Our Candidates In Their Own Words Full Article

John Hirst, Michelle Corfield, Bob Chamberlin, Paul Manly, James Chumsa, Geoff Stoneman, Echo White
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This article is the extended version from the Nav’s October print issue and is intended to educate voters on the candidates of the Nanaimo/Ladysmith riding. The questions try to encompass a personal and professional sense of the candidates. 

Editors Note:
There are two candidates that don’t appear in the article due to a lack of contact information. The two missing contacts are Jennifer Clarke of the People’s Party of Canada and Brain Marlatt of the Progressive Canadian Party. They will both appear on the ballots on October 21st. Please visit their webpages and view their platforms before voting day. 

The editor has left the responses as they were submitted. 

What were you doing at 17? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): When I was seventeen, I was in high school in Ottawa. I moved there when I was 16 after my father was elected as the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands. I had a job as a grocery clerk at an IGA grocery store and I was just learning how to play bass. I had played trombone in high school band in Ladysmith. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): I was going to school at NDSS and working as a dishwasher at a restaurant.  

John Hirst (Conservative Party): I was in Highschool reading books playing video games and working at Nicol St. McDonalds. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): This was the eighties…so I had big hair, parachute pants and wore jelly shoes.  But in all honesty, I had to work at Dairy Queen and Little George’s while I went to school.  We were a single-parent family and had to collect social assistance and there wasn’t enough money to have the necessities (of a teenager). 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): I was creating a Tumblr account, hiding in the lost and found box at my highschool, and wondering if the world would actually end on December 22, 2012. I was also returning a copy of David Icke’s Remember Who You  Are to the public library and taking out John Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World. I was so fascinated by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution that I ended up reading the entire book, including the extra notes at the end.

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): At 17 I was still living in the bush of the N.W.T, 35 km NW of Yellowknife. We lived off-grid for my entire youth traveling the 35-40 minutes via gravel road into town for work and school. I was heavily involved in athletics, playing most sports but excelling at soccer and volleyball. At 17 I was training with the territorial team, traveling northern Canada and getting ready for big tournaments like Canada games and the Arctic winter games. 

Echo White (Independent): Like most students at my age in China, I was studying like crazy to prepare for the University entrance exam under incredible pressure. I just lost my grandma due to a car accident, and my mom was hospitalized, waiting for surgery. I had constant fever for several months, and the doctor thought that I had lymphoma. That was the most challenging and painful year so far at that time. I was hopeless but fortunately could not find a reason to kill myself. That is why I am here today. If you are in desperation today, don’t give up. The darkest hour is the one before dawn. 

What was your favorite subject in high school and why? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): My favorite class in high school was electronics. I liked designing circuits and building things and I was fascinated by the link between physics, chemistry and biology and how all of those scientific disciplines came together in the field of electronics. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Cooking because I knew I had to learn how to cook more than bacon and eggs and get some practical skills under my belt. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Science. However, when I got to university bio-chemistry was not the same as it was in Highschool. I then went over to the VIU business school where I graduated in finance. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Sewing, I loved to sew and make clothes for myself.   Unfortunately, it was also a necessity to have cost-effective, new clothes. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Grade 12 History, because that is where I first learned about Lenin and the Russian Revolution. I also remember learning about the socialist revolutions in Cuba and China and keeping my notes in a red binder with a hammer and sickle on it. My teacher did his best to be unbiased when explaining historical events, and let students form their own opinions. A few of my classmates were anti-communist and ended up joining the Liberal Party. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I enjoyed social studies and History the most in school, pretty sure I was leaning towards a career in Education in those days. 

Echo White (Independent): My favorite subject is Chemistry. I felt like a magician, something magical will happen if you mixed all kinds of stuff together. I wanted to be a chemist, until one day in the chemistry lab, my classmate almost spilled sulfuric acid on my face. I thought it was too risky for me as a chemist. So I turned to the economy in university, it was just number magic, not life-threatening stuff. 

Who was your biggest influence growing up? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): My parents were my biggest influence. They instilled the ‘golden rule’ in me; “treat others as you would like to be treated.” They taught me to be conscientious and care for all living creatures and the environment on which we depend. They taught me how to be a good ally and work in solidarity with people who are oppressed or marginalized. They taught me to be a good ancestor and work towards a better future for the next generations. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): My mom. She showed us how to be loving and caring, especially when it comes to our whole extended family. It was always about providing for the entire family. That demonstrated to me how to help people at every opportunity. Even when it was a struggle we did it anyways because it was the right thing to do. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question.  

