You might not care about politics, but politics cares about you.
- Daniel Fontaine
INTO the election fray at last.
A canvass around North Vancouver this past week indicates it's apparent that many of us are now searching for a new place to bank our vote after what feels like a generation in power by the B.C. Liberals. Similar to the end of the Trudeau, Mulroney and Chretien eras federally, there's a strong sense of "it's time to get the bums out" provincially.
But it's never quite that easy. It's reminiscent of 1972 when the old Socreds under WAC Bennett staggered out of gas and ideas after an epic reign.
As Rod Mickleburgh and Geoff Meggs recount in their recent book The Art of the Impossible, that's what brought Dave Barrett into office in 1972. Oddly enough, B.C. elections used to have a pretty wide swatch of alternatives to choose from: remember Dr. Scott Wallace and the Progressive Conservatives? Pat McGeer, Allan Williams, Garde Gardom, Russ Fraser and the old B.C. Liberals? All worthy choices - plus the usual minority interests. That was in addition to the Socreds and NDP.
In North Vancouver-Seymour, we've suddenly got the most talented range of candidates to choose from provincially in more than a quarter-century. Clearly, this rapidly growing area has become worth fighting over.
Incumbent MLAs always have an edge, but Liberal Jane Thornthwaite faces character issues after a run-in with the law during her term, and the contenders to replace her are convincing, committed and attractive. It should be a real scrap. Thornthwaite's office is at 1233 Lynn Valley Road.
Jim Hanson heads the pack. A lawyer with Blueridge neighbours and two teens at Windsor secondary, he's been working hard in the background for months. Expect him to do well. Seymour has never had an NDP challenger of his ability, organizational savvy, and local street-smarts before. Hanson dresses sharp and reminds you a little of Andrew Saxton, the federal Conservative MP here. That could make a lot of seniors feel more comfortable. He's fit - a marathoner - intelligent, and has an easygoing disposition. He'd have clout in an NDP government - an appealing proposition in a riding that for too long has been taken for granted as a safe, reliable backwater by the Liberals. His campaign office is on Deep Cove in the old church down from The Raven and there was good opening-day energy there last Sunday. Locals were writing out cheques for this guy - always a positive sign for a candidate.
For those fed up with the Liberals but who can't go NDP, there's likeable Jaime Webbe. Running as an Independent, she packs an impressive resume - seven years working at the U.N. in New York and experience with World Bank-sponsored environmental projects in the developing world. A trained geographer, she's a bright newcomer on the scene. A resident of Woodlands on Burrard Inlet, Webbe grew up in Dollarton and knows the riding well. She's a mum with youngsters, keeps herself in shape, and at her campaign launch, family and friends from the area were looking out for her. That's a good start. You'd think her a natural Green, but she's insistent on voting her conscience, not towing a pre-ordained line. Webbe makes a refreshing, realistic alternative for voters with gender and eco-sustainability preferences. Her office is beside Deep Cove Music, corner of Deep Cove Road and Seymour Parkway.
More than a few neighbours at Parkgate and in Deep Cove have asked about the B.C. Conservatives. Brian Wilson is carrying their banner.
The Garson Graham grad has regional executive experience with the party, is a local business owner, has helped raise four kids, and is a member of numerous North Vancouver community organizations, so he's assured of an audience for the B.C.
Conservative fiscal message - a party again trending upward in the polls. Wilson says he's always been a Conservative and believes that B.C. needs a significant change in direction and leadership. He's another contender from Blueridge.
At time of writing the Green party has yet to announce a candidate.
Stay tuned for opportunities to see all of them in action at all-candidates debates. The big televised leaders debate is set for Monday, April 29 at 6: 30 p.m. All local stations and CKNW radio will broadcast. We haven't seen an important provincial debate of this kind since Gordon Wilson body-checked his way to short-lived fame back in 1991.
Why should you care? The gap between rich and poor in Metro Vancouver is growing disturbingly wide.
British Columbia's middle class is seeing itself being outsourced, privatized, under-cut by cheap imported foreign workers - it's getting ugly out there. Corporate greed-head land developers are leading politicians and bureaucrats by the nose. Ask your grown kids living downtown in scandalously overpriced, undersized apartments and condos if the Stanley Cup Riot was just about hockey.
Or if the anti-gentrification attacks on shop windows in East Van is simply attention-seeking behaviour. It's the B.C. Liberals who've been calling the political shots for the past decade during all this and more - a run going further back than the B.C. Rail sale deal that still stinks to heaven.
This election is your personal chance to do something about the train-wreck in our provincial political leadership. Make the effort to learn from your local candidates what they will commit to do on key social, economic and environmental issues like coastal oil tankers, absentee foreign ownership of residential properties, encroaching private health care, funding for the arts, our disappearing old-growth forests, endangered species, wild salmon, B.C.'s precious Agricultural Land Reserve, fracking in the Natural Gas Patch up north, pipelines and pesticides.
Critically, find out where they stand on the obscene Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, or FIPA, that Stephen Harper's feds are prepared to ratify in selling out Canadian economic sovereignty to China. Guaranteed for 31 years and unable to be repealed by future governments, the treaty is subject to unlimited compensation costs determined by secret courts if the Chinese feel hard done by, and is not subject to parliamentary debate. But provinces can stop this. Ask candidates what they think of this shameful, one-sided deal that will sacrifice Canada's future for the benefit of China's business oligarchy and Mr. Harper's corporate business fans. Is this good news for B.C. and North Vancouver, or will it leave us screaming in our sleep?
Meanwhile, if you can get past the sleazy attack ads that Christy Clark's desperate Liberals are using to run down Adrian Dix, the words of the prophet are written on the subway walls. Paul Simon told us that. You'll find 'em plastered right there beneath photos of the real poster kids for the B.C. Liberals in this election - Dave Basi and Bob Virk. Do we really want more of that?
The issues requiring critical attention in B.C. are stacking up like box-cars. Do the right thing. Study up on who'll really help bring the change that's needed.
You can help resolve the chaos. PoeticLicence.NS@gmail.com
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