A former B.C. judge is about to make a run for the NDP nomination in a riding at the centre of the Kinder Morgan pipeline controversy, with the backing of the protest’s most vocal advocate.
“It’s time for me to get off the sidelines, stop being an armchair critic, and put my money where my mouth is and get involved,” said Baird Ellan in an interview just prior to the official press release.
“I’m watching what’s happening in the country and I suppose the most recent event that spurred me into the arena was the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.”
In an exclusive interview, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who has vehemently opposed the pipeline, has officially gone on record to endorse Carol Baird Ellan in seeking the nomination in Burnaby North Seymour.
“It should be someone who has a sense of both communities,” said Corrigan, “and I think that Carol Baird Ellan is a really good choice for that.”
Representing two communities
The riding that Baird Ellan hopes to represent was created as part of the federal electoral boundaries redistribution and amalgamates North Burnaby and North Vancouver, separated by the Burrard Inlet.
Baird Ellan lives in North Vancouver and spent some time as a judge in Burnaby so has a connection and understanding of both communities that make up the riding, which Corrigan said will be essential.
“I think she’s one of those candidates who will achieve national recognition,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of those candidates who comes along where you really think they are going to up the level of debate in the House of Commons.”
Corrigan: “Someone who has a sense of both communities.” (1’15”)
The two met in law school at UBC and later faced off against each other in the courts – Corrigan as a defence lawyer and Baird Ellan as a prosecutor.
Kennedy Stewart, the current MP representing the area and who will be running in Burnaby South in the next election, has been very important in the pipeline debate and there is no doubt that any candidate who takes over North Burnaby will play a vital role going forward on the issue.
The anti-pipeline movement on Burnaby Mountain has been receiving national attention and is a hot-button issue that directly affects the new riding.
Hundreds of protestors have been on Burnaby Mountain the past few weeks. A number of them were arrested for crossing an injunction line, but the charges were recently thrown out due to an error in the coordinates given for the injunction area.
The City of Burnaby is also fighting to halt the pipeline expansion in the courts. NEB hearings will begin in July 2015 and conclude by October 2015.
Concerns for the future
Baird Ellan also identified several other issues that need attention.
“There’s not sufficient provisions for affordable housing, affordable childcare, [or] education,” she said, “Youth are coming out of school — SFU is in the riding — with crushing debt loads. We’re not supporting our youth. We’re not looking to our future.”
“To me, the NDP is the party that looks to the future. All of their policies are forward looking,” said Baird Ellan.
Baird Ellan talks about her experience (1’02”)
Both North Burnaby and North Vancouver have a lot of multicultural diversity which will have to be understood by the future candidate of the riding. The Burrard Inlet Indian Reserve No. 3 is located in the North Vancouver portion of the riding and is where many members of the Tsleil-waututh First Nation live.
Regarding the First Nations community, Baird Ellan said, “I’ve heard First Nations people talk about their children and grandchildren and, just recently, the pipeline,” she continued, “We share those concerns.”
Baird Ellan left the bench in 2012 and has been doing pro bono and discount legal work for the community out of her office in West Vancouver.
Two others had previously put their name forward. Trevor Ritchie, who has since withdrawn his name, and Michael Charrois. Ritchie is currently an education student at UBC. Charrois is an actor who previously ran federally in North Vancouver in 2008 and 2011 unsuccessfully.
The nomination meeting is tentatively scheduled for February so others still have time to put their names in the hat.
Within NDP circles, people such as Burnaby councillor Anne Kang and union organizer Janet Routledge are rumoured to have been encouraged, but neither of them have confirmed whether they were approached or whether they would consider seeking nomination.
The Conservatives and Liberals have both had their candidates for a number of months now. North Vancouver district councillor Mike Little will represent the Conservatives, while SFU professor Terry Beech will run for the Liberals.