Gourlay throws his hat in the political ring

Cedar's Laurie Gourlay is seeking the NDP nomination as the federal candidate for the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.

Laurie Gourlay of Cedar is hoping to be the chosen as the NDP candidate for the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding in the next federal election.

Laurie Gourlay of Cedar is hoping to be the chosen as the NDP candidate for the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding in the next federal election.

Long-time political staffer Laurie Gourlay has announced his intention to seek the NDP nomination as federal candidate for the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding.

Gourlay, a Cedar farmer, spent 12 years working for the federal NDP and six for his local NDP MLA before recently deciding to take the plunge into federal politics himself.

This spring, he’ll put his name forward when party members choose a candidate for the new riding.

Gourlay believes strongly in the value of community service, something first instilled in him as a youth. Over the years, he has volunteered for a number of causes and sees entering politics as a way to further serve the public. He believes that politicians should work together despite their different ideologies to better the lives of their fellow Canadians.

“We have this big, beautiful, rich country. We could be a shining example to the rest of the world, but we’re squandering it,” he said, pointing to the closure of libraries and veterans’ offices, the “creeping privatization of healthcare” and the firing of government scientists as examples of current issues in Canada.

In Jackie Moad, his wife of 38 years, Gourlay has an example of service for the greater good. Moad, a registered nurse who works at Nanaimo Regional Hospital, has been active in the upstart and operation of women’s shelters throughout B.C. and the Yukon. Gourlay has learned much from his wife and hopes to embody her spirit of public service on behalf of his community.

“I want to change things at the local level to complement regional, national and international causes,” he said. If successful in his bid for candidacy, Gourlay plans to focus on three main areas of concern: parliamentary reform, jobs and the environment, and healthcare.

Parliamentary reform would involve putting, “public interest before private profit, increasing voter confidence so people will become more involved,” and creating a government that is more responsive to the will of the people.

Gourlay would like to see the all-or-nothing approach to jobs and the environment set aside in favour of a system that keeps people employed while protecting the environment. He believes in sustainable development and in creating new opportunities for people whose employment may be threatened by environmental initiatives. Essentially, he said, government must find a way to balance environmental concerns with the need for good jobs.

For his last main area of focus, Gourlay would like to see increased access to equitable care, a “reduction in healthcare costs without compromising care,” improved access to affordable, generic drugs, and the termination of healthcare privatization.

Gourlay believes his many years working in Ottawa give him a unique perspective on how the political system functions and will help him in working effectively for his riding.

“I know the issues, I know the process. I know how things get done so I want to go to Ottawa to help things happen,” he said. “If we don’t work on the issues together, we’re all going to go down.”

Last year, Gourlay made waves when he and Scott Akenhead began a petition that would see Vancouver Island become a separate province. While it’s a concept Gourlay still believes in, he said he’s not focusing on it right now and will take his cues from the people he hopes to represent. He did say, however, that Vancouver Island embodies the Canadian spirit of working together, an attitude he’d like to see adopted by more federal politicians.

“Island folk are a lot more friendly than folks in Ottawa. There is a willingness to work together here. Here on the Island people are willing to speak their minds and contribute to the betterment of society. That’s what we need in Ottawa.”

In the spring, when the NDP is expected to choose its candidate, Gourlay will find out if he’ll have the chance to take that message to Ottawa.

For more information about Gourlay, click here.