Where is Chloe Ellis?

Chloe Ellis, we miss you. Sure, I’m writing while you’re at the only meet-the-candidates event you’ve participated in in New Westminster, but you’ve skipped every other one (including the two that I went to), you didn’t answer the local paper’s questions, and even worse, you didn’t answer my questions. Egregious!

But we all know you’re busy. You haven’t said what you’re busy doing when you’re too busy to meet with people you’d like to vote for you, so that’s up for speculation.

So let’s speculate! Here are the reasons I thought up that would make you too busy to show up to meet your voters:

  1. Skydiving to deliver the game ball for the Hyacks Football homecoming game.
  2. Lobbying the Competition Bureau so New Westminster finally gets a Save-On-Foods. (HEY SHUT UP THIS JOKE NEVER GETS OLD)
  3. Recording another music video.
  4. You refuse to answer anybody who doesn’t put the acute accent into Chloé Ellis.
  5. Lining up for a sweet new iPhone 6s Plus.
  6. Reading over the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, but sorry, she’s unable to tell anybody about it.
  7. Conspiring with all the other Conservative no-shows in planning a massive victory party for Stephen Harper.
  8. Lining up for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
  9. Trying to hack the polls to make the Conservatives look better.
  10. Scouring the local thrift shops to find a red trenchcoat for that perfect Halloween costume.

Sasha Ramnarine Answers New West-Burnaby MP Questions

Sasha Ramnarine is the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for New Westminster-Burnaby, hoping to represent us all on a federal level, and he answered my questions to the Member of Parliament candidates.

And remember, the questions (and probably answers) are satire, so if you take them out of context, bad things will happen.

Also, thank you very much Mr. Ramnarine for answering my questions!

The City of New Westminster used to be represented federally by two Members of Parliament (Peter Julian for Burnaby-New Westminster and Fin Donnelly for New Westminster-Coquitlam). Now that New West is only going to have one MP, what will you do to ensure your voice is at least twice as loud as everybody else?

Sasha Ramnarine: I live in New Westminster and I am deeply committed to ensuring the issues of the riding are addressed in Ottawa. I represent the middle class. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money. Since the age of nine working in my family’s restaurant, I have worked hard to ensure that I could pay for my education. I worked close to 50 hours a week through university to ensure I get the quality education that I wanted. I’m passionate about my community and social justice, and have worked and advocated for drinking water rights for First Nations, youth on the Downtown Eastside and mentoring new immigrants to Canada. I represent the challenges and opportunities for middle class Canadians, particularly those in our riding. This is the kind of perseverance and passion I will take to Ottawa as Member of Parliament for New Westminster-Burnaby if elected.

As everybody in New Westminster knows, we have an abundance of Save-On-Foods grocery stores, a situation created by the Competition Bureau. As the Competition Bureau is a federal intitution, what will you do as New Westminster’s federal representative to eliminate all non-Save-On-Foods stores in New West?

Sasha Ramnarine: I will always consult with local residents to ensure what is best for our community. If that means supporting our local small businesses, for example, I will use my strong experience as an entrepreneur, small business lawyer, and chair for the Small Business Council events committee to support and help grow our local small businesses.

Over the past few years we have seen two high-profile protests related to federal projects on New Westminster’s borders: the expansion of Fraser Surrey Docks to ship coal and the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Neither of these projects actually happen in New Westminster, which leads me to my question: which controversial federal project will you bring to New Westminster so we can have our own home-grown protests?

Sasha Ramnarine: The lack of infrastructure investments and lack of partnership by the current Federal Government to our local municipalities.

I have a plan to work with the provincial government and municipalities to make bold infrastructure investments for road improvements, replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, more buses, increased Skytrain service and more cycling infrastructure.

Assuming your party forms the government, what will you do to bring the Prime Minster to New Westminister?

Sasha Ramnarine: If elected, I will ensure that Prime Minister Trudeau visits New Westminster as soon as possible. The best time would be when infrastructure projects are announced for our riding. I will also take him to a few local businesses where I enjoy awesome food!

How much money will your party pledge to replace the Pattullo Bridge, knowing full well that we just had a referendum (sorry, non-binding plebescite) where we rejected a tax increase that would supply the municipalities’ third of the pot and any promised federal money wouldn’t get spent anyhow? Three hundred million dollars? Five hundred million dollars? ELEVENTY TRILLION DOLLARS???

