Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding profile and candidates

The riding

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding includes Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Lantzville and parts of the Cowichan Valley.

Size: 1,753 square kilometres

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Population: 122,710

Registered voters: 100,074

Current MP: Paul Manly, Green Party

In the past: Sheila Malcolmson was elected in 2015 with about a third of the votes, but the riding went Green in a May 2019 byelection. Nanaimo-Ladysmith was a new riding for 2015. It contains areas that used to be part of Nanaimo-Cowichan and Nanaimo-Alberni, and puts the city of Nanaimo into a single riding. New Democrat Jean Crowder was MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan while Conservative James Lunney was MP in Nanaimo-Alberni.

2019 byelection results

Voters went to the polls on May 6, 2019, for a byelection triggered by the resignation of NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson.

2015 general election results

2019 candidates

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Bob Chamberlin, 54, former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs

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Party: NDP

Lives in: Nanaimo

A former vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Bob Chamberlin is no stranger to politics. Chamberlin spent nine years in that position, as well as 14 years as the chief of the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation, based on Gilford Island northeast of Vancouver Island.

“Being on the very front lines and in meeting rooms with the provincial governments on the environment -- I have a very, very impeccable, deep record on protecting the environment,” Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin ran in the May byelection, capturing almost 25 per cent of the vote. He said he is running because he doesn’t see the Liberal or Conservative parties addressing climate change adequately.

He is also focused on reconciliation, which he says is not simply a First Nations issue.

“Now more than ever is a critical time to have First Nations voices in the House of Commons, and especially ones that are experienced from the political field,” he said. “We have an in-depth knowledge of where the government has fudged and where they have not done what they could have done.”

Chamberlin said the NDP’s New Deal for People goes beyond “mere consultation” with First Nations. He said the current process is implemented and decided upon by the Crown, which he believes will never create “free prior and informed consent.”

He is also concerned about the cost of living and health care. He supports the NDP’s commitment to build 500,000 affordable homes and provide support to people paying 30 per cent or more of their income on rent.

Chamberlin has worked at a halfway house in Nanoose Bay for people who had been incarcerated federally. He taught traditional songs to First Nations people in the program.

“That was quite rewarding,” he said. “I was able to teach some songs to people that had really no connection at all to First Nation culture.” 

James Chumsa, 24, student

Party: Communist Party of Canada

Lives in:

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At 24, James Chumsa is the youngest person on the ballot, but he’s been a member of the Communist Party of Canada for more than two years. 

Chumsa said he was inspired to run in the federal election after watching fellow Communist Party candidate Tyson Strandlund -- running in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke -- launch a provincial campaign in 2017.

The two connected at a protest Chumsa organized in 2016 against the monarchy in Canada when the Royal Family visited Victoria. Strandlund joined the protest with members of the Youth Communist League.

A few months later, Chumsa joined the league, and then the federal political party.

The Vancouver Island University grad, who majored in sociology and minored in history, does part-time work as a journalist, and volunteers with an organization called Food Not Bombs, handing out food to people living on the street. He is also learning Spanish through the university’s continuing studies program. He hopes to use his language skills to visit Cuba and other Latin American countries.

Chumsa said he was “disturbed” by the number of far-right parties running candidates in the riding’s byelection in May. That was a motivation for him to enter the race.

The Communist Party stands strongly against any sort of racism, transphobia or hate speech, he explained. Chumsa is most concerned about homelessness, the opioid crisis and racism.

His party’s platform is built on socialist ideals and advocates for “policies that put people before profits,” such as universal free childcare and free post-secondary education. The party would double corporate taxes and channel the funds to raise wages, pensions and build housing stock.

Chumsa was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley to parents who moved to Canada from England and Thailand.  

Jennifer Clarke, People's Party

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Michelle Corfield, 50, consultant and educator

Party: Liberal Party

Lives in: Nanaimo

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Michelle Corfield has been a Liberal supporter since she could vote. Despite being courted for years by the party, it took an invitation to run for the NDP to finally persuade Corfield to put her name forward for the Liberals.