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): My Nana she instilled in me the importance of hard work, the need to travel and see the world, make sure I have secure investments, and always be up on current events. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): My dad. He’s not a communist but he understands the appeal of socialism. He agrees that a resource rich country like Canada is capable of providing its own citizens with their basic needs and that poverty is unnecessary. Growing up in the Cold War, he was more afraid of the US pushing the button than the Soviets, and has criticised the wars that the US has been involved in. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): My friend’s older brother and a few of his buddies had a great influence on me in my teen years, they were already rock climbing long before it became cool. They also took part in the organizing of Yellowknife’s first mountain bike race, and later went off to do the Yamniska program in the Rockies. It was this direction that prompted me to go to C.O.L.T up at Strathcona park lodge, a move that got me out of the north for good. 

Echo White (Independent): My father. He was an optimistic person and willing to take risks. He had a loving heart and host many people in need. My father and I were good friends and we talked about all kinds of topics, and he had a big influence on me. My relatives and friends feel that I am a copy of him. He was my role model before I knew Jesus Christ, 

Aside from political reports, what do you read? Do you have a favourite author? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Currently I’m reading ‘The Long Haul’ an autobiography by Myles Horton. He documents his life’s journey and the creation of the Highlander Folk School which became the principal gathering place of the moving forces of the civil rights movement in the USA. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and many other attended the Highlander Folk School as part of the long march towards equality in the Southern States. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Roddy Doyle, an Irish writer, is one I’ve often come back to, in particular his book, A Star Named Henry, a fact-based novel about the Irish people’s struggle with British colonization. By the time I read it I had already come to terms with, and already understood, the First Nations’ struggle within Canada as a colony of Britain, but it showed that we weren’t alone in that. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): A lot of sci-fi. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): For pleasure reading, I enjoy psychological thrillers.  My favourite author is Stieg Larsson and unfortunately, we won’t be gifted with his writing anymore. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): I have read The Hobbit, the Hunger Games trilogy, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm. I have also read seven of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books but have still not read The Cursed Child. My favourite Harry Potter fan-fiction is “Harry Potter Becomes a Communist” which is the story of Harry in his seventh year at Hogwarts after reading “The Communist Manifesto”. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I do read as often as I can but fully admit that these days that happens more when we’re camping now than it does at home. I prefer non-fiction, my all-time favorite author is Hunter S. Tompson and my favorite book so far is The Wave, by Susan Casey.  

Echo White (Independent): I am interested in reading a wide variety of subjects, except for political reports. King Soloman is my favorite author, I love his book of Proverbs. 

Who was the first politician that you felt represented by? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Tommy Douglas. He was our Member of Parliament before he retired from politics in 1979. When I was a teenager I campaigned with Tommy to help elect my father as the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands in 1980. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Dave Barrett, the first NDP premier of British Columbia. He had a direct approach to communication, which is important to me. Quite often when you engage with government you can get caught up in dialogue that really takes up a lot of time, and I believe that being very honest and direct about an issue is the best way to cut to the chase. Of course, that’s not good enough – you need to be able to articulate a solution and then build consensus to achieve it, which I’ve been able to do. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Justin Trudeau – he understands the challenges some Canadians have faced and is willing to correct past wrongs and move the country forward together. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Bernie Sanders. I used to be a big fan of him until he lost the 2016 primaries in the US and sold out to the war-mongerer Hillary Clinton. I also realized that Bernie Sanders was never really a socialist, because under socialism the big banks would be not simply be “broken up” as Bernie proposed, but nationalized and publically owned by the people. Bernie Sanders is too right-wing for me now. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I don’t know if I’ve ever felt represented by any one politician, but I do recall when I got hooked by politics and by who. It was 1984 and I would have been 6, maybe 7. It was Jean Chretien’s first bid for the Liberal leadership, I was in our old rusty Volvo with my folks. The event and speeches were playing on the CBC and I remember Mr. Chretien in his bad English (not good in his early years). He opened his speech with something like ” Please do not change your T.V sets, because what you see is what you get” before ripping into both the Liberal party elite and the P.C’s.  I remember this as the first time I’d heard someone eloquently tell the establishment to go F themselves and it really resonated with me. 

Echo White (Independent): None. 

