West Vancouvers Barbara Ann Reid officially entered the race to win the West Vancouver-Garibaldi riding on Wednesday, May 4 hours before the final deadline for declaring new candidates. She is running for the B.C. Conservative Party, which is fielding just seven candidates across B.C. in this election, most of them in the Interior. Reid is the treasurer for the party, as well as the secretary and a member of the Policy Committee.
The party is not allied with the federal Conservative party, although Reid and other party members are conservative supporters at both the federal and provincial level. Despite the conservative label, however, she is opposed to privatizing Crown Corporations, in favour of a commuter rail option to Squamish and Whistler, and in favour of using real estate transfer taxes to help the homeless British Columbians.
She acknowledges that she has lost out on a lot of opportunities to campaign publicly by declaring her candidacy at the last minute, including missing several all-candidates meetings, but Reid says the decision to run was prompted by the campaign itself.
"I thought the conversation, the political conversation, was moving in circles and needed some new input," she said.
Reid has been involved in politics for decades, including co-chairing the campaign for Progressive Conservative MP Ron Huntington (Capilano Howe Sound), a former minister of small business and industry in the Joe Clark government, and a Member of Parliament from 1974 to 1984.
Professionally, Reid started her career as an accounting department statistician in a firm owned by MacMillan Bloedel. She was a co-owner of a small import company that over 25 years grew into Pacific Steel, with branch offices in Western Canada.
A sailing enthusiast, Reid and her husband helped to establish the Pacific Spar on Granville Island. She has also been Commodore at the West Vancouver Yacht Club.
During the winter, Reid and her family are avid skiers and have been to resorts around the province.
As a mature student, Reid also went back to Capilano College where she earned diplomas in Fine Arts and Humanities.
The B.C. Conservative Party has a general platform on its website, www.bcconservatives.ca, as well as a philosophy statement that ranks priorities. Among their more ambitious plans are linking provincial taxes as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, cutting taxes and red tape for businesses, enhancing access to preventative and alternative medicine, allowing parents to choose between different types of schooling, and allowing MLAs to vote freely on all legislation, except for measures of confidence like the budget.
The party also supports the Single Transferable Vote system, and is urging its supporters to vote yes on the referendum.
Pique: Why did you decide to run in this election?
Barbara Ann Reid: I have the experience, I have the time, Ive been wanting to give something back and this is a good opportunity to do that.
The NDP and the Liberals just seem to be bashing at each other and I dont believe in that. I believe in ideas and a greater understanding of what we can do. I just decided that Ive got to do this. (The Conservatives) have some very different ideas about how to handle some things.
I dont know if its too late to change it, but I read this morning that that awful (four-lane highway) is going to go through Eagleridge Bluffs. Our position is we would like to go back to the tunnel idea and not double the tunnel, but to double the train access.
Right now the train can only go on one track. There are a lot of people living in Squamish that are working downtown, well why not commute by train? Its a lot more comfortable and safer than driving a car.
We would also like to have that (second track) extended to Whistler. For the Olympics I think we should be moving athletes and people up by train, its much more sensible than bussing them up there.
Pique: If elected, how would you represent this riding?
BAR: Just serve the people in the riding as much as I can. We will not be able to fill an official opposition, it would have been nicer if we were able to field 79 candidates, but we cant.
Personally, and I know Im speaking for a lot of people out there, Im not happy with this government. The lack of compassion from the current government is disturbing, and yet I dont want to go back to the other one (NDP), and all they seem to be doing is bashing each other. I dont want to go back and relive that again, theres another way to do things.
Pique: What are some of the issues you see as important?
BAR: There are so many. For business people, things seem to be fine these days, although it depends who you talk to. I recently had a meeting with the Real Estate Board and they would like to see the transfer tax removed to make it easier for people to buy and sell homes in this province. I would like to see part removed, and the other part go to the homeless. I dont think anybody who lives in B.C. should not have a bed; it disturbs me. The concern from the current government seems to be lacking.
We definitely support (STV), its a lot more democratic in our view and smaller groups would have a better chance of getting in.
Pique: Affordability is a huge issue in Sea to Sky corridor. Do you have anything in your platform that would help to make things more affordable.
BAR: I would have to ask all of you to help me know what your suggestions are. There are some things in the platform, more money for social services, changing taxes, that kind of thing, but its a really difficult issue. Every community has its own issues it seems.
Pique: What would you do for the tourism industry?
BAR: Its one of our number one industries and it should be enhanced. They say Vancouvers a three-day visit, and there are destinations all over, to the North, in the Rockies, and it should be encouraged and supported.
They (Liberals) shut the ministry down. Why? Thats ridiculous.
Pique: Are you familiar with the IPP issue, and does your party have a stance?
BAR: (After explanation) We are decidedly against the sale of B.C. Hydro, one Crown Corporation for all of B.C. that we can operate at break-even. We can pay for what it costs without having big corporations coming in here, trying to make money for shareholders. When you get free enterprise in here on some things the prices skyrocket. I would be very leery of independent power projects.
Pique: How about land use issues in the corridor, and First Nations issues?
BAR: We have a fellow preparing an excellent document on First Nations affairs, its a four or five page document, but what were finding is theres no one patchwork answer that works for everybody. The current situation is not working for anybody, so well definitely be looking for new approaches.
Pique: What message would you like to leave with the voters?
BAR: Just that Ive been very active, we have policy meetings every Friday morning, guest speakers from groups like the Vancouver Board of Trade. We are very sincere, honest people. We dont want to play games, we dont want to try and get brownie points from voters for slamming the other guy in this campaign, were very open and honest about what we have to offer and what we want to do.
This election is just the beginning for us in a lot of ways, our time to start getting serious about the party and our platform.