UFV connections to provincial election are many and varied

As the provincial election kicks into high gear, people with connections to UFV are involved in several campaigns. Some are high-profile candidates, while others are helping behind the scenes.

While UFV is bound by law to be non-political and does not endorse candidates, UFV president Mark Evered is pleased with the level of activity shown by people connected to the university in the election.

“We encourage all members of our UFV community, individually and personally, to engage actively in this important democratic process.  I applaud our colleagues who have agreed to stand for public office.  I know that some employees and students volunteer on their own time to work on election campaigns, and that some departments and student organizations are planning to host forums or debates. These are all valuable contributions. At the very least, I hope everyone will take every opportunity to learn about the issues, and vote,” he said.

Veteran UFV criminology instructors Darryl Plecas and John Martin are both candidates for the Liberal party, Plecas in the Abbotsford South riding and John Martin in Chilliwack. Simon Gibson is the Liberal candidate in Abbotsford-Mission. A long-time Abbotsford city councillor, Gibson has been an instructor in the UFV School of Business.

Chilliwack NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic earned a BA (Hons) in Adult Education at UFV in 2002. In Chilliwack-Hope, Gwen O’Mahony of the NDP is hoping to score victory again after capturing the riding in by-election in April 2012. O’Mahony earned a Bachelor of General Studies from UFV in 2010. Laurie Throness, who is running against O’Mahony for the Liberals, has been a sessional instructor in the UFV School of Criminology.

A number of other UFV students and alumni are participating in the election in a serious fashion. While the following is not a comprehensive list, it gives a good sense of the level of involvement.

Former UFV student Andrew Mercier is running as the NDP candidate in Langley against Liberal incumbent Mary Polak and Conservative leader John Cummins. Mercier studied at UFV in the mid-2000s, before finishing a political science degree at the University of New Brunswick.

Jack Brown — who was a student speaker at convocation last year and earned his BA in 2012 — is the deputy campaign manager for the Hope area for Gwen O’Mahony in Chilliwack-Hope. He’s been working in her constituency office since her election last April.

In Abbotsford South Sheila Reimer, a staff member in UFV’s Marketing and Communication department, has taken a leave to be the communications chair for Plecas’ campaign, handling social media, website, and print advertising.

Current student Ali Siemens is volunteering for Andrew Mercier’s campaign, canvassing and talking to the people in Langley about where their political support falls.

“This is the second campaign I’ve worked on after getting my feet wet in Maple Ridge during the federal election,” says Siemens. “I really enjoy working during election time because it gives me an opportunity to encourage my demographic to get out and vote. At the end of the day I want people to realize apathy sucks and even if we disagree, voting is important!”

A few UFV students have also been selected to form a youth panel to discuss the BC election on CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show. Three UFV political science students were on the panel April 19: Jordan Todd, Stephen Barbour, and Rebekah Bergen. More UFV students may join the CKNW panel in the coming weeks.

The UFV Political Science Student Association (PSSA) is hosting two all-candidates debates.

The first is on Mon, May 6, from 6 to 8:30 pm in room B101 on the Abbotsford campus.

Independent John van Dongen, Darryl Plecas (BC Liberals), and Lakhvinder Jhaj (BC NDP) will all be in attendance.

Candidates will be handing out flyers, interacting with the public, and answering questions from 6 to7 pm. The debate, moderated by political science department head Hamish Telford, will take place from 7 to 8:30 pm.

The second is on Tues, May 7, from 7 to 8:30 pm, also in B101 on the Abbotsford campus.

Independent candidate Moe Gill, Michael de Jong (Liberal), Stephen O’Shea (Green), Paul Redekopp (Conservative), and Kelly-Lynne Osbourne (Excalibur) will be in attendance.

Admission to these events is free and the public is invited to attend.

Speaking of UFV political scientist Hamish Telford, the popular media commentator is popping up almost daily on radio, TV, and newspapers to provide expert insight on the campaign. He’s also writing a weekly column for the Abbotsford-Mission Times and Chilliwack Times. As someone very engaged in the Canadian political process, he is impressed to see UFV students, employees, and alumni getting involved in the campaign.

“With the very high levels of student disengagement in politics, these students who are getting involved in the campaigns or as panelists are an inspiration. These are people to watch. They represent the next generation of political leaders in this province,” said Telford.

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