Voters looking to the provincial government to build new schools and spend more money on public transit are unlikely to mark their ballots for Paul Geddes in the upcoming Coquitlam-Burke Mountain byelection.
Unlike the other parties, the Libertarian candidate has admitted that his organization does not know the first thing about running an education or transit system, entities they believe should be transitioned to the private sector.
The Columbia College economics instructor and father of two said he is running to raise awareness about his philosophy and encourage voters to better understand the costs of the services they expect from their government.
“Some people just believe in Santa Claus,” he said over a cup of tea in the dining room of his Coquitlam townhouse. “They think they have a right — that word is horrible — they have a right to some sort of a service. They don’t understand that what they are asking for is to have the right to someone else’s pocket book.”
Geddes’ philosophy has helped create a unique, albeit unorthodox, platform for anyone trying to gain support in an election — and he has proved it in the past, garnering just 1.42% of the vote in the last election in this riding.
Take his views on the future of the Riverview Hospital grounds, a historic greenspace that most Tri-City politicians safely tout as a jewel of the region that should be protected from development.
“We should find the highest value use for it,” said Geddes. “That does not mean people screaming and shouting and saying ‘I want a park here.’ The way to find the best use for it is to put it on the market and find out who is going to pay for it.”
As for new schools on Burke Mountain, Geddes said that if parents had to pay for the construction, they would likely be more open the idea of busing their kids across town to an existing school.
The same goes for transit in the riding. A Libertarian government would begin the process of allowing companies to bid on bus routes, he said, eventually transferring the entire public transit system into the hands of the private sector.Geddes said he has seen privatization work and even improve service in Taiwan, where he grew up as the son of Presbyterian missionaries.
“I don’t want to leave people stranded,” he said, noting that he is a transit user. “Let people buy bus routes that are popular and let’s see what happens.”
Geddes is the first person to acknowledge that winning the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain byelection will be an uphill slog for him. But that does not mean he intends to moderate his positions to garner a few extra votes. “I don’t think politicians are evil,” he said. “I think politicians have to promise free lunches because that is what people vote for.”