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Pair of Liberal nominees step up to take on NDP’s Jagmeet Singh in B.C. byelection

Pair of Liberal nominees step up to take on NDP’s Jagmeet Singh in B.C. byelection
Canada
BURNABY, B.C. — A scientist and a small business owner are vying for the Liberal nomination in the riding of Burnaby South, where the winner will go on to challenge NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in a federal byelection.

Cyrus Eduljeem, who has worked in the science and business of biotechnology, and Karen Wang, who owns a daycare business, each told voters at the party’s nomination meeting Saturday that they have what it takes to defeat Singh in the upcoming race.

“As Liberals, we will be going up against the leader of the NDP, Jagmeet Singh, who has come all the way out here from Toronto to stake his leadership and his reputation on this byelection,” Eduljee said.

“We will also be up against the resurgent Conservative party that stands against so many of the liberal ideals we believe in.”

Eduljee said he sees housing affordability as the biggest issue affecting voters in the riding. He said he has the experience and expertise to understand and tackle that issue, as well as climate change, protecting the coast line and growing the economy.

Asked if he supports the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, he said he believes in a more “comprehensive” plan to support the environment including the Trudeau government’s Oceans Protection Plan, rather than focusing on a single pipeline.

The project, which would involve twinning an existing pipeline to the company’s Burnaby terminal, has met with fierce opposition locally, while the prime minister has insisted it will be built.

Wang, who said she has lived in Burnaby for 20 years, questioned Singh’s ability to connect with local voters as a Toronto politician and federal leader with other responsibilities.

“He’s not from our local community, he cannot represent you, represent us,” she said.

“I believe we will have a good chance to win in Burnaby South as I believe right now I’m very familiar with our community. I’m one of the people here.”

Wang ran in the 2017 provincial election with the B.C. Liberals, but was defeated by the NDP’s Anne Kang.

She said her top three priorities would be improving housing affordability by increasing the supply, creating more jobs and improving public transit.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not yet set a date for the byelection in Burnaby South, which was vacated by former New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, now Vancouver’s mayor. He expected to call byelections for the Burnaby South, Outremont, Que., and York-Simcoe, Ont., ridings early in the new year.

The byelection, expected for February, marks Singh’s biggest political test to date, while he also tries to calm party fears about fundraising, slumping polls and a growing list of veteran MPs who say they won’t run in 2019.

Singh has said he plans to focus on campaigning in the riding over the next month, so he can check “elected” off his to-do list for the critical campaign year ahead.

In the 2015 federal election, the NDP won Burnaby South by just over 500 votes.

A party leader who can’t win a seat customarily steps aside, though that hasn’t happened in a byelection since the 1940s. Singh won’t say what he’ll do if he loses the Burnaby South byelection.

Corporate lawyer Jay Shin is running for the Conservatives in the byelection, while Green party leader Elizabeth May has said the Greens won’t field a candidate.

Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada plans to name a candidate in the next two weeks, spokesman Martin Masse said. Because the party is so new and only recently established electoral district associations in the riding, the candidate won’t be selected through a typical nomination voting process.

“Essentially, the leader will choose the candidate in each byelection,” Masse said.

Liberal party spokesman Braeden Caley said whoever is nominated today will reflect the Liberal party’s values and plans for the region.
Read more on globalnews.ca
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