The prospective MPs vying for your votes in Victoria and Saanich—Gulf Islands
With the 2021 election on the horizon, the Martlet spoke to the candidates for the Victoria and Saanich—Gulf Islands areas. We asked candidates what made them run, what their priorities are, and how they would serve their riding once in office.
But before we delve into the candidates, we should talk about parties — and no, not the Election Night watch party that your friends in Political Science are hosting.
The Liberal Party was the governing party of Canada prior to this election, a position they have held since 2015. Their leader Justin Trudeau is the current Prime Minister. The Liberal Party has formed government more than any other party in Canada’s history. Traditionally, the liberal party has been known as a ‘big tent’ party — meaning that their centrist ideals attempted to attract a broad spectrum of voters.
The Conservative Party, led by their newly elected leader Erin O’Toole, are currently the party with the second-most seats in parliament, meaning they are the official opposition. They last held power in 2015 under the leadership of Stephen Harper. The Conservatives are a center-right to right wing party that is socially and fiscally conservative. Their policies generally center around private enterprise, small government, low taxes, and traditional values.
The New Democratic Party is Canada’s left of center progressive party. They support socially and fiscally left-wing policies including high taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, a guaranteed basic income, affordable housing, and climate action. They are currently led by Jagmeet Singh, who became the first BIPOC leader of a Canadian federal party when he was elected in 2017.
The Green Party is Canada’s environmental party with members ranging across the political spectrum from social conservatives to economic progressives. The party’s policies traditionally focus on environmental preservation and climate action. Over the past few elections, the party has expanded their platform to include issues outside of the environment. The party also operates slightly differently from others in that they do not have a whip, or a designated person in charge of ensuring that everyone holds the same policy views. Their leader Annamie Paul is the first BIPOC woman to lead a major federal party.
The People’s Party is led by Maxime Bernier and is Canada’s far right party. The party’s platform centers around libertarian and socially conservative policies. The People’s Party also believes that personal freedom, free speech, and freedom of expression are of paramount importance.
Canadians will go to the polls on Sept. 20 and vote for an Member of Parliament (MP) who will represent their riding in Ottawa. The party with the most MPs tries to form government and their leader becomes our prime minister. Unlike in the U.S. presidential elections, Canadians don’t actually vote for their prime minister. Our election explainer goes further into what a riding is and how the voting process works.
Now on to the candidates.
Laurel Collins (NDP)
Laurel Collins is the current MP for Victoria. Her first term in office has been quite the roller coaster between navigating a pandemic, acting as the NDP’s environmental critic, and starting a family.
The former UVic lecturer told the Martlet that she hopes to keep fighting to reduce the impact of climate change, end the housing crisis, and push for meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
As the NDP’s environmental critic, Collins says she grew increasingly concerned about the Liberal government’s climate approach.
“We have been witnessing record-breaking heat waves, forest fires, which are climate fires, you know, increased severity and intensity of fires and extreme weather, it is so vital that we take bold action on the climate crisis,” said Collins. “We need to invest in retrofits, in green housing, green infrastructure, in transportation mode-shift, we need to invest in renewables in the low carbon economy, and a just transition for workers.”
Hannah Hodson (Conservative)
Hannah Hodson is ready for a jump from the background of provincial politics to center-stage at the federal level.
The former aide to B.C. Premier Christy Clark is looking to push for expanded mental health supports for Victoria residents and tackle the perception of the Conservatives as a climate-skeptical party.
“Our plan to secure the environment is a concrete, effective, and rational plan to put a price on carbon and to make serious investments into technologies that will make a huge difference,” she told the Martlet.
As a transgender woman, Hodson is focused on supporting members of the LGBTQ+ community and helping to end discriminatory policies such as the blood ban. She also hopes to establish protections for LGBTQ+ immigrants and refugees..
“There are many things on the federal level, the current Liberal government has said they will do and has not,” said Hodson. “There have been campaigns three times now, on ending the blood ban, and it’s still in place.”
Nick Loughton (Green)
Nick Loughton says he’s fed up. The second-year UVic law student says that he is tired of the inaction of the federal government on climate change, affordability, and reconciliation.
“We have the worst climate record of any G7 country, we have the second-worst health care system among high-income countries next to only the United States,” Loughton told the Martlet. “We have an affordability crisis, where it costs 1 700 bucks a month to rent a one bedroom in Victoria, that makes an affordable income for that 68 000 bucks a year.”