What do you look for in a leader? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): What I seek in a leader is someone with honesty, integrity and the ability to empower those around them. A leader is someone who has a realistic and objective view of the present and the future. They have the courage to do what is right, even when this may be unpopular. For me, I look for a leader that has the foresight of the long-term, not only that of the next few years. They are humble enough to know that they will not have all of the answers and are therefore willing to ask for help. They delegate their authority, entrusting those they lead to work together. Good leaders are effective communicators. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Honesty and integrity, and speaking the truth in a way that doesn’t inflame situations. To have dialogue that’s constructive and meaningful and can draw more people into the discussion in a passionate yet rational way. Jagmeet Singh has been amazing during this campaign in that way with all the discussion around racism and the dignity with which he’s responded. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Someone who leads by example. Integrity, humility, competence are all good traits. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Authenticity, I need the leader to be authentic which means inclusive on imperfections.  I want a leader that is a cumulation of their lived experience 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Someone who is bold yet ethical. Someone who is selfless and wise and has the courage to speak. Someone who knows what is happening in the world yet is not going to sell out to those in power or try to remain neutral in instances of injustice. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): In a leader, I look for someone strong, but not overbearingly so. A person who leads by example and who follows the ideal of ” Talk softly but carry a big stick” on the world stage. A good leader shouldn’t have to yell to be heard, should have strong moral and ethical values, and be able to admit when they are wrong. On today’s world stage I would say that Angela Merkel embodies the closest thing to a well-rounded leader in my eyes. 

Echo White (Independent): A leader should have a clear vision and a serving heart. He/she is capable of bringing people together to achieve the goal. 

Do you remember the moment when you decided to pursue a career in politics? If yes, please describe it. 

Paul Manly (Green Party): I think when I was about seven years old I thought I might like to be a politician. I know that as I grew into my late teens and twenties I didn’t think it was something I wanted to do. I watched my father as a politician and could see that it was stressful, hard work. In my forties I took a run at municipal politics. For years I made documentary and educational films. I organized and fundraised for environmental causes. For three years I sat on the national board of the Council of Canadians, as the BC and Yukon representative. But eventually I felt that it was time to run for politics and do my best to effect change from within the system, rather than standing on the outside with a megaphone or a camera. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): I was a single dad when my son was young. Our First Nation, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, on Gilford Island had a do-not-consume order for the water and all the houses were condemned with mould. There had been a couple changes in council and I hoped there would be progress. When I didn’t see it, I decided I couldn’t be on the outside and just be concerned, I had to take the teachings my mom showed me about helping our family and step up and do the best that I could. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): I always had an interest in serving my community politically. In 2017 after I lost my dad to suicide I realized there are things you need to prioritize in your life. Sometimes in life there are things you always say you’re going to do but never do. Shortly after friends and colleagues encouraged me to run. Shortly after I found myself vying for the Conservative nomination. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): My first elected position was Vice-President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.  I was previously the Treaty Manager and started pursuing my doctorate degree. The political position gave me more freedom to pursue my education while being able to utilize my skills immediately to advance Nuu-chah-nulth issues.   

James Chumsa (Communist Party): I never decided to pursue a career in politics; I’m spending more money than I am making by running as a candidate. I’ve been politically active for a long while though, back in elementary school I was campaigning against McDonalds, in the last few years I have been involved with many protests and movements. Seeing the amount of homelessness in Nanaimo and the unjust hate they have received is one thing that has made me more politically involved. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I have, as described above always had an interest in politics both on the international stage and on our own federal level. But I have never really considered a run at it previous to this election. My decision to run was made after I spoke with Grant Strem (google that name) and we talked about the hydrogen extraction method that his team has created, to find out that a Canadian company had found a way to extract a clean fuel while releasing NO greenhouse gasses and that it was both economically viable and proven to work was a game-changer for me. How was it possible that we hold the key to transforming our society into a 0 emissions reality and no major party is talking about it? It just doesn’t make any sense to me, and I couldn’t look my kids in the eye 20 years from now and say I did nothing to make this world a better place for them. So here I am, an Independent from Vancouver Island who is the only candidate in Canada to be offering a real solution to our climate crisis. 

Echo White (Independent): I never want to pursue a career in politics. It is a passion and calling, not a career. I run for Nanaimo-Ladysmith to make it a better place. It is where my family lives, and I do care very much. 

Who is your role model now? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Elizabeth May is my role model. I joined her in Ottawa after being elected and she was an amazing mentor, providing advice and giving me opportunities to speak at press conferences and in the House of Commons. She has a strong work ethic and keeps up an incredible pace. She reads every piece of legislation and works on improvements with proposed amendments.  She greets everyone in friendship, treats everyone respectfully, and works across party lines to do what is best for her constituents and for Canadians. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Robert Joseph – he’s an uncle and I was named after him. He’s the Nelson Mandela for our people in the North Island. He heads up Reconciliation Canada. When he was the BC Assembly of First Nations Elder he was always able to provide guidance. He got us to focus on the bigger picture of the social need of our people and in doing  so identifying the social need within Canada. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Jann Arden- she is authentic and real. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Clara Sorrenti. She’s the YCL organizer in London Ontario and is also running as a candidate. She’s very friendly as well as passionate about building the Communist Party and doesn’t show any signs of giving up. She’s also very active in her community and has friends internationally in places such as Cuba and India. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I can’t say that I have any one role model, but I look up to many people in my day to day life. Men and women who live life with a “full speed ahead and damn the torpedos” approach regardless of profession or stature. 

