Each day this week, My Coast Now is speaking to local candidates for the upcoming election.

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Liberal candidate Lisa Marie Barron is a 41 year-old Nanaimo resident who has lived in the riding for 26 years along with her family, including her three brothers, parents, grandmother, and now her two kids.

Barron connected with the riding’s schools, as she ran in 2018 to become a school board trustee. She was elected, and is now going into her fourth year. This year is her first time running in federal politics. 

She says she gained an interest in politics after seeing that there weren’t many people in the profession who came from a lower socioeconomic status, and cites her children as a main driving factor for her entering it.

Barron works as a Youth and Family Navigator, a job which involves connecting those struggling with substance use to resources and support.

An audio version of the interview is also available. 

What is your stance on housing affordability?

“We’re seeing, in our community, the lack of affordable housing and the many ways it’s impacting our community. Right now, just being deep rooted in this community and talking to people at the door, and talking to community members, I’m seeing and hearing about people who are not able to access affordable and safe housing. 

Not just purchasing homes— which is a huge problem in itself— but also rentals. The lack of affordability of the rentals, the lack of rentals that meet people’s needs, it’s a big problem that’s impacting people in this community. To be quite honest, I also have experienced problems in accessing housing, with being asked to leave our rental home and struggling to find somewhere for me and my children to call our safe home.

Thankfully it’s worked out now, but I know firsthand that housing is a problem in this community and it’s now at a point that it’s a crisis. This hasn’t just occurred overnight, this has been many years in the making, so much so that I’m hearing people call this ‘Trudeau’s Housing Crisis’ as a result of six years of inaction to address this housing crisis. Both developing a strategy that can be used and putting and allocating funding into the housing, into the communities.

Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats have been pushing as they always have towards affordable housing, understanding that it is not a privilege to have a home to live in, it is a human right to have a safe [roof] over our heads. 

Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats have been pushing, they’ve actually just increased the amount of a commitment of 1.7 million affordable homes across Canada, which is exactly what this community needs. Jagmeet’s also cracking down on on money laundering, serial house flipping… 

All the pieces that we’re seeing, too many, unfortunately, who are at the top, who already have more than enough money, who are profiting off this pandemic, off the backs of everyday people in our community, Jagmeet is wanting to put a stop to that and have those ultra rich pay their fair share, and the housing crisis that we are in is no exception to that. 

Finally, Jagmeet is pushing to have affordable rental properties, acknowledge- I mean, who can afford to buy a house these days? We need to get creative and work municipally, and provincially, and with our Indigenous nations to ensure that we are looking at our communities needs, and how can we meet those needs here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.” 

In regards to recovering from the COVID pandemic, what are your priorities?

“Let’s be honest, a lot of people in this community were struggling prior to COVID. At least, that’s what I was seeing and COVID, for me, when I’m out working in the community face-to-face with people, I’m seeing and hearing from the people at the doors that things have gotten even worse. 

People are struggling more than ever before as a result of the pandemic, people are struggling to make ends meat, small and medium sized businesses are struggling, and the reality that we are in a climate crisis is of course right at the forefront of people’s minds.

While Trudeau continues to provide tax loopholes for the ultra rich, to line the pockets of his rich friends, Jagmeet has been pushing to have the rich pay their fair share. I cannot reiterate this enough, no one should be profiting in a pandemic off the backs of everyday people in this community. I know we talked about housing already, but this is interconnected with COVID here, and a recovery plan.

We need to be looking at improving our social safety nets, so how do we have what we need in place to take care of one another and to move us not only through this pandemic, but out of this pandemic. With that, it’s making sure we have affordable housing, that we have universal pharmacare that takes care of one another from head to toe, not just specific things.

We need to make sure we have affordable medications and eyeglasses, dentalcare. Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats are pushing to protect seniors and their retirement pensions. 

As well as student debt, that’s another big thing here that’s going to get us through COVID is Jagmeet is looking at students and debt forgiveness. Acknowledging that this is a big part of COVID recovery. Overall, Jagmeet is pushing to take care of one another, addressing mental health, addressing the impacts of poverty, and how to lift us out of this pandemic in a way that ensures that we are just better equipped to deal with all that comes at us in the future as we face the future impacts of this climate crisis.”

What are your short and long term goals for climate change?

“Short and long term actions… Well, some of the things I think about right now that Jagmeet Singh is committed to is- there was a recent announcement that came out that Jagmeet is saying ‘now is the time for us to end fossil fuel subsidies.’ 

While Trudeau is investing in toxic pipelines, Jagmeet Singh is saying that we need to be looking at clean, renewable energy sources moving forward, and adjust transitions for workers to be able to continue keeping food on their tables and a roof over their heads.

Jagmeet Singh and the New Democrats also understand the interconnection between poverty and the environment. We cannot disconnect the two. We saw with the heatwave we just had, how many vulnerable people died in our community as a result of the heatwave, and not having access to somewhere to cool down. 

I think, also, about the forest fire that we had in our riding that was so frightening. I had a friend of mine who herself, her husband, and her three sons all had their go-bags packed and ready to go out of fear that their home was going to be the next one to burn down. This is all too common now, that we are calling summer time ‘forest fire season,’ this is climate change, it’s time for us to be acting now. Not just acting up, but acting now alongside Indingenous nations, and putting reconciliation at the forefront of every decision.”

Are there any other burning, important issues that are part of your platform that you’d like to talk about?

“A couple things that come to mind, one thing is that my priorities every step of the way here as a candidate for the federal NDP in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is to focus on increasing affordability in this community, to address the climate crisis, and as I said before and I’ll continue saying it; having reconciliation at the forefront of every decision. 

This community is being quite loud in saying that they want change. The momentum is building in this riding, and people are excited to see the possibility of this riding being represented by a New Democrat who has the voice in Parliament, with the official party status, to be not only able to represent this community, but to push for the unique and specific needs of this community in Ottawa for us to finally start seeing some solutions, some funding, and some positive change occurring right here. 

There’s a lot of excitement happening around me running in this position with my on-the-ground experience with people, and people are saying that now is the time for us to have that voice, that person who understands this community. I should mention— sorry, I’m a little overly excited to share things before we go, but— Jagmeet was here [August 30th]. He was here, and we are seeing people are paying attention to what is happening here across Canada, and it’s because people are ready for change. People are ready for a New Democrat to be representing this riding, and Jagmeet coming here, once again, is an example of that excitement and that momentum building up in this riding.”

The federal election is slated for September 20th.

For residents in the Sunshine Coast, your NDP candidate is Avi Lewis.