The battle for Delta is now underway as the federal election campaign enters its second week.
The 2015 election was a game changer for the newly reconfigured Delta riding, which combined North Delta and South Delta for the first time in a quarter-century.
Carla Qualtrough, a human rights lawyer and former Paralympic athlete, and now a key member of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, beat Conservative incumbent Kerry-Lynne Findlay by a wide margin in that race, making her the first Liberal to represent South Delta in Ottawa since 1968.
Last summer, the prime minister paid a visit to an East Delta farm where he announced that Qualtrough, currently the minister for public services and procurement and accessibility, would be running on his team once again.
Qualtrough is facing four declared challengers: Conservative Tanya Corbet, New Democrat Randy Anderson-Fennell, Craig DeCraene of the Greens and People’s Party of Canada candidate Angelina Ireland.
Asked this week if the race could be a heated one both locally and nationally, Qualtrough told the Optimist she’s hoping that won’t be the case.
“I hope it’s a rigorous exchange of contrasting proposals and I hope we stick to the substance. That’s my wish, my plan and that’s my marching orders, and everybody on my team feels the same way. We will focus on policy and a positive vision for our country and community. All we can do is make sure we won’t contribute to a dirty campaign and I will not get dirty in this campaign,” she said.
Qualtrough made several Liberal election announcements at her Scott Road campaign headquarters Tuesday, including a pledge to make maternity and parental benefits tax-free, increasing the Canada Child Benefit by 15 per cent for kids under one, bringing in a 15-week leave for adoptive parents and building a national system of guaranteed paid family leave.
A former council member of the Tsawwassen First Nation government who didn’t seek re-election this year, Corbet’s candidacy got a boost this summer when Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer paid her and party faithful a visit in Tsawwassen.
At a kick-off event last Saturday at her campaign office on 56th Street, Corbet talked about the need to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel.
“The traffic bottleneck on Highway 99 is a daily frustration for commuters in our community and impedes one of the most significant trade corridors in Western Canada. Despite the hard fought efforts of mayors, councillors, MLAs and chiefs, there remains no cohesive plan to replace the George Massey Tunnel. The Trudeau Liberals have done nothing to merge these efforts or provide leadership to address the traffic conditions,” she said.
“Today, I commit that within the first 100 days of being elected as the member of Parliament for Delta, I will convene a summit to bring these leaders together with the goal of reaching a clear roadmap for proceeding with a replacement of the George Massey Tunnel. When a project of such regional and national importance breaks down, it is up to the federal government and the local MP to provide the leadership required to get it back on track,” she said.
Qualtrough earlier this summer also raised the crossing issue, saying she supports a replacement and that the Liberal government has provided funding for similar projects.
Anderson-Fennell said he’s been out talking and listening to Delta residents for quite some time.
“I have been out door-knocking and I can tell you that my neighbours in Ladner, Tsawwassen and North Delta all want a government that works for them and not just the wealthy and powerful. I am excited to share our platform with all our residents in Delta and Canada. Our New Deal for People takes on the big polluters, drug companies and corporate tax giveaways that have cost working people in B.C. too much for too long. Together, we can invest in families, make life more affordable and fight the climate crisis,” he said.
Anderson-Fennell said the NDP platform includes expanding Medicare to cover prescription drugs and dental as well as provide better services for mental health and seniors. He’s also running on a platform of more affordable housing, improved child care, and reduced costs for internet and cell phone service.
An accountant and long-time local resident, Ireland applied to be the Conservative candidate in Delta but later withdrew and shortly after was acclaimed by the People’s Party, which is contesting its first election.
Noting her party has candidates in every riding, she said people from every political party are choosing to join the People’s Party because it pledges to conduct politics differently.
“We are committed to this country and committed to its citizens. We are having discussions about all the issues that are important to Canadians. We at the People’s Party of Canada have the courage to have those difficult conversations. You can count on us to debate and to be bold. We are determined to protect Canada’s sovereignty against globalism. We will balance the budget, lower taxes, bring our oil to tide water, address the equalization payment formula to keep all provinces within Confederation, attract skilled immigrants to our shores, promote our industries throughout the world and create family wage jobs at home,” her opening campaign statement explained.
Saying he’s passionate about the community and its environment, DeCraene said the Green Party leader feels what he’s feeling in that millions of Canadians want a different kind of politics.
“A vote for Elizabeth May and the Green Party in 2019 is not a wasted vote. We will have candidates in almost every riding in Canada this year. Literally, every vote will matter when Parliament is recalled after the election. It will matter if the Green Party gets a million, or if it gets two million, or if it gets three million votes. The higher our total vote count, the greater the moral and political authority May will have when speaking out in Parliament in the years to come, particularly given that we may be looking at a minority government situation,” he said.
DeCraene noted climate change is a particularly important issue in Delta, especially in the low-lying areas of Ladner and Tsawwassen, and his party has the best climate action plan. Poverty, student debt and affordable housing are among other issues he says need to be addressed.
The election takes place Oct. 21.