Echo White (Independent): Jesus Christ. He is a great leader and he sacrifices for the people he loves. 

What made you choose your party? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Two things made me choose the Green Party; the leader, Elizabeth May and the policy book, Vision Green. Elizabeth May is brilliant, well spoken and ethical. She has been voted Hardest Working MP and Best Constituency MP by the other Members of Parliament. Vision Green, the Green Party policy book is very broad based and comprehensive. The policies are very forward looking. The strength of Vision Green is that it lays out evidence based, common sense solutions to care for people and the planet. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): I’ve always voted NDP. I identify with the party’s focus of everyday Canadians wanting to seek good employment with good wages and benefits, and it’s very similar to what I’ve learned about our people’s way of equality and our culture to provide for everybody. I’m even more proud to be NDP today. We have a leader who is full of dignity and honesty and is solution-oriented. When we speak about the disappointment some people have in the party system and election commitments, it’s been the Liberals and Conservatives who have formed government federally. They don’t live up to their commitments. The NDP are the ones who brought in universal health care and the Jordan’s Principle for First Nations children. We’ve brought to the country meaningful contributions. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): After seeing our ineffective representation in Ottawa I was drawn to get involved. I felt the Conservatives represented my views on fiscal responsibility. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): After being approached by another party to run in this riding, I had to seriously review each party’s core values and make sure that I could see myself in their core vision.  The Liberal Party has shown leadership with equality and inclusiveness. At no time in the history of Canada has true equality been closer. I want to be part of ensuring this continues, making Canada a better place for ALL of our children, families, and seniors. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): That fact that it is the only party with socialism in its constitution and has a strong policy against Israeli apartheid. The first Communist Party member I met with was a Palestinian man living in Victoria. He liked how I mentioned that Canada was a colonial state in the email that I sent out regarding doing something locally to help the people of Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. He was the only person of all the parties that I contacted who met with me in person. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I don’t have a party, but I did choose to run as an Independent. I don’t think that we can change our political system from within the confines of a party, You can’t run on original ideas and challenge the establishment from within any major Canadian political party. 

Echo White (Independent): I am an independent candidate and does not belong to any political party. 

When you were at the debate at the Malaspina Theatre, what did you see in the crowd? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): I was very happy to see the Malaspina Theatre full to capacity. It speaks very well of the VIU community of students, staff and employees. When I looked out at the crowd I saw people who care enough about the political process to show up to a debate and put forward challenging questions. The  audience was diverse in age, ethnicity, gender identity and political background. These are people I would like to represent in the House of Commons. I see all people as potential allies that I can work with to help solve the complex problems we face collectively. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): NA 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Obviously I saw a lot of young people. Some of them I recognized from our campaign. What struck me in the by-election was how many young people were interested in our campaign. Often people would come into our campaign office surprised at how different our campaign team was. It’s encouraging to see young people get involved in politics. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Aside from hoping that the crowd wouldn’t notice that the stool was too large for me and that I was wearing a skirt and couldn’t cross my legs properly, I saw Inspiration- the crowd inspired me. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): A few conservatives who wanted me to sit down and shut up and several other people who weren’t sure how to react. Liz Rowley, the national leader of the Communist Party, was there in the audience, defending my right as a registered candidate to represent our party in the debate. We weren’t going to leave without standing up and letting everyone know that I was excluded from being on stage with the other candidates. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I saw a lot of emotion from the crowd at VIU, I saw anger and frustration at the lack of climate action proposed, but the thing I saw the most of was Hope. Hope that maybe we can change things for the better, that we can make a difference in this world and the optimism of youth. 

Echo White (Independent): I was not at the debate on September 26 because I hadn’t yet decided to run at that time. But I visit the VIU campus often as many of my friends are here. I love to be with them as they are energetic and creative. Many of the issues we face today need innovative and critical thinking, and I am optimistic that they are up to the tasks. 

How can you retain recently graduated students into staying in Nanaimo and investing in the city’s future, or to come back later in life and invest? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): There are several proposals that will bring good careers to Nanaimo and support many small and medium businesses in our city. The federal government should provide infrastructure funding for a much-needed expansion of the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. We need to provide specialized services for the growing, and aging, population of the central and north island region including cancer, cardiac and psychiatric care. This expansion will attract more doctors and specialists, and create hundreds of good paying, long term jobs for students graduating as nurses and other healthcare professionals from VIU’s Health and Science programs. 

The Green Climate Action plan Mission:Possible also calls for a national building retrofit, to bring every building in Canada to carbon neutral by 2030. The work that will be done in our region to meet this goal will create thousands of good paying jobs in trades, for graduates of the VIU trades programs.  

