Sunday, May 01, 2005

All Candidates Meeting Vancouver

Women's Issues Forum - April 29th

Attended the All Candidates Forum at the
Vancouver Public Library that was hosted by
the 52% Coalition, an ad hoc group that is working
hard to get women's issues on the election platform.
There was a pretty
small, but passionate turnout.
The candidates in attendance were Adrienne Carr
for the BC Green Party, Linda Reid - Liberal MLA
for Richmond East and Jenny Kwan - NDP MLA for
Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

Adrienne Carr was in favour of restoring funding,
services and a Ministry dedicated to providing support
to women in BC. Ms. Carr's quick wit was on display
as she interrupted the digs Linda Reid & Jenny Kwan
were making about the actions of each others' parties.
Ms. Carr piped up that the legislature needs more
Green candidates to hold both the Liberals and the
NDP accountable for policy and funding decisions.

MLA Linda Reid, although clearly a personable and
caring person, with a solid background as a teacher
and knowledgeable about issues of early childhood
development was really in a no-win position. It is
difficult for anyone to justify the decisions of the
BC Liberal party, because the ramifications of the
anti-woman comprehensive cuts to services that
support women around the Province cannot be
underestimated, as the panel and audience members
Ms. Reid's tactic of attacking the NDP for not setting
up an universal daycare system during their 10 years
in government smacked of desperation. She also stuck
to misinformation about budget transparency within
MCFD. Couldn't help feeling bad for her and she is at
least to be respected in following through on this gig,
which is more than some other Liberal candidates.
She had to know she would be taking heat for policies
she in no way is responsible for. However, it was alarming
in the extreme to hear Ms. Reid, who is in charge of
provincial ECD services, proudly claiming that there
has been expanded access to community support
services, such as counselling. One audience member
took the opportunity to call her on this, informing her
that in fact there has been an increase in wait-lists for
important ECD services and a decrease in community
support services under the Liberals service re-design.
In an effort to take the heat off, Ms. Reid pointed the
finger at the Health Employees Union (HEU)
that the union leadership was the one that asked the
employer for a 15% wage rollback. This misstatement
only served to alienate a majority of the audience, as
the truth was known to the many who lost their jobs,
or experienced wage roll backs to keep feeding their
families. By the end of the forum, it was unmistakable
that Ms. Reid was rattled and on the offense.

The clear "winner" if there is such a thing was
Jenny Kwan, with her customary "fire in the belly"
about the Liberals platform and how it has hurt
women, seniors and others around the Province.
Jenny committed the NDP to restoring funding to
women's centres, creating a stand alone Women's
Ministry once again, and restoring funding to legal aid.
What she was soft on were some of the improvements
that the NDP would make to restore financial support
to those on income assistance and elimination of the
3 week waiting period and other barriers to accessing
welfare. Ms. Carr and Ms. Reid were both spot on
mentioning the cuts and barriers created by Joy McPhail,
the social services minister when the NDP was in power
in the previous decade. Ms. Kwan acknowledged this openly,
which I think is an important admission, because there
are a lot of people who felt betrayed by the NDP's attack
on poor, marginalized people and the memory of that
betrayal is still with some of us.

In typical fashion, the candidates all had to be re-focused
in answering panelist's and audience member's questions
in a simple, yes, or no fashion. All politicians must learn
to talk around the points they don't want to answer, to
avoid committing themselves to a position. None of these
candidates was any different and I'm sure I wasn't the
only person who left who really wondered how the social
safety net will be repaired, to diminish the harm that
many women in BC have experienced over the last
4 years. That is not a partisan issue. There is a lot of
work to be done around the Province. My suspicion is
that women will play a very important role in who will
lead the next government. The unending polls continue
to demonstrate that Gordon Campbell and his Liberal
government continues to be unpopular with women.
Polls - a list of up to the minute poll results.

Babble at Rabble - No Published Polls in BC Election.

Monte Paulsen -
Poll: Gordo not liked, James not known.

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