Sasha Ramnarine: We will boost investment in public transportation projects by nearly $6 billion over the next four years, and almost $20 billion over ten years. Our funding will be flexible to the requirements of New Westminster and Burnaby, and surrounding areas, in order to maximize the number of better public transit projects, and better roads. Federal funding will no longer be a roadblock to action to building the Pattulo Bridge and implementing other projects.

When you vote Conservative, remember my neighbours

I live in a housing co-operative. Back in the mid-1980s our co-op entered an operating agreement with the federal government that provided partial funding to subsidize the rent for low-income households. To this day, we receive some money that helps offset the rent for low-income people living in our co-op. It’s not a lot of money: last year we received about $38,000 and this year we’ll receive about $37,000.

This money is solely to support low-income households. If your income is above a certain threshold (for a two-bedroom household, this is about $45,000) then you can’t even apply for assistance. Some of my neighbours rely on this help, as they’re on fixed incomes like disability or retirement. They literally can’t get more money to pay for rent, so this housing assistance is sorely needed.

In 2019 our operating agreement with the federal government comes to an end. The Conservatives have said that when these agreements are over, they’re over. They won’t be renewed. The federal subsidy will come to an end, and our co-op will be faced with telling our neighbours their rents will be raised to market rates. Our fixed-income neighbours will have to pay 60% of their income on housing, which they can’t afford, and they’ll be forced to move from their homes.

This is playing out across the country. We’re one housing co-op. There are over 250 in British Columbia with more than 14,500 households. Across Canada there are more than 2,200 co-ops with over 90,000 households. The vast majority of these co-ops will see their federal funding come to an end over the next decade, meaning thousands of people will be faced with the choice between large rent hikes or homelessness.

The federal election is key for fixing this. Of the four major parties, only the Conservatives offer no help for low-income families. The NDP have pledged to renew the operating agreements. The Liberals have pledged to renew the operating agreements. The Greens have pleged to re-establish funding for housing co-operatives.

The Conservatives would let the operating agreements lapse, leaving low-income households to lose their homes.

So remember, when you mark an X next to your Conservative candidate, remember the thousands of people who will have their rents go up by 30-50%. Remember the thousands of people across the country who will have to choose between a roof over their heads or food on the table. Remember the thousands of people who will be forced into hidden homelessness or onto the streets.

When you vote Conservative, remember my neighbours.

Where is Chloe Ellis?

Chloe Ellis is the Conservative Party of Canada’s candidate in the riding of New Westminster—Burnaby for the 2015 Federal Election.

At least, that’s what Elections Canada says.

If you ask anybody in New Westminster who’s shown up to all-candidates meetings they’d tell you there isn’t a Conservative candidate.

And that’s because Ms. Ellis has yet to show up.

It’s a theme that’s playing out across the country: Conservative candidates and their managers either give reporters the run-around or don’t show up to all-candidates meetings (in Saskatoon, Prince George and Williams Lake, Calgary, and London, to take four examples). There’s a cone of silence dropped upon them from up high, and it really pisses me off.

It’s undemocratic. Hell, I’d say it’s anti-democratic. It spits in the face of why we’re having these elections. We’re voting on people to represent us, the citizens, in the House of Commons. They’re supposed to be responsible to us, and part of being responsible is actually showing up to speak with and listen to your constituents.

It’s disrespectful. Organizers of all-candidates meetings put in hours to get everybody set up. They set the agenda, reserve a space to hold the meeting, set up equipment, advertise, and do a lot more behind the scenes. It’s not easy, and it’s all volunteer time. And then there are the people who show up at the meeting to ask questions and hear what the candidates have to say. By not showing up to the meetings, Conservative candidates are wasting everybody’s time, and when you have 70 people showing up, and lots more following along at home through Twitter, that’s a lot of time you’re wasting and a lot of people you’re disrespecting.

It’s cowardly. The House of Commons is a venue for debate. For someone to want to be there, yet avoid debate in their own city, that just shows that they don’t really care at all about the people they want to represent, all they want is that plum job. They want to be a faithful back-bencher, collecting the $167,000 per year salary. Debate? What’s that?

I reject the premise that the blame for this behaviour falls squarely on the Conservative party. Yes, Ms. Ellis is young and inexperienced. So is Kyle Routledge, but he shows up. So is Sasha Ramnarine, but he shows up. (This is where Mr. Ramnarine thanks me for calling him young.) Neither of them are expected to win, but they show up. They answer questions, they shake hands, they talk with people, even though neither of them has experience being a politician.