We also need federal programs that will support small and medium size businesses with incentives and loan guarantees, particularly in the high tech, bio-tech and manufacturing sectors. Such future businesses will in turn retain VIU graduates with a variety of degrees in good careers. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): There is great opportunity in Nanaimo as a port to move our business out of the city and into the global market. With climate change, I would like to see manufacturing be developed here locally that would be able to assist with the development of green, renewable energy. I’d like to see us not shipping out raw logs so we can develop secondary industries. We also need more doctors, nurses, and health practitioners. The investment in the Nanaimo hospital is a good beginning.  

Housing availability and the cost of purchasing a home, especially when students are leaving university with massive debt, needs to be addressed. To me it’s backwards that we give corporations billions while the government makes billions in interest off student loans. We must be able to provide education that doesn’t financially cripple our youth. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): This is an important topic for me. When I was studying at VIU I would work on the oil rigs during the summer and winter breaks to pay for my tuition. That fact of the matter is, we don’t have a lot of opportunity here on the island for recent graduates. The lifestyle is definitely desirable but the opportunity isn’t there. That is why I have consistently been advocating for a tertiary hospital here in Nanaimo. We need more resources for our growing population, as well we need to enhance our nursing program to better retain our graduates. If we get more funding for NRGH it can provide opportunities for a teaching hospital. One that has an accredited medical residency-training program so that physicians that train in Nanaimo stay in Nanaimo. That means more well-paying jobs and opportunities for VIU students to stay in our beautiful city. It will also attract investment and growth in our technology and health science sectors. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Nanaimo-Ladysmith needs to grow towards the clean technology industry.  As we as a country move towards getting off the reliance on fossil fuels, we need to prepare for the expected $22 trillion clean technology industry here and now.  This riding is a perfect location to attract investors and businesses to keep our recently graduated students here and to come back later in life. We are fortunate to have an educational facility that provides qualified individuals across the employment spectrum.  This will require having a strong voice in Ottawa to advocate for this riding and to work cooperatively with the municipal and provincial governments to plan and attract business. This means good-paying jobs and the community infrastructure to improve our quality of life. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Nanaimo is not perfect, which is why we need people to stay. I used to 
spend a lot of time travelling to Victoria to engage with the protests and progressive groups there, but have lately been spending more time here in Snuneymuxw territory to build community with initiatives such as Food Not Bombs and forming a local YCL club. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I don’t think that keeping people right out of school is always what’s best for a community, go out and explore the world, get some perspective of real-life situations and use the early adult years figuring out who you are. Nanaimo-Ladysmith will always be an attractive place to live as will the Island, I have traveled a lot and where we live is one of the best places in the world to raise a family. 

Echo White (Independent): Nanaimo is a beautiful city. If it can provide good employment opportunities to new graduates, I am sure everyone will stay. Nanaimo is strategically located and has the best climate in Canada. However, it has long been ignored by the political parties and severely lacks investment in infrastructure, training programs and R&D. It is a hidden gem that needs to be promoted to the world. I have the vision to turn Nanaimo into an innovation centre of Canada. 

What are your three main policies? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Climate Change, affordable housing and improved health care. We need to deal with the climate crisis and take care of our most vulnerable citizens.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century,” according to the World Health Organization. We must cut our Greenhouse Gas emissions to 60% below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to meet our international obligations, and we must reach net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve this ambitious yet necessary goal, we will need to work collaboratively. Greens are calling for the establishment of a cross-party inner cabinet, because partisan politics have stalled meaningful climate action for decades. 

Greens believe that safe, secure housing should be a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians. In Nanaimo-Ladysmith we need to support the non-profit agencies that are developing housing for our most vulnerable citizens, incentivize the construction of purpose-built affordable rental housing, and overcome hurdles to the development of cooperative housing. 

The Green Party will work towards every Canadian having a family doctor, universal pharmacare prescription coverage, and dental coverage for low-income Canadians. We also believe the federal government must design and implement a national mental health strategy. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): The environment – we have to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, first by removing all federal subsidies that go to fossil fuel companies and use that to invest in making renewable energy. 

Housing and the cost of living – Everyone, including young people, families, single parents, and pensioners, will benefit from the NDP’s Pharmacare plan that will cover the cost of prescription drugs. Dental care will be fully or partially covered by anyone making $90,000 or less. We know that the NDP’s housing commitment to build 500,000 homes across Canada will take a few years so in the meantime there will be a yearly rental subsidy for anyone who is paying 30% or more of their income on housing. 

