Submit your questions for New West election candidates

As previously mentioned, Tenth To The Fraser is collaborating with New Westminster Environmental Partners and the BIA to organize New West’s only all-candidates’ meeting this election.

NWEP has asked us to provide them with some questions for the candidates, but we thought we’d turn it over to you, our readers: What would you like to ask Dawn Black, Carole Millar and Matthew Laird before you vote?

Leave a comment with your question, or send us a Tweet @10thtothefraser.

As a reminder, the all-candidates meeting is Wednesday, May 6, 7-9pm at Douglas College in room 2201.

New West all-candidates meeting May 6

Tenth To The Fraser will be co-hosting what may be New Westminster’s only all-candidates’ meeting on May 6. Find out what our local candidates stand for, and learn more about BC-STV. Someone from Tenth will be present and liveblogging and/or livetweeting the event, so even if you can’t make it out you’ll be able to catch the highlights online. We’ll post more details closer to the event. 

Here’s the event description from the organizing committee: 

Decisions made in Victoria have a profound influence on our life in New Westminster. Provincial decisions affect our schools and hospitals, social programs and economic opportunites, transportation systems and choices.

On May 12th the voters of New Westminster will decide who they will send to Victoria to represent all citizens of our City. The New Westminster Environmental Partners in collaboration with the New Westminster BIA and the Tenth to the Fraser Blog are hosting an All-Candidates meeting for citizens to find out more about the positions of the candidates in our riding.

The All-Candidates meeting takes place on Wednesday May 6th, 7-9pm at Douglas College in room 2201. The candidates will be responding to prepared questions and there will be the opportunity for the public to direct questions to the candidates. The event will be concluded with an information session on the STV referendum question which will be appearing on this year’s provincial election ballot.

All voters in New Westminster are encouraged to attend this meeting.

Dawn Black (NDP), Carole Millar (Liberal) and Matthew Laird (Green) have all confirmed they will participate in the event. Chris Bryan, editor of the Newsleader, will moderate. 

Update: due to some confusion over the date & location, I have bolded the information – B

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Paying the Piper

Guests received the royal treatment, with golden crowns for centrepieces and silver tea services.
Guests received the royal treatment, with golden crowns for centrepieces and silver tea services. (Photo: Ruth Seeley)

New Westminster loves not only a parade, but events in general. Today’s ‘royal’ tea at Century House was no exception. The place was packed and the event sold out, with Mayor Wayne Wright and New West city councilors, MP Dawn Black, Poet Laureate Emeritus Edna Anderson, Salvation Army Captain Dave MacPherson, and Qayqayt First Nation Chief Rhonda Larabeeall in attendance. After being piped in, the pipers were paid and Master of Ceremonies Don Andrews introduced the mayor, who welcomed the crowd to the kickoff event for a year of celebration to commemorate the proclamation of New Westminster as British Columbia’s first capital in 1859.

Paying the piper (Photo: Ruth Seeley)
Paying the piper (Photo: Ruth Seeley)

‘Celebrating Our Past, Embracing the Future’ is the theme for the year (one tiny quibble, Embracing Our Future would really sound better – wouldn’t it?). And the event organizers did a bang-up job of making Century House look beautiful, with golden crowns as centrepieces on every table and silver-plated tea services everywhere.

Royal Engineers Living History Group re-enactors play Gov. James Douglas and wife Amelia (photo: Ruth Seeley)
Royal Engineers Living History Group re-enactors play Gov. James Douglas and wife Amelia (Photo: Ruth Seeley)

After walking the gauntlet formed by the Royal Knights and the May Queen Suite, members of the Royal Engineers Living History Group attended while Governor James Douglas read the proclamation officially naming the site of what is now New Westminster as the capital of the Colony of British Columbia on February 14, 1859.

Miss New Westminster 2008 and the 2009 Hyack Ambassador candidates shared a very small stage as they took turns presenting anecdotes from 1859, including a short speech about Caroline Kennedy, one of the first non-aboriginal women to live in New West and another about W. J. Armstrong, the city’s first merchant. After opening a general store, Armstrong went on to become sheriff and justice of the peace.

