Vancouver Kingsway campaign turns “nasty” as NDP incumbent, Filipino Canadian underdog trade barbs

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      Don Davies has held Vancouver Kingsway for the NDP since 2008.

      The former Teamster lawyer has since been reelected thrice, cruising to easy victories.

      Davies now faces what looks like a spirited challenge from Virginia Bremner, a Filipino Canadian woman with the ruling federal Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau.

      But as far as the seasoned politician is concerned, Bremner has no right to represent the riding in Parliament.

      Davies says Bremner neither lives in Vancouver Kingsway nor was she chosen in a nomination contest by her party as its candidate for the September 20, 2021 election.

      Davies even went back to recall that this was the same case in the 2015 election, when the Conservative Party fielded Francisco ‘Jojo’ Quimpo, a Filipino Canadian, as its candidate.

      “There’s a real lack of community mandate for these people, regardless of what community they come from,” Davies said in a phone interview.

      He added, “I’m more concerned about their inability to, you know, represent our community because they’re not of our community, and they don’t have any kind of democratic mandate at all.”

      The Straight sought Davies a day before he was to be presented a certificate of appreciation by the Filipino Seniors Club of B.C.

      The event happened on August 20 at Davies’ election campaign office on Victoria Drive.

      The Straight wanted to know what the NDP incumbent thinks about receiving a certificate of appreciation from a Filipino group while a Filipino Canadian is trying to unseat him.

      Davies was also specifically asked about the practice by political parties of recruiting candidates from ethnic communities and mostly fielding them in ridings where they don’t look like they’re going to win.

      “I think it’s a two-sided coin,” Davies said.

      “On the one hand,” he explained, “every party seeks diversity in its candidate roster. And I think that’s to be commended.”

      “But on the other hand,” Davies continued, “I think that there’s a difference between genuine inclusion and exploitation of communities.”

      “And… to me when a party…essentially appoints a candidate that has no connection with the community, and they have no sort of mandate from their fellow community members, that to me speaks more of exploitation than a genuine sense of trying to reflect the diversity in the community,” Davies said.

      The NDP politician also said that there’s an “element of opportunism” here.

      Davies said that it’s known as “constituency shopping”, or “carpet bagging”.

      When sought for comment, Bremner was appalled to hear about Davies’ statements.

      “I’m personally disappointed by Mr. Davies for choosing a divisive, nasty politics,” Bremner told the Straight by phone.

      “He should be focusing on telling the community how after 14 years he’s going to finally deliver something meaningful for Vancouver Kingsway,” she said about the four-term NDP MP.

      “And you know, I’m also disturbed by his satement because I can only assume that what Mr. Davies is really saying is that women and particularly women of colour should not be invited to participate in the political system we have in this country,” Bremner said.

      “It’s clear that he’s out of touch with real progressive values,” she continued.

      Liberal candidate Virginia Bremner wants to become the first Filipino Canadian woman elected to the House of Commons.

      Bremner said that she grew up in Vancouver Kingsway, where she attended local elementary and secondary schools.

      She said that members of her family continue to reside in the riding.

      “Wow!” Bremner exclaimed when told about Davies’ observation that political parties treat members of ethnic communities as political cannon fodder by fielding them in unwinnable election contests.

      “I want to be very clear that I’m so grateful that the Liberal Party came to me and chose me and asked me to run in Vancouver Kingsway,” she said about her acclamation.

      Bremner noted that Davies is all about playing politics or worse.

      “Hypocrisy,” Bremner said, meaning the NDP is doing what Davies is saying about other political parties.

      In the 2019 election, the NDP fielded then 18-year-old Jaeden Dela Torre, a Filipino Canadian, in  Steveston-Richmond East.

      Dela Torre finished a distant third behind Conservative Kenny Chiu and Liberal Joe Peschisolido.

      Trudeau’s Liberals may likely win the September 20 ballot.

      “Vancouver Kingsway needs to understand that in the last 14 years, we have not been at the table and when it comes to infrastructure and the resources that families, seniors, our children need in the riding, we need to have a Liberal MP to be at the table with government,” Bremner said.

      Bremner’s husband Hector is a former Vancouver city councillor and mayoral candidate. She was an aide to then B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark.

      Marius Alparaque is a vice president with the Filipino Seniors Club of B.C.

      Alparaque said that Davies has been “very helpful” to the organization.

      “Whenever we apply for grants, he gives us a very, very good reference letter and has been very supportive of our programs,” Alparaque told the Straight by phone.

      Alparaque recalled that his group was supposed to present Davies with a certificate of appreciation before the election was called, but the event got delayed a number of times.

      The Filipino Seniors Club of B.C. officer maintained that the August 20 event was not an endorsement for Davies’ reelection.

      “We are nonpolitical. We are a non-profit society,” Alparaque said.

      “This is not an endorsement. This is just a follow-up on what we have planned to do,” he also said.

      Alparaque said that members of the seniors association support different political parties and candidates in their personal capacities.

      Before Davies’ first election in 2008, federal Liberals won Vancouver Kingsway in the 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2006 elections.

      It’s Bremner’s first time to run for elective office.

      It remains to be seen whether she can prevail in a riding controlled by what Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith once referred to as the "Kingsway NDP Mafia".