Liberal candidate comes out swinging to launch election campaign

VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH federal Liberal candidate Mike Holland announced his bid for MP Monday at Glacier View Lodge. - Scott Stanfield
VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTH federal Liberal candidate Mike Holland announced his bid for MP Monday at Glacier View Lodge.
— image credit: Scott Stanfield

Mike Holland picked a symbolic location to launch his campaign bid for the Vancouver Island North riding.

The federal Liberal candidate spoke Monday with guests and media at Glacier View Lodge, where he helped lead a fight to save long-term care beds in the 1990s.

"When we fought for Glacier View Lodge, we had 5,000 people sign a petition. We had people coming out of the woodwork to fight for it," said Holland, who resigned from Courtenay council in 2004 after claiming then-MLA Stan Hagen reneged on a deal to build a 75-bed expansion at Glacier View in exchange for Liberal party memberships — a deal Hagen denied.

"When they broke their promise, I went public and we fought them. The important thing is that you're working for a better community, and you're also fighting for change."

Holland has been similarly frustrated with the provincial NDP when it tried to introduce legislation to take over charities, and with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government for cutting corporate taxes, and for spending on jails and jets.

Holland would prefer to see taxpayer dollars invested in seniors and health care.

"This NDP-Conservative rotation of MPs is something we have to change locally, and there are also things we have to change federally," said Holland, who sees himself as a moderate who has fought "the lunatics on the right and the lunatics on the left.

"I saw the worst of that in my experience with the NDP and their attack on charities, and the worst of it with the Conservative elements in the provincial government that were backtracking on their promise to build long-term care beds."

At present, he said Canadians are faced with a government that wants to spend $30 billion on 65 fighter jets. The cost per plane — $460 million — is roughly the amount needed to build a hospital in the Comox Valley.

He also criticizes government's plan to spend $13 billion on new jails, and to enforce mandatory sentences for growing six marijuana plants.

Another thorn in his side are tax cuts for the biggest corporations.

"There's 220,000 corporations in Canada," Holland said. "These tax cuts are only for the top five per cent, and in this five per cent, whether it's banks, oil companies or insurance companies, they're going to be here anyway."

He recalls in 1991 during the Jean Chrétien regime, the Liberals reduced corporate tax rates to 21 per cent. They now sit at about 30 per cent.

"We already have competitive tax rates. This corporate tax rate for the largest and most prosperous companies in Canada is not needed. The Liberal government has always believed it's a pretty simple thing to balance a budget.

"Your revenues have to be greater than your expenses. You don't spend unnecessary money on jets, you don't build prisons to lock up kids who grow six marijuana plants, and you don't give corporate tax rates to the largest corporations."

While Harper might be a control freak, Holland sees local MP John Duncan and all Tory ministers as trained seals.

"They wait until that fish is thrown by Stephen Harper before they move," he said. "We need someone who will put their constituents first before the prime minister."

Holland is not concerned whether he upsets the right or the left. The main thing, he sees, is doing the right thing.

"Mr. Duncan has been the MP for 19 years, and sadly he is like most Conservative members and ministers. He is scared to death of Stephen Harper. They're all afraid to say anything or do anything or meet with anyone unless they get the approval of Stephen Harper's government."

A federal election has been set for May 2 after opposition parties opposed last week's proposed budget,

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