This is one of five profiles of the candidates for the Abbotsford electoral district, which includes most areas south of Bateman and Maclure roads and east of Mount Lehman Road. For links to the other profiles, see the bottom of the story. Watch The News and Abbynews.com for profiles of candidates in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding next week.
Abbotsford NDP candidate Jen Martel believes voters are fed up with the Conservatives and ready for a change.
“The labour movement is being targeted, scientists are being silenced, families and young Canadians are being forgotten and left behind, and the effects of climate change are being ignored,” she said.
Martel, one of five federal election candidates vying to become the Abbotsford riding’s next MP, said she believes that many working-class people have become uncertain about the future under Premier Stephen Harper’s leadership.
She said that is one of the reasons she decided to get into politics.
“I want to help Canada once again be a country where I feel comfortable starting a family, and I know that my children will have a promising future. I want to help create the change that Canadians want and deserve.”
Martel, at age 24, is the youngest candidate in the riding, but she said she feels that is an advantage because she is a “quick study” and she can use her “energy, enthusiasm and drive” to become a “competent and influential” Member of Parliament.
She said the issues she feels are key in this election include affordable childcare, skilled job opportunities and benefits to seniors.
More specific to Abbotsford, she feels that climate change is an important issue.
“Abbotsford is particularly vulnerable to its effects. Agriculture and farming are the two main driving forces of our local economy, and climate change could be detrimental to both of them … Fighting and protecting our environment is one of the main reasons I am running in this election.”
Martel has also been outspoken about her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signed earlier this week by 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada and the U.S. and led by her political opponent, Conservative MP and International Trade Minister Ed Fast.
The agreement, which has yet to be ratified, had caused concerns locally among dairy, poultry and egg producers that it would do away with the supply management system, which limits access to the country’s dairy and poultry markets.
Martel, a professional lifeguard and first aid instructor, said the TPP “may mark the beginning of the end as opposed to the total deconstruction of supply management.”
“By opening up the Canadian market just a crack, the Harper government is introducing the concept of a deregulated industry. The crack will simply get wider over time,” she said.
Martel said an NDP government will not be bound by any version of the TPP agreement signed by Harper without the “proper mandate.”
Another issue she said is important to the community is health care.
“When you live in a city where one in every five residents doesn’t have a family doctor, you’re inevitably going to hear from many people who are concerned about their family’s health. I’ve certainly had a lot of conversations about the NDP’s plan to hire more doctors and nurses and to build more clinics across Canada,” Martel said.
If elected in her riding, she said she hopes to provide a strong voice for Abbotsford in Ottawa.
She said this includes drawing attention to the community’s infrastructure concerns, such as the Vye Road overpass, the extension of Marshall Road to Mt. Lehman, and the widening of the Trans Canada Highway.
Martel said she will work with the city “to find cost-effective solutions that don’t pose a heavy burden on our tax bill.”
Martel’s background includes a bachelor of science in biology and certificates in communications and advanced French.
She has a range of non-profit involvement with organizations such as Special Olympics and the Fraser Valley Irish Dance Association, and has served as the vice-president of her union local.