NDP MP Stewart acclaimed in Burnaby South

Kennedy Stewart and federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair work the room at Stewart’s nomination meeting to be the party’s candidate in Burnaby-South in the next federal election. Stewart was acclaimed. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
Kennedy Stewart and federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair work the room at Stewart’s nomination meeting to be the party’s candidate in Burnaby-South in the next federal election. Stewart was acclaimed.

Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart was the first federal New Democrat candidate in B.C. to be nominated last weekend.

Stewart, in his first term as MP, was uncontested in his bid for the party’s candidacy in the new riding of Burnaby South.

He decided to move to the new riding after the federal Electoral Boundaries Commission eliminated Burnaby-Douglas for the next election. North Burnaby will now be part of a new riding that incorporates a large chunk of North Vancouver.

Burnaby South will be bordered by the Fraser River, Boundary Road, Lougheed Highway, and to the east, a meandering line that excludes most of the Edmonds neighbourhood, half of Buckingham and all of Cariboo Heights.

The riding’s NDP nomination meeting held Saturday at the Operating Engineers Hall in Burnaby was attended by Opposition leader Thomas Mulcair, head of the federal New Democrats.

In an interview, Stewart said he was not really surprised at getting the nomination by acclamation, noting that is typical for incumbents.

But “it’s a bit of a strange situation when your riding is dissolved.”

In the end, he decided that he had stronger ties to Burnaby than to a riding that includes North Vancouver.

Despite the change, he said the issues are pretty much the same with No. 1 being Kinder Morgan’s application to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

“That really is a Burnaby-wide issue,” Stewart said, noting his office assisted people from all over the city in their efforts to participate in the National Energy Board’s process on the pipeline. The proposed routes also travel through the northern parts of the new riding.

And he’s still encountering people who aren’t aware this is happening in their community.

Apart from the pipeline, he believes top issues for voters are transportation and jobs, particularly youth unemployment.

On a personal note, Stewart said he does not live in the new riding, but is willing to change that if it’s important to his constituents.

He only purchased a condominium in the northern part of Burnaby-Douglas one-and-a-half years ago. But he has a real estate agent looking at possibly selling his home, the first he’s owned, to buy in Burnaby South. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to lose money on such a move.

Stewart bought the place before the electoral boundaries commission eliminated his riding. “At this point, if it becomes an issue, we’ve talked to a real estate agent,” he said.

“These jobs [as MPs] are an honour so I think you just have to roll with the punches.”

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