Those living in the Vancouver-Burrard or Vancouver-Fairview districts may have received their yellow voting cards in the mail by now. No, this is not for yet another federal election, but as previously outlined, two provincial by-elections will be taking place October 29th.
I have a series of interviews with some of the Vancouver-Burrard candidates, and the first is with Spencer Herbert of the BC NDP. You can read up on Spencer over on his website or in the bullet points on my last post.
My previous experience with Spencer Herbert was simply in the comments of some of my blog posts about Stanley Park, since he was a member of the Vancouver Parks Board. Speaking with him today, I learned that he is about much more than parks, but his passion for the community in which he lives has definitely stemmed from his involvement with the Stanley Park Ecology Society, the Roundhouse, Harbour Green, and Emery Barnes parks.
Lately he’s been out on street corners, catching people coming to and from their homes and offices, to spread the word about the by-election. “There’s a lot of confusion,” he noted, mostly due to the fact that we all just went to the polls already for the federal election and Vancouverites didn’t even know we were having a by-election right now too. Herbert said, “People are seeing [this election] as an opportunity for change,” commenting on the current state of affairs in the BC Legislature and that Premier Gordon Campbell has overstayed his welcome.
Herbert’s motivation for moving from Parks Board into a much larger role on the provincial stage came from wanting to do more. “We started to notice more people sleeping in the parks,” he also noted a “serious lack of action” regarding homelessness in Vancouver.
“I also saw my friends being evicted from their rental buildings in the West End,” adding that he would seriously like to review the BC Residential Tenancy Act. This follows concern over building managers removing current tenants then jacking up prices and re-renting or selling the units.
One of my blog readers, Beth Snow, posed a few questions for candidates in the comments of my last post so I asked Herbert about education and tuition.
“I want to restore grants,” he noted, “since Campbell eliminated them.” “We also need to cut interest rates on student loans. Some interest rates for car loans and credit cards are less than those of a student loan.” He would also like to see an ombudsperson regarding student aid in BC since there are so many “headshakingly ridiculous problems” with the current state of student aid and affairs.
“The student to teacher ratio is also climbing,” which concerns Herbert, along with special needs education and “homophobia is going virtually unchecked in schools,” along with discrimination against minorities and first nations students.
When it comes to health care, St. Paul’s Hospital is a huge concern for Herbert and those in his riding, “We need to keep it in the community.” This is with regards to proposed plans to close St. Paul’s and open a new facility in South East False Creek. “I’m not saying we don’t need a facility there, but to close St. Paul’s would be wrong.” He also mentioned that we need to reduce wait times and have more supportive housing.
I asked Herbert why he chose to run for the BC NDP and he said that it’s time for a change. Since Gordon Campbell has been Premier, the homelessness rate has gone up over 300%, and child poverty is one of the highest in the country. He noted that Gordon Campbell (of the BC Liberal Party) doesn’t listen to the concerns of the ‘everyday person’ and does not take enough action on their behalf.
I ended the call by asking Herbert if he had any specific messages for my readers. 1. “I hope everyone gets out to vote, it’s crucial.” 2. “We need to end homelessness.” 3. “We need to support renters and the average person.” 4. “Send Gordon Campbell a message, enough is enough.” 5. “It’s all about community.” He would like voters to see him as someone who is a part of the community, who lives here, and who cares about what happens in downtown Vancouver.
Related posts: Questions for Vancouver-Burrard Candidates, By-elections for Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Fairview.
I hope to have more interviews with candidates (I have just been contacted by a few more) so I will post them here in the same format. I’ll be asking the same questions but please feel free to add any more in the comments section of this post.