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Green Party to take on BCA

Intends to run full slate of candidates in civic election
Joe Keithley
Green Party civic candidate Joe Keithley

The Burnaby Green Party has announced it intends to run a full slate in this fall’s municipal election and declared its candidates are “out to restore some democracy to city hall.”

Four candidates, all of whom have previously run as Green Party candidates in federal, provincial and civic elections, were named in the announcement. But the group, said one of the candidates, will run a complete slate to challenge the Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA), which has swept the mayoralty, council and board of education seats in the last three municipal elections.

“The awareness of the Green Party in B.C. is higher than it’s ever been before. This is our chance. Basically, we’re out to restore some democracy to city hall in Burnaby,” said Joe Keithley, a long-time activist, musician and Burnaby native.

By the time the Oct. 20 election rolls around, the BCA will have controlled the mayor’s chair, all eight seats on council and the seven school trustee positions for a decade. The BCA has held the majority on council since 1987 and the school board since 1983. Derek Corrigan was first elected to council in 1987 and has been the city’s mayor since 2002. In recent elections, opposing slates – including those fielded by Team Burnaby in the 2008 and 2011 elections and Burnaby First in 2014 – have failed to elect any candidates.

“We think it’s time for a change. Derek Corrigan’s been in there a really long time, for over 30 years. Most of the councillors have been in there a really, really long time. We think their best-before date has expired on a lot of them, including the mayor,” said Keithley, 61.

This will be his first civic election attempt. Keithley was a B.C. Green Party provincial candidate for Burnaby-Lougheed in 2017 and a Coquitlam-Burke Mountain byelection candidate in 2016. He previously ran for the Greens in the 1996 and 2001 provincial elections. He was unsuccessful in an attempt to win a provincial NDP nomination in Coquitlam in 2013.

Metrotown housing advocate and school teacher Rick McGowan, accountant Carrie McLaren and IT consultant Valentine Wu will also run for the Green party.

McLaren and McGowan ran for council in 2011, finishing 17th and 20th respectively. McGowan was the B.C. Green Party candidate in Burnaby-Deer Lake in last year’s provincial election, garnering 12 per cent of the vote. McLaren was the party’s candidate for Burnaby-New Westminster in the 2008 and 2011 federal elections, in addition to provincial election attempts in 2009 (Burnaby-Edmonds) and 2013 (Burnaby North).

Valentine Wu
Valentine Wu - Contributed

Wu ran in Burnaby Edmonds in 2017 and has also garnered recognition recently as spokesman for the family of Marrisa Shen, a 13-year-old girl whose body was found in Central Park last July.

Keithley said the four candidates have been named because they’ve already been vetted by the party. He said three individuals have expressed interest in running for council and two for the board of education. Although there have been some internal discussions on who would run for mayor, that decision has not been made, he added.

The party, which Keithley said currently has 40 to 50 members, will hold its first public meeting at Lochdale Hall (490 Sperling Ave.) on Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m., in an effort to attract new members and a diverse range of candidates.

“We’re trying to change city hall from the existing party because we think we’re open-minded,” said Keithley. “There has to be a counter opinion. At the very least, we would hope to try and shoo four or five to break the monopoly. Greens have a belief in working with people. It doesn’t matter whether they’re right wing, left wing or in the middle. 

“You can’t make everybody happy all of the time, but you have to find ways to accommodate more ideas. It’s pretty one way or the highway, which is (Corrigan’s) way and has been for a long time.”