No, Ms. Ellis takes the blame here. She is the candidate. She put her name forward. She wants to represent us in Ottawa. And she is the one who ultimately decides what she does. She can have backbone and say to her handler “I’m going to this event.” And I completely understand that if she did show some backbone and stood up for herself that she’d probably lose some kind of perks that come along with toeing the party line.

But that doesn’t excuse her invisibility. That doesn’t excuse her disrespect. That doesn’t excuse her from her responsibilities towards the people she wants to vote for her. Her entire job is based upon representing her constituents, and to disrespect your constituents just so you might gain some favor with the party? To hell with that.

Peter Julian answers New West-Burnaby MP Questions

Peter Julian is the NDP candidate for New Westminster-Burnaby, hoping to represent us all on a federal level, and he answered my questions to the Member of Parliament candidates.

Like I said before, these questions are satirical and the answers should be taken in the same vein. If you use any of this out of context, I will destroy everything you love.

The City of New Westminster used to be represented federally by two Members of Parliament (Peter Julian for Burnaby-New Westminster and Fin Donnelly for New Westminster-Coquitlam). Now that New West is only going to have one MP, what will you do to ensure your voice is at least twice as loud as everybody else? Bonus question for Peter Julian: Will this mean that you’ll have to break the half a million words barrier?

Peter Julian: Yes, I have a loud voice 😉 but it’s not volume that counts – it’s effectiveness! My office has helped over 10,000 individuals and families in New Westminster and Burnaby. We don’t win every case, but we have one of the best track-records in the country. When Samara-Canada did an analysis of the most active people in Parliament the year before last — I came out as the most active Parliamentarian in Ottawa. I love our community and our country and I am proud to speak out on behalf of my consituents – sometimes loudly, sometimes softly – in New Westminster and Burnaby!

As everybody in New Westminster knows, we have an abundance of Save-On-Foods grocery stores, a situation created by the Competition Bureau. As the Competition Bureau is a federal intitution, what will you do as New Westminster’s federal representative to eliminate all non-Save-On-Foods stores in New West?

Peter Julian: I’ll do nothing of the sort! We need more diversity of choices in New Westminster, not less. I work with small businesses in our community to assure more diversity and competition and shopping choices and the NDP plan to lower the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% will help achieve that end.

Over the past few years we have seen two high-profile protests related to federal projects on New Westminster’s borders: the expansion of Fraser Surrey Docks to ship coal and the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Neither of these projects actually happen in New Westminster, which leads me to my question: which controversial federal project will you bring to New Westminster so we can have our own home-grown protests?

Peter Julian: I’ll bring the Victoria Shamrocks to New West to celebrate their Mann Cup win and I’ll join the protests! But seriously, my office and the city and local representatives like Judy Darcy and Fin Donnelly have organized town halls and spoken out on the profound disrespect shown to our community and the entire Lower Mainland by the Harper government on the issues of the coal-port and the Trans Mountain pipeline. Clearly it’s time to change the government!

Assuming your party forms the government, what will you do to bring the Prime Minster to New Westminister?

Peter Julian: If Stephen Harper is re-elected because of vote splitting, I won’t be bringing him to New West. If Tom Mulcair is elected, I’ll bring him here to see a Salmonbellies game!

How much money will your party pledge to replace the Pattullo Bridge, knowing full well that we just had a referendum (sorry, non-binding plebescite) where we rejected a tax increase that would supply the municipalities’ third of the pot and any promised federal money wouldn’t get spent anyhow? Three hundred million dollars? Five hundred million dollars? ELEVENTY TRILLION DOLLARS???

Peter Julian: The Pattullo Bridge is part of a larger problem with traffic in our community. We need stable long-term funding for infrastructure, public transit and suburban trains that allow folks south of the Fraser to get to work which don’t require driving through New Westminster. But, Eleventy Trillion Dollars!? That would be a deluxe Pattullo Bridge replacement with big-screen televisions all along the bridge with buffet and caviar service for drivers. I can’t agree to that! 😉

Kyle Routledge answers New West-Burnaby MP Questions

Kyle Routledge is the Green Party candidate for New Westminster-Burnaby, hoping to represent us all on a federal level, and he answered my questions to the Member of Parliament candidates.

