Diversity needed in Burnaby civic politics

The announcement of a new political party to contest the upcoming municipal elections in November in Burnaby is an encouraging sign for many reasons. Especially when that party is a coalition attempting to bring a more diversified and representative group to govern one of the most multicultural communities in the province, if not in Canada.

The Burnaby First Coalition potentially offers the opportunity to replace, enrich or strengthen the present partisan monopoly of administration at both City Hall and the district Board of Education.

Burnaby has experienced many positive changes, even with the monopoly by the Burnaby Citizens Association. But a diverse community is limited when its leaders do not represent all constituents. One-party domination stifles growth in any community. The mayor himself would have to agree that the existing homogeneous composition of his council renders his philosophy ineffective, a philosophy so cogently expressed in his 2012 inaugural speech, when he promised to “incorporate consultation that will involve everyone” and viewed citizens’ “faith in the consultation process as critical.”

He has often advocated for an “inclusive and interactive community and public engagement process.”

So for the mayor, an opportunity to transform philosophy to action is created by the formation of a coalition, whose expressed purpose is to bring together a broader more heterogeneous group of people who are more representative of its diverse community.

With such a group the full potential for growth is more achievable.

The school district can also benefit from the potential offered by the new party. In the present group of trustees, there is a paucity of people with professional backgrounds in education. This is like having school counsellors without any understanding of kids. Let us not be misled. In spite of these deficiencies, schools can still achieve good results because of the number of stakeholders in education. And I compliment district personnel, staff and students in Burnaby schools for their accomplishments in spite of this handicap.

I concede that there are some “nice” people in the present group of trustees.

But at what and whose expense? At a few board meetings I attended this year, there was a noticeable lack of discussions both qualitatively and quantitatively on educational issues.

My point is that at both the school board and at City Hall, some new faces, representing more groups and people, will advance our community further. Besides, strong and active opposition is needed in any government that is dominated by one party to hold it accountable.

The BFC Party has the potential to do that.

Ben Seebaran

Retired School Administrator


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