June 18, 2004 Features & Images » Feature Story

Nicholas Simons 

Dissatisfaction with representation led Simons to run

Nicholas Simons looked like a genuine bigwig politician when he rolled into Whistler in a shiny orange Mustang with a neat NDP sign on the side.

He looked even more impressive when a former Marijuana Party candidate, Dana Larsen, got out of the passenger side.

But in point of fact the thought of talking or even acting like a "typical politician" is something Simons likes to avoid.

For instance, he quickly pointed out that the Mustang was rented, he likes meeting people but he doesn’t like handing out campaign pamphlets and he often repeats phrases such as, "I’ve gone on, I’m sounding like a politician aren’t I?"

Simons comes from a family of six children. He’s a musician and a social worker. He was genuinely annoyed with the people representing him, so last December he picked a party and decided to test his mettle.

And while he might not be as physically imposing as many of the politicians in the Sea to Sky corridor, Simons is as sharp as they come and determined to prove that the NDP is the only trustworthy alternative in today’s political arena.

So far, however, Simons admits, things have not gone exactly to plan.

To begin with his campaign manager got so sick on the eve of the election he "thought they were going to lose him for a while there."

Then there’s the matter of election funding, which is always an issue for candidates who don’t have a lot of money before they start campaigning, particularly if they belong to a party other than the Liberals or Conservatives.

But Simons has pressed on with the NDP’s vision of a society that is "about creating better social conditions" for everyone.

"My goal is to make sure people know who I am and what I’m about and they can make the assessment as to whether I’m trustworthy based on experience and based on my interaction with them," said Simons.

"There’s a tendency to believe that the NDP is representative of just the working class.

"But I think people are starting to realize we represent people in the arts community and environmental issues.

"Did you know that the federal party membership has doubled since March?"

NDP leader Jack Layton has proposed several initiatives that would lighten the tax burden on poorer Canadians and Simons said this could only help reduce the "massive inequalities in society".

"I think that’s because people are realizing we don’t benefit if we’ve got a huge subculture that is living in abject poverty and we have people living way beyond what is necessary," he said.

"We’re not saying that we want to take anything away from anybody, but we’re saying that there has got to be some fair taxation.

"And other parties have been addressing these issues for years and years and years, but nothing fundamental has changed.

"I think it’s time that a party whose basic philosophy is about creating better social conditions so that the economy can thrive becomes a vision for the future."

Politics aside, Simons conceded that he had learned a lot about himself in the short time he’s been running for office.

"I’ve learned that I have an ability to be passionate about ideas and Canada.

"I’m passionate that Canada’s strong and diverse but I’m passionately worried that we’re losing our identity because of our assimilation with the United States."

Simons is gay and lives with a partner on the Sunshine Coast. He admitted he had also been struggling with the fact that issues such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana are still being debated in parliament.

"The issue of gay marriage has nothing to do with gay or straight, it’s a human rights issue," Simons said.

"Human rights is something we respect, you don’t have to agree with gay marriage, but if you don’t agree with it, don’t get married in a gay ceremony.

"The reality is that the churches should have the right to marry whoever they want and the state shouldn’t even be talking about marriage, they should be talking about human rights and the rights you get from marriage.

"These really shouldn’t be divisive issues at all, particularly when I see the environment continually degraded and infrastructure to cities suffering like they haven’t before, homelessness on the increase, health care that’s never been in a worse situation – and my opposition member, John Reynolds, writes me a pamphlet to ask me my opinion on six ounces of marijuana and gay marriage.

"My opposition is failing me and that’s why I got into politics.

"What we need is people who know about human rights, respecting each other and carrying the economy forward."

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