Canadians will head to the polls for the Federal Election on September 20th, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered an election on Sunday, August 15th.
Wayne Stetski is in the running as Member of Parliament (MP) for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Kootenay-Columbia.
Stetski held a ‘Burma Shave’ outside of the Cranbrook Save On Foods on Monday morning, with the intention of making sure that people are aware of the upcoming election.
Burma Shave was famous for their advertising, with cheeky signs appearing along highways in america from 1925 to 1963. Stetski and members of his campaign were on the sidewalk outside of the Save On Foods parking lot Monday morning, holding their signs, waving to passers by, and speaking with community members.
“We’re into the start of an election now, just 35 days away,” Stetski said, holding an orange sign with his name on it. “We’re out here to make sure that people know that I really want to go to work for you, again.”
Stetski says that after touring around the Kootenay-Columbia riding, it was clear that “no one wanted” an election to be called.
“The election is here now, so I have to look at it as an opportunity for change here in the Kootenay-Columbia riding, and across Canada,” Stetski said. “We’re going to work as hard as we can to bring about that change.”
The Kootenay-Columbia riding covers East and Central Kootenay, east from Fernie, north to Columbia-Sushwap, west to Revelstoke and south to Creston.
Stetski is running against Rob Morrison from the Conservative Party, Robin Goldsbury for the Liberals, and Rana Nelson for the Green Party.
Stetski said that there are several changes that need to be made, including action on climate change and affordable housing. He adds that Canadians need to be looked after across the spectrum, from youth to seniors.
“After talking with people across the riding, from Invermere and Creston to Cranbrook and Fernie, it’s clear that fighting climate change is absolutely a priority. I mean, just look at the weather today. I woke up this morning to my car covered in ash [from the forest fires],” Stetski said as ashes fell from the sky and smoke filled the air.
“The second thing that people across this riding have made clear a priority is the lack of affordable housing. This is impacting the community and businesses equally,” he said.
Stetski says he’s spoken with business owners that have secured employees from other areas, but then those employees have to back out when they are unable to find affordable or suitable housing.
“The third priority is complete medicare,” Stetski explained. “Tommy Douglas, the founder of the NDP party, was the one who envisioned complete medicate – from the tip of your toe to the top of your head. We need free dental care and prescription medications as part of our future.”
Many people wonder how the NDP government would afford to pay for complete medicare, which Steski says is a valid question.
“We’re absolutely dedicated to making sure the wealthiest people and corporations in Canada are paying more taxes. So we’ll bring in taxes on assets larger than $10 million. The pandemic made the richest people more rich, and quite often they are paying even less taxes than you or I.”
Stetski says that small businesses are essential to the economy and that they need to be supported at all times.
As of February 19, 2019, the interest rate charged on all B.C. government-issued student loans was eliminated. Stetski believes that the federal government needs to follow-suit.
“We want to make sure that people across the whole spectrum, Kootenay-Columbia residents and Canadians alike, are supported, from our youth to our seniors,” said Stetski. “Youth that are graduating from college and university are saddled with a tremendous debt load. We need to make student loans interest free on a federal level.
“We also need to take care of our seniors. We need to do better for them. Through the pandemic, we saw holes in the system. The feds have clawed back CERB for seniors – meaning that many people are living on $600 a month. No one can live off that. We also need to make sure that senior care homes are not for profit.
“I’m going to work really hard to try to make all of that happen. I’ve been a public servant all my life and I want to make sure everyone is taken care of, and that everyone in the Kootenay-Columbia riding can have a sense of confidence in their government. We need to focus on the environment and on people. Politics is about people, and policies.”
Candidates Rob Morrison, Robin Goldsbury and Rana Nelson have also been reached for comment.