NDP won't give Gabriel Yiu "shortcut" nomination in Vancouver-Fraserview
Gabriel Yiu reluctantly admits that he’s "a little disappointed" that NDP officials in Vancouver-Fraserview have denied him the privilege of being acclaimed as the party’s candidate in the next provincial election.
The Chinese media commentator lost to B.C. Liberal star candidate Kash Heed in the 2009 election. Heed was later hounded by investigations into the conduct of his campaign, particularly the printing and distribution of unauthorized pamphlets.
Last month, special prosecutor Peter Wilson cleared Heed of allegations of wrongdoing but approved criminal charges against two individuals, one of whom was the former police officer’s campaign manager.
"I’m in no rush," Yiu responded when asked by the Georgia Straight in a phone interview about his plans. The floral entrepreneur has a few options. He can either fight a nomination battle, run as an independent, or just stay away from provincial politics.
Ian Mass, president of the NDP’s Vancouver-Fraserview constituency association, confirmed that a candidate-search committee has been formed by the group.
"If other candidates throw their hats in the ring, and we’ve certainly had interest, then they’ve got the right to organize and be part of the nomination meeting," Mass told the Straight in a phone interview. "We believe that Gabriel was cheated out of the last election but that doesn’t mean that we will shortcut our democratic nomination process."
Mass noted that "at least two" other individuals have indicated that they want to run as the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview.
"We’ve contacted a number of elected and nonelected folks, so we’ve cast the net fairly wide, which was not an indication to Gabriel that we didn’t have confidence in his candidacy," Mass said. "It’s just that we felt that that would be the obligation of the constituency association to do that, and present the members with the best potential candidate or candidates."
Vision Vancouver councillors Raymond Louie and Kerry Jang told the Straight on separate occasions that they’re not interested in running in Vancouver-Fraserview.
But another elected Vision municipal politician may make a run for it. Park board commissioner Raj Hundal told the Straight in a phone interview that he has been "approached by residents in the neighbourhood if I would be interested".
"I haven’t decided yet," added Hundal, who was a key lieutenant of Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix in the latter’s successful campaign for the leadership of the NDP.
Yiu, on the other hand, is associated with NDP stalwart and Vancouver–Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan, who supported Dix’s rival, Mike Farnworth, in the leadership race.
According to Mass, Vancouver-Fraserview is a "barometer riding" that reflects the strength of a governing party.
The electoral district was won by New Democrats Bernie Simpson and Ian Waddell in the 1991 and 1996 elections, in which the NDP won successive governments.
The NDP lost the riding to Ken Johnston in the 2001 election that was dominated by the B.C. Liberal Party. It has since remained in B.C. Liberal hands, with Heed being preceded by Wally Oppal, winner of the 2005 election.
According to 2006 Census data cited by B.C. Stats, visible minorities comprise 75 percent of the 56,660 population of Vancouver-Fraserview. Predominant among the "minorities" are people of Chinese descent.
Either or both of Yiu and Hundal could find stiff competition from Meena Wong, who placed third in Vancouver South in the May 2 federal election. The federal riding covers the Vancouver-Fraserview district.
Fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, Wong finished behind winner Wai Young of the Conservatives and second-place finisher Ujjal Dosanjh of the federal Liberal party.
Wong isn’t ruling out the prospect of running for the NDP in Vancouver-Fraserview. "I’ll sit down and talk to people, and see what the next move would be," Wong told the Straight by phone.