Archive for February, 2011


February 28, 2011

Has Ottawa Stopped Working?

February 28, 2011

Ronna-Rae Leonard will run for Federal NDP in Vancouver Island North

February 27, 2011

Courtenay City Councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard, the newly-nominated NDP candidate for Vancouver Island North, says the HST, pensions for seniors, and protecting the coast from oil spills will be key issues in the next federal election campaign.

“By working together we will win this riding back for the New Democrats. People know they can count us to stand up for our communities in Parliament,” Leonard said after winning the NDP nomination on Sunday.

“I will work to make life more affordable for people, generate jobs, and protect the wild salmon that are so much a part of our culture,” she said. “I will work to strengthen public health care by training and hiring more doctors and nurses and investing in home support for our seniors.”

“That’s the kind of leadership I am offering to the people of Vancouver Island North, and that’s the kind of leadership Jack Layton is offering to Canadians across the country.”

Leonard said people are disappointed with the Harper Conservatives and are looking to Jack Layton and the New Democrats as a positive alternative.

“People here were upset when John Duncan, along with every other Conservative and Liberal MP, voted to impose the HST on British Columbians,” she said. “This is the most blatant example of how the Conservatives have turned their backs on the people of B.C.”

“That’s why I am so proud that every single New Democrat MP stood up and voted against the HST.”

Leonard said she is also proud that the New Democrats have lead the way in Parliament on issues like improving pensions, banning oil tankers on the north coast, and fighting climate change.

The nomination results were announced at a Sunday meeting at the Native Sons Hall in Courtenay. Most NDP members voted by mail ballot, but many others voted in person at the meeting. Leonard won on the first ballot, edging out Port McNeill Town Councillor Shirley Ackland and former Courtenay City Councillor Erik Eriksson.

Guest speaker Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, said Leonard will join a proud tradition of New Democrat MPs from Vancouver Island North. He paid special tribute to Catherine Bell, who he described as one of the hardest-working MPs in Parliament during her term from 2006 and 2008.

“I am very excited about the nomination of Ronna-Rae Leonard, “said Julian. “She will make a great addition to Jack Layton’s team and I look forward to working with her to make a real difference for British Columbians.”

Julian said the federal NDP is poised to win more seats in B.C. than ever before. “In BC it is a contest between the Harper Conservatives and the Layton New Democrats,” he said. “People know that we’re the only alternative to stop a Stephen Harper majority.”

A federal election is widely expected this spring. Vancouver Island North is traditionally a close-fought race between the Conservatives and New Democrats.

New Democrats choose candidate for Vancouver Island North today

February 27, 2011

An exciting three-way race for the NDP federal nomination in Vancouver Island North will culminate today at a nomination meeting in Courtenay.

Where: Upper Native Sons Hall- 360 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay

When: Meeting called to order at 1 p.m.
Candidate presentations 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. (followed by voting)
Guest speaker MP Peter Julian approx. 2:45 p.m.
Results expected approx. 3:45 p.m.

The candidates for nomination are Port McNeill Town Councillor Shirley Ackland, former Courtenay City Councillor Erik Eriksson, and Courtenay City Councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard.

Vancouver Island North is a swing riding, with the past three elections being tightly-fought contests between the New Democrats and Conservatives.

Reminder- Mail ballots must be received by Friday, Feb. 25

February 23, 2011



Hello! My name is Shirley Ackland

Born in Burnaby to a working family, I have lived on the North Island for 32 years. My parents emigrated from Britain to ensure their daughters had access to post secondary education and a bright future in British Columbia, Canada.

While raising my two young children in Port McNeill, I completed my undergraduate degree by distance. I also completed a Provincial Instructor’s diploma and a variety of courses in Adult Education. Once my children had entered the public school system, I began working as an instructor for North Island College. Through my work at North Island College I have had the privilege of assisting students – many of them working moms, single parents, and forest/fishery workers – to achieve their educational goals by accessing a public, community-based college. It has been very rewarding to watch students enter North Island College and gain the skills necessary to be nurses in our hospitals, care providers in our extended health facilities, teachers’ aides in our schools, and office assistants in businesses and organizations throughout the North Island.
Throughout the 22 years I have worked at North Island College, I have also been very active within the faculty association (NICFA). I was elected and have acted as Chief Steward for ten years and have also been the faculty association president for two years. My work as a member of the faculty association executive has allowed me to advocate for our members negotiating contracts, resolving grievances, finding accommodation for injured members, and generally responding to all concerns that faculty have.

In 2008, I chose to run for municipal office in Port McNeill and was elected as a councillor in November of that year. The portfolios that I am responsible for include:
• Mount Waddington Regional Health Network (steering committee)
• Post Secondary Education
• Family Centre
• Provincial Emergency Preparedness program
• Mount Waddington Transit committee (Chair)
• Community Forest committee (working towards obtaining a cf licence for PA/PH/PMC
• C2C committee – working with a variety of 1St Nations communities – one goal achieved is a protocol agreement between the regional district and 1st Nations

Politically, I have been a social democrat as long as I can remember. My parents instilled in me a strong work ethic to advocate for community to help to improve the lives of all.

