The campaign in support of Marc Dalton is accusing New Democrats of being behind the effort to oust the MLA from his Maple Ridge-Mission seat.
Full-page newspaper advertisements warn residents not to be intimidated by “NDP outsiders” into signing the recall petition.
“It’s not a grassroots movement. That’s the guise,” said Mike Murray, who is coordinating the “I’m with Marc” defence.
Murray points to several people registered as canvassers with the recall campaign who have strong NDP affiliations, including Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs, who has been nominated to run for the party federally in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, and Verity Howarth, who is the federal riding association president here.
Wilfred Murdoch McIntyre, the proponent for the recall petition, is a former national vice-president of the Industrial Wood and Allied Worker union.
Launched last week, the campaign requires canvassers to collect 14,082 signatures from the last election list in Maple Ridge-Mission to support the recall, within 60 days.
If successful, it will trigger a by-election in the riding that Dalton won by just 68 votes.
“There are some substantiating facts,” said Murray. “There are very important NDP and labour personalities right at the centre of this recall effort. The union movement and the NDP have the right to get behind the recall. We are not denying that, but don’t say it’s a grassroots movement.”
The “I’m with Marc” campaign is currently recruiting observers to keep an eye on the canvassers to make sure they follow recall rules.
The recall supporters argue Dalton should lose his MLA job because he backed the introduction of the 12-per-cent harmonized sales tax.
“Dalton has no defence,” said McIntyre, who retired from the IWA in 2006 and now runs his own consulting business.
“His only defence is claiming it’s the NDP. I don’t see him defending the tax.”
Chris Ryan, a canvasser for the recall campaign, voted for Dalton in the last election, but says he’ll never vote B.C. Liberal again.
“I will never do that again because of the deception around the HST, because of the carbon tax, because of all of their other lies and broken promises, because of their arrogance, because of their thuggery and bully tactics and their total disregard for the wishes of the people of British Columbia,” said Ryan, who identifies himself now as a true-blue Tory.
He accused Dalton of doing little as an MLA, failing to stand up for the Mission Hospital and kowtowing to the party brass.
“Why would I want to recall Marc? Because he is completely useless in terms of representing the people of Mission and Maple Ridge,” Ryan said.
Others, meanwhile, are throwing their support behind Dalton and signing up to combat what they call left-wing lies.
The NDP will never admit they are behind the recall because doing so is illegal under the Recall and Initiative Act, said Dalton.
“It is being driven by NDP sympathizers and left-wing activists,” he added.
“The HST and recall are separate issues.”
He noted that even Fight HST, the group formed by Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney, is shifting its focus back to the tax itself instead of trying to help recall Liberal MLAs around the province.
Dalton won’t debate the HST just yet. That, he says, will happen when a date for a referendum is announced, possibly as early as June.
He is also concerned the information being collected by recall canvassers will be used by the NDP when there is an election.
“I am not concerned about losing the recall,” Dalton said.
“I am confident they will fail by a long shot.”
He adds that he stood up for Mission Hospital by working behind the scenes with MLA Randy Hawes to retain its emergency services.
“They point to this issue and that issue. They are grasping at straws,” Dalton said.
“I think people can see that this campaign isn’t about the HST, but about a recall.”
Pitt councillors with Marc
Four Pitt Meadows councillors are openly throwing their support behind embattled MLA Marc Dalton.
On a Facebook page, Doug Bing, Gwen O’Connell, Deb Walters and Tracy Miyashita wrote messages of encouragement to the Maple Ridge-Mission MLA, although the City of Pitt Meadows falls outside his riding.
New Democrat Michael Sather is the MLA for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge.
“It is quite obvious what Vanderzalm (sic) and the NDP is (sic) trying to do and if we stop them now, starting with Marc’s defence, the entire movement will collapse,” wrote Bing.
Walters feels the recall campaign is a waste of money.
“Why spend all this time, money and energy to recall somebody who is doing a good job?,” she said, noting that Dalton has helped arrange meetings with government ministers and taken the city’s concerns to Victoria several times.
“He doesn’t need to do that for us. He has supported this council and this community and he’s gone beyond the call of duty.”
O’Connell is taking her support a step further and helping the “I’m with Marc” campaign by working the phone lines.
She even has an “I’m with Marc” button.
“I am annoyed that we are going to waste money when we are going to a vote on the HST in June,” said O’Connell.
“I absolutely think Marc has done a phenomenal job. He has been helping a lot of residents in our area and he doesn’t have to.
Michael Sather is always so negative about Pitt Meadows. He never does anything for us, but he sure criticizes us.”