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Peschisolido not afraid to use "R" word

Local lawyer and former MP now challenging his former conservative political ally
Team Peschisolido
Lawyer and former Member of Parliament Joe Peschisolido, centre, surrounds himself with young volunteers for his run to become the member of parliament for Steveston-Richmond East. Sept. 13, 2015.

Lawyer and Liberal Party of Canada candidate Joe Peschisolido is hoping a conflict-plagued August is well in the rear-view mirror as the federal election is just over five weeks away.

With his former riding executives erased from the Steveston-Richmond East riding association website following their resignations, and disgruntled failed nominee Wendy Yuan resigned to be a spectator, Peschisolido opened his campaign office Sunday afternoon on the north side of Westminster Highway, a stone’s throw outside his riding.

Surrounded by a throng of happy supporters and volunteers nibbling on potato salad and samosas, the former Member of Parliament was quick to trumpet Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s platform while critiquing the New Democrats and Conservatives.

Not afraid to use the “R” word, Peschisolido said Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to blame for Canada’s most recent recession.

He said the economy, infrastructure, foreign policy and national security are top Liberal priorities but didn’t go into detail as to what needs to change.

When asked what he has been hearing door-to-door, Peschisolido said “a lot of people want change,” however many are not “crystalizing” any one particular issue.

The Liberal’s greatest competition for evoking “change” is the NDP.

Peschisolido repeated Trudeau’s statement that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair does not have a clear direction for Canada.

“You cannot implement a Tommy Douglas vision on a Stephen Harper budget,” echoed Peschisolido, who noted the Liberals would run “minor” deficits to pay for more infrastructure improvements across the country. He likened the Liberal plan to U.S. president Barack Obama’s economic policies (since 2011 the U.S. and Canada’s GDP growth has been similar).

Peschisolido said his party would work better with cities and give them more funding.

When asked for his thoughts on Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu’s choice to raise the issue of marijuana law reforms (Chiu being against any) at the opening of his campaign office, Peschisolido responded that he was “surprised that the most important issue for Stephen Harper’s representative here in Steveston-Richmond East is marijuana.”

The Liberals want to decriminalize and regulate the drug “and ensure it doesn’t get into the hands of children,” said Peschisolido.

Notably, Chiu was the president of Richmond’s Canadian Alliance riding association when Peschisolido crossed the House floor in 2002 to join the Liberals.

Peschisolido was acclaimed the Liberal candidate last month after Yuan, a former Liberal candidate in Vancouver, failed to pass the vetting process. Yuan blamed her failed bid on internal politics and the riding asociation executive team quit.

Peschisolido last ran for the Liberals in Richmond in 2011, garnering 19 per cent of the vote to Conservative MP Alice Wong’s 58 per cent.

@WestcoastWood

gwood@richmond-news.com