The Straight Slate for the 2013 B.C. provincial election: Candidate picks
Party leaders have received most of the attention in the provincial election campaign, but as the Straight Slate reveals, there are some outstanding candidates who have flown under the media’s radar.
George Heyman (NDP)
Heyman, on leave as executive director of the Sierra Club of B.C., has been endorsed by a bevy of environmentalists, including Joy Foy, Kevin Washbrook, Ben West, and Tzeporah Berman. His B.C. Liberal opponent, Margaret MacDiarmid, played a key role in reducing funding to the Therapeutics Initiative. Vancouver-Fairview is full of environmentally minded voters who would feel comfortable with Heyman as their MLA. He demonstrated independence by speaking out against fracking, and he was a strong representative of public-sector workers during his many years as president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
Daniel Tseghay (Green)
Tseghay, a writer who has contributed to the Georgia Straight, has focused on B.C. coal exports, the Idle No More movement, temporary foreign workers, and the enormous gap between rich and poor. These issues have escaped the attention of the other candidates in his constituency. Tseghay, a voracious reader, came to Canada with his Eritrean parents as refugees when he was three years old. He has great empathy for other immigrants, making him well-suited to serve as MLA for this constituency.
Gabriel Yiu (NDP)
The B.C. Liberals have elected three MLAs in Vancouver-Fraserview who didn’t live in the constituency. The latest parachute candidate, former city councillor and long-time Kerrisdale resident Suzanne Anton, received her B.C. Liberal nod as a consolation prize after losing in Vancouver-Quilchena. Yiu, a Vancouver-Fraserview resident, helped defeat the harmonized sales tax. He’s a strong supporter of the arts, owns florist shops, and writes devastating commentaries about B.C. Liberal government financial mismanagement, which are published in Chinese-language newspapers and on Straight.com. The B.C. Liberals cheated in the last election by exceeding their spending limit in Vancouver-Fraserview.
Shane Simpson (NDP)
Some on the left criticize Simpson for being too cautious, but there’s no disputing his intellect. No matter what the subject—B.C. Hydro, housing, the history of Hastings Park, or climate change—he’s invariably well informed. He understands child poverty from experience and advanced a private member’s bill on this issue. Simpson also has a good relationship with businesses in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood. He's been elected caucus chair by his peers, which demonstrates that he has their respect.
Mable Elmore (NDP)
A former transit operator and antiwar activist, Elmore became the first B.C. MLA of Philippine descent in 2009. She’s an effective community organizer, battling for temporary foreign workers’ rights and increasing Filipino Canadians’ engagement in provincial issues. Some in the Filipino community are unhappy that one of their own, Gabby Kalaw, is running against her. The B.C. Liberals are clearly concerned about Elmore’s impact beyond the boundaries of her constituency.
Adrian Dix (NDP)
Unlike the premier, Dix demonstrated respect for people in his district by showing up at a local candidates debate. He is also a student of diversity, working hard to grasp the nuances of the local Vietnamese, Filipino, South Asian, and Chinese communities in his constituency. This has helped the NDP make great strides in appealing to new Canadians, which should serve the party well on election day.
George Chow (NDP)
Chow, a two-term Vision Vancouver city councillor, tells the truth and has never been afraid to listen to what people tell him—even when he’s coming under criticism. He’s running in one of the city’s more conservative constituencies with a substantial population of people for whom Chinese is their first language. If he gets elected, don’t expect Chow to rock the boat too much, but his voice will be respected within caucus by his peers. His chief opponent is Dr. Moira Stilwell, who ran for leader of the B.C. Liberals in 2011. During that campaign, she stressed the importance of beginning a conversation about the role of private health care within the public system, causing concern among some defenders of medicare.
Jenny Kwan (NDP)
Vancouver–Mount Pleasant, which includes the Downtown Eastside and Commercial Drive, needs a member on the government side of the house to ensure that the province’s poorest residents have a voice. As the Straight went to press, it looked like the NDP would win on May 14. Kwan, one of only two women on the NDP’s slate of 11 Vancouver candidates, is tough enough to stand up to the centrist-thinking big boys in the party, including president Moe Sihota, whose influence looms large. As activists on the outside push a future NDP government to narrow the gap between rich and poor and curtail the war on drugs, Kwan will be waging the same battles within caucus.