Mayor Wayne Wright cuts the cake (Photo: Ruth Seeley)
Mayor Wayne Wright cuts the cake (Photo: Ruth Seeley)

After an enthusiastic round of God Save the Queen (who chose the city’s name because Westminster was her favourite part of London), the tea began. There were the usual fancy sandwiches, mini scones, and pastries. And then, of course, there was cake. We must have seemed hungry, because the catering staff kept dropping off more plates of sandwiches – and more pots of tea.

I was particularly fascinated to hear Rhonda Larabee speak. I had never heard of the Qayqayt First Nation before, and it was moving to listen to her talk about her people’s original village site on the banks of the Fraser, and the creation of three reserves after the Royal Engineers began building the city. These reserves – located at the old Scott Paper plant, Bridgeview, and the burial grounds on Poplar Island – were all closed in 1916, and Qayqayt First Nation now comprises only 48 people and is the only First Nation in Canada without a land base. “We are the River People,” said Larabee, who successfully established that the Qayqayt were not extinct and launched a claim to regain her Indian status in 1994.

A city that remembers its past will hopefully not be doomed to repeat it. As New Westminster enters an era of rapid population growth* in uncertain economic times, I hope the spirit of inclusiveness that seems to prevail here will be one of the things we choose to preserve.

* The city estimates New Westminster will have 84,000 residents by the year 2021, although other sources put that figure as high as 88,000.

New West MPs’ role in the emerging coalition government

Twitter tells me today that ‘we will have a new federal government in Canada within days.’ The Liberals, NDP and Bloc have put aside their differences and have formally asked the Governor General to allow them to form the Government of Canada, led by Leader of the Opposition Stephane Dion at the next opportunity.

As an NDP stronghold, this could be New Westminster’s best chance to get on the national political radar. The Georgia Straight has speculated that Burnaby-New West MP Peter Julian (profiled a few days ago on this blog) could have a good shot at a cabinet post in a coalition government, while a story on BCLocalnews.com suggests New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Dawn Black is the New West MP to watch.

In the leaked transcript of a supposedly confidential NDP caucus meeting (shamefully recorded and distributed to the press by the Prime Minister’s Office), NDP leader Jack Layton mentions that Black is a key member of the team that negotiated the deal with the Liberals. According to the transcript posted on local blogger Anthony Damonse’s site , Layton says he chose Black because she is “someone that I happen to know is also respected and trusted by key Liberals.”

Here is Layton’s suggested defense for caucus members who face critics of the coalition:

What about the legitimacy of the democratic process, yeah, what about it? [Harper] was given a minority, and he refused to work with the other parties, he had 38% of the vote and he’s trying to govern like he had 100% of the power, he’s the one who’s got democracy wrong, not us. So do not be defensive, to work among what we are doing is to give effect to the wishes of the majority of Canadians, have no doubt about that. The coalition for Canada, I love the idea, it could be a deal-breaker for the Bloc (laughter) so if we don’t go, we call it “The Coalition for Canada and Quebec,” (lots of laughter).

And for those concerned about the Bloc’s involvement, Layton says:

I’ll just say one other thing about the issue of the Bloc: nothing could be better for our country, than to have the fifty members who’ve been elected to separate Quebec to actually helping to make Canada a better place. I think we just approach it on that basis, and say we’re willing to make Canada happen, here’s other things that we’re going to be investing in and transforming together, they’re willing to work with us, we’ll accept that offer. 

We’d like to hear from Peter Julian and Dawn Black on this. We’re trying to reach them and we’ll let you know if they have anything to share that may provide some context for New Westminster in all this.

Meanwhile you can track developments as they happen on Twitter. General commentary is being tracked using the keyword #coalition . Opponents of the coalition are tweeting with the keyword #canadarally, and further information is online at rallyforcanada.ca .

Update: The pro-coalition side is gathering at 62percentmajority.ca.