When I moved to the North Island I actively participated as a scrutineer for Karen Sanford, Ray Skelly, Colin Gablemann, Catherine Bell and Claire Trevena. In Claire Trevena’s first term of office, I served as the Vice President of the North Island Constituency Association.

I am a practical-minded, compassionate, solutions-oriented person. Much of my career has been focused on solving problems – creating win-win situations wherever possible. I am not afraid of hard work and rolling up my sleeves to get the job done.

As a candidate for Vancouver Island North I would bring a vast array of skills and experiences – both political and social – to the position. I believe my connectedness throughout the community of the North Island and further, into the Comox Valley gives me the exposure to regain this riding for New Democrats.
With a strong voice in Ottawa, I believe we can ensure a bright future for all North Islanders.


Erik Eriksson says Canadians have long since lost respect for the political process, and he wants the chance to try to restore people’s faith in democracy. “I believe my totally positive nature and my ability to work with opponents will aid in that process,” he says.

Eriksson served two years on Courtenay City Council, and while that may be a short time he adds: “I believe I can favourably stack my record of accomplishment during my term of office against that of any other councillor.”

Since then he has served as a director of the Comox Valley Food Bank, Comox Valley Economic Development Society and Comox Valley Community Foundation. He is a keen musician, entertaining regularly at venues from the soup kitchen to the seniors village. He is also a baseball umpire and competes in softball and basketball.

Eriksson, who earlier lived in various parts of the Riding including Campbell River and Tahsis, is married to Beverley and they have three children.

Politically, he said his priority was to return manufacturing jobs to Canada and restore taxation to the levels they were before the Conservatives cut them.


After five years of being confronted constantly by the federal offloading of critical services without financial support, Ronna-Rae Leonard is ready to apply the skills she’s learned at the local government level to the job of federal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Island North.

Ronna-Rae Leonard is in her second term as a Courtenay City Councillor.

Her interest in the environment and social justice have lead her to help form and chair the Comox Valley Cycling Task Force and is also now chairing the Housing and Homelessness Standing Committee of the Comox Valley Regional District.

With five years on the executive, she is now elected to the chair of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, which serves the federal riding of Vancouver Island North and beyond.

Leonard also sits on the executive, elected as the most northerly Director on the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.

Leonard has worked for a better future wherever she’s lived and has served her community on many boards and committees prior to her election to local government.

Ronna-Rae has been employed with environmental non-government organizations as a public educator, researcher and project coordinator covering septic system education, innovative greywater and community sewage solutions, water conservation, alternative stormwater management, invasive species control and salmon enhancement project.

She has an Associate Arts Degree from Capilano College, trained as a legal assistant and worked for the BC Ombudsman.

Prior to that, she worked with families at risk and seniors in their homes.

She and her husband, Ron, moved to the Comox Valley in 1990 and have raised two fine children here on Vancouver Island.

Jack Layton on CTV Question Period

February 23, 2011

New Democrats Choose Federal Candidate This Weekend

February 19, 2011

Three-way race generating excitement, says riding president

The New Democrat campaign to win back Vancouver Island North will gear up this weekend, when party members from Fanny Bay to Port Hardy will choose their candidate for the coming federal election.

NDP members will gather at the Native Son’s Hall in Courtenay for a nomination meeting on Sunday, February 27, with registration opening at 12:30 p.m. and the meeting starting at 1 p.m.

“Our members are very excited,” says riding association president Roger Kishi. “It’s been a great three-way race. We know that whoever wins, we’ll have a strong candidate who can win back this riding by defeating John Duncan.”

The candidates vying for the nomination are Port McNeill councillor Shirley Ackland, former Courtenay councillor Erik Eriksson, and current Courtenay councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard.

Members will vote at the meeting, while many others have submitted their ballots by mail.

The meeting will also feature special guest Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, who will speak while the ballots are being counted. Results are expected mid afternoon.

Statement by Jack Layton after Meeting with the Prime Minister

February 18, 2011

Earlier today, I met with the Prime Minister in his Langevin office. Mr. Harper requested this meeting to discuss the New Democrats’ expectations for his upcoming budget. Our talks were cordial and respectful. The Prime Minister offered no assurances, but I am confident that my proposals were received and well understood.

My message to Mr. Harper was this: It’s time to put the political games aside and focus on immediate action to help families make ends meet.

I put forward to the Prime Minister a set of reasonable, affordable proposals – all focused on taking the pressure off the Canadian family budget. These were the same practical solutions that I’ve been sharing with Canadians over the last few months.

