Andrew Scheer is the 3rd party leader to visit Nanaimo during this byelection campaign. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party leader Elizabeth May have also joined local candidates on previous weekends. According to Scheer, the Conservatives see the Nanaimo-Ladysmith by-election as a way to gauge how voters feel about what’s happening in Ottawa right now, just months prior to this fall’s general election. “It’s a great opportunity for voters in this riding to send a message that they’re not happy with the scandal, they’re not happy with the tax increases, the fact that this Liberal government isn’t supporting things like affordability, not providing solutions that actually benefit people’s lives,” said Scheer. Conservative MP James Lunny won the Nanaimo-Alberni seat for several consecutive terms and the NDP held the Nanaimo-Cowichan seat for most of the last several decades. When those ridings became Nanaimo-Ladysmith in 2015, it was Sheila Malcolmson of the NDP who won. The Liberal party has not won a federal Nanaimo seat since the 1940s. Traditionally, the NDP is the bigger threat.“When we see them (NDP) supporting a lot of the same policies that the Liberals are putting forward, I think the choice here really is to show that contrast, to send that message to this Liberal government and the best option is the Conservative Party,” added Scheer. Scheer and local candidate John Hirst addressed a crowd of about 50 people at a local rally Sunday and spent part of the day knocking on doors in a local neighbourhood. The 32-year-old Hirst, a father of two, was born and raised in Nanaimo and is an associate manager with Sun Life Financial. “Affordability is an issue we know in our community, you know lack of opportunity which I believe a strong Conservative government can provide,” said Hirst. “We’re hearing frustration at the lack of opportunity, the lack of investment and I believe with a seat at the table with the Conservative government this fall it’s something we can deliver on for Nanaimo-Ladysmith,” added Hirst. The by-election is May 6.