Wednesday, July 29th and yet another hot night in Vancouver. We are in the middle of a hot crowd of NDP members and supporters who have arrived at VanDusen Gardens to acclaim our candidate for the brand new constituency of Vancouver Granville. There members of the old guard present and encouragingly a bunch of newbies too.
David Eby, the hard-working MLA for Vancouver Point Grey, and the candidate who soundly defeated Christy Clark in that riding in 2013, was the evening's presenter. Obviously the microphone placement was not initially set for David, a rather tall individual to say the least.
Bob Baker opened the evening with traditional song and drumming. Mr Baker is from the Squamish Nation and his opening included a warmth and gentle humour that blessed all present. He was followed by the candidate's great aunt. Zoe Oreck is 90 years young and has a history of activism in the city of Vancouver.
The effervescent Joy MacPhail made the keynote address. She is a former MLA and Leader of the BCNDP. She looked out at the crowd of over 300 and expressed surprise at seeing her dentist of many years near the front row. According to Joy, after years of hearing him complain about the NDP while performing dental work, it was both shock and reward to see how this campaign launch had brought him out in support of the NDP.
There were other NDP notables in attendance including Adrian Dix, Constance Barnes, and fomer MLA and MP, Dawn Black who entertained all present by asking for our money to help fund the campaign. Starting at $1500, she garnered several donations at that level before moving down the line. As she called out a dollar figure people would put up their hands and persons holding clipboards would arrive to record the details. The last I heard, the total raised this night was about $30,000, which goes a long way to meeting the $100,000 or so allowed to be raised in individual ridings. That amount will vary depending on when the Prime Minister calls the election.
The candidate for Vancouver Granville is Mira Oreck. She grew up in the riding, not far from VanDusen Gardens. She is west coast director for the Broadbent Institute, and has worked on several campaigns, including the 2012 re-election campaign of US President Barack Obama (where she co-produced a video that went viral) and Gregor Robertson's bids to get elected both as an NDP MLA and as mayor of Vancouver. She is intelligent, articulate and passionate, and obviously, drawing a crowd like tonight's, a valuable candidate for the NDP.
There was a tinge of nervousness as Mira gave her first speech of the campaign, as should be the case. The candidate is not full of herself, nor overly confidant; this is something important and meaningful, and winning this riding will take a great deal of work. Mira Oreck is up for the hard work and the challenge. This is not the NDP of your parents and it shows. Just ask Joy MacPhail's dentist.
Vancouver Granville is a brand new riding drawn from four former constituencies: parts of Liberal-held Vancouver Centre and Vancouver Quadra, Conservative-held Vancouver South and NDP-held Vancouver Kingsway. Going by the votes in the last election the eastern flank of this riding is NDP, the southern part consistently voted Liberal until the last election when it tilted Conservative, and the wealthier neigbourhoods of Kerrisdale and Shaughnessy in the middle, which tend towards the Conservative Party. Nobody said this would be easy, but right now, it's a three-way race.
Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.