He says he had hoped the NDP would hold the Liberals to account but doesn’t think they have done so successfully.
If elected, Loughton says he would bring the perspective of Canada’s youth to parliament, who he says are dealing with the increasingly intertwined issues of climate change, mental health, and skyrocketing costs of living.
Nikki Macdonald (Liberal)
Nikki Macdonald is excited for another opportunity to turn Victoria red. The former advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien continues to place climate change as her number one election issue.
As an ocean researcher, Macdonald says she hopes to bring her experience to Ottawa to help with the implementation of the Liberal climate plan. The Liberal climate plan has been endorsed by former BC Green leader Andrew Weaver which has furthered Macdonald’s resolve.
“It’s about how do you get to your targets, while at the same time continuing to support your economy,” Macdonald told the Martlet. “That’s the important principle that exists with a Liberal plan, it’s about addressing and building towards addressing climate change more effectively, while still creating jobs.”
Macdonald also says that she hopes to be given the opportunity to tackle the housing and overdose crises by fighting for more housing and expanded access to safe supply.
“We need to build more social housing,” she said. “The opioid crisis is another issue that is related to housing, but it’s a health issue, it’s a mental health issue, it’s a medical issue.”
John Randal Phipps (People’s Party)
John Randal Phipps is an entrepreneur and founder of Kabuki Kabs, Victoria’s first pedicab company. Now he is looking to pedal his way into politics and has thrown his hat into the ring as the People’s Party candidate. He says that his disapproval of vaccine passports and the increasing visibility of homelessness and drug use motivated him to run.
Phipps defines himself as a classic liberal with a deep seated belief in free speech and personal responsibility. He says that the current federal government has imposed itself on Canadians’ lives by making vaccination the only option to protect yourself from COVID-19.
The other key issue for Phipps is “globalism.” He thinks that the federal government should be focusing on supporting people in Canada rather than donating billions of dollars to other countries. He pointed to the continued existence of boil water advisories on Indigenous reserves.
“Let’s take care of our people, our seniors, our businesses, our resources,” he said.
Jordan Reichert (Animal Protection Party)
The deputy leader of Canada’s Animal Protection Party, Jordan Reichert is focused on fighting for a COVID-19 recovery that prioritizes animals as well as humans. He says that the role of the party is to push the main parties and the government on improving Canada’s ecology and society.
“[Other parties] don’t propose any fundamental changes to the structure of our society, or those institutions that exploit people and the environment and other animals,” Reichert told the Martlet. “We need to raise these questions in our politics to kind of disrupt normative politics, by making sure that not only these conversations are taking place…but that people are standing up next to their colleagues, other politicians from the mainstream political parties, and challenging them directly on these issues”
Reichert says that if elected he would call for the protection of animals, including the creation of a Minister for Animal Protection and more pet-friendly affordable housing. Reichert also supports increased action to address climate change.
Janis Zroback (Communist Party)
Hospital worker and union advocate Janis Zroback says she has seen the damage inflicted by the pandemic on young workers. She wants to see the federal government invest more into the needs of those most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic amid an economic downturn.
“I feel a lot of burnout from my fellow young people and young workers, and the students who aren’t getting the value of their education and, and the horrible mismanagement of this pandemic in general,” Zroback told the Martlet.
Zroback says that her focus is on providing socialized housing and combating the climate crisis. She said that the Communist Party plans to undertake a massive public housing program, and impose strict emissions limits on corporations backed up with the threat of jail time.
“We need to demand better and we need to fight for a better world,” she said.
David Busch (Conservative)
Critical Health Nurse David Busch is entering his second campaign as the Conservative candidate for Saanich—Gulf Islands. For Busch, his three key issues are the environment, health care, and the cost of living.
Busch did not respond to an interview request from the Martlet but has made clear in town halls and debates that he sees voting Conservative as the best way for Saanich—Gulf Islands to get a say at the federal level.
He said that the Conservatives’ plans for fighting climate change provides a comparable reduction in emissions than the federal government’s previous plans with more flexible regulations.
“Our environmental plan will help Canadians make positive changes by returning money collected on carbon pricing to the purchaser, who can then save for items such as an electric car or electric bike [and] home renovations which will lower energy needs,” said Busch.
