Impressions of New West candidates

Although last night’s all-candidates meeting was not billed as a debate, as an undecided voter I came away feeling there was a clear winner for New Westminster. The Tenth to the Fraser editorial team decided this publication would not endorse a particular candidate this election, however as individuals we all have opinions and we agreedRead More

Although last night’s all-candidates meeting was not billed as a debate, as an undecided voter I came away feeling there was a clear winner for New Westminster.

The Tenth to the Fraser editorial team decided this publication would not endorse a particular candidate this election, however as individuals we all have opinions and we agreed that it is fitting to share them. All are free to comment or submit a guest post sharing their POV.

I am very glad I attended the meeting because the candidates’ performance made it clear to me how I will mark my ballot on May 12. Based on her eloquence, passion and solid understanding of both local issues and the broader political context, I have decided to support Dawn Black, and to vote Yes to STV.

This was not an easy decision for me. In the meeting last night, Matthew Laird took the words out of my mouth when he said that he thought Black has done great work in Ottawa … and that he wishes she would keep on doing great work in Ottawa! It troubled me that Black chose to resign as MP only a short time after the election, triggering a byelection for already weary voters. And even more than this, I struggled with supporting an NDP candidate when I feel the party’s opposition to the carbon tax has been wrong-headed and jeapardizes my children’s future.

Yet in the end I came away convinced that Black is the strongest person to champion New West issues in Victoria. Quite simply, I trust her to do her very best to make good choices for New West and the province as a whole, and I believe she has the talent to follow through on her promise.

I would also like to commend Matt Laird on his performance. He demonstrated a good understanding of local and environmental issues and kept both Millar and Black on their toes. Those who follow local politics are likely quite familiar with his name, whether through his work with NWEP or as a candidate for council. New West is lucky to have someone with his passion for Green issues – and the courage to put himself out there again and again in order to push these issues to the forefront.

As for Carole Millar, I think she has a long way to go to become MLA material. She seemed to struggle with thinking on her feet and most of her answers were read verbatim from the BC Liberal playbook. Unlike Black and Laird she failed to illustrate how her personal story exemplifies the ideals she promotes. While for some this may not be a major failing, I want my elected representatives to be in it for passion. Public life should be a calling, not a job.

And finally, the referendum question. I said already that I will support the change to STV. I believe our current system is inequitable and demoralizing for voters. I haven’t taken much time for deep research into the world’s democracies, but thankfully the citizen’s assembly has done this for me. I have decided to trust their judgement and vote for change.

I was concerned about New West issues being drowned out in a constituency that included Burnaby, but then I remembered that we neighbours already share an MP. I have felt very well served by Peter Julian in Ottawa, and I have not seen that he favours big ol’ Burnaby in a way that compromises representation in New West. The argument that STV is too complex also doesn’t sway me. It may take more effort to understand but it is not an impossibly arcane system. I agree with the STV advocate who said that we should demand more of our electoral system than mere simplicity.

So there you have my two cents, for whatever it’s worth. I commend all our candidates for putting their names forward as leaders. May the best person win.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

Briana Tomkinson is a really valued member of the Tenth to the Fraser community. Interested in joining our pool of writers? Please see these submission guidelines.

3 comments

  1. I think that your comments on the various candidates are fairly accurate and would share most of the comments. But I do have what I think is a legitimate beef with the referendum. Step back and think about the campaign. We are in the midst of a provincial election and thats (rightly) where the major focus has been on. When you are talking about changing a fundamental part of our society, namely how we elect our provincial representatives: I believe that the issue itself deserves proper airing on its own, not muddled amongst a provincial election, or for that fact the Stanley Cup playoffs. I mean Campbell didn't put forward his Native Treaty referendum amongst a provincial election did he? And also the vote on the (either / or) Meech Lake / Charlottetown accord, didn't take place amongst a federal election either.

    Changing the electoral system is a major fundamental thing and the debate should have been more focused and the referendum held when people's attentions were on it. This mish mashing it within the provincial election is just a way to throw it in there. As well I don't agree with the thresholds as well. Something that fundamental should require at least 3/4 support of the voting public, not 50 plus one. It is akin to changing the constitution federally. But I think it'll be very close on Election Day. I'm personally against STV for previously stated reasons, given geographic and population factors.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I agree that there's a danger the referendum issue will get lost amid hockey talk and general electioneering. I agree that it may have been better to hold a separate referendum, but we get what we get!

    One thing: I don't believe it's 50+1 to pass the referendum. If you recall, last time the threshold was 60% – B.C. voted 58% in favour, and so we were just two percent shy of that goal.

  3. Also, the Aboriginal land Claims referendum was a political sham. Anyone who has taken a biased survey or a 'push poll' knows the questions on that 'referendum' were designed to engineer a pre-determined outcome. And unlike Meech Lake, Chtn Accord and the Native Treaty Referendumb,the BC-STV ballot initiative is not promoted or presented by the government. It is the results of the citizens assembly and is arguably not in the interest of either of the parties currently in the legislature.

    Lastly, like Briana said, BCSTV needs 60% of the vote. It also needs 50% or more of the vote in 60% of the ridings.

    This is a very high bar to get over. If BC-STV wins, it can only win overwhelmingly.

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