B.C. Election in bloom

Voting time is coming near again! The B.C. provincial election will be held on May 14, 2013. 

Amid rainshowers and spring flowers, I’m starting to see orange election signs sprouting in my neighbourhood, with shades of red, blue, green (and more) soon to follow I’m sure. Yes, it’s election time again in B.C. and New Westminster candidates will soon be stepping up their door-knocking, robocalling and energetic presence at local events.

On Tenth to the Fraser, we always try to do our part to help New West folk get to know the candidates and issues around election time, and while we probably have to scale back our efforts this year due to personal scheduling conflicts involving a certain sure-to-be demanding newborn, there will be some voter goodness coming your way.

Specifically, we are collaborating with New Westminster Environmental Partners and NEXT New West to organize a unique event: an  All-Candidates Jane’s Walk starting at 5:30pm on May 4. Our groups have joined forces before, organizing both traditional and non-traditional local all-candidates events, and we’re always thinking about new ways to make voting and political engagement less intimidating and more fun. Here’s the description of the event:

All New Westminster residents are invited to gather at SappertonPark (at the corner of East Columbia Street and Sherbrooke Street) at 5:30 on Saturday evening. The four candidates will be introduced, and the group will walk along Columbia Street and the Central Valley Greenway to Downtown New Westminster and the River Market (a distance of about 3.5 km, so about an hour walking at a leisurely pace).

Along the way, each of the candidates will be given an opportunity for their 5 minutes “on the soapbox” to address the crowd, but the emphasis will be on face-to-face and small group conversations during the walk. Participants will be encouraged to chat with the candidates and ask their own questions. There will also be a few surprises along the way to encourage a meaningful dialogue!

At the end of the walk, participants and candidates will be encouraged, as is the NEXT New West tradition, to gather at a local pub and continue the conversation.

Pat Johnstone will emcee (if you don’t already read his blog, you should!), and all previously declared candidates have agreed to participate:

James Crosty has only just announced he’s running as an independent candidate, but hopefully he will also be able to find time in his campaign schedule to join us on the walk. 

Jane’s Walks are a global event celebrating the legacy of celebrated urban thinker and pedestrian advocate Jane Jacobs, held on the first weekend in May to coincide with Jane’s birthday. The walks are free tours, guided by knowledgeable locals to highlight interesting places and neighbourhoods. This is the first year that New Westminster has participated in the event, but there are already ten walks organized for that weekend, and possibly even more to come!

Meet New Westminster federal election candidates April 20 at La Rustica

Confrontational politics leaves a bitter taste. I can’t fault people for wanting to tune out the rhetoric and take their vote out of play out of distaste for all the ideological chest-thumping from both right and left. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Rather than set up a typical all-candidates meeting full of speechifying and, well, politicking, Tenth to the Fraser, N.E.X.T. New West (a networking & social club for young professionals in the city) and New Westminster Environmental Partners have teamed up to organize a special non-partisan Green Drinks – Election Edition meet & greet with candidates. The event will be held on Wednesday, April 20 from 6-9pm at La Rustica, 228 6th Street. All residents are welcome to join us.

There will be no formal debate or confrontational politics at the event, just a chance to bend the candidates’ ears on the questions that matter to you, plus an opportunity to meet & mingle with some friendly local folks.

Green Drinks is a monthly networking event for sustainability minded citizens to socialize and discuss issues from green buildings, sustainable energy, organic gardening, and everything in between.  Originally started in the UK in 1989 the New Westminster chapter of Green Drinks has been occurring monthly for over three years.

So far four of the eight candidates have confirmed they will attend the April 20 ‘Election Edition’ of Green Drinks, including Conservative candidate Paul Forseth, NDP candidates Fin Donnelly and Peter Julian and Green candidate Carrie McLaren. We hope to hear soon from the remaining candidates whether they are able to join in the fun. Update: Conservative Diana Dilworth and Green Rebecca Helps have also confirmed they will attend.

We want to see voters of all political stripes come to the event – even if you who don’t yet know how (or if) you’ll vote.

Hope to see you there!


Paul Forseth seeks Conservative nomination for Burnaby-New Westminster

Former Conservative MP Paul Forseth in his Office
Former Conservative MP Paul Forseth in his Office

Well this may not be NEW news as I have seen it reported elsewhere but a conversation today with former Conservative Party New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Paul Forseth confirms that he is seeking the nomination of his party for the next-door riding of Burnaby-New Westminster, where he is a resident.