•Taking the federal sales tax off skyrocketing home heating bills and restoring the EcoEnergy Retrofit program.
•Helping our most vulnerable seniors with an affordable increase to their Guaranteed Income Supplement.
•Ensuring that Canadians can count on their pension when they need it – by strengthening the Canada Pension Plan.
•And taking immediate action to ensure that 5 million Canadians no longer have to go without a family doctor.
These are all concrete, reasonable solutions that I’m confident all party leaders can support. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get them done.

I made clear to Mr. Harper my disappointment in the state of leadership in Ottawa. Instead of focusing on the needs of middle-class families, all too often, party leaders are focused on their own interests and political gain. The result is that the well-connected are getting all of the breaks, while most Canadians are barely getting ahead.

Canadians want to be able to trust their leaders in Ottawa. Trust that they’ll put their differences aside and work together to get things done. Trust that their record will match their words.

Our New Democrat record is clear. I am always ready to work with other party leaders to get immediate action for Canadian families.

And so now the Prime Minister has a choice. If Mr. Harper wants to head into an election showing that he is unable to put the needs of Canadians ahead of his own political goals, New Democrats are well prepared to fight that election.

If the Prime Minister is serious about getting things done and giving Canadian families a break, there are concrete New Democrat solutions on the table.

Comox Valley Record- Trio make case to represent NDP in federal riding

February 15, 2011

By Erin Haluschak – Comox Valley Record
Published: February 15, 2011 3:00 PM

Health care, environmental issues and maritime resources were only a few of the topics debated by three candidates Saturday who are vying to fill the position as the federal Vancouver Island North NDP representative.

In front of about 60 people at the Filberg Centre, Shirley Ackland, Ronna-Rae Leonard and Erik Eriksson answered a series of questions from the audience, in hopes of filling the job left vacant as former MP Catherine Bell stepped down earlier this year to work full time on her business.

Coun. Shirley Ackland of Port McNeill noted in her opening address her priorities include access to universal health care, environmental issues and access to education.

Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard of Courtenay said she is committed to maintaining the Canadian identity including the democratic process, guarding health care and the Canadian pension plan, and making sure to care for people and not bend to big businesses.

Former Courtenay councillor Erik Eriksson reflected on his record of accomplishment, biography, NDP involvement and ideas as the skills capable of filling the role of candidate.

Following the short introduction, candidates answered questions from the audience for more than an hour.

One member asked the panel for their position on the centralization of Canada Post for mail sorting in Vancouver, and their stand on anti-scab legislation, particularly regarding the Canadian Union of Postal Workers versus Canada Post.

“I was really disheartened when Canada Post decided to centralize their services. We can’t move everything to the cities and it doesn’t help our communities. As for the anti-scab legislation, I have been a union member all of my working life,” said Ackland.

Eriksson agreed with Ackland, adding, “How better to get people not to use a service? In terms of the anti-scab legislation, it should be against the law to replace workers.”

Leonard echoed the consensus, noting Canadians should have good access to communication anywhere they live.

“Canada Post should be serving all Canadians. We have to support Canada Post,” she said, adding as for the anti-scab legislation, she refused to have her baby delivered years ago by hospital staff who were filling in while medical staff were on strike.

Bell queried candidates what they felt was the biggest issue facing the North Island, and how they would address the issue.

“I’ve lived in all three areas (Comox Valley, Campbell River and the North Island) and I would restore manufacturing jobs,” answered Eriksson.

“I wish it was black and white,” said Ackland. “We’re losing huge amounts of resource jobs, there’s environmental concerns … and the First Nations who have land-use issues and have signed a protocol have been at the back of the line for the last 200 years.”

Leonard added maritime resources is her highest priority.

“In the Comox Valley, we’ve got shellfish, in Campbell River, we’ve got fish farms, and in the North, it’s supertankers. That’s where the environment and jobs come together. We’ve got to protect the environment to protect jobs,” she said.

Other questions touched on the Raven Coal Mine, seniors’ issues and the pharmacare system, and engaging young people in the democratic process.

For more information, contact 1-877-338-1033 or

All Candidates meetings scheduled for NDP nomination contest

February 9, 2011

The Vancouver Island North NDP riding association has scheduled all candidates meetings for this weekend.

Saturday, February 12th
Campbell River at 10:30 am
Maritime Heritage Centre
621 Island Hwy, Campbell River

Courtenay at 2:30 pm
Seniors Lounge, Filberg Centre
411 Anderton, Courtenay

Sunday, February 13th
Port McNeill at 1:00 pm
Pt. McNeill Community Hall
1473 Broughton Blvd, Pt McNeill

These meetings are open to the public, but only NDP members will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.

Vancouver Island North NDP members will be able to vote for their candidate of choice by mail ballot, or at the nomination meeting on Sunday, February 27- 1:00pm, at the Native Sons Hall, 360 Cliffe Avenue, Courtenay.

FMI, please contact Vancouver Island North NDP at: 1-877-338-1033 or