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2013 - The Year in Review: A year of political ups and downs in Langley
This week, The Times is taking a look back at the events that helped shape the past year.
From the widely unexpected results of May's provincial election (and its repercussions for the Langleys) to the people we lost — both pioneers, who lived long and fruitful lives and a pair of young men who were taken too soon — 2013 was a year of ups and downs.
A trio of fatalities made 2013 one of the worst years for fire deaths in recent memory.
The Township meanwhile, found itself at the centre of two major development controversies in 2013, while the criminal element didn't appear to distinguish between the two municipalities.
And a Langley father of three took desperate measures in his fight to stay in Canada.
Of course, it wasn't all gloom and doom, as tens of thousands once again gathered in Langley City's downtown core for the annual Good Times Cruise In, the annual Langley Has Talent competition helped a young mother and aspiring opera singer move one step closer to realizing her dream and a group of children did their part for the environment by planting saplings at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum.
Return of Rich and Mary
In Langley, like the rest of B.C., 2013 was a bit of a roller coaster year for politics, but not at the provincial level, where things remained business as usual.
In May, the BC Liberals made headlines across the province when they handily won a majority government which virtually all pollsters and pundits had said was impossible.
The Liberals easily retained their two Langley seats, with deputy premier Rich Coleman and Mary Polak heading to Victoria to join the premier Christy Clark. Both received cabinet positions in June, with Polak being appointed Minister of Environment and Coleman taking on the newly created role of Minister of Natural Gas Development in addition to his duties in the Ministries of Energy and Mines and Housing.
Polak’s campaign hit a bit of a snag earlier in May when her campaign manager and longtime friend and political ally Todd Hauptman quit her campaign, saying he was being driven out by hateful attitudes toward the gay community. Hauptman, 26, who came out as a gay man at the time of his resignation, said “The very base of voters who will likely help Mary get re-elected … are made up of individuals who hold hateful attitudes towards the community I am a part of.”
For her part, Polak said Hauptman’s resignation caught her off guard and hurt her. She also said Hauptman’s decision to step down came after a meeting regarding concerns she had that he may have been disclosing campaign strategy to the rival NDP’s Andrew Mercier — a charge Mercier called “absurd and ridiculous.”
John Cummins Steps Down
After 24 years in politics, South Langley resident John Cummins stepped down as party leader of the BC Conservative Party executive.
He delivered his resignation letter in July after serving just over two years in the position.
For the past two years, he was busy rebuilding the BC Conservatives who, for a period last year, were registering at about 20 per cent in opinion polls. However, when election day rolled around, the party ended up with just under five per cent the total vote. Cummins placed third in the Langley riding, won by Liberal MLA Mary Polak.
“The Last two years have been pretty intense,” he said at the time. “There has been a lot of travel, and everything else came second (to politics).”
Mayor Fassbender Moves On
As a result of the Liberals’ sweeping victory, Langley City lost its mayor, Peter Fassbender to Victoria after he was elected to serve as Liberal MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood, unseating three-term NDP MLA Jagrup Brar.
Councillor Ted Schaffer was named acting mayor in July after running for the position unopposed.
He will carry on serving after the former mayor’s official resignation, which is expected today (Jan. 2) until the next municipal election in November.
“I wish I could do both jobs, but I can’t,” Fassbender said at the time. Fassbender was later named Minister of Education by Premier Christy Clark.