By: Trevor Steele
The riding of Burnaby South is holding a by-election on February 25. The by-election represents New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh’s last chance to win a seat in parliament before the October 2019 federal election, as well as a potential foreshadowing of the results of said October 2019 election.
The seat, which has historically been held by the NDP since the riding’s creation in 2013, was vacated by former NDP member of parliament (MP) Kennedy Stewart, after his successful bid to become Vancouver’s mayor. In the last election, Stewart and the NDP narrowly won the riding by only 547 votes over the Liberal Party candidate.
Already, the by-election has been the cause of controversy, as the initial Liberal candidate Karen Wang was forced to withdraw from the race. This came following a post on Chinese social media platform WeChat, in which she wrote that as the only Chinese candidate, she would win against Jagmeet Singh, noting that he was of “Indian descent,” in reference to the riding’s large Chinese-Canadian population.
Polling numbers published on January 15 by Mainstreet Research show Singh out in front, with a 12% lead over Wang, who has since been replaced by new Liberal Party candidate Richard T. Lee. It remains to be seen how Lee’s introduction into the race will affect the results, but the key issues in the riding stay the same.
One of those issues which plagued the tenure of former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart in Burnaby South was that of “demovictions.” Or, the process in which old low-rise rental properties are demolished and replaced with expensive high-rise condos, leading to the displacement of low income residents. Many of these residents felt Stewart failed to take any action on the issue, which was a concern during his mayoral election. They will likely be looking to a candidate that promises to stop this trend.
Another key issue in the riding is the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, and the Liberal track record on the project, following the decision of the Trudeau government to purchase the existing pipeline and the expansion project.
Jay Shin is the candidate representing the Conservative Party, the current official opposition. Raised in Burnaby South, Shin’s professional life has been as a corporate lawyer whose career involved facilitating foreign investment in British Columbia. He’s also spent time teaching law at UBC and in Korea. His main policy concern is lowering taxes on individuals and small businesses, although his campaign has also focused on calling for tighter immigration rules and a harsher stance on illegal drugs.
With files from Post Millennial and votejayshin.ca
Richard T. Lee
Richard T. Lee is the candidate representing the governing Liberal Party, replacing the aforementioned Karen Wang. Lee was previously a Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly (MLA) with the BC Liberal Party, representing Burnaby for 16 years, including a period as deputy speaker. Lee does not have any specific policy proposals, but he writes that he will work to invest more in affordable housing and transit, as well as environmental protection.
With files from richardlee.liberal.ca
Jagmeet Singh is the leader of Canada’s third largest party, the New Democratic Party (NDP). For Singh, who has been NDP leader since 2017, the Burnaby South by-election represents his last chance to win a seat in parliament before this year’s federal election in October, and a failure to do so could mean an end to his tenure as leader of the NDP. Singh previously served as a member of Ontario’s provincial parliament from 2011 to 2017, and he had no connection to Burnaby prior to the by-election, though he has since moved into the riding. While opinions on whether or not this lack of history will hurt Singh’s chances vary, Singh himself is confident that it won’t. Singh’s main proposals are centred around increased investment in housing affordability, healthcare, and renewable energy.
With files from The Tyee, CTV News, CityNews1130, and jagmeetsingh.ndp.ca
Laura Lynn Thompson
Thompson is representing the recently formed People’s Party of Canada, which broke off from the Conservative Party under the leadership of Maxime Bernier. She is a former Christian television talk show host with strong and often divisive opinions, and as her Twitter bio writes; is “tired of political correctness!” She previously ran for a spot on the Burnaby school board, where she drew controversy for her views as a critic of SOGI policy, a program designed to increase awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity issues. However, the party she is representing has said that it will not take a stance on the issue. She is running on a platform centred around issues such as tighter immigration controls, housing affordability, and “small government and personal responsibility.”
With files from Burnaby Now, The Vancouver Sun, and the People’s Party of Canada website.
Wu previously ran for office under the banner of the BC Green Party in 2017 in the riding of Burnaby-Edmonds, where he received 13% of the vote. As an independent this election, Wu perhaps hopes to fill a gap left by the Green Party of Canada who are not running a candidate in the by-election, a move that their leader Elizabeth May says is a “leader’s courtesy” to Singh. Wu’s proposals on his official Facebook page centre around increased investment in law enforcement and what he calls the “sustainable economy,” as well as stricter controls on immigration and a reevaluation of the Liberal government’s refugee program.
With files from CBC, Burnaby Now, and “Voice of Burnaby South” Facebook page.
Grimwood is running in Burnaby-South as an independent candidate, but plans to start a new party called “Canada Fresh.” He attempted to run in two previous by-elections this year, in the Montreal riding of Outremont and in the Ontario riding of Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, but did not receive the amount of signatures required to run. The 66-year-old retired builder has previous political experience, having served two terms on the North Vancouver City Council in the 1970s. Grimwood has an extensive platform on his website, including proposals to build pipelines to transport water, a cap on gas prices, and investment in rural areas of Canada.
With files from Canada Fresh and Burnaby Now.
Those who live in the Burnaby-South riding, who are Canadian citizens, and who are 18 years or older are eligible to vote in the February 25 by-election. Information on where to vote can be found on the non-partisan Elections Canada website.
Editor’s note: In the lead up to the Burnaby South by-election on February 25, our Editor-in-Chief spoke (separately) to Jagmeet Singh, Jay Shin, and Richard Lee. Keep an eye out for our coverage on the-peak.ca.