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.