Fraser-Nicola NDP candidate Harry Lali opened his Ashcroft campaign office on April 12, and thanked the supporters who turned out for the event for coming on such short notice. “We’ve got a big fight on our hands.
“I know from past elections that when it comes to polls, I don’t believe a word of them. The party that gets out the vote will win. We need to take the message out to people about what’s gone on in B.C. over the last 16 years. People’s taxes go up, but corporations and businesses get huge tax breaks.
“The top 50 donors to the Liberals have given $50 million to the party, and $885 million-worth of contracts came back to them. Christy Clark and the Liberals have been bought and paid for by corporate interests. We want to give B.C. back to the people.”
He noted that 150 sawmills have closed around the province in the last 16 years. “That’s 50,000 jobs lost; good, family-supporting jobs. Part-time, minimum wage jobs don’t let you buy an SUV or a house. The government is selling raw logs to China, Japan, the United States, and you buy back the finished product in the form of furniture and other products, and pay ten times the price.
“And yet the family-run operations, the independents are telling us that if the eight million cubic metres of wood—your wood—that’s being shipped in the form of raw logs outside our province stayed in British Columbia, it would support 12,000 well-paying, family-supporting jobs in British Columbia.”
He noted that across the constituency, courthouses and schools have closed, hospitals have been downgraded, and probation and legal aid services are gone. Many of these, Lali said, are the services that the poor, the working poor, and people on social services use more than anybody else.
“Right here in Ashcroft, your local MLA has had four years to fix the emergency room situation. It was gradually a weekend here and there, and then it was a couple of weekends in a month, and then it became a couple of weeks a month, and since the new MLA took over in 2013 there’s a permanent sign up there at the hospital that says ‘ER closed’. If you want to have a heart attack, or if your kid breaks a leg playing soccer, you have to plan that.”
He said that if you drive through any community in rural B.C., you will see boarded-up buildings. “No wonder people leave rural communities. And then the Liberals use that to justify closing schools and cutting services. We have to let people know there’s a better way, and put British Columbians first.”
Speaking with The Journal after his address, Lali said he plans on being in Ashcroft at least once a week throughout the campaign. Asked how it feels to be back in campaign mode, Lali replied that he was full of energy.
“I get totally energized during a campaign. It’s what I like doing, hearing what people have to say, hearing what their issues are. The number one issue I’m hearing is jobs and the economy. Affordability. People want a better life, but their dollar isn’t stretching as far.
“And close on the heels of that, people are fed up with Christy Clark and her false promises. They hate being lied to. After 16 years, people have had enough. The Liberals swore they wouldn’t privatize BC Rail, that they weren’t going to cut health care or education. They promised before 2005 ‘health care where you need it, when you need it’, then made cuts to small hospitals like Ashcroft and didn’t put proper funding into hospitals in Kamloops and Kelowna.
“Before 2009 they promised no HST, and in 2013 Christy Clark promised 20 LNG plants that would create 100,000 jobs and bring $100 billion into B.C. coffers. They literally sold a pipe dream and hoodwinked people. The Liberals lie before an election to get elected.
“Policy is being made in the boardrooms of Howe Street. Local MLAs need to speak up, not toe the party line. There is a huge groundswell of support for change. People want it, are ready for it.
“MLAs need to stand up for their constituents. With me, what you see is what you get. I will try to move heaven and earth for my constituents.”