Niagara West federal Liberal candidate Ian Bingham, with his wife and campaign manager Abigail. BERNIE PUCHALSKI

In the 2019 federal election, Conservative Dean Allison won the Niagara West riding with 24,447 votes, followed by Liberal Ian Bingham (17,429), the NDP’s Nahmeer Rahman (6,540) and the Green’s Terry Teather (3,620).

Bingham, a Grimsby-based defence lawyer, is back in 2021 to take another crack at knocking off the incumbent, who has ruled the roost since 2004.

“I wasn’t that far off, and my angle in this election is if we can unite the left-leaning people, we would easily overwhelm the Conservative vote. I am hoping that many of your readers consider that if they are NDP or Green voters, to consider throwing in with me so we have a change in the riding.”

That approach is different from 2019.

“The last election I thought it was about beating the Conservative vote but what I have learned that it is better to unite those with common values,” the 31-year-old Lindsay native said.

Bingham believes that lack of unification has hurt the Niagara riding at both the federal and provincial level.

“Principally what people want to see here is not being represented by Sam Oosterhoff and Dean Allison, who hold anti-feminist views and who are not advocating for the majority of people here,” he said. “And so when we go to the House of Commons, the voice of this riding is denying climate change, is minimizing women’s rights and talking about cuts to families. There’s a lot of families coming in here. Not only do we need to get out of the trench, we need to be uplifted on to the mountain through [Liberal platforms].”

What people want to see here is not being represented by Sam Oosterhoff and Dean Allison, who hold anti-feminist views and who are not advocating for the majority of people here

He believes most people in Niagara think alike.

“Another thing I learned during the last election is that we all share common values — Conservative, Liberal, NDP, it doesn’t matter — but we are worried about families, our future, the economy and the climate. It is important to focus on values rather than what divides us.”

Bingham urges Niagara West residents to vote for him because he believes he will serve the best interests of the riding, using his progressive values as a liberal candidate and his individual background of defending and fighting for people’s rights for the last decade.

“It is something I enjoy doing, it is something I am good at doing, and currently the representation in this riding, in my opinion, is not fighting for the best interests of the riding,” he said. “The last bill Mr. Allison tried to put forward was in 2008, and he hasn’t done anything since. That’s not fair for the people here, that’s not good government and I will try to benefit you and your family.”

Bingham is proud of the Liberal’s platform in this election and the accomplishments of the party as well.

“Liberals aren’t good at lauding their own accomplishments but I look back from 2015 until now and there has been a price put on pollution, the Canada Child Benefit has raised close to 500,000 children out of poverty, and there’s been seniors benefits,” he said. “Looking to the future, the fight against climate change still goes on — we saw how hot it was last week and even non-believers are starting to wake up — and Liberals have a plan to be at [net zero emissions by 2050] and we are on track for it. Ten dollars a day daycare is a huge deal and when Quebec got it it was a massive boost to their economy.”

Bingham also believes the Liberal proposal to hire 50,000 personal support workers is desperately needed because he feels the senior population in Niagara is going to be facing a crisis in ten years.

He has a number of Niagara-specific issues he wants to deal with.

“I want to bring to this riding better transit because there’s lots of congestion and seniors often don’t have the luxury of driving. Where are the buses, where are the trains and where are the green ways of getting around? I would try to bring that here.”

In Beamsville and Pelham, there are concerns with the light and odour emissions coming from cannabis greenhouses.

“I know it was the Liberals who brought that in and I understand that. I feel I would be responsible to go to Health Canada, a federal agency, and say there needs to be regulations on smell, light emission and proximity to residential buildings and put it through the House of Commons,” Bingham said. “We can’t be the only riding that thinks that.”

Like their Canadians counterparts, there is a lot of concern from Niagara residents about the environment and not having Niagara turn into a metropolis.

“People in Grimsby don’t want the shoreline built up, people in Pelham don’t want the urban sprawl so controlling that can be done through better planning and it links back to transit. Urban buildup happens where there is access to roads.”

There is a common theme present among the voters Bingham has met.

“The mood is generally positive and I think people know that I am on their side and they recognize me from the last campaign,” he said. “The thing I get asked a lot is why is there an election now. The simple answer is there is business to be done, we have to develop policy for kids, our future and our country and the minority government was being stymied by other parties.”

Bingham also hears a lot of the comments about people wanting him to win but that Niagara West is a “Conservative riding.”

“I tell them the same thing that I told you, which is there’s 30,000 people who are left and only 24,000 who are right, plus a big influx of new people coming in.”

After knocking on some 20,000 doors in the last two elections, he feels the biggest issues facing Canada right now are the environment, healthcare for seniors— which has been thrust in the spotlight by the Covid-19 pandemic—and the economy, with worries about the debt and being budget-conscious.

“I see a country kind of like a family—money comes in and money goes out. What is money going out for in Canada? In my line of work, I see a lot of people in the justice system, health system and welfare system and that’s where our money goes. Any legislation that prevents people from landing in those systems instead of being productive workers, that is what will make the economy strong.”

He suggests the Liberal policies that support daycare, mental health and aid for indigenous people and veterans give them a hand up will strengthen the economy.

He has taken an amiable approach to campaigning.

“It is the way I present myself in court. I try to stick to the facts…if I attack another party it is going to be for their policies and not the person. I know, or know of, all the candidates who are running, and I quite like them as people.”

If I attack another party it is going to be for their policies and not the person

Bingham’s daily schedule during the election involves working his job during the day and then campaigning afterwards.

“I still have my day job and my trials that I can’t get out of and after that, from 4:30 onwards, I am knocking on doors or I am doing debates or we have some events. I do that until it gets dark.”

His decision to run for political office came when he returned from the Middle East after serving with the Operation ARTEMIS Canadian Task Force 15, dealing with counter-terrorism in the region.

“It was an interesting experience out there because Canadians are well-respected on the world stage and we have a great reputation in peacekeeping,” he said. “There’s a lot of countries a lot less lucky than we are and I came back and recognized that the things we can change here we should because we lead the world by example.”

He decided to move to Niagara about nine years ago when his sister Kathleen, a family lawyer, moved to Grimsby. Bingham followed shortly afterwards along with his parents, Lee and Maria Bingham. He lives in Grimsby with his wife, Abigail, who acts as his campaign manager.