True reconciliation with First Nations people by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) – It’s a human rights issue in Canada. The way the government engages with First Nations now through consultation and accommodation only guarantees courts and division. When we move to a consent-based, shared decision-making model, we can then have certainty for the economy and environment. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party):  

  • Tackling affordability  
  • Crime reduction 
  • Better healthcare and mental health funding 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): My three main policies for Nanaimo-Ladysmith are:  Affordable Prescriptions – we need to move towards a national pharmacare program.  46% of prescriptions in Canada are not filled because people have to choose between medicine, housing or food.  In a G7 country, that is unacceptable. We must and we can do better; Affordable Housing – we have a social problem in our riding.  We are seeing a spike in homelessness. We have seniors that can’t afford to pay their rent in safe locations in this region.  We must deal with this problem with all levels of government to address this issue; and the Environment – as a First Nations woman, I have core principles I’ve been raised with to be a steward of the land and water.  Individual consciousness has been awakened and social movements have been formed. Everyone must do better to look after our oceans, waters, and to combat Climate Change.  We won’t have a beautiful place in the world in the future – for our children and grandchildren if we don’t do our share and take responsibility. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Peace, land, bread. Peace, as in opposing the unjust wars that Canada as a NATO country has been involved in. Land as in decolonization and enacting UNDRIP; respecting the rights of Indigneous nations and allowing self-determination up to and including the right to secession. Bread, as in combating income inequality and closing the widening gap between rich and poor. This includes raising the minimum wage, eliminating income tax for low income earners, and supporting unions so workers can afford bread, as well as supporting local farmers by scraping NAFTA and keeping out the big corporations. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): The mainstays of my platform were developed by you guys, by listening to the members of our communities. I am proposing that we balance a strong energy industry while taking aggressive climate action by shifting the fuel source that powers our world. This is now possible thanks to Canadain innovators like Dr. Ian Gates and Grant Strem and their Hydrogen extraction technology.  

     – To secure funding for our desperately needed Mental Health and Addictions programs from the industry who profited the most by our opioid epidemic. 

     –  And to find ways to address our current cost of living and lack of affordable housing here in the mid-Island region. Middle-income Canadians are being squeezed out of the housing market, single parents are having a hard time finding affordable rent and students are starting their lives and post-school careers under the burden of significant debt. 24% of our school-age kids in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area live below the poverty line, we have to fix this. 

Echo White (Independent): As I mentioned in the previous question, as an independent MP, I will work with the federal, provincial and municipal governments to invest in the future of Nanaimo to create sustainable, high-paying jobs. 

A new teacher asks, “I wonder what candidates/parties are going to bring to the table for us?” 

Paul Manly (Green Party): What I bring to the table is a promise to work hard and provide accessible, accountable and transparent representation with an open heart, an open mind, a willingness to listen, do my research, learn and do what is in the best interests of my constituents and Canadians. The Green Party respects the rights of workers to organize in unions, and rejects back-to-work legislation as a bargaining tool. The Green Party is calling for the elimination of tuition fees for higher education, and for the forgiveness of the federal portion of student debt. The Green Party is also calling to tie funding of federal-provincial transfers to universities, providing more to universities and colleges with a measurable focus on student-professor contact, mentorship, policies of inclusion and tenure track hires. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Our housing plan addresses the whole spectrum – non-market, rental, co-op, and ways of purchasing homes. After we remove the profit-making model of student loans by removing interest, the NDP plan will change the whole model of loans to post-secondary grants. I met a couple who pays more per month in student loans than they do for rent. That affects quality of life and we need to start looking after citizens rather than corporations.  

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): I can tell you with full confidence that the Liberal Party plan is to provide new and enhanced policies for our children, families, and seniors in a responsible and forward-thinking manner that puts money in their pockets, builds a sustainable community and is fiscally responsible.  We need to invest in Canadians to build a sustainable economy.   

James Chumsa (Communist Party): All the parties are going to bring capitalism in one form or another, except for the Communist Party. The Communist Party is offering a society where public funds will be spent on free education, expanded medicare, and free and expanded public transit rather than bombs to drop in foreign countries or subsidies to big corporations. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I know that this sounds both idealistic and slightly nieve, but I want to bring about change. Change in who we vote for by changing the style of candidate and changing how we are represented. Wouldn’t it be cool if our ideas were represented in Ottawa rather then what we have now? A system in where Ottawa’s and the parties’ ideas are presented to us. 

Echo White (Independent): If Nanaimo is an innovation centre, VIU must be its engine. I will push for more funding to expand more programs and support more R&D. 

