Whistler all-candidates meeting planned 

Six candidates in running

Things are getting a little more interesting in local ridings heading into the final stretch of the federal election.

Before Christmas only two candidates, the NDP’s Malcolm James and Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell of the Marxist-Leninist Party, had stepped up to take on popular Conservative incumbent Chuck Strahl in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon Riding, which includes Pemberton.

Now the ticket has six candidates, including representatives from the Liberal Party, Green Party and Christian Heritage Party of Canada.

For the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding things are mostly the same, with the addition of Anne Jamieson of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada. Jamieson ran in the 2004 general election, earning just 123 votes, and submitted her paperwork to Elections Canada on Dec. 14.

According to Jamieson, she’s running for several reasons. One is to get across her party platform, which calls for more funding for social programs, among other things.

She also wants to set an example to other Canadians and to encourage the growth of grass root politicians.

"We want to make it known to people that there is an alternative and to present our platform, and to provide an example to people that ordinary people, worker politicians, people who are students, should step forth and be politicians themselves," said Jamieson. "Ultimately people should be selecting their candidates from their peers, be it their community or place of work.

"It can be summarized as stop paying the rich and increase funding for social programs to humanize the natural and social environment. For example, we would put a moratorium on interest payments on the debt and use that money for social programs, and other goals like diversifying the economy. We should not take part in wars of aggression, we need an independent foreign policy, we need to assert Canadian Sovereignty… and should not be taking part in trade blocs like NAFTA."

Unlike other so-called fringe parties, Jamieson says the goal of the Marxist-Leninist Party is not to steer the debate to party issues. "We aren’t looking to influence the major political parties, we see them as representatives of the financial oligarchy, or sections of it. We think the time should come to an end when people try to get the ear of, or influence, members of government. We need to become decision makers ourselves."

There is already a full slate of all-candidates meetings planned for the riding, including dates in Gibsons, Powell River, Sechelt, Bowen Island, Squamish and Whistler. The Whistler event is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19, four days before the election, and will be hosted by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Whistler Forum for Dialogue, Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, and possibly other groups. Time and location are still to be determined.

For Pemberton, it will be difficult for any candidate to defeat the Conservative Party’s Chuck Strahl. Strahl was first elected in 1993 and served as the Deputy House Speaker in the last Parliament. In the last election he won 53.7 per cent of the popular vote, or more than double the NDP candidate and triple the Liberal candidate.

Still, the other parties are not letting the riding go without a fight. In the week before Christmas teacher Malcolm James stepped forward on the NDP ticket. Since then the list of candidates has grown to include Myra Sweeney of the Liberal Party, Ed Baye of the Green Party, Ron Gray of the Christian Heritage Party and Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell of the Marxist-Leninist Party. O’Donnell, Gray and Strahl were the only candidates to run in the riding in the 2004 general election.

Sweeney is a young candidate at 31 years old, and is currently a Parole Officer and member of the Fraser Valley Institution for Women’s Emergency Response Team.

Baye is a retired RCMP officer and Green Party supporter who called the party in December to find out if anyone was running on behalf of the party in his riding, and was told that the spot was his if he was interested. In an article in the Chilliwack Times Baye said he is not a radical or against business or development, but felt that long-term planning and the environment were missing from the debate.

"At least some of (the Green Party candidates) are looking a hundred years into the future," he said. "The other parties, they don’t seem to think past four years… Somebody has to start applying some foresight."

Gray is a former journalist, civil servant and founding administrator of the University College of the Fraser Valley and Trinity Western, as well as an evangelical Christian. In the last election he campaigned on a platform that included defending the traditional definition of marriage.

O’Donnell is a lawyer, specializing in family law, and is running to change a federal system of government where she believes too much wealth and power is influencing government, at the expense of average Canadians and the democratic process.

All Canadian citizens aged 18 or older on election day, Jan. 23, can vote.

The Whistler polling station on Jan. 23 is at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Advance polling is also available at the conference centre on Jan. 13, 14 and 16 from noon to 8 p.m.

Updated candidates list

Whistler (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky)

Anne Jamieson — Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

John Weston — Conservative Party of Canada

Blair Wilson – Liberal Party of Canada

Judith Wilson – New Democratic Party

Silvaine Zimmermann – Green Party of Canada

Pemberton (Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon)

Ed Baye — Green Party of Canada

Ron Gray — Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Malcolm James – New Democratic Party

Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell – Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Chuck Strahl – Conservative Party of Canada

Myra Sweeney – Liberal Party of Canada

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