Obviously this is all satire so if you’re a complete asshole and use any of these answers in some kind of stupid candidate shaming activity I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

The City of New Westminster used to be represented federally by two Members of Parliament (Peter Julian for Burnaby-New Westminster and Fin Donnelly for New Westminster-Coquitlam). Now that New West is only going to have one MP, what will you do to ensure your voice is at least twice as loud as everybody else?

Kyle Routledge: As your MP for all of New West, I would assure you that the articulation of my apparently unusual verbosity will be matched, unequivocally, by the candor I will demonstrate while embarking on the opportunity to best offer my provisions to a constituency that has deemed my inherent principles, and deeply rooted ethics, worthy of their unwavering support.

Or, I will be a loud voice for all residents of New Westminster (and Burnaby) regardless of party policy. The Green Party is a party that has no whipped vote. Green MPs are expected to always vote for the best interest of the communities that elect them, regardless of what the party feels is best. If elected, I will always put the concerns of the citizen ahead of the policy of the party.

As everybody in New Westminster knows, we have an abundance of Save-On-Foods grocery stores, a situation created by the Competition Bureau. As the Competition Bureau is a federal intitution, what will you do as New Westminster’s federal representative to eliminate all non-Save-On-Foods stores in New West?

Kyle Routledge: Save-On-Foods is a true icon of British Columbia. Founded in 1915, the Overwaitea Food Group, which became “SaveOn,” has been serving BCers for 100 years. While the “dream” to have Save-On-Foods enjoy a complete monopoly on our local grocery stores may be alive, I believe the goal of the Competition Bureau is to actually enforce the opposite.

Taken from their website:

“The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.”
“The basic operating assumption of the Competition Bureau is that competition is good for both business and consumers.”

Based on this stunning information that a quick Google search produced, I would have to, unfortunately to you and your loyal readers, see to it that everything that can be done by this organization to ensure that fair and healthy competition is thriving in New West (and Burnaby) is being done.

Over the past few years we have seen two high-profile protests related to federal projects on New Westminster’s borders: the expansion of Fraser Surrey Docks to ship coal and the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Neither of these projects actually happen in New Westminster, which leads me to my question: which controversial federal project will you bring to New Westminster so we can have our own home-grown protests?

Kyle Routledge: To simply champion one controversial project is a tough task. I imagine most projects I champion for will be met with some level of resistance from various groups or individuals. But isn’t that one of the beautiful things about living in a open and free democracy? To able to have healthy disagreements, to stand up (respectfully) for what we believe in? But if I had to select one right now, I would look into what we need in regards to improvements to the New Westminster Rail Bridge. Whether through maintenance and rehabilitation or through replacement with either another bridge or a tunnel, this is a critical piece of infrastructure that will largely determine how much economic growth we can experience in the area. As an MP, I would work with local municipal and provincial governments to determine what the best course of action would be to improve rail transportation in New Westminster. Surely this would garner some protests.

As an aside, I am absolutely opposed to both of the projects you mentioned (TransMountain and thermal coal exports a Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD)). I am the only candidate who will go on the record and say I am opposed to these projects. A little info about the Green Party. As I mentioned in my response to Question 1, the Green Party does not have a whipped vote. Green MPs are free to vote for what their constituency wants. I have yet to meet a single person in New West (or Burnaby) who is in favour of the export of the thermal coal at FSD. Yet other candidates say we need to do a better job on the “Environmental Assessment” aspect of these projects before they can say if they are in favour or in opposition. I work as a wildlife biologist, and I do Environmental Assessments for a living. I can absolutely assure you that no matter what is done to improve the process, 2 facts will not change:

  1. Burning thermal coal is hands down, the biggest contributor of Green House Gasses (GHGs) of all the fossil fuels. No Environmental Assessment, no matter how thorough or robust, will change this. Burning thermal coal is bad for the globe, and we should not support it in any way.
  2. Fugitive coal dust, in any amount, is not something I want: in my yard, on my garden, on my car, on my streets, my dog playing in, our kids playing in, etc. No Environmental Assessment, no matter how thorough or robust, will change this. This dust may or may not have long-term health implications, we don’t yet have enough information, but it will certainly make things gross, and I like living in a clean beautiful city, not a gross one.

Don’t you want an MP who will stand up for you and be your voice on principle, not on party policy?

Assuming your party forms the government, what will you do to bring the Prime Minster to New Westminister?

