Promising to keep billions of dollars in the province if the HST is voted to be removed, NDP leader Jack Layton rallied support for first-time Vancouver North Island candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard Thursday afternoon in Courtenay.
With a capacity crowd surrounding Layton who spoke briefly alongside Leonard, the leader focused not only on the upcoming provincial referendum, but on the importance of bringing local issues to Ottawa.
“(Ronna-Rae) and I share many things in common. She’s been a city councillor and shares a lot of the same preoccupations as I did when I was on city council for a lot of years — things like cycling, social justice, dealing with affordable housing and those issues that you know she’s played such a lead role in pursuing,” he said.
“She understands the issues in the community because she’s been working on those issues for so many years and that’s the kind of representative that you want … someone who can take your concerns to Ottawa rather than the other way around, which is how we’re getting it all to often.”
Layton quickly addressed the HST debate and offered one part of the NDP’s platform.
“People in British Columbia, and especially here on the Island are known to be democrats because you don’t like it when a government says one thing and does another, do you?” he asked.
“When this HST was brought in … Mr. Harper certainly never told anybody and Mr. Duncan never told anyone that they were going to vote to bring the HST to British Columbia, did they? In fact, I don’t think they would have gotten elected if they would have said that.
“Of course now, when the people of British Columbia are getting ready to go to a referendum, which they fought for … we’re sitting under the possibility under Mr. Harper’s rules that if you vote to cancel the HST program, you stand to lose $1.6 billion dollars that Mr. Harper’s going to take back,” Layton added.
“Well, I’m here to tell you that with an NDP government, that money stays in British Columbia.”
Layton also committed to bringing childcare, home care and long-term care to families across the country, eliminating tax breaks to big banks while helping small business and continuing to fight for the environment and climate change.