Last night I attended the joint all-candidates’ meeting for the provincial ridings of Vancouver -Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings (Commercial Drive is a dividing line between the two ridings). It was well-attended in Britannia Gym D and well-arranged by Britannia Community Services, GWAC, the Kettle, and others. Several hundred people were there, enjoying the good free food (bean soup and salad) and a warm sense of community, which contrasted strongly with a similar event four years ago when we had an essentially empty auditorium.
So far as I could tell, all the candidates from both ridings showed up, including the Liberals which has not been the case in other ridings that have been reported. The format was a World Cafe style forum. Every candidate in turn was given three minutes to make their pitch, one from Mount Pleasant, then one from Hastings. When that was done, each candidate circulated among residents’ tables to have a more in depth chat, every group of voters getting to spend some time with each candidate. It’s a decent format for these kind of events.
Both these ridings are very safe NDP strongholds, and I doubt the result here on 9th May will surprise anyone, and I doubt last night’s event changed any minds. But it is good to hear the lesser-known candidates give their pitch.
I have to say that David Kroll (Green, Mount Pleasant) came across as a snake oil salesman (a bit like Weaver himself), while the two young Liberals, Connie Lin (Mount Pleasant) and Jane Spitz, presented as high-schoolers thrown in to make up the numbers. The two communists, including Peter Marcuse who seems to have run in every election since I was born, gave voice to their long-term dreams of a socialist paradise, while a couple of independents gave less lucid arguments for why they should be chosen.
Shane Simpson (NDP, Hastings), our long-time incumbent and firm favourite to retain the riding, stuck firmly to the Horgan speaking lines of affordability, stable jobs, and fixing the services the Liberals have broken.
Melanie Mark, the NDP candidate for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant — with whom I have had my differences in the past — came across as the real leader she could be. She is a strong woman, from a challenged background, she has worked both on the streets and in the halls of the Victoria bureaucracy, she speaks well and with great passion. I couldn’t help thinking she will be the leader of the party after Horgan has had his turn (win or lose this election).
When I left the hall, I sat outside in the Napier Greenway listening to the Carnival Band conducting their usual Monday night practice. This is a grand place, Grandview-Woodland.