I believe the NDP is the party that best represents the families, the small business owners, and all Canadians in Vancouver South. This diverse riding deserves better representation than either the Conservatives or the Liberals can offer, which is why I am running in this federal election.
I came to Canada from China in 1981 as an international student, and I stayed because Canada was a country that cared for its citizens, that opened its doors to new immigrants and refugees, and was a place that a young foreign woman felt welcome.
As a woman, an immigrant, and a person of colour, I have first-hand experience with the many challenges immigrant families face.
Over 60 percent of the residents in Vancouver South are immigrant Canadians, many of whom were educated outside Canada, yet it is a riding in which average annual family income lags more than $12,000 behind the national average. We need to improve our foreign credential recognition program so that highly-educated new Canadians have the same opportunities that all Canadians deserve.
Immigrant families in Vancouver South also tell me that the family reunification program simply isn’t working for them. Grandparents are kept from their grandchildren, and families suffer through years of waiting and uncertainty. Under new Conservative limits, families can now expect to wait 13 years or more before their relatives can move to Canada.
On the economic front, things aren’t much better.
Both the Conservatives and the Liberals voted for the HST, despite some of their MPs saying they would vote against it. I have spoken to many small business owners in the riding, and most feel that the HST is killing business in Vancouver South. On the same block as our campaign office there are five empty storefronts, and many owners I spoke to are considering closing up shop.
The HST has also increased the basic costs of running a household. Families are already struggling to make ends meet, and the added tax is affecting them deeply.
In a city like Vancouver, where families are increasingly feeling the pressure of rising costs of living, Vancouver South residents feel the pinch all the more acutely. Conservative policies are not working for Vancouver South.
We need real solutions for these very real problems. The NDP is the only party that has offered real opposition to the Conservative government. We have proposed practical solutions for struggling families: an affordable housing strategy, strong regulation of credit card interest rates, a reduction in small business taxes, improved retirement and pension options for seniors, faster recognition of foreign credentials, and fair reunification
The Harper government has proven itself untrustworthy and more interested in giving breaks to big corporations than helping out Canadian families and small business. And the Liberals have had five years, and they have done little to oppose destructive Conservative policies, either voting with Harper or abstaining to avoid responsibility.
As a member of the Vancouver South community, I see this upcoming election as an opportunity for the people in the riding to tell Ottawa that they are sick of Conservative scandals and broken promises, that the Liberals don’t offer a viable alternative, and that the NDP are the party that will work to fix Ottawa, and work towards real, practical solutions that will make life more affordable for Canadians.
Meena Wong is the NDP candidate for Vancouver South.