If several minor parties can get their business in order, Stikine could have a crowded ballot Oct. 24 for the provincial election.
Although the Christian Heritage Party (CHP), BC Ecosocialists (BCES) and Rural BC Party (RBCP), have yet to submit their paperwork to Elections B.C., they are scrambling to meet the Oct. 2 nominations deadline.
Rod Taylor, leader of the federal CHP, said he has been so busy helping new provincial leader Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson — who just came on board Sept. 15 — he has had little time to get his own nomination package together.
He does plan to be on the ballot, however.
“For us certainly it wasn’t a great time, we just elected a new leader 10 days ago, so we’re scrambling to line up candidates and get ready to go,” he said.
Aside from the inconvenience for his party, though, Taylor said the idea that Premier John Horgan put forward that the reason for the election is stability for British Columbians is “hogwash.”
“It’s very selfish and self-serving of the NDP to do this at this time,” he said, noting with the party so far ahead in the polls, it is likely they will get the majority government they are seeking.
Taylor is concerned that British Columbians are going to have buyer’s remorse.
“It might not be as easy to look at that result next year,” he said. “This year, when people are handing out money and the public is grateful for everything that can be done, maybe, but next year, when the chickens come home to roost, the public might not be so happy with them.”
Taylor’s primary goal is to win the seat, he said, but he also wants to keep the CHP in the public eye.
“Always the secondary goal is to educate the public on some of the issues that tend to get glossed over,” he said.
“Things that we’re always watching are how the government is handling issues of life family and freedom.”
He cited the case of the Delta Hospice Society (DHS), which runs a Lower Mainland 10-bed facility on Fraser Health Authority property. DHS has been in a lengthy dispute with the Province over its stance of not providing medical assistance in dying services.
Last February, the Ministry of Health, which provides 94 per cent of the centre’s funding, issued a one-year defunding notice to the society if it did not make that assistance available by February 2021. The society’s board countered by attempting to become a faith-based organization, a move that was blocked by a petition by former and current board members and a subsequent B.C. Supreme Court decision in June. That decision is currently under appeal.
“They’re 10 minutes from a hospital where euthanasia is performed,” Taylor said. “S,o there’s absolutely no reason, other than this government wanting to dictate that everyone does things exactly the way they want to do it, so that’s the bully tactics and we’ve seen it in the education system with the imposition of SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) and so on.”
Similarly, RBCP co-founder Darcy Repen said he is busily attempting to get the 100 signatures he needs to put his name on the ballot. The requirement is, in fact, 75 signatures, but Elections BC recommends having more to ensure 75 valid ones are secured.
He also said the timing of the election call is bad for his party, but is indicative of precisely why he and District of Houston councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld founded the RBCP in the first place, because they believe the major parties, both provincially and federally, are solely interested in their own fortunes and not solutions for rural British Columbians.
Specifically, he cited infrastructure funding, First Nations reconciliation and unfair ICBC insurance rates for rural residents.
“Some of this stuff there are solutions to, but I’m not sure our representatives here are interested in those solutions because they’re kind of operating within the NDP constraints which are controlled by Victoria and Victoria has proven time and time again, whether it’s Liberal or NDP, that they don’t really worry too much about the rural areas,” he said.
Repen, a former Village of Telkwa mayor, said he has no illusions about his chance for success against the big parties, but feels it is important to add his voice to the process.
“For me, I hope I can get some ideas into the discussion and give people an opportunity to take a look at some different ways of doing things here,” he said.
Repen also took square aim at the presumed frontrunner in Stikine, NDP candidate and former Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, questioning why he is back just a year-and-a-half after retiring from politics.
“I question his sincerity and whether he’s actually thought about concrete steps that can be taken in the Smithers, Hazelton, Telkwa and up into the more rural areas of the Stikine riding,” he said. “Personally, I don’t think that’s what his candidacy is about. I think it’s about a political career move and my concern is that we’ll have another person in there that is basically going to be more concerned about their own political career and maybe becoming the next premier of B.C. than they will about the burden on the people in our region with unemployment, with cuts to our highway budget, with cuts to our WorkBC budget, issues with our infrastructure funding, the ICBC thing, it goes on and on.”
The Interior News is also waiting to hear back from the new BC Ecosocialist Party (BCES). In a previous interview in August, party Bulkley-Skeena coordinator Edward Quinlan said they were working hard to find candidates in advance of a possible early election call.
At that time, he said he had not ruled out the possibility of seeking the nomination himself.
Earlier this week, BCES leader Stuart Parker, stepped down after he was denounced on social media as being transphobic. He called the accusation “a slew of false allegations,” but in a statement blaming “B.C.’s two counterfeit left parties,” said he was resigning for the good of the campaign.
“Every day we spend discussing whether it was wrong for me to defend a local Vancouver activist from a campaign to blacklist her from employment is a day we do not spend discussing John Horgan using the RCMP as Royal Dutch Shell’s brute squad to drive a fracked gas pipeline through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en people. And we cannot afford that distraction,” he said.
So far, only the NDP and BC Liberals have officially nominated candidates. The Liberals are running Gordon Sebastian, executive director of the Gitxsan Treaty Society.
All candidates must still be officially declared by Elections B.C.