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Labour council changes vote, endorses incumbent BCA councillors

New Westminster and District Labour Council endorses BCA councillors but independent Hurley for mayor

After appearing to spurn its longtime allies in June, the New Westminster and District Labour Council has endorsed every Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA) candidate in the Oct. 20 civic election except for Mayor Derek Corrigan. 

On June 27, council delegates from various unions voted to endorse former firefighter Mike Hurley for mayor. They also voted to endorse BCA school trustee Baljinder Narang in her bid to make the jump to Burnaby city council.

They considered and voted down endorsement applications from all seven sitting BCA councillors – Pietro Calendino, Dan Johnston, Sav Dhaliwal, Colleen Jordan, Paul McDonnell, Nick Volkow and James Wang. (The eighth council seat has been empty since Anne Kang left council to become an MLA.)

At the time, NWDLC secretary treasurer Janet Andrews would not say why delegates had chosen not to endorse the councillors.

But, at a second delegate vote on Aug. 22, delegates chose to endorse the same seven councillors. The official endorsements were announced this week.

“We’re pleased to endorse people that we think are going to represent working people in Burnaby,” Andrews said.

Andrews would not answer specific questions about what changed over the summer. She also would not say whether delegates considered endorsing other council candidates.

“We try to be confidential about the process,” she said. 

In June, Hurley said he was grateful for the labour council’s vote of support.

“The decision by the council to endorse me adds a strong and considered voice to my candidacy to become mayor of Burnaby,” said the former president of the local firefighters’ union.

Corrigan, who has sought and received the endorsement in the previous five elections, said he did not apply for the endorsement this time around. Andrews confirmed this claim.

The city released the final list of candidates for the Oct. 20 vote after the nomination period closed on Sept. 14. Two more names, in addition to Hurley and Corrigan, popped up as mayoral candidates: Sylvia Gung and Helen H. S. Chang.

Gung has run for political office before, most recently in the 2017 provincial election as an independent in the riding of Burnaby-Deer Lake. But she is perhaps best known for running for mayor in 2014 with a platform aimed at banning public kissing and hand-holding. 

Helen Chang also ran for mayor in 2014. She was previously elected to school board in 2005 and 2008. In 2009, she ran unsuccessfully as an MLA candidate of the Green Party of British Columbia. In 2011, She ran with the Burnaby Greens as a school trustee candidate but wasn’t elected.

There are 24 candidates vying for the eight council seats in Burnaby, including the eight aforementioned BCA members. Challenging them are: