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Jagmeet Singh darts around B.C., drops in on swing riding of Fraser-Nicola

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh made a stop in Hope to support NDP candidate Sumexheltza
An elbow bump will have to do in COVID times, as NDP candidate for Fraser-Nicola Aaron Sumexheltza, left, and Jagmeet Singh meet. Leader of the federal NDP was there to lend his support to Sumexheltza in the swing riding. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said the party can learn a lot from its equivalent in B.C. and their record governing over the past three years with support from the BC Green Party.

Singh made the remarks during a visit to Hope, together with BC NDP candidate for the district Aaron Sumexheltza Thursday, Oct. 15. While it is perhaps a surprise to see a federal party leader campaigning with a provincial candidate, Singh said he was there to support candidates and a party that he sees as a model for what his party could do if they gained power federally.

“There is really not a coincidence that BC has had the best response to COVID-19, it’s because of Premier Horgan and the BC NDP government and the help that they put in place for people. That’s reall made a difference,” he said.

What the provincial NDP under John Horgan accomplished with childcare, housing and healthcare, Singh said, are an example of what the NDP could do if they formed government at the federal level. “Concrete commitments to make people’s lives better, there’s clear evidence we’ve actually helped people out. That’s what I want to do federally,” he added.

Singh is not only dropping in on the swing riding of Fraser-Nicola, he said he’s also made visits to Richmond-Queensborough, Vancouver-Langara and other Vancouver ridings as well as Surrey and the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale “where it would be a first time victory for us.”

While provincial opposition parties have expressed disdain for the decision to call a snap election amidst a pandemic, Singh said the decision “made a lot of sense.”

”I don’t think was the right time for us federally, provincially it made a lot of sense, and I’m here to support. So I’m excited to help out candidate like Aaron and the premier who’s shown what New Democrats can do,” he said, adding he wants to support Indigenous candidates and candidates that have faced historical barriers.

The two politicians got to hear firsthand how Swetexl (pronounced swa teh hill, meaning rainbow in Halq’emeylem), a joint project of Grace Baptist Church, Read Right Society and Yale First Nation, has been instrumental in the lives of local families. Two parents, whose children had faced physical and developmental difficulties, explained how the daycare was both affordable and immediately welcoming to their children.

Read more: New daycare a model for reconciliation

Singh and Sumexheltza were joined by Chawathil Chief Rhoda Peters, Chief Ken Hansen of Yale First Nation and Jeff Kuhn, lead pastor at Grace Baptist Church. Cheryl Casimer, who is running to be the Assembly of First Nations’ BC Regional Chief and facing incumbent Terry Teegee later this year, also attended.

The politicians heard of the success of the daycare in providing a curriculum that builds respect for Indigenous culture and language as well as that of other cultures. The curriculum, while still under development said executive director of the Read Right Society Jodi McBride, has already this semester included teaching about the medicine wheel, the salmon cycle as well as various ways to prepare salmon.

The daycare opened in June 2019 with 37 spaces total, including 12 spots for infant toddlers. There is also already a waitlist for this age group, with 15 children on the list McBride said.

In his first few days of campaigning after calling the snap election, BC NDP leader John Horgan promised to expand child care spaces at $10 a day. On Oct. 9, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson promised to match the NDP’s plans. When asked by the Hope Standard what the difference is between the two parties on this childcare promise, Sumexheltza pointed to the NDP’s record while in office.

Read more: B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

“The BC Liberals were in power for 16 years, and they failed communities and people on childcare. So what we’ve done in the last 2 years is we’ve built 20,000 new childcare spaces and we’re committed to moving forward with our plan, 700 new spaces a month,” he said. “We have a track record of actually doing the work and making life more affordable for families.”

Read more: NDP launches platform with $1,000 COVID relief payments

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Jagmeet Singh, left, leader of the federal NDP, visited Hope’s Swetexl daycare Oct. 16 to lend his support to provincial NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza in the swing riding of Fraser-Nicola. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Chief Ken Hansen, left, with federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at the Swetexl daycare Oct. 15. The gathering was a campaign stop for NDP candidate for Fraser Nicola Aaron Sumexheltza. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Leader of the NDP Jagmeet Singh, second from left, together with political leaders from the Hope area, parents and leaders behind the creation of the Swetexl daycare pose for photos on Oct. 15.(Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, left, with Aaron Sumexheltza, Chief Ken Hansen and Cheryl Casimer at Hope’s Swetexl daycare.(Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Chawathil Chief Rhoda Peters, left, listens as Cheryl Casimer speaks about early childhood education at Swetexl daycare Oct. 15. The gathering was a campaign stop for NDP candidate for Fraser Nicola Aaron Sumexheltza. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

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