Incumbent candidate committed to running positive campaign.
For incumbent federal candidate Jamie Nicholls, the New Democratic Party MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges since 2011, hitting the campaign trail for a second time was like riding a bike; and in his case, he means it literally.
Incumbent candidate Jamie Nicholls (second from left) NDP MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges since 2011, last month during a ground breaking ceremony for the new Le Nichoir bird sanctuary centre. (Photo: Kristina Edson)
When Nicholls met constituents in 2011, he often did so by riding his bicycle to as many events and neighbourhood canvasing sessions as possible. Nicholls is doing the same thing in 2015, and on the same bicycle.
“I keep my bike at my campaign office in Vaudreuil-Dorion and get out on it about three times a week,” Nicholls said during an interview this week.
The candidate feels his campaign is going well.
“It feels like it does when I’m working. I’m going to a lot of events and going door-to-door talking to people,” Nicholls noted.
And while he does monitor the polls, which show the three main parties in a neck and neck race, Nicholls thinks the best way to gauge his own effectiveness, as well as that of his party, is “at the doorstep, based on how people react.”
“Polls go up and they go down.. if you look at past results no one expected in 2011 that we would do so well in Quebec, but we did,” he said. Nicholls is committed to running a positive campaign and is looking forward to participating in two debates, one in English and another in French, hosted by Viva Media, taking place on Oct. 1, and Oct 7 respectively.
Nicholls additionally answered the following questions about his platform and personal beliefs:
Q: If you were to grade yourself based on how you’ve represented the region to date, what grade would you earn?
A: I think its up to the electors to answer how well I did. I have worked very vigorously for the riding on things like train safety, pipeline safety…so in that sense I’m very involved but I would prefer to leave it up to them to judge how well I did. I have loved serving the citizens of this region over the last four years. My family has lived here for 40 years… it’s an exciting time for whole region. I’m glad I’ve been a part of that.
Q: What has been the most challenging part about representing Vaudreuil-Soulanges thus far?
A: It is a very large region, 23 municipalities with a mix of urban and very rural areas, so the needs from one side to other were a little different. We have people struggling with farms in the western part of the riding and in the eastern part a lot of new developments. The pace of development isn’t always at the same pace as building the infrastructure to support the development so that has caused some headaches in the eastern part. And one challenge in being in opposition is we did make proposals on things like national public transit strategies that would have benefitted the region and they were rejected at committee and in the house. There’s a level of frustration to see them rejected just because they come from another party.
Q: Why do you want to continue representing Vaudreuil-Soulanges in Ottawa?
A: My interest in the environment in this region comes from a very real place. I grew up in Saint Lazare. When we first lived there it really was mostly all forests, now people need places to live of course, but my main interest is promoting economic sustainability. Development can be done in a haphazard way, you can just plop houses down but I’ve dedicated my life to trying to make development happen in sustainable ways. How can we develop in green ways and provide incentives to do that while protecting our lakes and rivers?
Q: What do you feel are the most important issues currently facing the region?
A: For me water preservation is a crucial issue. We’ve grown quickly, we’re crossed by highways, three or four pipelines and all the commercial rail lines. We need regulations to protect our rivers and lakes. Citizens living around the rail lines need protection. We’ve seen in the past 25 years a hollowing out of those regulations and a movement to self policing in terms of safety from the companies. We have to change that. People want good local job close to home, they want the economic well-being of their family to be ok. We’re not going to raise taxes on anyone, we’re going to drop the small business tax rate from 11-percent to nine, which will help the majority of businesses in Vaudreuil-Soulanges. As a father of two, I always hope things will be better for my two children. I live with an actress and we have income disparity. Like any middle class family we worry.
Q: What is your stance on the pipeline project?
A: At this point we can’t approve a project without changes to the environmental assessment process. These things should have been in place by now.
Q: Vaudreuil-Soulanges has a large elderly population, what needs to be done for them?
A: I simply don’t think any seniors should live in poverty. We have a $4 million Guaranteed Income Supplement and any senior will get a top-up so they’re not living under the poverty line. These people contributed all their life and they shouldn’t spend the last third of life worrying if they have enough food.
Q: What do you want voters to know about you?
A: Yes, I’ve represented them during the last four years as a politician and member of parliament, but I would also want for them to know that I’m a father. I understand the needs parents have in the region. I was a landscape architect and a planner. I understand at a macro level how to make changes to help create a more sustainable region. I’m passionate about hearing their stories. I’m there to listen and take their messages to Ottawa rather than just blindly following the party program.
Q: What is your response to voter apathy and cynicism?
A: I think part of the reason we’ve gotten here with cynicism is there has been a lot of negative campaigns. I pledge to run a positive campaign. Voters have seen 148 years of the same two parties that come in promising the sky and end up in scandal. We hope the Canadian electorate will put their trust in us and that their cynicism will go away as they see a government that does what it promises to do.
Nicholls, 43, has served as the NDP critic for energy and natural resources, transportation and infrastructure, and official languages. He has supported the Train de l’Ouest project during his time in office, and is credited with helping convince the federal government to commit to the construction of a new Champlain Bridge, among other things. Nicholls remarried during his mandate. He has one child with his first wife, and two month old daughter with his second wife, Amanda MacDonald. The couple are expecting another baby this year. Nicholls, who grew up in Saint Lazare, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as a Masters in Landscape Architecture. He began his career as a teacher and an artist. He later worked in landscape architecture and regional planning.