After the pleasures of the Fet’s opening, I walked across to Britannia Secondary School where an all-candidates’ meeting for the provincial riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant was taking place. I am not sure how many people the school Auditorium holds, but the dozen or so of us there in the audience were lost among the sea of empty seats.
Four of the six candidates showed up: Jenny Kwan, incumbent MLA for the NDP, Barinder Hans of the Greens, Peter Marcus for the Communist Party, and independent Jeremy Gustafson. They did their best, answering a series of questions posed by the few us in the hall covering education, health care, natural resources, pipelines, jobs. But there was certainly no sparkle or excitement.
Jenny Kwan kept her composure but you could tell she would rather be anywhere else than wasting an evening doing this in front of so few. Barinder Hans and Peter Marcus were happy to spout their party lines, and Gustafson was the comic relief even though most of his quips fell flat and he came across as faintly ridiculous.
My question was about whether the candidates would support re-introducing a ward system to Vancouver (the city being a child of the Province via the City Charter and thus a provincial matter). They all said yes, although both Hans and Gustafson admitted they had no idea what I was talking about.
I wonder if the apathy shown by the lack of a crowd is a general malaise or simply a reflection of the certainty that the NDP will take this riding and, no doubt, the Province as a whole. It was surprising that the Liberal candidate didn’t even bother to show up. I’m hearing that next Saturday’s all-candidate meeting for the Vancouver-Hasting riding (for east of the Drive) has already been cancelled because only Shane Simpson, the NDP MLA, had agreed to take part.
I remember when BC Provincial politics used to be full of passion and quirkiness and fun. Not in 2013. That, I am certain, is because a majority don’t really want the NDP to win, but really want the Liberals to lose; and that kind of double negativity deflates the whole business.