New Democrat leader Jack Layton returned to the Kootenay-Columbia Riding on April 6. Layton was following-up his January 24 visit to the riding when he welcomed Mark Shmigelsky to the NDP family.
“It is a great honour to have Jack Layton return to our riding. It shows his respect and commitment to all the ridings in the country and his understanding of the importance of the Kootenay-Columbia,” Shmigelsky said.
Layton arrived in Cranbrook to co-host a supper-time barbecue with Shmigelsky.
Layton said that if British Columbians vote down the HST in the June 24 referendum, Ottawa must allow the province to keep the $1.6 billion in federal payments that was allocated to the Government of B.C. as an incentive to bring in the HST.
“We have been taking on Conservatives. In particular their position on the HST here in British Columbia. They have tried to hide behind the Campbell government for a long time but I think it is now becoming clearer to people that the culprit here, at least partially culpable, is the Conservative end. The question now is what is going to happen in the referendum? If it goes through and the people of B.C. say ‘no’ to the HST, then we do not want them to be penalized by having the $1.6 billion to be taken back.”
Layton felt that taking the money back would be an unfair move by the government because the money has already been used for things such as education services.
He went on to say that if the voters rejected the HST, he would rip up the backroom Harper–Campbell HST deal that was forced on the people of British Columbia and ensure that the penalties contained in the agreement were cancelled while adding, “You have to respect the will of the people on these matters.”
“British Columbians shouldn’t be punished because Gordon Campbell and Stephen Harper didn’t tell you the truth,” said Layton. “This was one of the most disrespectful taxation moves ever done by an government in Canada.”
Layton also spoke of how positive his West coast trip had been going and relayed some ideas for how to help families in Canada.
“This has been very positive. We need to support families who are looking after their aging parents and also young kids at the same time.
“We need more home care and more long-term care. We need to give people more support to get some of the safety equipment into their homes so they can stay in their homes longer. Right now there are quite a lot of people across the country who are under a lot of stress,” he said.
As for the stories of people being turned away from speeches that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been given, Layton did not seemed surprised by the accusations.
“Stephen Harper has always had a very controlling, closed type of a shop. He doesn’t like sharing information with Canadians about anything from the Afghan detainees to the cost of the jets. He really prefers to keep everything away from not only parliament but also Canadians,” he said.
Layton went on to say that checking our social media like Facebook to see who you are friends with sounds like something out of a novel and not a contemporary Canadian democracy.
“I think people should be very concerned about his closed-minded attitude towards Canadians,” Layton said.
Layton also spoke highly of NDP candidate for the Kootenay-Columbia Region Mark Shmigelsky.
“With a candidate like Mark Shmigelsky who is the former mayor of Invermere and lots of experience, he works in the area and knows the issues. He really would be a terrific voice for the people of the region,” he said.
“The only way British Columbians can defeat Stephen Harper and ensure fairness for B.C. is to vote New Democrat” said Layton.