They’re not in the game, but some local politicians are watching the federal election campaign carefully. A Georgia Straight survey of several municipal politicians reveals one riding of particular interest: Burnaby North–Seymour. It’s held by Liberal MP Terry Beech, who is facing a challenge from the NDP’s Svend Robinson.
“I’m hoping for Svend,” Vancouver councillor Jean Swanson said by phone. “I think he’d be really good in there, because he always does right, regardless of what the party wants.”
Burnaby North–Seymour was also mentioned by Burnaby councillor Nick Volkow. He predicted that the Liberal government’s purchase of and decision to allow the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, whose Westridge Marine Terminal is located in the riding, will turn voters against Beech. “Mr. Robinson has earned the right to regain the seat,” Volkow said by phone about the former MP.
Robinson, an opponent of the $9.3-billion pipeline-expansion project, was the only candidate of interest to Richmond councillor Harold Steves. “He and I have similar environmental concerns, and that’s been lacking in the NDP for a long time,” Steves said.
That same riding was also brought up by Vancouver councillor Adriane Carr, although not in an endorsement for a specific candidate. Carr said that riding and two others are interesting to observe because support for both the Liberal and New Democratic parties in Western Canada is in decline.
One of the two other ridings cited by Carr was Vancouver Centre, where she twice lost to now eight-term Liberal MP Hedy Fry.
“Hedy Fry has been an institution, but, you know, right now her party is more shaky than it’s ever been,” Carr said by phone. She speculated that the riding may be up for a “game changer”.
Carr is also interested to see how the NDP fares in Vancouver East, an NDP bastion held by Jenny Kwan. “The federal NDP has got their leader out west right now, but the NDP vote is just not as solid in the polls,” she said in reference to Jagmeet Singh.
Singh won a seat in the House of Commons through a by-election in Burnaby South in February 2019.
For Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal, a New Democrat, Singh’s riding is very important. “We want to make sure that Jagmeet Singh is reasonably secure in that riding,” Dhaliwal said by phone.
Dhaliwal asserted that although voters across Canada seem to be leaning mostly toward either Liberal leader Justin Trudeau or Conservative top man Andrew Scheer, Singh’s national campaign has “gained momentum”.
For his part, Richmond councillor Michael Wolfe said that he is following Steveston–Richmond East “more than anything else”.
Wolfe, who previously ran as a federal Green, related that he and his young family recently moved into the riding, which is held by Joe Peschisolido, a Liberal backbencher.
Peschisolido’s toughest challenge is expected to come from Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu, a former colleague of Wolfe’s in the municipal Richmond Independent Team of Electors. However, Wolfe is interested in two other candidates.
One is 18-year-old Jaeden Dela Torre of the NDP, whom Wolfe described as probably the youngest candidate in the country. The other is Nicole Iaci, an Indigenous lawyer running for the Greens.
Meanwhile, New West mayor and TransLink Mayors’ Council chair Jonathan Cote is eyeing Surrey and other ridings south of the Fraser River. According to him, TransLink’s ability to proceed with investments in public transit will depend on its partnership with the federal government.
“Some ridings that could be very crucial to that are actually south of the Fraser River,” Cote said by phone. “We’ve got a lot of transit investments that we’re hoping to invest and roll out into south of the Fraser River, including taking the next phase with the SkyTrain and getting it to Langley.”