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B.C. Greens secure candidates for three Burnaby ridings

Rick McGowan will run in the riding of Burnaby-Deer Lake as a candidate for the B.C. Green Party in the May provincial election. -
Rick McGowan will run in the riding of Burnaby-Deer Lake as a candidate for the B.C. Green Party in the May provincial election.
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The Green Party of B.C. already has candidates set for three of four Burnaby ridings in the lead-up to the May 13 provincial election.

Rick McGowan will represent the party in Burnaby-Deer Lake, Wyatt Tessari will run in Burnaby-Edmonds and Darwin Burns was expected to be formally acclaimed this week as the Green candidate for Burnaby-Lougheed.

The spot for Burnaby-North is still open, said BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk. "By the end of March we hope to fill all of the ridings."

Sterk said the party will run candidates in all ridings in the province with the exception of the three currently held by independent MLAs.

"We think that we share a belief that we need to reform the legislature and how it operates, so fix what's broken, and we're hoping they get re-elected," Sterk said of the independents.

"Nobody who's a member of a party will promote change. It's constitutionally contrary to a whipping system," she said, noting that the B.C. Greens "don't whip our members, we don't tell people what to say and how to vote."

Sterk said the party's goal is to elect four to five candidates, who would be the Greens' first to be elected provincially in Canada. MP Elizabeth May is their first federal representative and Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr was their first at the civic level.

So far, all the B.C. Green candidates have won their nominations uncontested.

Metrotown-area resident McGowan, 42, previously ran unsuccessfully for Burnaby council with the Burnaby Greens. A high school teacher in New Westminster's adult education program, he wants to raise awareness of what the Green Party stands for as well as give people an alternative to the New Democrats and the B.C. Liberals.

When asked if facing off against incumbent NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan is at all daunting, McGowan noted that the Greens can't compete financially against the two main parties.

However, he noted, of the approximately 35,000 eligible voters in Burnaby-Deer Lake, only about 16,700 cast ballots in the last provincial election in 2009, with 8,100 voting for Corrigan.

"We want to engage the disenfranchised that actually didn't vote," he said.

"We're hoping to get a few seats and be a voice of conscience ... We're not going to form government but we want to have a voice and get whoever forms government ... to listen and be influenced by our presence."

McGowan said the main issues in his riding will be concern over the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, municipal government reform such as limits on campaign financing and the use of a preferential voting system, and the rebuilding of Burnaby Hospital.

Burns, 36, also sees the pipeline project and increased oil tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet as being major issues in Burnaby-Lougheed, as well as education funding.

He works as a lab technician at ALS Environmental and lives in the Forest Grove neighbourhood. Originally from Ottawa, he graduated with a political science degree and has lived abroad for most of the last eight years.

Burns said the Greens offer more of a left-leaning perspective than the New Democrats, which he called more of a centrist party on the political spectrum.

"I feel there is a much greater need for left and social representation here, especially from an environmental perspective."

Tessari could not be reached before the NewsLeader's deadline. Sterk said he is a professional engineer by training and has worked in the mining, wind and oil industries. He  is fluent in English and French, can speak German and Spanish functionally, and is learning Mandarin and Russian, all which could prove useful in the highly diverse Burnaby-Edmonds riding.

"He's the kind of candidate that we like," Sterk said, "very well educated, and dedicated to doing things differently."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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