Long-time Richmond resident and federal Liberal Wendy Yuan has moved on up”¦to Vancouver Kingsway.
“I bought a house on 39th and Alberta,” Yuan told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “I live in the riding. I don’t have a house in Richmond anymore.”
Next month, Yuan, her husband, and their 21-year-old son will move the last of their belongings, she said. This means political opponents can no longer call her a carpetbagger or a parachute candidate.
Yuan is already sounding a warning to incumbent NDP MP Don Davies that Vancouver Kingsway “belongs to the Liberals”. When the federal writ is dropped, Davies and Yuan will be in a political rematch going back to the 2008 federal election.
“I am very confident that we are going to get it back this time,” Yuan said. “The momentum we have up there is very high. I’ve been door-knocking since the beginning of July, and I feel it. I really feel it on the doorsteps when I talk to the people.”
In 2008, Davies took the seat with 15,933 votes to Yuan’s 13,164. Conservative candidate Salomon Rayek garnered 12,419 votes. In 2006, then-Liberal incumbent David Emerson took the riding for the Liberals with 20,062 votes, 43.5 percent of the total, to NDP challenger Ian Waddell’s 15,470, or 33.5 percent.
Emerson enraged constituents by crossing the floor to the Conservatives soon after the election, meaning that the riding has seen representation—controversially, in the case of Emerson—from all three major federal parties since Emerson’s first victory in 2004, when Yuan stepped aside to enable him to run.
“I think that, in this riding, the David Emerson factor is still there,” Davies told the Straight by phone. “People know that what happened the last time they voted for a Liberal was they got a Conservative. They also have seen [Liberal leader Michael] Ignatieff move the Liberal party to the right.”
Yuan said she heard from event organizers that Ignatieff’s personal appearance at the summer barbecue at Kensington Community Centre on August 21, as part of a cross-country tour, drew 1,312 people. This led Vancouver East NDP MP Libby Davies to tell the Straight that it will be a “tight race” this time but that Yuan will “absolutely not” win.
The NDP crushed the Liberals and Conservatives in the November 2009 New Westminster-Coquitlam federal by-election after highlighting its opposition to the harmonized sales tax.
The 2006 census tallied 119,815 residents in Vancouver Kingsway.
Don Davies said that over 100 languages are spoken in the riding, adding that Chinese-speaking constituents make up 43 percent of the population and Filipinos another 11 percent.
“Another 10 percent is South Asian, and there are burgeoning Vietnamese and Korean populations, as well as dozens of others,” he said. “So whoever represents this riding has to have a really good feeling for the multicultural aspect of it. I spend a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of focus meeting with as many community groups from as many different perspectives as possible.”
Yuan, who was born and raised in Beijing, speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese. She said that if elected, she will focus on representing working-class people in the riding, streamlining foreign-credential requirements, and creating “a safe community”.
Yuan initially said she did not want to discuss the Emerson issue, adding that it is “in the past”. However, she said later in the interview that she felt his crossing the floor was a “betrayal”.
“Talk about loyalty, that is a betrayal to the voters,” she said. “It is the voters who voted you in, and you owe it to them, and you run under the Liberal banner. I can go on forever on this subject. My volunteers were so upset. They helped him to get elected too.”
Conservative party candidate Trang Nguyen did not respond to a message by the Straight’s deadline.