, with those earning less than $47,630 getting a cut from 15 to 13.75 percent; cancellation of the carbon tax; removing GST from home heating; making maternity benefits tax free, and more (follow the policies at conservative.ca).

"I think one of the things that I'm seeing, I want to say a pattern of, is exactly what the tagline is: putting more money into your pocket," Loren said, pointing to tax credits for fitness, arts and education, as well as a boost to the Registered Education Savings Plan.

"So to me, that's where I'm seeing a real plus, is every time I turn around, there's more money that we'll be able to spend, and that can't help but stimulate the economy."

Meanwhile, the NDP announced their candidate for the riding on Sept. 17: lawyer Judith Wilson.

According to a press release, Wilson is a longtime New Democrat and a current resident of the Langdale area who practices family law.

She ran for the NDP in the 2006 federal election, taking 20 per cent of the vote in a third-place bid.

Her interest in politics extends back to the early '80s, when she took a leadership role in fighting fish farms on the Sechelt Inlet.

She has also served as a school trustee for School District 46.

"I believe that government's job is to make life better for all citizens, and that every election is an opportunity to move forward on that goal," Wilson said in the release.

"Today I am proud to be a member of an NDP with an environmental policy that is 'greener than the greens' and a plan to get Canadians 'head to toe' medical coverage."

Check back with

Pique for an interview with Wilson in the next week.

Whistler's all-candidates meeting—hosted by the Whistler Chamber and Pique—is set for Wednesday, Oct. 9 at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

Election day is Monday, Oct. 21.

Read more about each candidate and their party platforms on their respective websites: patrickweiler.liberal.ca; danataylor.ca; bebb2019ppc.ca; and www.votegabrielleloren.ca.

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