David Eby (NDP)
In the movie It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey gets to see what his town would look like had he never existed. If Eby, a courageous and brilliant civil-rights lawyer, had chosen to live in another province, B.C. would not have an independent office of civilians investigating deaths involving police. There would be far less awareness of RCMP mistreatment of aboriginal people in northern B.C. Poor residents in the Downtown Eastside would have had less justice. And the provincial New Democrats wouldn’t be nearly as environmentally minded. Eby has often been spotted riding a bicycle around town, proving that his actions match his words.
Nicholas Scapillati (NDP) or Damian Kettlewell (Green)
The B.C. Liberals are running one of their top candidates in this wealthy riding: former B.C. Civil Liberties Association president Andrew Wilkinson, a downtown Vancouver litigator who often acts for corporations. He also has a medical degree. This is where the Greens and NDP should have joined forces. But they didn’t, so voters have two super-green candidates. Scapillati has an impressive background as an author, environmental researcher, supporter of food security, and defender of farmland. Kettlewell, a business-oriented Green candidate, has a keen intellect, sharp marketing skills, and an understanding that incrementalism isn’t going to stave off a climate catastrophe.
Spencer Chandra Herbert (NDP)
Chandra Herbert is one of the party’s most popular MLAs, demonstrating more media savvy than politicians who are 20 or 30 years older than him. He’s also a great constituency politician. His chief opponent is Jodie Emery of the Greens, who continues to prod the NDP to speak against cannabis prohibition and on behalf of medical-marijuana users.
Craig Keating (NDP)
A five-term city councillor, Keating helped make the City of North Vancouver one of Canada’s greenest municipal governments. He’s also knowledgeable about the best approaches for dealing with drug addiction, including harm reduction. As a history professor at Langara, he has deep insights into postsecondary education.
Jaime Webbe (Independent)
Webbe has a keen desire to restore integrity to the political process. She’s an expert on climate change who has worked with the World Bank and the United Nations. And she’s an articulate proponent of why B.C. would benefit from having a minority government.
Michael Markwick (Independent)
Markwick teaches in the Capilano University school of communications and is a specialist in diversity issues. He’s also a progressive supporter of the arts and achieved a doctorate “with distinction” for his examination of the impact of the war on terror on democratic discourse.
West Vancouver–Sea to Sky
Ana Santos (NDP)
Pemberton mayor and farmer Jordan Sturdy is probably a shoo-in for the B.C. Liberals. Santos, who hails from Spain, was founder of the Squamish Climate Action Network and was selected as the most ecoconscious person in her town in 2010 and 2011.
Judy Darcy (NDP)
The former national president of CUPE has been a consistent and leading defender of public health care. As a union leader, she helped launch court action that led to survivor benefits going to same-sex partners.
Kathy Corrigan (NDP)
A trained lawyer, former school trustee, and former CUPE researcher, Corrigan is extremely knowledgeable about a wide range of public policies. Before getting elected to the legislature in 2009, she was one of B.C.’s most effective critics of public-private partnerships.
Raj Chouhan (NDP)
Chouhan, a founder of the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism, has spent much of his life opposing discrimination. This makes this two-term MLA an ideal representative for one of B.C.’s most diverse constituencies.
Jane Shin (NDP)
Shin, who moved to Canada from South Korea as a child, has come under waves of criticism from the B.C. Liberals for calling herself a doctor, even though she graduated from medical school. She’s an articulate, caring, and hard-working candidate who will probably be a far better representative than the soon-to-retire B.C. Liberal incumbent, the hapless Harry Bloy.
Janet Routledge (NDP)
Routledge is progressive and democratically inclined. She fought against the harmonized sales tax in Burnaby and wrote a master’s thesis examining why the white working class voted for Sarah Palin.
Michael Wolfe (Green)
Wolfe, a teacher, has fought hard to preserve farmland in Richmond. He’s not someone who gets involved in political issues only after the writ is dropped.
Gian Sihota (NDP)
A retired bus driver, Sihota has gone on record opposing a new bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel. If elected, he would be a strong advocate for public transit.
Scott Stewart (NDP)
Stewart, a retired New Westminster police officer and education advocate, is the only candidate with a chance of defeating B.C. Liberal incumbent John Yap. And Yap should be defeated for his role in the B.C. Liberals’ disgraceful quick-win strategy, which relied on government resources to advance the party’s electoral prospects.