Rachel Blaney, the MP for North Island-Powell River, was officially acclaimed as NDP candidate for this year’s federal election on Saturday, as party members met for their AGM and nomination meeting.
Blaney rallied a crowd of about 35 at Merville Hall, asking them to donate to the riding association and knock on doors during the upcoming campaign. She stressed concerns about social justice during a speech after accepting the nomination.
“So many people in this country are still struggling and falling behind,” she said. “The government forgets about them, and it is our job to stand in that place and say, ‘You will not forget the people who are fighting everyday just for basic survival.’”
During her remarks on Saturday, she stressed the problem of poverty among elderly people, particularly those who lose access to the Guaranteed Income Supplement if they don’t file an income tax return.
She also stressed concerns about the lack of affordable housing in the riding.
“We have people coming into our office crying because they cannot find a place to live,” she said. “We have families being torn apart because they cannot find a place to live.”
She also said that low federal funding was resulting in a poor standard of health care in Canada, and she called for the implementation of a national pharmacare program.
Blaney also focused attention on forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women, an issue that has brought international scrutiny to Canada in recent months amid mounting reports of the practice.
“Indigenous women are being told, in this country today, that if they don’t get sterilized, they don’t get to see their newborn child,” she said.
“I know women that it has happened to.”
In a report released in December, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed concern about reports of “extensive forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women” from the 1970s until recent years, and it called for an impartial investigation of the practice and policy measure to prevent it, along with redress for victims.
Blaney’s roles in the federal NDP include deputy whip, critic for seniors’ affairs and vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Blaney is also a member of the executive for the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.
Blaney won the 2015 race with 40.2 per cent of the popular vote, while candidates from the Conservative and Liberal parties each garnered roughly 25 per cent each. The Green Party finished with 8.2 per cent of the vote.
The date of this year’s general election is slated for Oct. 21. Nothing prevents the government from calling it earlier, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that it will take place on the fixed date.