The Straight Slate for the 2013 B.C. provincial election: Candidate picks

Check out our political recommendations for Vancouver and the inner suburbs in advance of the May 14 provincial election.

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      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.

      Vancouver–False Creek

      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 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.

      Vancouver–Mount Pleasant

      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.

      Vancouver–Point Grey

      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.

      Vancouver–West End

      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.

      North Vancouver–Lonsdale

      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.

      North Vancouver–Seymour

      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.

      West Vancouver–Capilano

      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.

      New Westminster

      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.

      Burnaby–Deer Lake

      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.

      Burnaby North

      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.

      Richmond Centre

      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.

      Richmond East

      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.




      May 9, 2013 at 8:18am

      You NDP comunist news paper!


      May 9, 2013 at 9:54am

      Too bad you did not include the Delta ridings in this Straight Slate. Delta South has the only elected Independent MLA.
      She won by only 30 or so votes last time over the BC Liberals.

      In that election the traditional vote for the NDP dropped by about half as many strategically voted for the Independent.

      This riding had the highest percentage of voter turn out in the Province last time.

      The NDP this time round is hoping to pick up support by the probable NDP victory and from new voters moving into the area and adding them to it's established voter base.

      It could get interesting on election night.


      May 9, 2013 at 10:46am

      I appreciate the thorough and thoughtful analysis. It concerns me that too much of the discussion during this campaign has been focussed on the deficit. We are not going to create good paying jobs in BC, and we are not going to build a cleaner environment, and we are not going to provide better education for young people and better care for seniors if our primary focus is on deficit reduction.

      Running a Provincal economy is not like running a home budget and as someone who sits as a Director on a number of boards, if the President of a corporation came to a board meeting and told us their primary focus was to reduce the company deficit they would be fired immediately. The focus needs to be on growth, growth does not happen when you starve the economic engine as the Liberals have done in this Province. The Liberals plan has resulted in the loss of good paying jobs and greater economic and social inequality.

      It is time for a change for the better in BC.


      May 9, 2013 at 11:37am

      There isn't a single liberal or conservative candidate worth your praise or mention? ... this is horribly bias

      Andrew Smith

      May 9, 2013 at 12:32pm


      I agree with your point about the excessive focus on deficit reduction. Listen to the political conversation in any developed nation and the talk is almost always dominated by "deficit reduction" as a precursor to economic growth.

      The reality is that deficit reduction is the RESULT of economic growth, not the cause of it. In fact, focusing on deficit reduction in a low growth economy is almost certain to inhibit growth.

      Both the UK and US ran very large deficits in the decades following WW2, but economic growth was never stronger than in this period.

      Deficit-hawks have succeeded in conflating the household spending and government spending realities, so that people think that a government must "tighten the belts" and pay for past excesses through austerity as the only means to return to growth.

      Unfortunately, this message has been repeated so often that most people accept it as the truth.


      May 9, 2013 at 12:59pm

      Opinions - just opinions. Nothing to be threatened by as each of us will make our own choice. Sharing information, ideas, and thoughts is a good thing. Thanks to you all for your comments and to the editorial by the Straight.


      May 9, 2013 at 5:05pm

      You loose all credibility with this editorial. You should have saved the ink and said: Anyone but Liberals!


      May 9, 2013 at 8:53pm

      I usually enjoy your slate articles but this one is awful. You seem to think the electorate is a two year child with your rationales and amateurish picks. It isn't that you don't recommend any Liberal or Conservative candidates but that you screw up the NDP endorsements and rationales. For example, you endorse the no name Green Party candidate in Vancouver-False Creek while ignoring the steller CV of Matt Toner who is in a tight race with the well known Sam Sullivan. Even Sam Sullivan, while right wing, is definitely not one to toe the Christy Clark party line yet even he would be better than your Green pick. Your rationale for the Green guy is that he is from an immigrant family from Eritrea - great but how is that relevant? You again endorse a no-name inexperienced independent in North Vancouver and ignore steller NDP candidate, Jim Hanson - a very smart, successful, progressive lawyer and all round nice guy who is a superb advocate for the disabled and injured. You correctly endorse NDP David Eby in Point Grey but you lost all credibility when you gave among your notable reasons for voting for him that "he has been seen riding a bicycle". Please - are we stupid or what? I appreciate your progressive stance but you seem to have a problem with capable candidates - you generally seem to pick the underachieving losers over those with succcessful careers who could speak eloquently for their constituents over those who really could shine.

      Jeet Samra

      May 10, 2013 at 10:27am

      Full disclosure, I've volunteered on Matt Toner's (The NDP Candidate for the Vancouver-False Creek riding) campaign a few times over the last few months.

      Daniel Tseghay seems like a really nice guy and is probably quite smart, but I would never know. I've been to all 3 of the debates in the riding. He hasn't been to any. He hasn't really made himself known or seen in the riding since announcing his candidacy.

      Fair Judgement

      May 10, 2013 at 10:35am

      The BC Liberal has done a lot of bad things to this province as you are not able to defend them anymore.

      Their political culture is misdircting the public, look at their claim for LNG, they are claming LNG for paying off the BC defecit in 15 years, reality says that LNG will be start bringing income to province in 30 years, so how someboy can claim on that for this election ?

      Or look at their advertisement strategy, they are just running negative ad and poisening the media environment. Really, No one is able to defend them. We need honest politician, it dosen't matter which from party,they should not lying to the people.