The Conservative Party’s Shelley Downey, who is carrying her party’s banner in the North Island-Powell River riding for the second time, hopes this year to succeed in turning the riding blue.
In the 2019 federal election, Downey lost to the NDP’s Rachel Blaney, who won by 5.3 per cent of the popular vote.
“I said at that time that Canada deserves better, and I think that in the last two years, we’ve certainly seen that is still true, and even more so than ever before,” said Downey. “We were not prepared for the pandemic, and we need a party who will govern Canada, for all Canadians, that has a plan and is willing to act on it.”
Downey said she thinks the federal government failed early on in the pandemic by failing to retain domestic personal protective equipment. As well, the federal government effectively shut down Canada’s pandemic early-warning system, known as the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), a few months prior to COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic.
“(GPHIN) quite likely would have alerted us sooner as to what was happening elsewhere in the world,” said Downey. “There’s a host of things that should have been tended to much differently.”
The Conservatives’ 2019 election platform, endorsed by Downey, proposed scrapping Canada’s carbon tax, which is aimed at reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. This year, however, the Conservatives propose their own carbon-pricing scheme in the form of a personal carbon savings plan.
“The basis for that is that in areas of the country, there are people who have no option but to avail themselves of products that emit carbon,” said Downey. “For those in that situation, they would receive a rebate back on that which they spend, which they can then apply for things such as replacing their windows, better insulating their homes.”
The Conservatives have frequently been accused of refusing to take the climate emergency seriously. During the party’s policy convention in March, delegates voted against adding “climate change is real” to the Conservatives’ policy book by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.
However, Downey said she thinks that vote amounts to a red herring.
“That resolution was more than that one statement, and it has no bearing on Conservatives caring about the environment,” said Downey. “They’ve always cared about the environment, and to say otherwise would be completely wrong.”
On housing, the Conservative Party promises to build one million units of housing over three years across the country. The Conservative platform does not specify how many of those units would be “affordable,” which the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines as costing no more than one-third of a jurisdiction’s median household income.
“We have real estate that’s held by the federal government,” said Downey. “There will be a review done on that real estate with the goal of releasing 15 per cent of it.
“The other intention we have is to ban foreign ownership of homes for two years,” added Downey. “We need to increase the housing supply here in Canada.”
Questions have also surrounded the Conservative campaign regarding vaccines.
Downey reveals vaccination status
Whereas the other major political parties have required that their candidates be vaccinated, the Conservatives have not, with leader Erin O’Toole stating that unvaccinated candidates must submit a daily rapid test for COVID-19. However, it is unclear how strictly that requirement is being enforced.
Recently, O’Toole (along with other party leaders) said a government led by him would work with provinces to introduce a national proof-of-vaccination system, like the one currently being rolled out in British Columbia.
“Conservatives recognize that vaccines are an effective and safe tool to deal with COVID-19,” said Downey. “I am vaccinated.”
Another issue that Downey is focused on in this election is mental health.
“Our plan includes putting money into mental health,” said Downey. “It also includes funds for mental health and addictions, counselling and services. We need healthy Canadians.”
The Conservative candidate said she is out knocking on doors in the qathet region every day in hopes of carrying the riding on election day.
“I’m knocking on as many doors as I possibly can,” said Downey. “I have a team around me who are also knocking on doors; we’re going out there to reach people and to spread our recovery plan for Canada.
“We have a solid plan for the nation based on jobs, accountability, health care and mental health in this country, and the economy. I encourage all readers to look up Canada’s recovery plan (the Conservative Party platform) and read it for themselves. I’m willing to answer your questions and meet with people.”
2021 North Island-Powell River riding federal election candidates:
Rachel Blaney (NDP)
Shelley Downey (Conservative)
Stacey Gastis (Maverick)
Jennifer Grenz (Liberal)
Paul Macnight (PPC)
Carla Neal (Marxist-Leninist)
Jessica Wegg (Green)