Jati Sidhu, the Liberal candidate in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, failed to meet four separate interview commitments with The News this week, leaving the largest newspaper in his riding unable to ask him probing questions about his time in office.
In late September, The News emailed 11 candidates in the two local ridings – Abbotsford and Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon – seeking to set up video interviews with each during the week of Oct. 7-11. Three possible days were given to ensure flexibility, and interviews were arranged with the 11 candidates. (The News was unable to contact Marxist-Leninist candidate Elaine Wismer.)
The News had arranged a video interview with Sidhu for the morning of Monday, Oct. 7, but the day before the meeting, an email was sent saying the Liberal candidate was unable to make the appointment. Sidhu called instead offering to take questions, but The News sought to arrange a different date for a video interview in order to treat candidates equitably. An interview was scheduled for Friday, Oct. 11.
Sidhu appeared at an all-candidates meeting on Thursday, and The News spoke to him during an intermission to confirm his appearance the next day. Sidhu said he was unable to meet his commitment, saying that he had been called in to attend a Justin Trudeau event on Friday. Sidhu suggested that the questions being asked at the forum should suffice. The News requested to speak to him after the meeting. When the meeting concluded, Sidhu quickly left with an associate and walked to his car. When The News caught up with him at his vehicle, Sidhu’s associate said he did not have time to answer questions and was on a tight schedule. “I’ve got a debriefing meeting,” he said at his car. “I’ve got a campaign to run.”
The News said that Sidhu was the only campaigning candidate who had yet to meet his or her interview commitments. Sidhu promised to call The News on Friday.
The News repeated the request by email Friday morning, but received no reply. As of 5 p.m. on Friday evening Sidhu had yet to call The News.
Sidhu is the only candidate in the Abbotsford and Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon ridings to attend all-candidate meetings and visibly campaign, but not meet his interview commitments with The News. The News will continue to seek an on-camera interview for the Liberal candidate. Sidhu won his seat in 2015 by 1,038 over Conservative candidate Brad Vis. The contest was among the last called in the nation.
The News last interviewed Sidhu on Sept. 20 about advertisements with photos that showed himself with an Abbotsford police officer and the words “I’m voting for Jati.” Sidhu said at the time that the advertisements were inappropriate, but they reappeared just days later. That prompted an emailed statement in which Sidhu said he was “dismayed” by the reappearance of the ad, which he blamed on a Quebec company.
Sidhu did responded to a written questionnaire about his priorities and suitability for office. Find it below.
1. Why are you personally running to be a member of Parliament?
As the sitting Member of Parliament, I am running for re-election to continue to support middle class Canadian families and seniors. I was proudest of my votes to establish the Canada Child Benefit, cut taxes for middle class families and increase funding for seniors. I want to return to Parliament to bring in a National Pharmacare program, increase the OAS by 10% for seniors over the age of 74, increase the CPP Survivors Benefit by 25% and continue to work towards combating climate change.
2. What skills and attributes do you have that would make you a good elected representative for your constituents?
The knowledge and skills I have gained as a successful farmer and homebuilder were indispensable in preparing me for my first term. I have a long history of business and volunteerism in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon having lived in and contributed to this region for 45 years.
3. What are the two biggest issues for your constituents in Abbotsford and how will you and/or your party address them?
The biggest issues are to ensure the continued financial well-being of families and seniors. We will ensure middle class Canadians pay no taxes on the first $15,000 of annual income and we will create more than 250,000 new before and after school child care spaces.
To find affordable places for people to live we will proceed with the $55 billion National Housing Strategy and the Canada Housing Benefit to help with high rental costs. Infrastructure projects including housing are equally important. I support the expansion of the Trans-Canada Highway 1 from Langley to Abbotsford.
Video interviews/questionnaire answers
• • •