June 24 is the date for two candidates to face off for the NDP in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, next B.C. election.
Despite favourable polls, the party wants to get an early start so it can get out its message to the public before next May’s election, said Elizabeth Rosenau, one of two candidates trying for the candidacy.
“With fixed election dates and the Liberals being able to hand out election favours right to the last minute, we need to be doing the work right now to define the Liberals … and to define ourselves and not let the Liberals define who we are.”
Rosenau is competing against Korleen Carreras, who works for the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union.
Rosenau, who tried for the NDP federal nomination last election, said New Democrats don’t want to take anything for granted, despite rising support.
And she says the B.C. Liberals’ task is becoming tougher, because of the B.C. Conservatives.
Rosenau said Premier Christy Clark can’t criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper because that could provide an opening for the B.C. Conservatives. Clark can’t oppose the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline across northern B.C. nor the federal tough-on-crime laws that will increase costs to the B.C. prison system, Rosenau said.
“Christy Clark is quiet. She almost seems to be a lapdog of Prime Minister Harper and I think she’s being forced to do that by [Conservative leader] John Cummins.”
But New Democrats can make clear statements on those issues, she added.
Rosenau said Liberals may be hesitating in selecting their own candidates because of the poll numbers and because some of their candidates may already be holding other elected office.
She disagrees with that.
“I think that people should be clear in their objectives and goals, that’s all I’m saying.
“By trying to run for a senior level of government, you might be indicating to voters you’re not really committed to the job you’re in.”
Carreras said the NDP is running a positive campaign and that voters are ready for a change.
“They’re tired of the tax transfers and the extra costs that are constantly being put on to families.” People were “extremely upset” about how the government introduced the Harmonized Sales Tax, in July 2010, Carreras added.
Following a referendum on the tax, the government announced a return to the provincial sales tax on April 1, 2013.
“As a young family, it costs us a lot of money,” Carreras said.
HST has to be paid on her children’s dance and music lessons and on her fitness lessons.
“It’s definitely been a substantial increase in our budget.”
So far, only Terry Becker is running for the Liberals, after Maple Ridge Coun. Mike Morden backed out.
“At this point, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” he said Monday.
His decision isn’t based on low polling for the party. “The Liberals are not the popular choice right now,” said Morden.
“I just know the timing for me right now isn’t good.”
He added he wants to work on the commercial-industrial land review on going at the District of Maple Ridge and work on that to help grow the local economy.
“I’m just trying to do a good job here.”
Becker recently met in Victoria with cabinet ministers and the premier after an invitation by director of outreach Lorne Mayencourt. She disagreed with Rosenau’s description of Clark’s relationship with the federal government saying it’s a matter of maintaining good relationships with Ottawa.
“Christy Clark is nobody’s lapdog.”
Becker said the Liberals have about a 50-50 chance winning the riding, now held by NDP MLA Michael Sather, who resigns next election.
She doesn’t favour either a merger with Conservatives, “It’s not in our best interests,” nor changing the name of the B.C. Liberal party. “I don’t think there’s a need.”