NDP's Mel Lehan takes on Gordon Campbell in Vancouver-Point Grey

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      Saving the UBC Farm from developers is one of the passions of the man sometimes called the "Mayor of Kitsilano".

      During a drive along the university’s Wesbrook Mall, community organizer Mel Lehan pointed out upscale housing developments that have started to ring the 24-hectare farm. The future of the site will be known this fall after the university finalizes an academic plan for the land.

      "Here we have a situation where the whole world is having to move to taking back agricultural land and have food security, which means you don’t rely on food from South America to come up to Canada," Lehan told the Georgia Straight, explaining why advocates are so worked up about keeping the farm.

      According to Lehan, whichever MLA represents Vancouver–Point Grey, which includes the university lands, can exert a lot of influence over whether the city’s last working farm will give way to concrete and steel.

      It’s one of the reasons why Lehan, 64, wants to become that MLA. But, to do so, the NDP candidate won’t just have to defeat an ordinary sitting member of the legislative assembly. He’ll have to take down the leader of the B.C. Liberal party and premier of the province, Gordon Campbell.

      "They’re basically harming so many community groups and so many sectors of society, and I think people are getting Campbell fatigue," Lehan said of the premier and his party’s record of cuts to social services since they took over from the NDP in 2001. "I just think people are ready for change."

      Indeed, change could be on the horizon. A survey by Angus Reid Strategies after the NDP’s two by-election victories and the announcements of economic plans by Campbell and NDP leader Carole James in October showed the NDP led the B.C. Liberals by five percentage points in voter support.

      The survey results released on November 15 also indicated a shift in voters’ perceptions of the two leaders. "Campbell continues to post a high negative momentum score (-36), with 44 per cent of respondents saying their opinion of the Premier has worsened over the past two months, and eight per cent reporting an improvement," Angus Reid Strategies reported.

      "The momentum score for James stands at +3," the polling company also stated.

      Campbell’s press secretary, Bridgitte Anderson, told the Straight that the premier will stand for reelection in Vancouver–Point Grey, a constituency he has held for three terms. "He’s hoping so; we’re all hoping so," Anderson said about expectations of another victory by the Campbell camp.

      Lehan said he considers himself more a "community builder" than a politician. "There’s not too many people in the community who I haven’t worked with in a project," the former teacher said. "When you’re doing community work, there’s no such thing as political parties."

      In October, the board of St. James Community Square honoured Lehan for his leading role in founding the centre as well as for the many good deeds he has done for the community.

      The first time Lehan went up against Campbell, in the 2005 election, the community organizer came within 2,250 votes of unseating the premier. Combined with the 4,111 votes that went to the Greens’ Damian Kettlewell, the NDP’s share would have been enough to defeat the B.C. Liberal leader.

      Campbell first won in Point Grey in 1996 when then–NDP MLA Darlene Marzari retired from politics. In that year’s election, Campbell narrowly defeated NDP candidate Jim Green by more than 1,500 votes.

      "I think that the conditions are good for the message to be sent, and Point Grey is a very good place to send the message," Marzari told the Straight. "And the message is the Liberals have become arrogant and out of touch. They have deregulated and they have privatized and they have basically cut back government services to the point where both business and the community are saying, ”˜Where are the rules?’ "

      It’s a good message for the NDP provincewide, according to Marzari, and in Point Grey, she said, Lehan is the "perfect person to carry it".

      The MLAs of Vancouver–Point Grey

      > Elected in 1996, 2001, 2005: Gordon Campbell (Liberal)

      > Elected in 1991: Darlene Marzari (NDP)

      > Elected in 1989: Thomas Perry (NDP)

      > Elected in 1986: Kim Campbell (Social Credit)

      > Elected in 1975, 1979, 1983: Patrick McGeer and Garde Gardom (Social Credit)

      > Elected in 1972: Garde Gardom (Liberal) and Patrick McGeer (Liberal/Independent)

      Source: www.gordoncampbellmla.bc.ca/




      Jan 8, 2009 at 12:18pm

      Given the ever increasing fragility in the balance of nature and the fact that right wing parties like the BC Liberals are obstructing any meaningful protection for the environment, when are the laughably named Green Party going to realize that they are nothing more than a tool for right wing parties to split the left of center vote?
      Right wing parties and their supporters can be forgiven for being self absorbed and greedy...they are only giving in to their baser instincts....but what excuse do the Greens have for proclaiming themselves to be "Protectors of the Environment" when all the world can see they don't have a hope of being elected and are obviously more concerned with ego gratification while they blithely assist the friends of the environment destroyers to stay in office.
      Time to give it up Sterk. You can be a real hero if you use some common sense and assist in the overthrow of this wretched BC Liberal Party. Our survival as a planet is dependant on the protection of our coastal waterways and our rainforest...one of the most important "air cleaners" worldwide. We don't have enough time left for the Green Party's futile attempts to land cushy government jobs and pensions. Your acheivement as top vote getting councillor in Esquimalt will be the "high point" in your career and you will be forever reviled as a lackey of the Socred/BC Libs unless you do the right thing and throw your support behind the NDP.


      Jan 9, 2009 at 8:46pm

      It strikes me as rather hypocritical of Mr. Lehan to object to 'upscale housing' being built for others, when he himself resides in a Kitsilano house valued at about $1.5 million.


      Jan 11, 2009 at 4:30am

      Like right-wing parties everywhere, the BC Liberals have looted and pillaged their way throught 8 years of unprecedented prosperity for the province -- prosperity that should have brought the debt down to zero.

      Now they will hand over the wreckage left behind for the NDP to fix -- and take the blame for.

      And I wouldn't dismiss the Green Party so off-handedly. It is quite conceivable that the Greens could hold the balance of power after the upcoming election. All they need is one seat, with the rest split evenly between Libs and NDP.


      Jan 11, 2009 at 8:58pm

      RickW: I'm well aware that there are lots of Green Party supporters who are not "in it" for the glory. They lead exemplary lives as eco conscious citizens but they, for the most part, have a disconnect when it comes down to the reality of voting patterns. If you could make a case for even one chance of a breakthrough this coming May resulting in a seat in the Leg for the Greens I'd eat a bucket of snot on the steps of the putridly run Vancouver Art Gallery. Not one Green candidate will even come close, therefore the Green Party will once again, by their presence, make sure a lot of environment and social safety net destroying BC Liberals get elected.


      Jan 12, 2009 at 7:01pm

      The "meltdown" is coming to BC, and coupled with the rising doondoggle of 2010, the Libs will be lucky to retain power, regardless of the vote splitting.........


      Jan 13, 2009 at 8:36pm

      This is a response to subversives post, two below mine.

      I have personally been to Mel Lehan's home because I know one of his daughters. His home is nothing fancy at all. It is a very middle of the row a-frame with lots of books and art work from his children. The Lehan's have lived in that house for a long time. It is in a great location, but calling him a hypocrite for living in Kitsalino (in a house they purchased years ago) is a very incorrect judgement.


      Jul 1, 2009 at 4:56am

      Subversive's comments above demonstrate how little credibility we can attach to claims of fact in anonymous postings like this... I have been to his home many times and attest to PAP's comments above. They didn't even have a TV until recently. If it is worth 1.5 million (I doubt it) then the family chose the modest house wisely in (the residentially zoned area of) Kitsilano many years ago.