He also says that the Conservatives will lower the cost of living by freeing up 15 per cent of federal real estate and encouraging investments in rental housing.
Dock Currie (Communist Party)
Following his graduation from Thompson Rivers University’s law school, Dock Currie decided to give politics another shot, this time with the Communist Party.
The 2019 NDP candidate for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo was removed from the ballot for previous comments made towards pro-pipeline activists but more recently has found support in the Communist Party, which he says better symbolizes his progressive ideals.
“[The NDP] just totally abandoned any commitment, period…with these weasel words like startup culture, social enterprise funding and incentives,” Currie told the Martlet. “What they mean by that is they’re just going to, like the Liberals, shoot more money at the private economy in a permanent and ongoing public subsidization of private economics.”
Currie says the Communist Party is focused on providing real action on the climate and affordability crisis. He says the party would subsidize the cost of living, create social housing, and nationalize the energy industry.
David Hilderman (People’s Party)
Engineer David Hilderman is the second People’s Party candidate to contest Saanich—Gulf Islands after Ron Broda in 2019. Hilderman is running on an anti-environmentalist, small government platform. He does not think climate change is human-caused and wants to see a reduction in immigration. Hilderman also wants the government to do away with vaccine passports.
Hilderman did not respond to an interview request from the Martlet. Hilderman told Saanich News that he thinks the best way to tackle affordability is to reduce government interference and lower immigration levels.
“Real estate costs are a supply and demand question. Governments at all levels continue to increase zoning restrictions and bureaucracy while Canada’s federal government continues to increase immigration levels.”
Elizabeth May (Green)
For the first time in over a decade, Elizabeth May will enter the federal election without the mantle of leader. May stepped down as the leader of the federal Green Party following the 2019 election, passing the mantle to Toronto lawyer Annamie Paul.
May told the Martlet that she is thankful to no longer have to carry the torch as it allows her to catch up on sleep,heal from recent knee surgery, and forgo the leadership tour travels. She says that her focus this election is on making sure the federal government gives youth a livable and affordable future through various policy proposals in their platform.
“For young people on top of the climate crisis, we’re aware that there’s major financial challenges, a gig economy, precarious work,” she said. “So in terms of what the platform calls a fair deal for youth, we are going to have a guaranteed livable income so absolutely everybody has an income that keeps you above the poverty line, which for students means you don’t have to have multiple jobs to have your cost of living covered.”
May says that the Green Party has the best plan for combating the climate crisis, with a pathway to reducing emissions 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to reach net negative by 2050.
Sherri Moore-Arbour (Liberal)
Galiano resident and public affairs executive Sherri Moore-Arbour is looking to provide an Indigenous voice for Saanich—Gulf Islands and give her island a seat at the decision making table. She says that climate change is her primary focus.
“I am the only Indigenous candidate on the ballot,” Moore-Arbour, who is Métis, told the Martlet. “We’ve reached out across the board, to nations and individuals to hear their concerns and what we are hearing…[is the] climate change response needs to be organized and consider inputs from First Nations as well as an order of government.”
Moore-Arbour says she gets frustrated when opposition parties attempt to discredit the Liberal’s climate action.
“The climate plan that the Liberal Party has put forward has been reviewed by climate scientists and civil societies that focus on climate action, and it is the strongest plan,” she said. “We inherited zero framework through which to achieve those goals, and built it.”
Moore-Arbour is also focused on affordability, especially in terms of rental housing and the increasingly unaffordable prices for homes in her riding.
Sabina Singh (NDP)
For Sabina Singh, she wants young people to see their government working for them. With two young adult children, Singh sees affordability as one of the key issues affecting the next generation. This is one of the many reasons she is running for a second time after first putting her name on the ballot in 2019.
“In terms of affordability, we’re going to help make half a million affordable new houses right away,” Singh told the Martlet. “We’re going to attack cell phone bills, we’re going to have free pharmacare, [and] we’re going to eliminate interest on federal student loans.”
Singh says she takes a global perspective on issues facing Indigenous peoples. As Director of Diversity Moves BC and International Relations Counselor for the Congress of Nations and States, she says she has spent years working with vulnerable populations and Indigenous nations. She says that a holistic approach to reconciliation is needed.
“Colonialism was very top down,” said Singh. “We need to find a way to create new spaces that make sense to everybody who’s participating in them, and that means First Nations, municipalities, provinces, and the federal government has a role in making sure that happens.”