B.C. ELECTION 2017: Kelowna-Mission NDP candidate says struggles brought her to politics - InfoNews

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B.C. ELECTION 2017: Kelowna-Mission NDP candidate says struggles brought her to politics

Harwinder Sandhu is the B.C. NDP candidate for MLA.
May 04, 2017 - 2:41 PM

KELOWNA – Harwinder Sandhu held her ground when the angry old man muttered that the NDP ignores voters.

He had just left her campaign headquarters and wasn’t happy with the amount of response he got from volunteers.

“What are you going to do for business?” he mumbled walking past. “Do you know what a prime rate even is?”

“Is there something I can help you with,” she asked politely. He appeared caught off-guard by her demure presence and the hostility melted away. Fifteen minutes later he left promising to do more research on the NDP platform.

Sandhu, 38, is brand new to politics. Acclaimed as the NDP candidate for the Kelowna-Mission riding, she has made the commitment to put her nursing career and busy family life on hold while she tries to win representation for the area. She’s overcome her share of adversity and says she is ready.

She lost her father to a brain aneurism at a young age so Sandhu, who was born in India, moved to B.C. more than 16 years ago. She and her husband were living in Prince George with their two children when he lost his job in the forest industry and they moved to Terrace where she worked at the hospital.

It was in Terrace where they found out he had terminal cancer and where he died two years later. Sandhu decided to move to the Okanagan.

Harwinder Sandhu is the B.C. NDP candidate for MLA.
Harwinder Sandhu is the B.C. NDP candidate for MLA.

“I’ve been through quite a lot,” she says. “We always talked about moving to Kelowna. The intent was to move to Kelowna but… the outskirts of Vernon are still affordable.”

Sandhu has been living in Vernon since 2012 but says she has been commuting to Kelowna for years. And the reason she doesn’t live in the riding she hopes to represent is a local election issue. She is running against incumbent Liberal MLA Steve Thomson, Green candidate Rainer Wilkins and Conservative Chuck Hardy.

“I lived that unaffordable life," Sandhu says. "I couldn’t even buy a home in Kelowna and it’s only getting worse. Our government is only paying attention to the Lower Mainland but we are also in crisis.”

As a now-remarried mother of two, she believes she is also the best candidate to advocate for families.

“These are the driving forces. I was left being a single mom, I struggled to find affordable daycare. I spent all my savings helping my husband. Being a mother I’ve seen cuts to education, kids with special needs don’t get the help they need... I would be a voice for that.”

And after working as a nurse in B.C. for the last 16 years, she also feels qualified to address some health care issues she has seen.

“In the Okanagan, I noticed our population we have a big number of retirees or seniors, they often end up the last one to get properly funded. They are waiting in hospitals, some end up with pneumonia. A hospital is not the place to go when your immune system is compromised but Health Authorities can only do so much with limited funding. The money has to come from the government.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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