Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, centre, and Courtenay-Alberni candidate Gord Johns arrive at a rally at Johns’ campaign headquarters on Roger Street, Friday, Oct. 18 in the final weekend push before the Oct. 21 federal election. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Hundreds come out to meet federal NDP leader at Port Alberni rally

Pipelines, a coalition government and reconciliation among topics Jagmeet Singh covers

Hundreds of supporters gathered at Courtenay-Alberni NDP candidate Gord Johns’ Port Alberni campaign office on Friday, Oct. 18 to see federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the final push to Monday’s election.

Singh was on a whirlwind tour of Vancouver Island, with Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Victoria on his agenda. Courtenay-Alberni is considered one of the hotly contested ridings in British Columbia. Singh is the only federal leader to visit Port Alberni during this election campaign.

During his half-hour rally Singh went on the offensive against the Conservative government, discounting some of the recent claims federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has made about the NDP and increasing taxes. “Mr. Scheer is making stuff up because he’s getting desperate,” Singh said.

On the topic of forming a coalition with the Liberals, Singh reiterated that he’s “not going to work with Conservatives.” He fell short however of saying that in an NDP-Liberal coalition he would vote down any Conservative bills to trigger a snap election.

He drew cheers from pipeline opponents in the crowd when he said he would end any talk of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline, as well as cancel oil and gas subsidies in favour of funding new energy.

Singh said later his visit to Port Alberni was “awesome. It’s a great showing of love, lots of people here, it’s always fun spending time with Gord.

“What I see when I meet with people is that the folks in Port Alberni know that Gord is someone they can count on to fight for them. That’s what New Democrats do, we fight for the people,” Singh said.

Johns was the first NDP MP elected to the Courtenay-Alberni riding in more than a decade when he replaced Conservative MP James Lunney. He is in a tight race for the riding with Conservative candidate Byron Horner.

With many Indigenous people in attendance at the rally, Singh told local journalists that the rights of First Nations people are important, and issues such as treaty negotiations need to be dealt with.

“There has been some positive steps taken, but we need to go further. For me, for New Democrats, reconciliation can’t just be a word,” he said. “It has to be concrete action, and that means making sure we do the hard work, negotiating treaties, making sure we work with First Nations and Indigenous Peoples like equal partners.”

One concrete example of that is the legal battle the Liberals have engaged over Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights, he agreed.

There is a lot we can do to make sure that fishing is sustainable and the pressure should be put on making sure we tackle commercial fishing as opposed to putting the weight and the burden on Indigenous and local fishers.”

Singh spent nearly an hour after the rally taking selfies with people, shaking hands and answering questions from the throngs of people gathered in the parking lot.

John Barney sat against a wall outside Johns’ campaign office, watching the action and grinning. “This is awesome,” said Barney, 72, a volunteer with Johns’ election campaign.

“I wanted to meet (Jagmeet Singh) because he proved to be as transparent and honest as Gord Johns.”

Barney said he appreciates the NDP’s approach to reconciliation, and that he sees the example set in his own riding.

“When Lunney was in (former Conservative MP James Lunney) I think we saw him at the Friendship Center one time. Gord Johns has only been in office for four years and we’ve seen him at the Friendship Center multiple times.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


A student from Port Alberni’s high school asks federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to autograph his shoe following a rally in the Vancouver Island city on Friday, Oct. 18. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Community Foundation opens grant application process for 2020

Nearly $30K available for Port Alberni-based charities

Stray cat with ‘serious burns’ recovering at Alberni SPCA

The BC SPCA’s Alberni-Clayoquot branch is asking members of the public for help with medical costs

B.C. government puts kibosh on drag racing at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

AVDRA was hopeful for a three-year temporary contract to race at the airport

Wet, white and windy winter weather hits Port Alberni

Snow expected to turn to rain on Thursday

Public invited to join Port Alberni budget discussions

Committee of the whole meeting scheduled for Jan. 20

Canada to bolster screening of central China passengers for virus at 3 airports

Additional measures will include messaging on arrivals screens in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Most Read