Gwen O’Mahony: Talking about real change in Chilliwack-Hope
In about a week, voters in two constituencies in British Columbia will be headed to the polls to elect new local representatives to the B.C. legislature.
Although the two members of the legislative assembly who stepped down to cause these by-elections did so for their own reasons, a broader theme is starting to emerge in our province as a result: after 11 years of B.C. Liberals, it’s time for some real change in British Columbia.
Here in my constituency of Chilliwack-Hope, I’ve visited dozens of communities, knocked on hundreds and hundreds of doors, and spoken to thousands of people since this campaign began a few weeks ago.
Our constituency is diverse: Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz, Boston Bar, and the dozens of other communities that make it up are home to teachers and nurses, farmers and small business people, factory workers and shop owners. The common thread that runs through everyone in our constituency is that they’re all hard working people, and they’re frustrated with the way things are going.
I hear time and again about how people are frustrated that they put in a hard day’s work every day, yet their wages are stretched further and further as the government keeps jacking up their hydro and medical premiums each year.
I’m hearing that they’re frustrated at how far they have to drive (usually to Vancouver) to get the basic medical care their family needs.
And I’m hearing that people are frustrated at the fact that even our courts—something we just take for granted that the government will keep working—are so backlogged that accused criminals are being let go because of the unreasonable delays.
Many people in Chilliwack-Hope see their vote as a way to send a message to the B.C. Liberal government—a way to give them a stern warning in advance of the provincial election next year. Voters have had enough of the insider deals—like the $6-million Basi-Virk payout. They’ve had enough of being ignored by a government that won’t listen to them on issues like the HST. They’re looking for real leadership on the challenges their families are facing.
But more than sending a message, I’m starting to hear people speaking quietly about real change.
Real change isn’t about trading the red team for the blue team. It’s about electing an MLA with a positive agenda, who’s going to put regular, hard-working people first every day, not just friends and insiders.
Real change means actually improving health-care services, like reducing wait times for critical tests and making prescription drugs more affordable—two things Adrian Dix and the B.C. NDP are committed to.
Real change means making university and job training affordable and accessible, so that young people have a chance at a good job, and businesses can hire people with the skills they need to build our economy.
Real change means investments in education, healthcare, and affordability ahead of multi-million dollar self-promoting ad campaigns to help re-elect your government.
But most of all, it means believing in a positive vision for our province that puts people and families first.
Myself, Adrian Dix, and the B.C. NDP believe in that vision.
And on April 19, voters in Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam can tell the B.C. Liberal government that they do too.
Gwen O’Mahony is the B.C. NDP candidate for the Chilliwack-Hope by-election on April 19.