THE eastern-most riding on the North Shore has been about as safe a seat as they come for the B.C. Liberals.
The party has taken the seat with at least 50 per cent of the popular vote in every election since 1991, including incumbent candidate Jane Thornthwaite who won easily with 59 per cent of the vote in 2009. Prior to falling into Liberal hands, the North Vancouver-Seymour was solid Social Credit territory.
But NDP challenger Jim Hanson is creating buzz, and the semi-revived B.C. Conservatives are fielding candidate Brian Wilson. This is also the first time in 20 years there is no Green Party candidate on the ballot while independent runner Jaime Webbe represents a new and unknowable force that could make a real difference when the polls close.
In short, the otherwise safe seat could be a close race this time around.
The riding of 51,685 is home to a well-to-do population with an average household income of $97,584, compared to the provincial average of $67,675, according to the 2006 census. At $681,219, the average home costs about one-third more than the provincial average and only 19 per cent of dwellings are rented, compared to the provincial average of 30 per cent.
North Vancouver contains some heavy industry on the waterfront and light industry off Dollarton Highway, but the vast majority of residents are white collar. The riding is also home to Capilano University.
The riding had a 61-per cent turnout for the 2009 election.
The riding has four declared candidates. The following are their responses to the question "Why are you running?" printed in the order in which they were received.
Jaime Webbe, Independent
"I'm running because I think a number of bad habits have developed in Victoria. Current politics is running more along the interests of the NDP and the Liberals and less aligned with the interest of British Columbians. I want to demonstrate that there is another choice - a choice that can be impartial, that can make decisions based on what's best for the riding and what's best for B.C., and not have to weigh that against what's best for the party. I want to make sure that constituents are able to get an open, honest accounting of what's going on in Victoria. I want to show what can be achieved when the dialogue between MLAs and constituents is a strong, two-way floor. I want to give the people of North Vancouver-Seymour a stronger voice in some of the key issues in the province, including economic development, the environment, the funding and allocation of resources to our schools, and to disabled persons and seniors who are currently being underserviced.
"I've worked for the last 10 years for the World Bank and the United Nations environment program. I'm looking forward to bringing the expertise I have on environmental issues and climate change to the legislature."
Brian Wilson, B.C. Conservatives
"I'm not running because I'm looking for some paycheque or pension. I'm not running because I'm seeking the limelight or some other celebrity status and I'm not running for an ego trip or anything like. I'm not running so I can get my nose into the public trough.
"I'm a hard-working guy. I'm a small businessman. I know what it's like to have to make payroll. I know what it's like to pay my employees before I pay myself. I think, out of all the candidates, I'm the only one who can say that.
"I've got a family. I'm sick of the waste and the incompetence and the bureaucracy I see in Victoria, and I figure somebody's got to stand up and try and change things. That's why (I'm running).
"It's definitely time for a change and a breath of fresh air. We need some common sense in Victoria. We can't revert back to the '90s with the NDP driving us back to have-not status and the Liberals have had plenty of time to foul things up and they've done a good job of it."
Jim Hanson, B.C. New Democratic Party
"I am running as the B.C. NDP candidate in North Vancouver-Seymour because I know that we can do better. We can have a more environmentally sensitive, socially conscious and economically prudent provincial government.
"I was born in Lions Gate Hospital in 1961 and raised in North Vancouver-Seymour. Ruth and I have brought up our two children in Blueridge. My spouse Ruth is a Realtor in North Vancouver. My parents live on the North Shore. I have been a self-employed lawyer for 28 years. I believe my background as a lawyer, as a businessman and as a father have equipped me to make a contribution in government.
"I believe it is imperative that we find the right balance. I remember the natural beauty of the North Shore when I was a child. I do not want anything less for our children or our grandchildren. I oppose any initiative that will transform the Port of Vancouver into a major oil sands export facility. We need to preserve our community and find environmentally sustainable means of growth and prosperity. I look forward to being a strong voice for North Vancouver-Seymour in a new and better provincial government."
Jane Thornthwaite, B.C. Liberals
"I love my job and I want to continue doing my job to help the people of North Vancouver-Seymour.
"I had a career in dietetics for 25 years and I am the proud mother of three children, one of whom is a student is at Windsor secondary. That's the reason why I initially made my entry into politics - because I've always been passionate about my children's education and I felt I could do more. In 2005, I was elected to the North Van school board. When I wanted to make a greater difference for my community, I decided to enter provincial politics and have been the MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour for the past four years.
"I want to ensure that the economy remains strong, the number of jobs available to our children continues to grow. That is best achieved when taxes remain low, the government's finances are well-managed and economic development is a high priority. I believe that one of society's highest responsibilities is to provide a quality education system for our children and we need to ensure they have meaningful employment right here in B.C.
"We need more innovative solutions to protecting our environment in North Vancouver and province-wide."
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