“I believe in the policies. I believe in the core foundations of what it means to be a Liberal,” said Corfield, who has lived in Nanaimo her entire life.

Those foundations have to do with equality and fairness, and a freedom to be who she is.

Corfield has held many leadership roles -- from chair of the Nanaimo Port Authority to board member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia -- and has been breaking glass ceilings throughout her career.

“One of the reasons I got a PhD is because I was told very young and often if you want people to listen to you, you better have a doctorate, because then your opinions matter,” she said.

Corfield’s PhD in management and organizational leadership has led her to entrepreneurial endeavours as well as political roles.

Her first elected position was as vice-president of Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, where she served from 2006 to 2009. She also spent seven years as chair of the legislature for Ucluelet First Nation, where she negotiated with the provincial and federal governments on the Maa-nulth treaty, which sets out the rights of several First Nations on Vancouver Island to land, resources and self-government.

She believes this experience has equipped her for federal politics.

“You have to be able to understand all the levels of jurisdiction, and you have to understand every single act and policy and how it impacts people,” she said.

Corfield wants to address homelessness, crime and the opioid crisis in the riding, and ensure that seniors have access to food, shelter and prescriptions.  

John Hirst, 32, Sun Life Financial office manager

Party: Conservative Party

Lives in: Nanaimo

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One of John Hirst’s promises to voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is improving affordability with better job opportunity. It’s something he knows personally, having left Nanaimo, where he was born and raised, in search of better paying work in Alberta.

He found it working on the oil rigs, where he spent six years working weeks-long shifts and commuting home to Nanaimo until he lost his job during the 2008 recession. That was the incentive he needed to go back to school to pursue a business degree at Vancouver Island University. 

Now the manager of Sun Life Financial in Nanaimo, Hirst is looking for another career shift. He made his first run for office in Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s byelection last May, when he finished with just under 25 per cent of the vote.

In addition to affordability and economic opportunity, Hirst sees crime and drug issues, health care and the environment as top concerns in the riding.

Hirst said he has always been interested in politics and community organizing, and he found motivation to run after losing his father to suicide in October 2017.

“He had some struggles with mental health and addictions. We decided as a family to be as open as possible about it, because not enough people are,” Hirst said.

He believes his people skills, experience in leadership roles and passion for serving his community would serve him in Ottawa.

Hirst has spent most of his life living in Nanaimo, and has been a member of several service organizations in the city. Most recently, he was president of the Gyro Club, where he was involved in planning and building three parks.

“That’s a pretty cool experience when you take your two-year-old to play on a park that you’ve taken a part in building,” he said. 

Paul Manly, 55, researcher, filmmaker and communications specialist (incumbent)

Party: Green Party

Lives in: Nanaimo

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As a filmmaker creating documentaries on social justice and environmental issues, Paul Manly has spent years figuring out how government works and trying to find solutions to problems.

“After a while making films, I decided that I wanted to be more directly involved in the decision making process around creating policy and adjusting policy and working towards a better world,” said Manly, who was elected as Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s MP in a byelection in May.

Manly previously ran for the Greens in 2015, but came fourth behind candidates from the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives. Four years ago, climate change and the environment weren’t top of mind for voters, he said. This time around climate change is a key issue in the election, and Manly has seen the change in his riding.

Manly stressed the Green Party is not a single-issue party, but the environment is central to their platform.

“We will deal with climate change, or it will deal with us,” he said.

The son of Jim Manly, who served eight years as an NDP MP in the 1980s, Manly grew up surrounded by political discussions and was actively involved in campaigns. His mother also ran for a provincial nomination in the ’70s.

Along with addressing climate change, Manly is concerned about affordable housing, the opioid crisis and healthcare in the riding.

Since being elected, Manly has worked to be accountable and transparent, blogging about his work and holding community meetings in different areas of the riding.

“People could ask me questions, pretty much anything that was on their mind to do with federal politics and bring up the issues that were important to them. So I’ve been super busy working to represent the community, and trying to understand all the different needs in the community, and making sure that I’m accessible and accountable and transparent.”  

