Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

Where are the candidates?


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Whatever else could be said about Whistler's former MP John Weston, I will always admire the way he campaigned to become our representative for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country prior to the 2008 federal election.

He had run in the 2006 election as the Conservative candidate but lost. What did he do with the failure? Quit the party? Leave the community? No.

He remained the local Tory candidate and spent the next two years being seen by the electorate, going around meeting people from West Van to Pemberton, and becoming aware of the issues that were important to them.

As a journalist I watched him do it, turning up at events, getting into the local papers, trying to build a public profile. He wasn't especially aggressive, but he was consistent.

It was clear he really wanted the job. In the end, it wasn't surprising that he won by a significant majority in 2008 because voters wanted to feel connected to their potential representative. He won again in 2011, and I believe that initial impression resonated with voters.

This is a rarity in this region for non-incumbents.

With sitting MPs, MLAs and municipal political reps, we already know them by what they do or fail to do (if we're paying attention).

Fast forward to now. In the upcoming British Columbian provincial election, due to take place May 9 (Just seven weeks away as I write this), there are currently three candidates for the riding West Vancouver-Sea to Sky.

Three? Really? That many?

I know this because I read it in Pique, like everyone else. Or I ask my colleague Braden Dupuis, who is the reporter covering the election — he sits a couple of metres away.

The incumbent MLA, Jordan Sturdy, is as visible as an incumbent could be. His party, the BC Liberals, are in power, making policy, promises and spending a lot of money.

By virtue of that alone, he would be covered in the regional media in the course of his doing his job.

We get sent photos of him at public events and announcements, and some of them are published, either as stories or in the photo page.

Reporting on his activities and how it impacts Whistler and the region is our job.

But his task to be re-elected has been made relatively easy by a lack of political opposition.

In 2017, there is no John Weston-like wannabe trying establish their "brand" in order to unseat the MLA in an overt way.

The NDP — arguably the official opposition, even in this constituency — hasn't even named their candidate as of this week.

Pique has been asking them what is going on. Finally, as of Monday, March 20, we got an emailed response from their press liaison: "We still do not have a candidate in Sea to Sky, though there are a few people we are talking to who have expressed interest. I will have an update soon on this."

It really isn't good enough.

There is no reason why an organized, established party like the New Democrats can't have a candidate in place even two years before an expected election.

Personally, I don't just vote for a party. I'm interested in the person who will represent us — and their positions on the many issues of importance not just to this riding, but to the whole province.

I'm interested in knowing how any party will claim to do their jobs better than the reigning Liberals. Of course, I'll pay attention once the NDP names their candidate, but we've already lost the chance to see how they behave over time. And that is more than annoying; it doesn't help democracy.

The other two candidates named are Dana Taylor, a two-time North Vancouver city councillor who is running for the Green Party, and Independent candidate Tristan Galbraith has thrown his hat in, and in fact he was the first challenger. I include them in the criticism, Galbraith less so since choosing to run independently can be a sudden decision.

This is an enormous riding with diverse populations. The candidates will fly up and down the Sea to Sky Highway prior to May 9. Maybe you'll get a glimpse of them. Maybe you'll be one of a couple of hundred to go to a debate, or read their positions on issues you care about in this paper.

But it's precious little information for choosing your representative in Victoria, and it doesn't say much for creating a culture of accountability.

And the incumbent? His campaign appears confident, so much so that they haven't taken out election advertising in this paper.

Good way to save money, I guess.

Also a good way to show they are unconcerned about the competition — or the press.


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