Port Coquitlam federal NDP candidate bolts to EcoSocialists party

Christina Gower ran as a federal NDP candidate for MP in Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam last election. Now in her latest provincial bid, she has turned away from her NDP roots in favour of a new, left-of-centre party.

A former federal candidate from Port Coquitlam is taking another run at political office, and this time, she has the BC legislature in her sights. 

Last September, Christina Gower ran as the NDP candidate for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam. Now, in a rebuke to the BC NDP, the long-time psychiatric nurse has thrown in with the BC EcoSocialist party, which describes itself as “further left than the BC NDP” and “greener than the Greens.”

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“I think there’s unlimited potential for growth,” she told the Tri-City News in an interview Tuesday. 

The BC EcoSocialist Party (BCEC) was established in 2019 on a platform that, among other policies, seeks to raise taxes on corporations and rich people; address the opioid crisis by legalizing drugs for personal use; and launch a “Green New Deal” through the electrification of formerly fossil fuel based industries. 

Gower said her decision to run was ultimately pushed forward by the recent smokey skies which blanketed the region with fine particulate matter blown north from wildfires in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Experts say the wildfires are partly due to the steady drumbeat of climate change, which has  set the stage for hotter and more frequent fires.

“The devastating situation down south and the knowledge that it’s creeping up here?” questioned Gower. “We just don’t seem to be changing our practices to meet the need…It’s too urgent.”

In her failed bid as a federal NDP candidate of Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Gower said she paid close attention to the surge in support for the Greens, which garnered over 4,000 local votes (30% of what Gower received). That, she said, was a sign that what matters to voters is shifting, especially among a younger demographic.

“People are waking up and seeing what should be the priority,” she said. 

When asked why she couldn’t address those priorities running as a BC Green or NDP, Gower was unequivocal. 

“[The Greens] don’t whip their votes at all. For me, some of the foundations, like women’s rights, trans rights, LGBTQ — those things need to be a constant.”

The party’s hardline against transphobia was on display only hours after the Tri-Cities spoke with Gower, when leader and Prince George–Valemount candidate Stuart Parker announced his resignation after making some controversial remarks on social media.

And as for the NDP? 

“Unfortunately, I cannot stand 100% behind the policies of the BC NDP,” she said in a written statement announcing her candidacy Monday, Sept. 21.

In her announcement, Gower attacked the BC NDP’s environmental policies, its record on limited union bargaining and “keeping Liberal bureaucrats in charge of running ministries.”

Gower highlighted her disappointment with the NDP’s track-record green-lighting Site C, a major LNG plant in Northern B.C. and a petrochemical plant in Prince George “which ships manufacturing jobs to Asia.” 

She she also targeted the NDP’s “ patchwork approach to resolving our housing crisis” and the practice of logging of old-growth forests and shipping of those products overseas before processing them locally. 

While Gower admitted winning the seat would be a “longshot, a miracle,” she said she’s looking to do more than serve as a protest candidate for voters disaffected with the BC NDP and Green parties. 

“Right now, we don’t have a real opposition,” she said. “I provide an option with this party that is missing.” 

“That’s something that we can build on.”

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