Kyle Routledge: As residents of New West have consistently shown, we are a progressive community that supports small business and local foods (like the Green Party). We have a number of beautiful green spaces, and the adoption of the new “parklets” will only further in helping us develop a sense of community. Young people are flocking to New West as an ideal place to start a family. We have a city council who understand the need to improve transportation efficiency in New West. We have a mayor who is acutely aware of the housing crisis and has taken steps to increase the number of housing units for families (3+ bedrooms) in new developments. I feel that with all these gems we have here in New West (and Burnaby), Elizabeth May would be absolutely thrilled to come for a visit! (I’d even invite you along to be our personal tour guide, Brad)

How much money will your party pledge to replace the Pattullo Bridge, knowing full well that we just had a referendum (sorry, non-binding plebescite) where we rejected a tax increase that would supply the municipalities’ third of the pot and any promised federal money wouldn’t get spent anyhow? Three hundred million dollars? Five hundred million dollars? ELEVENTY TRILLION DOLLARS???

Kyle Routledge: As I am currently unaware of the full cost of any options to replace the Pattullo Bridge, I unfortunately cannot commit to any number. I feel confident that I could give you a range though. I imagine the dollar amount will be greater than one million dollars, but less than eleventy trillion dollars (± 5%). I do feel that this piece of aging infrastructure requires replacement, but I’m not certain what I feel that should be yet. As roadways in New West (and parts of Burnaby) are not numerous or very expandable, I don’t think the answer is a 6-lane bridge, as some have suggested. I really like the analogy that compares trying to fix traffic congestion by widening roads to trying to fix obesity by widening pants; you need to address the root issue before you can come up with viable solutions (this leads to a beautiful thing commonly referred to as “evidence based decision making,” which I am personally a big fan of). We need to focus on ways to get more people on transit and fewer people in their cars on the roads. Whatever replacement option that is decided on must have clear support from residents of New West (sorry Burnaby, I can’t include you on this one).

Editorial note: While my questions were obviously satirical, Kyle answered mostly seriously but still in the vein of the questions. Thanks for the answers, Kyle!

Questions for New Westminster-Burnaby MP Candidates

It’s election time again! And you all know what that means — more stupid questions from yours truly!

This time it’s a federal election, and sleepy little New Westminster gets lumped together with a bit of Burnaby to form the new New Westminster—Burnaby electoral district. We have four declared candidates: Peter Julian (NDP, and considered the incumbent), Sasha Ramnarine (Liberal), Kyle Routledge (Green), and Chloe Ellis (Conservative). I’m pretty sure that at least two of the candidates will answer (at least, I think I asked them both personally), and I’m anticipating that one of them won’t given their party’s record. If anybody else out there feels like being a ghost writer for Chloe Ellis and answering the questions as a Conservative candidate, feel free!

Oh, and I’m writing these questions as a New Westminster resident, so they’re primarily focused on New West and not Burnaby. Sorry Burnaby!

  1. The City of New Westminster used to be represented federally by two Members of Parliament (Peter Julian for Burnaby-New Westminster and Fin Donnelly for New Westminster-Coquitlam). Now that New West is only going to have one MP, what will you do to ensure your voice is at least twice as loud as everybody else? Bonus question for Peter Julian: Will this mean that you’ll have to break the half a million words barrier?
  2. As everybody in New Westminster knows, we have an abundance of Save-On-Foods grocery stores, a situation created by the Competition Bureau. As the Competition Bureau is a federal intitution, what will you do as New Westminster’s federal representative to eliminate all non-Save-On-Foods stores in New West?
  3. Over the past few years we have seen two high-profile protests related to federal projects on New Westminster’s borders: the expansion of Fraser Surrey Docks to ship coal and the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline. Neither of these projects actually happen in New Westminster, which leads me to my question: which controversial federal project will you bring to New Westminster so we can have our own home-grown protests?
  4. Assuming your party forms the government, what will you do to bring the Prime Minster to New Westminister?
  5. How much money will your party pledge to replace the Pattullo Bridge, knowing full well that we just had a referendum (sorry, non-binding plebescite) where we rejected a tax increase that would supply the municipalities’ third of the pot and any promised federal money wouldn’t get spent anyhow? Three hundred million dollars? Five hundred million dollars? ELEVENTY TRILLION DOLLARS???

You (or Chloe Ellis’ ghost writers) can email the answers to me at brad.cavanagh@gmail.com. I look forward to them!

Update: Hey, wouldn’t you know it, some of the candidates have replied!