Procedural difficulty barred him from competing for the nomination of his old riding, a contest concluded this past July by the nomination of Diana Dilworth. While some suspected that shrewd moves led to the nomination process there occurring whilst Forseth was overseas in France (preventing him from filing papers according to the EDA regulations) the four-term former Reform and Conservative MP insists the difficulties were only procedural and not politically motivated.

While a by-election may have been scheduled in the New West-Coquitlam riding (made vacant when NDP MP Dawn Black moved from federal to provincial politics last May), it is expected that a general election will be called soon due to a vote of non -confidence in the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Forseth, echoing the Prime Minister,  told me that is is time to deliver a majority Conservative Parliament to Ottawa, so the business of government can continue.

No other nomination candidates have declared themselves for the Burnaby-New Westminster riding. Forseth comments that while he expects to see one or two others vie for the position, he hopes no one else will.

The Burnaby-New Westminster riding is currently held by NDP MP Peter Julian, who was re-elected with a wide margin in October 2008

UPDATE: As reported on Burnaby Politics (Blog), the Conservative Party nomination for the riding of Burnaby-New Westminster will be contested by Andrew Radia, described as :

a young businessman and columnist. Radia, a first generation Canadian, ran with Coquitlam First in the 2005 municipal election, finishing in 19th place.

Local Tories Set to Pick Candidate for New West-Coquitlam

Canadian Conservative officials from the New West-Coquitlam electoral district association report that four candidates will vie for the Conservative nomination in that riding including:

Lorraine Brett, New Westminster

Diana Dilworth, Port Moody

Mark Lea-McKeown, Coquitlam

Andy Wickey, Coquitlam

The Royal City’s own Lorraine Brett has been a former candidate for city councilor, Queens Park RA chair, long-time Hyack Committiee member and has been involved with a host of community initiatives:

Our region will benefit from a strong voice at the government table, and I want to be that voice. As a communications consultant, I know that we are competing with dozens of regions across Canada for attention, and we tell our story in a compelling and convincing way. I know our area and can tell our story effectively.

Andy Wickey from Coquitlam is a Sri Lankan Canadian with a background in business and engineering. Mark Lea-McKeown of Coquitlam is on the Riding Association executive and Diana Dilworth is a Port Moody Councillor.

Absent from the list of nominees is Paul Forseth of New Westminster, former MP. It has been reported that Forseth was not able to submit paperwork in time. Other accounts report that he had removed his name for nomination.

“We have a strong and diverse field of candidates vying for the nomination in this pivotal riding,” said EDA President Gary Mauser. “I look forward to winning back the New Westminster Coquitlam-Port Moody district for the Conservatives.”

Conservative Party members can look forward to the conclusion of this contest on July 25th, 2009 and two all candidates events are scheduled for July 14th in New West and on July 16th in Port Moody. Details may be found on the recently launched electoral association website.

A by-election may be called to elect a new MP as the riding became vacant when NDP Dawn Black successfully ran as a provincial MLA this last Spring. While the by election could happen as soon as late August, it may also not happen as late as early 2010, or be subsumed by a general election.

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On anonymity

I was just re-reading an post on the Burnaby Politics blog about a rumour that former Conservative MP Paul Forseth could return to politics in the Burnaby-New Westminster riding currently held by Peter Julian. As a resident of this riding, I am mildly interested, though at the moment it is nothing but a rumour. This blog post is not about the rumour, however. It’s about the reader response: thirteen comments on the post, all anonymous.

I struggle with this on Tenth to the Fraser. We have our own semi-regular commenters who choose to remain anonymous. I like to hear from them, but I wish they would leave a name or a handle with their comments. I’m sure there are valid reasons why people would choose to be anonymous, but I confess my knee-jerk reaction is to assume either cowardice or axe-grinding.

Now, before you flame me (anonymously) in the comments section, this is nothing personal against any of our anonymous commenters (or any on Burnaby Politics). I just feel the level of dialogue on a public forum is better when people are willing to stand behind their comments. Using your real name is best, in my view, because it forces a person to consider the effects on reputation when they post a comment. A nickname is acceptable if it’s how you are known online. Given the option to use a nickname, I just don’t understand choosing to be “Anonymous.”

I’m not planning to prevent anonymous comments at this point, unless such comments turn hateful. While they are sometimes stinging, so far I haven’t felt they have crossed the line. Or at least, not too far past. But I would like to express my preference that commenters here include their name or nickname.

We aspire on this blog to represent a variety of voices and opinions in New Westminster, so we especially value the contributions of those readers who respectfully disagree. Thank you, all of you who have shared your opinions with us. Perhaps some of you will consider sharing your opinions in a guest post in the new year – assuming, of course, that you are willing to sign your name to it.