Prince George-Valemount NDP candidate Laura Parent officially kicked off her campaign from the heights of Connaught Hill Park Friday.
About 20 people gathered, outdoors to accommodate social distancing, to support the 21-year-old UNBC political science student as she seeks to become MLA.
“I’m here because you need security and stability,” she said. “This election is about where we come from and where we’re going and our security as we work through this rapidly evolving situation.”
Born and raised in Prince George, she said she was brought up surrounded by loggers and health care workers … and politics. She was the campaign manager for Heather Sapergia in last year’s federal election and she volunteered for the campaigns of Bobby Deepak and Natalie Fletcher in the 2017 provincial campaign.
She is also vice-chair of University of Northern British Columbia Senate.
“I’m ready to advocate for our region and every person, regardless of your income, age, or identity,” she said. “We can’t afford four years of BC Liberals cuts and health care shortages especially our most vulnerable people, our seniors, are at risk.”
She said the NDP fund 2,000 new health care positions in assisted and long term care homes. She added the NDP are promising to reduce surgical wait times and hire 7,000 more health care workers.
“As your MLA I want to make sure that you see those changes here in your communities,” she said. “… One thing is clear, the North can’t afford a Liberal representative who can’t advocate for your needs in government like you deserve.”
That Liberal representative, of course, is veteran Shirley Bond, who is seeking her sixth consecutive term in office. Parent said she certainly respects Bond, but the that the region will do better with an MLA who is in government and, assuming it’s an NDP government, that would be Parent.
“I think people in our riding realize that our current MLA is not a member of government and is really limited in her power to do things,” she said. “Shirley is a wonderful person, she is a wonderful MLA for Prince George, but she’s tired and I’m looking forward to filling her shoes.”
She also supported Premier John Horgan’s decision to send British Columbians to the polls, even though the minority government likely would have been stable for another year.
“We need that public support of government,” she said of Horgan’s hope to form a majority government. “Instead of making changes on a minority government without that public support, this is a signifier … a move to (show) that they have that.”
She was critical of the Liberal promise, should they form government, of scrapping the provincial sales tax for a year and then moving it to three per cent for one year.
“I’m really concerned about that,” she said. “When you’re cutting taxes, something has to go. We’re either going to be in a bigger deficit or some of our services are gone and with a pandemic that can’t happen.”
She will also be running against Green Party of B.C. candidate Mackenzie Kerr, who is only a couple of years older than Parent.
“It’s clear that in this election, we’ve got some really great candidates in this riding and great candidates means great MLAs,” she said. “Mackenzie and I have known each other for a few years and we’ve watched each grow into political women that we are now.”
Libertarian Sean Robson is also contesting the seat. British Columbians go to the polls October 24.