Supporters of the NDP spilled out on to Vernon’s main street Tuesday to catch a glimpse of Tom Mulcair.
More than 300 people crammed into candidate Jacqui Gingras’ campaign office and took over the 30th Avenue sidewalk outside as the national party leader made a quick whistlestop.
“Canadians are ready for a change in Ottawa,” said Mulcair.
While North Okanagan-Shuswap has been traditional Conservative turf, Mulcair insists the NDP can sweep to a majority here.
“Across B.C., people know one thing and that is the party that defeats the Conservatives is the NDP.”
In attendance were Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band chief, and Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief. Both insisted they were not endorsing the NDP, but wanted to ensure those seeking public office take First Nations’ concerns seriously.
“Canada as a country has to change in terms of titles and rights issues,” said Christian.
Louis says more needs to be heard from all politicians.
“A lot of issues haven’t been addressed and especially simple economics,” he said of the need for First Nations people to be employed and support families.
“Any party that comes into power needs to support self-sufficiency.”
According to Mulcair, an NDP government will consider First Nations’ issues a priority and act immediately on inherent rights.
“There’s no subject I’ve held more meetings on than native, Metis and Inuit people.”
Mulcair was also asked about murdered and missing aboriginal women across the country and he says he would hold a Royal inquiry to determine causes and solutions.
“It is something we’re committed to.”
In a related matter, the NDP has announced it would spend $40 million to construct and renovate women’s shelters.
“Mr. (Stephen) Harper cut money for women’s shelters and we will put the money back.”
On Tuesday, Statistics Canada released figures that show the country’s economy shrunk by 0.1 per cent during the second quarter of 2015 — triggering what is considered a recession.
“Stephen Harper’s plan is failing,” said Mulcair, who pointed to NDP plans for a $15-a-day child-care program as a way of getting people into the workforce.
He also stated that while the Conservatives have focused on large corporations, his leadership would redirect the attention to another key aspect of the economy.
“Small and medium-sized businesses create more than 80 per cent of the new jobs in Canada.”
The NDP are also proposing a $15 federal minimum wage.
And earlier in the day, Mulcair was in Kelowna where he stated Destination Canada requires a major investment to promote tourism.
The environment was also raised during his stop in North Okanagan-Shuswap, and Mulcair slammed the Conservatives for pulling out of the Kyoto Accord on climate change.
“We have to start working with the rest of the world and stop working against the planet.”