Brian Marlatt, 66, writer, researcher and public policy analyst

Party: Progressive Canadian Party

Lives in: Lake Cowichan

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Like the party he represents, Brian Marlatt believes in national unity. He became involved in politics after the 1995 referendum in Quebec, which he saw as a challenge to the country’s unity.

“I thought somebody had to do something about it,” said Marlatt, who was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1998 until the party dissolved in 2003 to become the Conservative Party of Canada.

The party’s dissolution led some former members to create the Progressive Canadian Party, for which Marlatt has been a federal candidate since 2006. He ran in South Surrey-White Rock before moving to the Island in 2015. He also ran in the recent byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, receiving less than one per cent of votes cast.

Marlatt said his party stands for progressive social policy, fiscal responsibility, democratic reform and nation building.

He lives outside of the riding in Lake Cowichan, but he has an attachment to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area and believes he has a sense of what residents need. He spent eight months visiting his father in the hospital in Nanaimo after he suffered a spinal cord injury. That experience gave him a deeper understanding of the needs in the community, particularly in terms of health care.

He proposes establishing a national purchasing agency to supply provincial pharmacare programs in order to reduce health-care costs to provincial budgets.

Marlatt has a diverse professional background, having worked as an academic, in the B.C. film industry and managing a family business that sold consumer electronics.

His academic background is in history and the history of science, and he has written about public policy, epigenetics and bioethics. 

Geoff Stoneman, 41, plumber

Party: Running as an independent

Lives in: Lake Cowichan

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A Red Seal plumber and gas fitter, Geoff Stoneman decided to run as an independent candidate after noticing how many of his coworkers — mostly guys in their late 20s to 40s — had never participated in the political process.

“I really strongly felt that until we changed who was running in politics, these people were never going to get engaged,” Stoneman said. “I think the only way we can change Canadian politics for the benefit of the majority of Canadians is if we change how we vote, and if we’re offered more options than just the big four parties.”

Stoneman sees his independent status as an advantage, because he’s not influenced by party politics.

“My only worry about voting in the House will be on whether it benefits the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding or not,” he said.

Stoneman sees himself as a “pretty average” guy who spends his free time surfing or in the mountains. He tries to raise his two young kids outside as much as possible, and he wants them to be able to enjoy everything Vancouver Island has offered him for outdoor recreation.

He highlights many of the same issues his rivals are discussing — cost of living and housing, mental health and addictions, health care, climate change — but he has a few ideas he says others in the riding aren’t talking about.

Stoneman would like to secure funding from the pharmaceutical industry to respond to the opioid crisis, by laying criminal charges against private companies and then offering a deferred prosecution agreement if they’re found guilty.

“We could get them to pay in on annual basis to fund mental health and addictions programs,” Stoneman said.

His approach to climate-change mitigation is based on hydrogen-extraction technology by Proton Technologies that he believes could cut the country’s carbon dioxide emissions by one-third and save individual Canadians money on the carbon tax. 

Echo White, 45, co-founder of a high-tech company

Party: Running as an independent

Lives in: Nanaimo

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Echo White moved to Ottawa in her 20s as an international student from China. She says it was a “calling” that brought her to Nanaimo two years ago.

Another calling spurred her to put her name forward at the last minute as an independent candidate.

White said she submitted all her required documents for candidacy two minutes before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“I waited for the last minute to see if there was someone who can stand up and voice for the local people, because, personally, I’ve been fed up with political parties. They’re not promise-keepers,” White said.

White has a master’s degree of business administration and experience working with the federal government and Crown corporations. She is also the co-founder of an online platform that connects people to services such as personal trainers, movers, personal tutoring and legal advice.

White said she and her family have fallen in love with Nanaimo and the friendly people since moving to the city, but she realized residents have concerns about health care, education, housing and drugs that she believes aren’t getting attention in Ottawa.

“The political parties are interested beyond the residents, so even though Nanaimo is the hidden gem, it’s long [been] ignored by the political parties,” she said.

Although White never saw herself becoming a politician, she said she would be devoted to bringing local concerns to Parliament.

“I love this city and really have the passion to lift it up to a better city,” she said.  

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