Coquitlam city councillor Fin Donnelly has been named the NDP candidate for the riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam, beating out New West councillor Lorrie Williams and fellow Coquitlam councillor Barry Lynch at a riding association meeting at Glenbrooke Middle School. Donnelly, a Hyacks swim club record holder, and longtime environmentalist was supported by NDP party leader Jack Layton, who visited the riding to show support for the new candidate in the upcoming by-election (to be called before November, 2009).
Donnelly, a Coquitlam native, has ties to New Westminster through his time as a Hyack, his work with environmental groups for stewardship of the Fraser River and other rivers and streams and by proximity while growing up. As the needs of Coquitlam and New Westminster can sometimes appear mutually exclusive, it remains to be seen how Donnelly will connect with New West voters. Royal City constituents in this mixed riding trend towards the NDP but he may need a good showing of New West voters to counter the strong presence of Conservatives in Coquitlam.
Celebrating his candidacy, party faithful, and political watchers met up at the Brooklyn Tap and Grill on Columbia street to meet Fin and Jack. The evening was well attended, filling the interior of the establishment and it featured many of the constituents, party members, organizers and politicians you would expect at an event like this. From New West council, Jamie McEvoy and Johnathan Cote fielded questions from constituents and managed to sneak in a game of pool. Dawn Black attended, as did NDP MP Peter Julian. Donnelly and Layton arrived later in the evening to loud applause. Layton noted in his speech that in the New West-Coquitlam riding, where elections tend to go back and forth, it was important to have “a candidate like Fin”. No word yet on whether “in like Fin” will be a campaign slogan.
This party, at least, has its kit together for the next election. While the Liberal Pary and the Green Party have yet to announce any potential candidates, it is known that they are looking to put names forward. On the Conservative side, former candidate for New West council Lorraine Brett is seeking the nomination as well as Port Moody councillor Diana Dilworth. It was recently announced that former MP Paul Forseth would not be seeking the nomination for the Conservative party, even though he had intended to run.
Personally, I had fun dashing around meeting everyone, eating free hotwings. I am new to this crowd so there was a lot of explaining to do. How many times did I have to spell tenthtothefraser.ca? Conservatives are next. I hope they have free beer.