NDP deputy leader in Penticton

Libby Davies, the NDP’s deputy leader, will be stopping in Penticton to talk about health care and support Cannings’ campaign.

Candidate Richard Cannings is seeing a lot of support from the NDP, with another visit scheduled this week from one of the party’s leaders.

Libby Davies, the NDP’s deputy leader, will be stopping in Penticton to talk about health care and support Cannings’ campaign. Her visit echoes that of party leader Tom Mulcair, who held a rally in Penticton on Aug. 31 that drew 1,000 people.

Davies, who currently represents the Vancouver East riding, will be meeting with Cannings along with local healthcare and community service advocates from 10 to 11 a.m. on Sept. 24 at the Penticton Days Inn. The meeting is open to the public, but guests are asked to RSVP by calling the campaign office at 236-422-1025.

Davies, first elected in 1997, announced her retirement last year, after 18 years as a Member of Parliament.  During that time she held the roles of NDP house leader, as well as spokesperson for housing, homelessness and multiculturalism. After the 2011 federal election, when the NDP was elevated to Official Opposition status, Davies became health critic in the party’s shadow cabinet. She has also served as vice-chair of the standing committee on health, supporting community services, affordable housing and the reduction of poverty.

“She is certainly well-versed on health care and community service issues,” said Cannings, adding that health is a big issue in the area. “A lot of people are concerned about health care and aging. We have a very sizeable seniors population and they are concerned about these things. There are concerns about services for seniors as they age.”

Cannings said the talk will likely touch on topics like the Harper conservatives not renewing the Canada Health Accord, as well as the NDP’s plan to introduce a Canada-wide, universal pharmacare program.

“She will be talking about issues related to health care, but in the broadest sense. A lot of seniors issues, housing issues, I am sure will come into it,” said Cannings.

Davies’ visit is the latest in a string of  visits from high-profile politicians, including a visit from Prime Minister Stephen Harper Sept. 13. With no incumbent, the newly created South Okanagan West Kootenay riding is seen as a battleground, with the Penticton area historically leaning to the Conservative party, while the West Kootenays have voted NDP over the last several elections.

On his website, threehundredeight.com, political pundit Eric Grenier predicts the NDP have a 69 per cent chance of winning the new seat.