Q&A with Vancouver West-End NDP candidate Spencer Chandra Herbert

Election day in British Columbia is Tuesday, May 14 as British Columbians go to the polls to elect a new government. Here is the second in our series as we present the answers to our questions from Spencer Chandra Herbert, the incumbent NDP MLA for the Vancouver West-End riding.

NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert

Vancouver West-End NDP candidate Spencer Chandra Herbert

I’m seeking re-election as the MLA for Vancouver West End as there’s so much more to do to improve our neighbourhood and province, and I’m only getting started.

Whether it’s fighting for the vulnerable who have faced illegal evictions, working to reduce homelessness, standing up for the LGBTQ community, advocating to save St. Paul’s Hospital, or speaking out for the arts and the creative economy, I’ve been busy as the MLA for the West End, and know we can do so much more.

What is the #1 issue facing British Columbians and how will you and your party work to address it?

A common concern is that people are being priced out of this province. Over the last 12 years, poverty and inequality have grown dramatically in BC, and the income gap is the largest in the country. This disparity can undermine our sense of a shared prosperity that is necessary for BC to be truly successful.

People need to have the power in their lives to achieve equality, and one way the BC NDP plan to do this by giving people better access to post-secondary education and skills training so they can have the opportunity to better their lives.

At the same time, we need to address severe poverty, especially child poverty, to ensure that we invest in the early years, and in the future of our province.

What is the #1 issue facing residents of Vancouver-West End and how will you and your party work to address it?

West Enders are a diverse community and have many different priorities and issues, but to generalize keeping the neighbourhood affordable is a shared concern.

Seniors in the West End are challenged with securing appropriate and affordable housing, while working families with kids have a tough time getting affordable child care. Younger West Enders are often unduly burdened by the costs of post secondary education.

We need a government that recognizes these challenges, and takes real action to address them.

We will reform the Residential Tenancy Act to stop illegal evictions that are designed to drive up the rent, and we will build more affordable housing, amongst other steps.

The BCNDP will invest in early childhood learning, education and childcare to support families. We are committed to improving access to skills training and post-secondary education to assist students and our economy.

What is the #1 issue facing the LGBTQ community in British Columbia and how will you and your party work to address it?

We’ve come a long way, but transgender people still face incredible barriers to employment and housing. They face discrimination and the threat of violence far too often.

We need to help achieve equality for them. That’s why I introduced legislation to ensure transgender British Columbians are explicitly protected under the Human Rights Code.

The BCNDP is committed to making my bill law should we form government.

We also face an equality challenge in our schools. Two thirds of BC school districts still have no policy to explicitly protect LGBTQ youth, despite the Premier claiming this was her top priority in education two years ago.

The BCNDP will take real and meaningful action on bullying by introducing a province-wide standard for school codes of conduct to ensure that policies exist to deal effectively with homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of systemic discrimination.

What will be your first priority should you be elected?

As it always has been – my first priority is to take the voice of West Enders to Victoria and to fight for our community each and every day.

Who is your personal hero and why?

My parents – they’ve always taught me the importance of working for my community, and fighting for social justice. They taught me to have an open mind, and an open heart, to question injustices and to always stand up for what I believe.

What one word would describe you as a person?

Tenacious.

For more information on Spencer Chandra Herbert and the New Democrat Party (NDP) visit http://spencerchandraherbert.bcndp.ca.

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