On Thursday, April 23rd, I started my day at a BC Green Party press conference outside City Hall, where candidates gathered with BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk to support “livable cities”. Our transportation expert candidate, Stephen Rees, spoke about transit and making communities more welcoming.
During the press conference, I received a phone call from a woman representing the student advocacy group at BCIT; one of their International Trades students had been pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt, and the cop saw a bag of marijuana in the glove compartment. Four police officers were called to deal with this student who posed no threat to anyone at all, and was not driving while impaired. The woman was very concerned, as the student’s career in International Trades was surely going to be negatively impacted by this situation (there are travel restrictions for people with criminal records). I gave her our lawyer’s phone number and listened as she expressed her disgust with these unjust marijuana laws and how the laws do more harm to people than the marijuana itself. I couldn’t agree more!
That afternoon I filmed a brief segment for two BCIT journalism students about getting young people involved in politics. One of the students was the twin brother of the NDP’s MLA for Vancouver-West End, Spencer Herbert. I mentioned the earlier phone call about the BCIT student’s arrest, and they agreed that it was unnecessary and the laws need to be changed.
On Friday April 24th at 1:00pm, I was on the Christy Clark show on CKNW radio with my Vancouver-Fraserview riding opponents, Kash Heed of the Liberals and Gabriel Yiu of the NDP. I thought the debate was only going to be for 15 minutes or so, but it went for the full hour! The topic of prohibition came up right away, and Kash Heed tried to play both sides of the coin – going on the defensive when Gabriel Yiu brought up Heed’s previous statements over the last decade advocating a rethink on our drug laws including decriminalization, and then Heed would water down his beliefs saying we need more police, jails, longer sentences and asset forfeiture. Yiu himself is very prohibitionist even though the NDP, in 2006, passed a policy resolution making the NDP position on drug-law reform a non-punitive, non-criminal regime. Kash and Gabriel argued and yelled over each other constantly, while I did my best to sound calm, collected, and rational with solid ideas and solutions to problems. You can listen to the debate with commercials removed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyPpqihr0zY
The next day, April 25th, I went to a Chinese church in my riding for a “Canadians For Reconciliation” meeting. The purpose was to explain and address the terrible racist treatment and abuses of early Chinese immigrants to BC. A panel consisting of five Chinese media and community representatives, along with Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, spoke about the need for reconciliation and the Chinese community’s desire to be better represented in Canadian history and culture.
Candidates from all parties were welcome to attend and sign a pledge to support better funding for education about Chinese sacrifices for BC, but the provincial Liberals had no one attend, and the provincial NDP sent MLA Jenny Kwan to represent all candidates. The BC Greens had me (it was my riding, after all), and fellow candidates Doug Warkentin, Rev Warkentin, Helen Chang, Grant Fraser, and Stephen Kronstein. The Liberal Member of Parliament (federal) for the riding, Ujjal Dosanjh, was there, too. I learned a lot from the power point presentation and panel discussion, and concluded the event by thanking the panel and host, Mr. Bill Chu.
That evening, BC Green candidate Laura-Leah Shaw and I were invited to the home of a student named Gabe and his girlfriend Nicki. They hold events for all political parties to make their pitch to the younger voting crowd. Gabe wants to get his friends involved in politics and educated about BC-STV (voting reform) and had wine, beer, delicious samosas and other foods to feed about twenty of their friends who came by. We started by letting everyone introduce themselves and the issues they are most concerned about. The discussions went well, and many topics were addressed with positive responses from the attendees. As I left, Gabe told me that his uncle was at the Fraserview Rotary Club meeting I had attended (as covered in my previous blog entry) and hopefully I made a good impression! Gabe also said that I was very skilled at speaking. It was a lovely night overall, and a great way to break the ice with twenty-plus “strangers” with questions about various policies.
On Monday the 27th, an old friend from high school who’s taking broadcast journalism at BCIT met me in my riding to film me knocking doors, mainstreeting, and talking about gang violence. We walked from 49th Avenue at Fraser Street down to 53rd Ave where a shooting death had actually taken place, and I spoke about prohibition. People on the street took my information handouts and one gentleman knew me from the Rotary Club meeting. Others expressed their support for me and took buttons, then talked about the NDP and Liberals’ disappointing campaigns. I think that with all of the great people and conversations, the segment went well. It’s set to air Friday, May 1st on Shaw Television.
Also on Monday, the “Province” newspaper’s notorious curmudgeon columnist Jon Ferry wrote about me for his column. He had heard me on the CKNW radio interview, and was shocked by – but agreed with – my statement that everyone needs to sacrifice in the worsening economic situation, including unions. The caller was a paramedic who was upset about the bargaining situation and explained paramedics were on strike (but still providing essential services). I simply said everyone needs to tighten their belts and make better use of what they’ve got, because “there isn’t an unlimited bucket of government money”. Jon Ferry’s column was called “A dose of common sense from the Green Party: Brave young candidate urges economic belt-tightening”. He said that I was right, and that always feels good to hear!
Tuesday the 28th was exciting because my lawn signs were ready! Marc went to Surrey and picked up my 100 double-sided coroplast signs, which are great to finally have on hand as the election date draws nearer. That night, I was invited to meet with respected members of the Indo-Canadian community to talk about the BC Green Party. I had met Ross Street Temple member Rajinder Bhela at the Vaisakhi parade on April 11th (as covered in my April 13th election blog), and he had set up a meeting for me to meet his friends and business associates. We went to his office where ten gentlemen joined me to discuss the BC Green Party policies. They explained that most people in their community, and in India, are “green” in the ways they live and work, from organic foods to respect for the earth – and said that even though they were Liberal supporters and knew my opponent Kash Heed, they were interested in the BC Green Party and my personal campaign.
I was very pleased to meet these respected, successful men and valued the informative conversations we had. A few of them pledged their support to me and were happy to help my campaign regardless of their previous political allegiances. In fact, Rajinder got a phone call from Kash Heed today (Wednesday the 29th) to attend a fundraiser, but told Kash Heed that he was supporting me instead! What a great endorsement and sign of support. Rajinder came by later to pick up lawn signs, promising to get them out in my riding over the weekend while I’m in Ontario for the Toronto Freedom Festival and Global Marijuana March on Saturday, which my husband speaks at every year.
Sunday, May 3rd is the BC Leaders’ TV debate from 5:00 to 6:00pm. BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk invited me to be one of the two candidates in the media “spin room” during the debate, so you might hear me on radio or television news commenting on the performances. Each of the three party leaders chooses two party members to be in the media room and I’m honoured to be there live for this pivotal (and only) television debate.
I think I’m doing well so far, but come Monday, May 4th I need to get out in full force, knocking on doors and meeting people throughout my riding! The election is closer than it seems and will be over before I know it, and I hope to win at least 1,000 votes – please help me get my message out there by contributing to my campaign. Today I paid Canada Post $2,670 to deliver my brochures to every household, business and apartment in Vancouver-Fraserview beginning on Monday, May 5th and it cost $2,450 to print the 25,000 pamphlets, so that’s my biggest expense so far – over $5,120 to deliver my BC Green Party pamphlet to everyone in the whole riding! Please go to http://www.JodieForMLA.ca/Donate and contribute $10, $20 or $50 to my campaign to help cover these election costs. Thank you for your support!