A hopeful Burnaby councillor says he doesn’t know why he was endorsed by an anti-SOGI group.
Charter Lau and his five fellow Burnaby First Coalition candidates were endorsed by Let’s Vote Association, which describes itself online as a society promoting political engagement and helping “Canadian citizens and permanent residents, [especially] new immigrants, to participate in political parties and help to shape the parties with conservative values.”
The NOW has reached out the Let’s Vote for comment.
The group also endorsed two Burnaby trustee candidates: Jimmy Zhao and Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.
The endorsements were shared on Facebook by the Canadian Council for Faith and Family, a group Thompson told the NOW she started. The list includes endorsements for trustee, council and mayor in several Lower Mainland cities.
The names on the list represent candidates who “represent good values in our nation,” Thompson said.
“They're good people and they should be voted for, the kind of people who stand for parental rights,” she said.
Thompson, a New Westminster resident, is running for Burnaby school board on an independent campaign against SOGI 123 – a set of optional teacher resources about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Thompson said she didn’t know where the endorsement list came from or what criteria it was based upon.
“I know that I grabbed a list that was from somewhere else and it was placed up actually in a lot of places,” Thompson said. “I have no idea who made the list. We actually have a massive underground communication system going on and people put stuff out and we put it out there.”
But Lau said he had no communication with anyone making the endorsement, nor has anyone from his party, to his knowledge.
“I don't know how these things go,” he said. “Sometimes people read the news and make up their mind, sometimes they sent out questionnaires.”
Lau said he welcomes the support.
In 2011, Lau and Heather Leung, another BFC candidate endorsed by Let’s Vote, were vocal opponents of school board policies meant to protect LGBT staff and students from bullying.
They both ran unsuccessfully for school board with Burnaby Parents’ Voice.
But the two have distanced themselves from that past since joining Burnaby First. In September, Leung told the NOW her party had no position on SOGI issues because it wasn’t running any trustee candidates this year. She then cut the interview short before giving clear answers to questions about her party’s stances on LGBT issues relating to city council. Leung signed Thompson's nomination papers this year but said that should not be considerd an endorsement.
On Monday, Lau was asked whether he agreed with the current council’s July vote to raise the LGBT Pride flag at City Hall.
“I don't have a firm opinion,” he said. “I need to study it more.”
Lau said he has heard strong arguments for and against flying a rainbow flag.
“Some of the argument is that by flying a flag, you have this dominion over you,” he said. “And some people say this is just a gesture to support the community that is being bullied.”
City council also voted this summer to support Burnaby’s first official Pride event both logistically and financially. Lau said he would have voted in favour of that event, saying he would support all events “as long as they’re legal [and] as long as people like the event.”