By Mark Squibb/September 9, 2021
You can usually find Lainie Stewart and her daughter Georgia Faith Stewart at their family run bakery, Sugar Mamas on Elizabeth Avenue in St. John’s, perhaps kneading dough or icing cupcakes.
However, over the next couple of weeks, you might also run into them on the campaign trail.
That’s because both mother and daughter are running for the Peoples Party of Canada (PPC), Lainie in the Avalon riding, and Georgia in St. John’s South—Mount Pearl.
“They said some things that I agree with 100 percent,” said Lainie. “And we were watching the Mount Pearl area, where we both live, and at the time the only people that were going to be on the ballot were NDP and Liberal. So, there weren’t a whole lot of options, and neither were representing what I was interested in.”
And so, mother and daughter kept waiting for a candidate to come forward. And kept waiting. And waiting.
“It came down to the crunch, and nobody was coming forward. It didn’t look like anybody was coming, so I said to Georgia, ‘If you don’t do it, I’m going to do it,’” said Lainie.
The two talked it over and Georgia put her name forward as the candidate for St. John’s South—Mount Pearl. Shortly after, Lainie put her name forward as the PPC candidate for Avalon.
The Party, formed by former Conservative Party leadership aspirant Maxime Bernier in 2018, is still a relative newcomer to the Canadian political landscape, and no PPC candidates, including Bernier himself, were elected in the 2019 election.
Lainie, however, thinks folks tired of the age-old exchange of power between Liberals and Conservatives might be willing to give the party a chance.
“I think that if anytime, this is it,” said Lainie. “And we need something new, because look at where we are.”
Georgia pointed out almost every riding across the country has a PPC candidate.
“I think people are starting to wake up a little more and recognize that this is something for all of us,” she said.
However, not everyone is quite ready to jump aboard the PPC train.
The party’s emphasis on freedom of expression has been interpreted by some as harmful to the LGBTQ community, while others have decried the party’s plans to reduce immigration levels and repeal the Multiculturalism Act while eliminating all funding to promote multiculturalism.
Since the Stewarts announced their candidacies, some folks on social media have vowed to never eat another Sugar Mama’s cupcake again, while others have left negative customer reviews on the sweet shop’s business pages.
The two say they are not deterred.
“There’s obviously been a lot of bashing towards us specifically and the businesses because of our political views,” said Georgia. “But if people started to watch the videos and research the party, they would see that its’s not what the mainstream media is pushing. The PPC is so much more that what is being put about it on facebook, for instance. And every time we’ve gone door-to-door, we’ve explained that to people. And at the beginning of the conversation, people are very resistant to what you have to say, and we’ve had doors shut in our faces. But I’ve had some really good conversations, so that by the end of it, people say, ‘Wow, I did not realize all of this. I’m going to go look it up right now.’ So, with all the backlash, there have been so many people who have come forward and thank us for what we’re doing. They’ve said that we’re giving everyone who didn’t have a voice, a voice.”
As to Bernier’s vow to cut immigration levels from 350,000 to between 100,000 and 150,000 annually, Lainie says it’s economically, not racially, motivated.
“We’ve received some flack about that,” said Lainie “But as a parent, you don’t bring more children in if you can’t afford to feed the ones that you have.”
Accusations of homophobia or discrimination are unfounded they say.
“We’re not ‘anti-anything,’ we’re literally for the people,” said Georgia. “We’re trying to protect everyone’s rights. It doesn’t matter your gender, sexual orientation, anything like that.”
One such right, Georgia said, is the right to choose whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The PPC promises to oppose vaccine mandates and passports and repeal those already in place.
“They’re really fighting for everyone’s freedoms,” said Georgia. “With everything up in the air with talks of a vaccine passport and everything, they are all about defending the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And having those freedoms taken away from you is a scary thought for a lot of us.”
Promoting small businesses, supporting the oil and gas sector, and fighting for indigenous rights, including access to clean drinking water, are all high on their priority list, the pair say.
“I’m tired, and that’s the only reason that I’m doing this — because really, I’d just like to bake cakes,” Lainie summarized.