How are you going to represent and serve diverse communities? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): I am a friendly and open minded person. I accept people for who they are. Throughout my life I have worked with people from diverse communities with diverse viewpoints. My job as a Member of Parliament is to help individual constituents with the issues they are dealing with through the constituency office and to represent the broad needs of the community to Ottawa. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): In my experience as a First Nations leader, I’ve had to engage very diverse communities in a whole range of issues. My life experience and background enables me to best represent that diversity of this riding, which includes different levels of employment. We have retail and tourism, but we also have resource-based industries like logging. That presents an opportunity to provide a wide range of economic activity for the region. I see Nanaimo as a hub for the Island. We can really invest in tourism, for example, and build an economy based on seeing and experiencing rather than cutting and taking. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): My education, successful work experience as a facilitator and negotiator, and as a First Nation’s women have taught me to respect and value opinions from diverse communities.  I live as an outsider my whole life and have become comfortable with representing a diverse culture than is now equal and inclusive in Canada. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): I have many allies in the community and have supported many people, such as the residents at DisconTent City, Coast Hotel workers who were on strike, and local climate protesters. I’m willing to work with other people who share my position on certain issues, but draw a clear line and will not ally myself with anyone who supports racism, transphobia, or any sort of hate. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): As an Independent with 0 political affiliations I will be free to represent every member of our riding, other than the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce who won’t let me speak I have no adversaries. I am trying to present a middle ground and balanced platform that works for the majority of us, to have a voice for us all. Not just for those who wear my team color or who share my political views. Liberals help Liberals, Conservatives help Conservatives, we’ve seen this enough times to almost accept it as ” just the way it is” to quote Bubbles. I want to change that by representing every and all members of our communities. 

Echo White (Independent): I believe diversity is a strength. I respect and appreciate the difference in the communities. As a visible minority myself, I always enjoy working as a bridge to bring people with different backgrounds together. 

If elected and if you were able to only achieve one goal, what goal would it be and why? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): I would like to be part of creating a global agreement that enshrines protections of our biosphere, deals with the climate crisis effectively, protects biodiversity and ensures that humans have a livable future that is fair and equitable. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Providing Pharmacare for everyone. That would help the broadest and highest number of people in a meaningful way and on a daily basis. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Funding for our riding. We need better funding for our healthcare institutions here on the mid-island.   

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): My number one goal if I were to be elected, is to ensure that I represent ALL constituents for the next four years.  Party politics must be put aside on October 22nd and I will be the elected representative for everyone.  I will ensure that I am accountable and approachable to each and every one of you and I will work hard in Ottawa with the party in power to ensure that Nanaimo-Ladysmith interests and needs are at the forefront of decision-makers. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): To create a socialist society where workers have more control over the workplace and economy. A government run by the working class in the interests of the working class, where democracy is expanded by allowing more democratic rights to those who are currently disenfranchised. To allow for more democratically owned co-operative housing and businesses. A socialist revolution in short. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): If elected my biggest goal would be to push for the federal Gov’t to partner with private industry to create a Hydrogen based economy, to invest in our future and to shift our society away from the burning of fossil fuels while creating an economic engine that powers our nation. Aggressive climate action is needed asap, but we also need to be able to pay for our social programs, a strong energy sector is vital. Canada can become a global powerhouse in clean energy should we as a community, as an Island and as a nation choose to do so. We are at a tipping point in this election and we can choose more of the same with a known result or we can choose to actually do something about our current situation. 

Echo White (Independent): The economic revival of Nanaimo. A better economy will provide more funding and opportunities to solve other issues, such as education, health care, mental health, housing, and drug addiction. 

What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): Becoming the second elected Green MP in Canada. We expected that it would shake things up but I don’t think me or my campaign team realized just how immediate and far-reaching the impact would be. The voters of Nanaimo-Ladysmith did that, by entrusting me to represent them. 

I’m also proud of the fact that my documentary films have not only raised awareness about critical issues like water protection, but have actually influenced government policy. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): Implementing UNDRIP for the first time in Canada. I was lead negotiator for the first jointly developed government-to-government framework for shared decision-making to transition fish farms out of the Broughton Archipelago. We sat down with the provincial government and threw consultation out the window and replaced it with as shared recommendation, shared decision-making structure. It met the needs of the environment and the process was supported by both affected fist farm companies. The process was transparent and inclusive and they supported the final outcome because it allowed for predictable transition and left the window open for First Nations to do independent scientific monitoring to help guide the decision on the final seven fish farms on the table. By having true reconciliation and shared decision-making, we can have certainty and we can arrive at a new definition of sustainability. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): I joined Gyro Club in Nanaimo because one of my friends got involved at 29. He got sick and the club rallied around him. After he passed I carried the torch and was proud to serve as the clubs president in 2017. I have been involved in building several city parks in Nanaimo. To which now I can take my daughters to. 

