November 26, 2016

The Better BC Rally ~ the first of the campaign

It was billed as a Better BC Rally and it came at the end of a Provincial Council meeting of  New Democratic Party leaders and activists from throughout BC (of which your faithful scribe is one).

Over five hundred people queued outside Ballroom A at the Pinnacle Hotel in downtown Vancouver. It was hot in the lobby, but that was nothing like the heat felt inside the ballroom once things got going.

We were greeted by a sign that will become ever more common at public events in the coming years, especially at political rallies where the public is the actual backdrop for the event itself. No longer are there any places in which to feel a sense of privacy because there are cameras everywhere and everyone is sharing photos without getting anyone's permission. Still, the sign did seem a wee bit harsh to our lawyer, and friend, B.T. Mendelbaum (disbarred).

The crowd was warmed up with speeches by new candidate Anne Kang, and the young-but-not-new MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert. Anne is running in Burnaby-Deer Lake, while Spencer rules the West End.

Jinny Sims spoke, given the difficult task of asking for money. Asking for donations is unfortunate, but essential, especially in a province where foreign donors, wealthy Realtors and rich corporations buy their audiences with the Premier. That's one of the reasons this huge crowd showed up ~ to work to end the influence of big money in politics. So, Jinny was given a tough job, and she did it with style and humour, and on May 9th she will become the new MLA for Surrey-Panorama.

Finally, about the same time as B.T. Mendelbaum almost passed out from the heat, the star of the afternoon appeared, our next premier, John Horgan. And the phones were busy.

John is an interesting guy. He appears to be very comfortable in his role as leader, and he shines when speaking one-on-one or in small groups. In larger settings, like this one, he delights in the energy of the crowd. In this speech, at the first big rally of the campaign, John was easy-going to the point of diverging from the teleprompter on occasion and simply riffing about the topic at hand. Nice touch that.

His speech hit the key points that mattered to this crowd, and probably to most of us: jobs, health care and education, affordability, good government and the environment. 

John's address was serious, angry at times, delivered with a great sense of humility and a natural sense of humour. Brilliant thought B.T. Mendelbaum, regaining their composure and glad they were dragged to this thing after all.

The end of the rally came with John's obligatory selfie, trying, as always, to get as many people in the picture as possible. And after sixteen years of an entirely different approach to government... that's a refreshing concept.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2016 by Jim Murray.

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