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

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.

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