Langley-Aldergrove candidates (top) Tako van Popta (Conservative), Kim Richter (Liberal) and Michael Change (NDP). Cloverdale - Langley City candidates (bottom) Tamara Jansen (Conservative), John Aldag (Liberal) and Rajesh Jayaprakash (NDP). (files)

Election timing an issue in Langley contest

Candidates spar over holding vote during pandemic

Langley candidates have staked out different positions on the timing of the federal election – as the campaign gets underway.

On Sunday, Aug. 15, a 36-day campaign – the shortest allowed by law – began when Gov. Gen. Mary Simon agreed to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s request to dissolve Parliament for a campaign that will culminate in a Sept. 20 vote.

Opposition leaders blasted Trudeau for putting his quest for a majority government ahead of the health and safety of Canadians, plunging the country into what they called an unnecessary, costly, and reckless election just as a fourth wave of the deadly coronavirus is gathering steam across the country.

READ ALSO: Trudeau says Canadians deserve a say at pivotal moment, triggers Sept. 20 election

Two Langley ridings, Langley-Aldergrove and Cloverdale-Langley City, are currently held by Conservatives.

In Langley-Aldergrove, incumbent Conservative MP Tako van Popta said now was not the time to be going to the polls.

“With a fourth wave apparently on us and wildfires raging across the province, people don’t want to focus on an election campaign,” van Popta commented.

“Many people I have spoken with recently think this is a cynical attempt by Mr. Trudeau to try to get a majority government,” van Popta continued.

“But other people tell me they are happy to have the opportunity to finally vote this corrupt Liberal government out of office,” said the Conservative MP.

Liberal candidate Kim Richter said the pandemic is the reason why an election is necessary.

“In the last federal election, COVID-19 wasn’t on anyone’s radar,” Richter told the Langley Advance Times.

“Now it has changed the world. The COVID fight is still ongoing and recovery is underway. But people now need to have a say in how their government proceeds from here,” said the current Township councillor.

NDP hopeful Michael Chang said the election should have been postponed until COVID case numbers were stable.

“Having a snap election in the middle of an ever-dangerous fourth wave is a horrible idea,” Chang said.

“I think the government should focus on fighting to end the pandemic and helping our vulnerable population.”

READ ALSO: First full day of Canada’s election campaign begins with economic pledges

Similarly, in Cloverdale-Langley City, incumbent Conservative MP Tamara Jansen’s opinion was that “we should not be having an election in the middle of a pandemic.”

“A leader would be thinking about how we can meet the threat of a Delta-driven fourth wave, secure our recovery, and tackle the skyrocketing cost of living,” Jansen added.

“Instead, this prime minister is focused only on his own political interests.”

Liberal John Aldag, a former MP who was ousted by Jansen in the previous election, said “after 17 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Canadians deserve a choice about how we finish the fight again COVID-19 and build back better. For two years the values of our community haven’t been represented by a socially conservative MP, and the choice couldn’t be more clear.”

“This vote is about who represents our values, so we can move forward, not backwards,” Aldag added.

Cloverdale-Langley City NDP candidate Rajesh Jayaprakash called the timing “terrible.”

“The pandemic has taken a toll on Canadians, and they need someone who will work for them,” Jayaprakash said.

“The Liberals and Conservatives have not done so.”

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Langley Advance Times