In West Van, NDP hopes to avoid déjà vu — again

B.C. NDP MLA candidate for West Vancouver-Capilano Terry Platt in her West Van home.   - Todd Coyne credit
B.C. NDP MLA candidate for West Vancouver-Capilano Terry Platt in her West Van home.
— image credit: Todd Coyne credit

She’s just out of an eight-hour all-candidates boot camp, but Terry Platt is no newcomer to politics for  North Shore New Democrats.

The 56-year-old BC Ferries worker is now prepping for her third run at incumbent BC Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan, who has held the West Vancouver-Capilano riding seat since 2001.

With the May 2013 election now less than six months away, Platt finds herself the senior B.C. NDP candidate for the North Shore, but has yet to hold a seat.

This proud Luddite and animal lover recently sat down with The Outlook in her rented West Van home to discuss, among other things, her conspicuous lack of an online presence or social media strategy in the run-up to 2013.

Despite eight years of politicking with the NDP — including one federal run for MP in 2011 — there is surprisingly little public information out there about Platt, who prefers to live her life offline.

And while that lack of a social media presence may seem a liability for some party bosses who are forever looking for new ways to connect candidates with constituents, Platt says for those doing the candidate vetting for the New Democrats, it was a non-issue.

“I have no Facebook, I have no Twitter, I have nothing,” says the West Van-Cap contender, whose candidacy so far amounts to nothing more than a Nov. 4 announcement.

“I have better things to do than checking up on my Facebook account or checking up on my Twitter,” she adds. “I have a life.”

And it’s a life largely structured around shift work — eight days on, four days off — at a job she’s held as a ferries customer service attendant for almost seven years.

Working the route between Horseshoe Bay and Nanaimo, Platt says it’s a tough and often thankless job. But she refers to her colleagues as family and insists the worst day out on the waves is still better than the best day in any office.

“And I worked 30 years in offices,” she adds, sitting at her kitchen table.

Overhead hangs a portrait of Robert Baden-Powell, the early 1900s founder of what would become the international Scouting Movement.

“That is my man, that is my hero,” Platt says, looking on admiringly at the reproduced painting.

Platt credits ‘her man’ — for whom the North Shore’s popular Baden-Powell Trail is named — and his work in building Boy Scouts and Girl Guides globally, with teaching her a personal motto: “Be useful.”

It’s an attitude and a will to action that Platt says she brings to everything she does; and serving her constituents in Victoria would be no different.

“I am angry with the way things are being handled here politically,” Platt says, citing the recent use of B.C. taxpayer dollars to purchase a series of promotional government advertisements for radio and television.

“It’s a real shame.”

Platt also cites as issues that should be of urgent political concern to all West Van voters the recent devaluing of the BC Ferries terminal at Horseshoe Bay — a move which could collectively cost West Van homeowners hundreds of thousands of property-tax dollars.

She also laments the threatened downgrading and possible cancellation of some BC Ferries services in an effort to save money in the face of mounting operating costs.

“When there’s talk of cutting these routes, these are British Columbians we are talking about,” Platt says, as if chastising Victoria from her kitchen table. “Also, these are Canadian communities. It’s time for the federal government to come up to the plate too and to do their share.”

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