Another week, another well-known Liberal candidate in Surrey, with strong Langley connections.
The difference between Langley RCMP Insp. Amrik Virk, who is running for the BC Liberals in Surrey-Tynehead, and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, running in Surrey-Fleetwood, is this. Virk actually lives in Surrey, has worked there with Surrey RCMP and has been active in the community, on the board of the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation and current vice-chair of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University board.
Virk was on hand at the Feb. 15 announcement by Fassbender, which attracted a large audience and lots of media attention. His candidacy has not attracted nearly as much attention, despite the fact that he actually has a better chance of winning his seat.
Virk is running in a seat being vacated by three-term Liberal MLA Dave Hayer, who is personally popular in Surrey and will likely do all he can to aid Virk’s campaign. Obviously, the demographics are much better skewed to a Liberal victory than in Fleetwood.
In 2009, Hayer received 8,814 votes in Surrey-Tynehead. NDP candidate Pat Zanon, a longtime health administrator who at one time was administrator of Langley Memorial Hospital, received 7,257 votes. The third candidate, the Green Party’s Gerald Singh, received 717 votes.
It will still be a challenge for the Liberals in Surrey-Tynehead. It’s important to remember that most people vote for the party or the party leader, not the local candidate.
The Liberals are behind the NDP in the polls at this point in time. The difference between the two parties will almost certainly tighten up by election day, but whether the Liberals can completely close the gap remains to be seen.
The biggest difference between 2009 and 2013 is the presence of the BC Conservatives. The party does not yet have a candidate in Surrey-Tynehead, but it is quite likely it will find one. The Conservatives have already nominated at least 20 candidates (including two in Surrey) and party leader John Cummins, who is running in Langley, told me a month ago that he hopes to have candidates in all ridings, except for a few that are held by independent MLAs, such as Delta South.
If the Conservatives take a reasonable number of votes away from the Liberals, or if a lot of disaffected former Liberal voters stay home, Surrey-Tynehead could go NDP. But the odds of Virk winning there are higher than they are for Fassbender.
One other difference between the two is this: Virk is stepping aside from his RCMP duties until after the election, and will not be paid while he is a candidate, Fassbender remains mayor of the City of Langley, and receives his stipend, as well as additional payment for his duties with TransLink on the mayors’ council.
He is not the city’s representative on the Metro Vancouver board, which is one of the most lucrative payouts for municipal politicians. Councillor Gayle Martin is the long-time City rep on the Metro board.