NDP to pick challenger in two weeks

Craig Speirs (left) and Elizabeth Rosenau in Mission.

Craig Speirs (left) and Elizabeth Rosenau in Mission.

They had a Sunday chat in the Mission library and plan to have another one in at the Maple Ridge library this Sunday.

Then in two weeks, the gloves will be off as Craig Speirs and Elizabeth Rosenau fight for the right to run as the New Democratic representative who will take on

Conservative MP Randy Kamp in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission federal riding.

Speirs, a long-time Maple Ridge councillor, acknowledges that Kamp is a strong candidate, but is confident he can get votes in Mission, the home of the preceding NDP candidate, Mike Bocking.

“With my history of victories in elections, I think I stand a pretty good chance. We’re in tough. Randy is popular, but I won’t be running against Randy so much. I’ll be running against his record. I’ll also be running against the Harper government. I think that’s the bottom line there.”

Speirs thinks he likely has a better chance than Bocking’s previous attempts simply because it’s a different time and the Conservatives have been in power longer.

“I think I have a much broader support.”

Speirs says he has the support of unions, environmentalists and is known as a social activist, which people appreciate that.

He won’t say, however, if he’ll run in the November municipal elections, should he not win federally or if a federal election isn’t called.

But Speirs says there’s about an 80 per cent chance there will be a national election in mid-March.

Rosenau, a pharmacist, says if she wins the nomination and contests the election, being known as a volunteer in the community, rather than a politician, may work in her favour.

But she concedes she’s not as well known as her NDP rival.

The meeting Sunday at the library is open to the public and she says she welcomes all kinds of questions. She doesn’t want to be known as a single-issue, civil-rights candidate, as the mother of Natalie Gray, shot and arrested last year in Toronto during the G-20 demonstrations. Gray is now suing the Toronto Police Services Board.

Rosenau also likes her chances. Being from Maple Ridge, which is the largest community in the riding, will be an asset, she said. And being a woman candidate could also help.

At last Sunday’s meeting in Mission, former NDP MLA Dennis Streifel asked about each candidate’s connection to Mission and was told by Speirs that he attended Silverdale development meetings and has a working relationship with city council in Mission. Through her children, Rosenau said she has been involved with the Stave Falls Scottish Dancers for the past 15 years.

Nomination

The NDP nomination meeting takes place Sunday, March 6 at St. Andrew’s United Church on Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge.

Registration starts at 1 p.m., followed by short speeches by the candidates. Voting takes place at 2 p.m. with results expected soon after.