FINDING its way on to several "ridings to watch" lists, North Vancouver-Lonsdale is expected to be a hard fought-race.
B.C. Liberal Naomi Yamamoto won the riding in 2009 with 10,323 votes, compared to New Democrat candidate Janice Harris's 7,789, Green Party of B.C.'s Michelle Corcos who received 1,791, and B.C. Conservative's Ian McLeod who netted 862.
In the 2009 B.C. general election, 55.1 per cent of the riding's 38,088 registered voters cast ballots. The riding's population as of the 2011 census was 57,090.
Of the four seats in the legislature reserved for North Shore candidates, North Vancouver-Lonsdale is the only riding that has been held by a non-B.C. Liberal in the last 20 years. With the NDP polling ahead of the Liberals by 10 to 15 points provincially this month, it is by no means a safe seat.
Yamamoto faces high-profile NDP challenger Craig Keating, as well as Conservative Jeff Sprague, who may siphon off right-wing votes. With Green and Communist names on the ballot, the 12-per cent advantage Yamamoto won the riding by in 2009 might not be enough. The riding went to the NDP in 1991 when David Schreck won the seat by fewer than 500 votes. Perhaps it will boil down to whether Yamamoto's personal popularity trumps dissatisfactions with her party in general and Premier Christy Clark in particular.
The riding's population is comparatively younger and more blue collar than its North Shore neighbours. The riding is home to an extremely active and growing industrial waterfront, Lions Gate Hospital, and the bulk of the North Shore's retail sector.
Average before-tax household income (2005 census is the most recent available) is $62,334, which is slightly below the provincial average of $67,675.
The percentage of those renting their homes is 44 per cent, well above the provincial average of 30 per cent.
As of Thursday April 18, the following people have declared their candidacy in North Vancouver-Lonsdale. These are their responses to the question: "Why are you running?" printed in the order in which they were received.
Kimbal Cariou Communist Party of B.C.
"I'm running to provide a more radical alternative in terms of social and economic policies for working-class people in this riding and for British Columbians.
"I believe that we need candidates who will demand that all of the Liberal tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations get rolled back. That would give us in the neighbourhood of $2 billion per year in this province to spend on improving public education and restoring the cuts to public schools that the Liberals have forced. It would allow for a 50-per cent increase in the social assistance rates, which is badly needed. It would help improve the healthcare system.
"I'm also a candidate who stands for greater public ownership and control of the resource wealth of British Columbia - protection of forestry and raw log exports. (The party) is opposed to expansion of more pipelines across British Columbia, especially the pipelines that are carrying tar sands from Alberta to the West Coast. We want to protect the environment rather than expand corporate profits."
Ryan Conroy Green Party of B.C.
"Personally, I think the biggest problem we have in B.C. politics is not a matter of ideology or anything like that, but our political system - especially the party system. As a Green, we don't have a party whip, which would allow me to represent the citizens of North Vancouver. That's what I can offer and it's the same reason why I'm running.
"It's not that I think every idea the other parties have is a problem. The problem is that we have a very conflict-and ideological-based system in B.C. with the two parties. We need a third voice in the legislature. That's why I'm running and supporting independent MLAs in other ridings where there are no Greens.
"In some ways, those factors have played out locally. With the recent redevelopment of Low Level Road for Port (Metro) Vancouver, with the conflict between parties, I think there was not a lot of foresight in the negotiations there. I don't think that local interests were looked out for.
"If we're allowing railroads to expand onto public lands, we should be looking for access for public transit in the future anytime we're negotiating those things."
Naomi Yamamoto B.C. Liberal Party
"I love North Vancouver. It's been my home for more than 40 years. I want to keep building on our successes so our kids can live, work and play in the best province in Canada.
"This election is a choice between controlling government spending and growing the economy, or growing government and increasing taxes.
"We live in a community that has a great balance of business, industry and residents. We are small business and we are big business. We care about our environment, the arts and clean energy. We have great schools and we care about those in need. We live in a safe and caring community and I want to work to keep it that way. It doesn't happen without a vision and a plan.
"Without economic growth we can't afford to invest in things we care about. That's why I'm running for re-election. I want to protect our accomplishments and build a better future. We've shown we can do that. The NDP never have.
"I want to make sure we don't leave our kids with a debt hanging over their heads. I want to work towards a debt-free B.C."
Craig Keating B.C. New Democratic Party
"During my five terms on city council, it has been an honour to work with different groups in our community to develop projects and provide programs that people in our community not only enjoy, but depend upon: a new library, recreation centre, affordable housing initiatives, child care, and a new women's centre to name a few. We have kept taxes low, financial reserves strong, and our climate for economic development and investment vibrant.
"I'm running in the provincial election because we need to introduce change in North Vancouver-Lonsdale, one practical step at a time. We've seen our community impacted by cuts to the services we all depend on.
"One practical step I am particularly proud of is the NDP's commitment to increase the film tax credit and keep good, family-supporting jobs here in North Vancouver.
"By investing in skills training and education we can provide the people with the skills training B.C. business needs to be competitive in the global economy. This will give people the tools they need to maintain strong family-supporting jobs on the North Shore.
I'm running because North Vancouver needs an MLA in government with a proven record of supporting positive, practical change for the better."
Jeff Sprague B.C. Conservatives
Sprague did not respond by the North Shore News' press deadline.
© Copyright 2013