The club plated a tree in my friends honor when he passed. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): Personally – raising my children to be kind humans, Professionally- putting myself through 12 years of school to reach my Doctorate 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Forming a YCL club in Nanaimo and getting a Communist on the ballot in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. I’ve also recently graduated at VIU with a BA, majoring in sociology and minoring in history. I’m a continuing student taking Spanish, as I plan on travelling to Cuba and other Latin American countries. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): My biggest achievement in life to this point is my kids. I know it sounds corny but it’s true,  everything else I’ve done in life is just “fluff”. Makes for great stories, cool tattoos, and a few scars but nothing matters more than family. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been, where I’ve surfed or how big the waves were, sitting on the tallest peak here or abroad… none of it matters and no one will remember if I’m not a solid father. My kids are why I’m doing this, they are my motivation to make this place better for us all. 

Echo White (Independent): My lovely kids are my biggest achievement so far. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): In ten years, I see myself continuing my life’s work of being a good ancestor and working towards the creation of the kind of world I want to see my grandchildren and their great grandchildren inherit. I see myself enjoying my life and the work I am doing. I am hopeful and optimistic. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): I see myself still working to help people. The personal rewards that I’ve gotten – the good feelings that I’ve had in helping people – have been really substantial in my life. It began when I first became a cultural singer for our people, later when I became Chief of our nation, and as vice president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. It is something that is so engrained in me to be of service. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Serving my community and spending time with the family. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): At 60 I hope I am a grandma, have the freedom to choose work projects that meaningful and travel the world. 

James Chumsa (Communist Party): Still a communist, but in a world where the United States has collapsed as a superpower. I hope to have visited socialist countries like Cuba and China by that time, as well as places with large communist parties such as Athens and Kerala. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): In ten years I will still be here, still charging but with my kids at my side instead of watching from the beach. This is my home, this is my passion and this is my life. 

Echo White (Independent): I am a lifetime learner and always love new challenges. I will go wherever life will lead me to. 

Do you have anything you want to address to our students and alumni? 

Paul Manly (Green Party): My hope is that you will be an informed voter, read the platforms, ask the candidates questions, research the background on the issues. Talk to your friends, family, colleagues about the issues that are important to you. Don’t forget to vote. Bring your friends to the polls with you. After the election stay active and engaged, let your elected representatives know what is important to you, share good ideas and research with them. Remember we’re all in this together. 

Bob Chamberlin (NDP): It’s important to remember the function of government after elections. Parties with Official Party Status get more time during Question Period, get more resources for research, and can be part of committees, which is where the heavy lifting happens and the building of solutions occur. There is a big difference between making speeches and getting work done at the table and with the experience I’ve had at various levels of government on such a wide variety of topics, I know that I’ll be very effective during Question Period and at the committee level. 

John Hirst (Conservative Party): Candidate did not respond to the question. 

Michelle Corfield (Liberal Party): As an alumnus of VIU, I strongly believe Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters for too long now, have elected an MP that hasn’t sat in parliament with the party in power.  This has hurt this region drastically with minimal investments. Party platforms and election promises from Party’s that will not form the government, will never be delivered to our voters.  It is time to select a candidate, that will have the opportunity to be appointed to Cabinet and will have the political influence to make things happen for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. I have the qualifications and experience to be a member of the cabinet and to serve all the constituents of Nanaimo-Ladysmith.   

James Chumsa (Communist Party): We have enough public money for free post-secondary education when there is enough for Trudeau to increase military spending by 70% over the next 10 years and buy the $4.5 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline. The world is changing, and the climate crisis is proving that capitalism is not sustainable. I encourage everyone to be active in their communities in preparation for the end of capitalism, because it will be either the end of capitalism or the end of the world. 

Geoff Stoneman (Independent): I would like to stress how important this election is, we have an opportunity to change things for the better by choosing to take a path together regardless of political ideals. It doesn’t matter where you see yourself on the political spectrum if we don’t do something drastic and immediate our way of life is going to change, every day we can see more evidence of this. Starving grizzlies on our coast, massive flooding, forest fires that grow in intensity every year, low salmon stocks and worse and worse spawning runs. Children in our schools that show up hungry every day and brave youth like Autumn Peltier who feel that they have to go to the U.N to simply ask for clean drinking water! Imagine not being able to drink the water that pours from your taps, this is real for thousands of Canadians and we have to change it. I look at the world through optimist’s eyes, but I’m having to squint more and more each and every year to see clearly. Please join me in telling our leaders that we need change and we need it NOW! 

Echo White (Independent): I never planned to be a politician, and may not be a politician in the future. However, I have a strong calling to represent and promote the beautiful Nanaimo. It is not acceptable to keep the status quo because it is a huge waste of potential. I will try my best to make it come true.