By Dale Boyd
With just two days remaining until polls open, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh returned to the South Okanagan holding a rally at the Lakeside Resort in Penticton Saturday night.
An estimated 400 people showed up, with some unable to make it inside as the room was at capacity, though Singh met with supporters outside the hotel prior to his appearance.
Singh first spoke of the need to end continued injustices to Indigenous people, and cut costs for healthcare with the NDP’s pharmacare plan.
Jagmeet Singh speaks in Penticton at the Lakeside Resort.
Posted by Osoyoos Times on Saturday, October 19, 2019
“Maybe some of the people in this room have tried to get the care that they need and it hasn’t been there for them and That’s simply wrong. In a country as wealthy as ours it shouldn’t be that way,” Singh said.
He reiterated prominent themes of his party’s platform including affordable housing and wealth inequality, praised youth climate marches and received cheers for his plan to raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy. Singh also covered NDP platform promises to lower the cost of cell phone bills for Canadians and build 500,000 new affordable homes.
With much discussion over strategic votes and coalition governments in the closing days of the election, Signh said he was “kind of troubled to hear from the leader of the Green Party when she said she’s willing to, or open to working with the Conservatives.”
“I made it clear, I don’t believe we can negotiate with the services families need. I don’t think we can negotiate with the right to choose,” Singh said, drowned out by cheers. “For those reasons I made clear I will not ever work with a Conservative government.”
Read more: New Democrat leader visits South Okanagan
The party leader rallied with the support of local candidates including South Okanagan-West Kootenay incumbent MP Richard Cannings, Joan Phillip, NDP candidate for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, and her husband Grand Chief Stewart Philip.
Cannings, who is neck-and-neck in the polls with Conservative candidate Helena Konanz, pointed out there were people from across the region in attendance from Grand Forks to Salmon Arm.
“We keep hearing from people that they’re tired of the Liberal and Conservative governments who haven’t been listening to them, they’ve been listening to big corporations instead,” Cannings said.
Stewart Phillip compared the feeling at Singh’s rallies to those of the former NDP leader.
“The last time that I had that feeling was when Jack Layton was still with us,” Stewart Phillip said to a loud cheer. “I believe there is something special, something sacred happening.”
Joan Phillip promoted taxes on the top one per cent of incomes and went after Conservative budget cuts.
“They are going to chop $52 billion in services, who’s on the chopping block? It’s us,” Phillip said.
Singh is the only leader to visit the riding more than once, meeting with constituents in Penticton and joining Cannings for his campaign launch in August, and the only leader to visit after the writ drop. Andrew Scheer went door-knocking with Konanaz in July, and People’s Party leader Maxime Bernier visited the riding in May.