Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton defends his decision to give out backpacks through Facebook. (Black Press file photo)

Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows MP responds to claims of unfairly distributed backpacks

Marc Dalton critic said the MP should make sure backpacks end up on shoulders of kids in need

A former provincial Green Party candidate took issue this week with a local federal MPs decision to dole out charity backpacks via his Facebook page.

Alex Pope, who has run for municipal and provincial seats, said he does not normally criticize people on social media.

“But this was so blatant, I felt I had to say something,” he said.

Marc Dalton is advertising a free draw on his Facebook page for backpacks.

He received the packs through a nationwide TELUS Kits for Kids program, which aims to put fully-stocked backpacks into the hands of vulnerable children to support a safe return to school.

The backpacks include re-usable masks, as well as school supplies.

Pope said an online draw is not the intended use of the back packs.

“The Telus program has been going on for years, and every year you see the posts from our various MLAs and MPs where they drop it off at some sort of community organization, like Salvation Army, or something supporting families in need,” Pope said.

“Marc Dalton is having a draw, so the backpacks can go to just about anyone.”

READ MORE: Salvation Army expands back to school backpack program

Pope said there are other organizations that might have done a better job of distributing the packs.

“Dalton could just put them all in a box and drive over to the Salvation Army, as they’re in the process of giving out backpacks to kids in need this week.,” he said.

“He could have added those to the supply that they’re handing out and supported a few more kids that way.

“It’s easy to do, he could still get his photo op, but he has chosen the wrong way to go about it.”

Dalton said his distribution plan was changed this year due to the pandemic.

“In past years, the way this program worked was that MP’s and staff on Parliament Hill spent a day filling backpacks which were then distributed to local schools and organizations,” he said.

“This year, due to COVID-19, we received 10 backpacks.

“With over 20 elementary schools in the riding – thus fewer than one backpack per school – as a former teacher in this very school district, I decided to engage directly with students and their families to bring some positivity during a challenging and anxious time.”

Dalton said his office received more entries than they had backpacks, and the entries continue to come in.

“It is important to remember that many families who were doing well in March, no longer are,” he pointed out.

“I have spoken with so many small business owners and their employees who are on the verge of losing everything.”

He also noted that prior to distributing the backpacks his office will be confirming with the entrant’s families that they are in need of the supplies.



ronan.p.odoherty@blackpress.ca

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