Langford Coun. Lillian Szpak won the federal Liberal nomination for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca

Langford councillor wins Liberal nomination in Esquimalt-JDF

After a collegial but spirited campaign, Langford councillor Lillian Szpak has landed the federal Liberal nomination for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca.

Szpak will be seeking the seat of outgoing six-term Liberal MP Keith Martin in the next federal election. The minority Conservative government is expected to table a budget in the next few months, which could send voters to the polls.

“I feel honoured and delighted to know that eventually I’ll be MP and will get to serve our riding,” Szpak said Tuesday. “At this point its early in the day. I have good experience running an election campaign, but this is another level to learn.”

The 17-year Langford resident and daughter of a Cape Breton coal miner edged out Esquimalt resident and retired fire chief David Hodgins.  

Szpak said she plans to sit down with Martin and her team on how to hash out a federal campaign plan and develop policy, while digging down deeper into issues that touch on the federal arena.

“Jobs and the economy are key, and firming the ground under families,” she said. 

She expects transportation on the West Shore to remain a key issue. A military wife of a soldier who served in Afghanistan, Szpak said she plans to follow in Martin’s footsteps and advocate for the Canadian Forces, military families and veterans.

Current policies, such as lump-sum payments to veterans with certain injuries, might be causing more harm than good, she pointed out. 

“This is something that can be very difficult for veterans to manage,” she said. “I’m well aware of the challenges of our military families and the need for long-term support of our veterans.”

The three-term municipal politician said she’ll keep serving on Langford council until she is sent to Ottawa as MP. If a federal election is called, she would take a leave of absence from council, but otherwise it’s business as usual. Szpak has previously said she plans to run for re-election in Langford this November if she’s not an MP. 

The nomination campaign took Szpak across the sprawling Esquimalt-JDF riding encompasses part of Saanich, the West Shore, Sooke and the JDF electoral area. Much of the campaign work was signing up new federal Liberal members and talking to people in coffee shops and shopping centres.

“You have to be a person connected to the community, and someone who cares and is knowledgeable on the issues,” Szpak said. “The job is about delivering our voice from here to Ottawa, not the other way around.” 

Martin said Szpak is a long-time friend and colleague who would make “an excellent MP.” If he had any advice to offer, he said it would be to remember that constituents come first.

“As MP, stick to your guns,” Martin said. “Know what issues you want to focus on for the community.”

He also noted that the system in the House of Commons rewards “rabid partisanship and mudslinging” that helped drive Martin’s decision not to seek a seventh term. “You might feel like the lonely voice in Ottawa if you offer constructive dialogue,” he said. “Don’t succumb to the allure of mudslinging that’s a dominant feature in Parliament.”

In terms of running a campaign, Martin said he will advise Szpak if she wants, but doubts she’ll need much help.

“Lillian knows what to do for our community,” he said. “She knows the system and the local problems. If she’s elected she’ll be able to take that local knowledge and advance the needs of our community in Ottawa.”

Conservative Troy DeSouza, New Democrat Randall Garrison and Green Shaunna Salsman are also nominated to run in Esquimalt-JDF.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

Greater Victoria thrift shop quietly closes two locations indefinitely

Society of St. Vincent de Paul shut down Sooke and Central Saanich storefronts

Sooke councillor pitches another way to improve transit

Coun. Jeff Bateman wants free passes for youth on local routes

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

New report finds ‘chronic’ shortage of daycare spaces across Greater Victoria

Sidney meets 52 per cent of demand, the best figure for six surveyed communities

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

Most Read