As election date draws closer and residents cast their early ballots, we’re speaking to local candidates.
Michelle Corfield is a 52 year-old Nanaimo resident who has been in the community for her entire life, except for the two days she spent in Port Alberni as a baby.
This election marks Corfield’s third campaign, but previously, she worked on the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council as its Vice President for four years. She has worked in ‘the deep’ for around ten years.
She got interested in politics to move agenda items forward for her nation, but after seeing certain policies during the Harper government be gutted, she decided to move into federal politics.
Corfield graduated with a PHD in Management and a Masters in Conflict Analysis in Management. She used her education to work in treaty negotiations for First Nations for 25 years.
An audio version of the interview is also available.
What is your stance on housing affordability?
“I believe we have to find solutions to housing affordability. The biggest concern I have right at this moment is people living on disability only get $375 for shelter. It is impossible for anyone to find a place to live with $375. So, I think the federal government, through transfers, can direct some funding towards housing affordability for those that are disabled— and perhaps even our seniors. We need to make sure there are places for people to live.
The federal government is committed to helping affordability. One of the things they’re talking about most right now is corporate income tax rates paid by Canada’s largest and most profitable banks and insurance companies. Raising it by 3% on all earnings over a billion dollars. And establish the Canada Recovery Dividends so these institutions contribute more over the next four years of Canada’s recovery.
So, there’s a big price that people are going to have to pay to make this work for Canada.”
In regards to recovering from the COVID pandemic, what are your priorities?
“Well, my priority first is make sure everybody’s safe, and then we have to look after those that were probably hit the hardest during the pandemic— and that’s small business.
We still right now in BC, in Nanaimo, have businesses that are barely operating because of the restrictions, so we need to find ways to support our small businesses and get them back up and running. So [that way] they can continue to earn a living because most of the people who own a small business support a family on that small business.
So, that’s really, really important to me.
Getting our minimum wage up, just another thing we need to do. We need to try and stimulate people so they can afford to live. Right? It’s not cheap to live on the island so we need to find ways to use the pandemic recovery plan to self-support individuals.
As well as, we need to find ways to invest in infrastructure, because when we invest in infrastructure, all the money stays within the riding— it’s all spent. So, that’s a good way to boost the economy as well, is by having major infrastructure.”
What are your short and long term goals for climate change?
“The federal government is committed to eliminating combustion engines by 2035, that’s a big one. I would say that that’s long, but not really long in the whole scheme of things. Then we have the commitment to plant a billion trees, which is another important factor we have to take into consideration.
We have to reduce Canada’s emissions and hit our targets. Currently we are 1% below our 2005 levels, but we can do better. Another thing I’m really adamant about is getting rid of coal out of our harbor. Coal is moved out of the Roberts Bank and I think we need to eliminate the export of coal. So, I support the platform of that and I’m a big advocate for that.
And creating jobs in the blue and green economy. That’s going to be the next wave of the future. So, we have to be innovative, right? We have to find ways we can come through this pandemic whole. It’s how I like to view it. Canada as a whole coming through it.”
Are there any other burning, important issues that are part of your platform that you’d like to talk about?
“Burning issues for me… One is our healthcare in Nanaimo. Currently, north of the Malahat, we have a larger population than south yet we don’t have the infrastructure or the doctors needed to take care of the over 400,000 people that are north of the Malahat.
So, trying to find ways to ensure that there’s good investment into Nanaimo’s hospital and because it is the COVID recovery hospital, we need to make sure we have the capacities to be able to take on those things. I think our hospital is in desperate need of some help, and so are our doctors.
The federal Liberal party is committed to supporting more family physicians, which we absolutely do need but we also need specialists in mental health, because that’s another issue that is not escaping me now.
The only way for someone to actually see a psychiatrist is to go and check themselves into the [emergency psychiatric unit], otherwise they’re waiting six, seven months, and when someone is in a mental health crisis, they don’t have six or seven months to wait.”
The federal election is slated for September 20th.
For residents in the Sunshine Coast, their Liberal candidate is Patrick Weiler.