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BURNABY — In the end, the BC New Democrats picked up only two of six new seats and finished almost exactly where they did in 2005. But despite the dreary reality of facing another four years of Campbell Liberal government, this year’s provincial election did produce some satisfying results—not least in the new constituency of Burnaby-Deer Lake, where CUPE staffer Kathy Corrigan unseated BC Liberal MLA John Nuraney in a thrilling, 287-vote cliffhanger.

Corrigan, CUPE’s anti-privatization coordinator as well as a nine-year Burnaby school trustee and former board chair, ran a smooth campaign that drew support from all areas of the constituency. Her campaign, managed by CUPE Communications rep Roseanne Moran, did a masterful job of tying a controversial prison proposal to the Liberal MLA’s lack of action on the issue.

“We congratulate Kathy and her team on a job well done,” said CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock. “We’re really going to miss her here at CUPE, but we know she’ll do an excellent job representing the people of Burnaby-Deer Lake in Victoria.”

Hancock also congratulated CUPE 2052 member Robin Austin for his re-election in Skeena, and thanked CUPE members Mark Olsen (local 5523), Heather McRitchie (local 386), and Jordan Parente (local 15), for running as candidates in Vernon-Monashee, Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Vancouver-False Creek, respectively.

“Brother Olsen finished second by only 358 votes. He would have won quite easily with just a portion of the Green candidate’s 3,679 votes,” said Hancock.

He added that Parente, a 27-year-old member of CUPE BC’s young workers task force, deserved special praise for agreeing to run as a replacement candidate in a tough riding with only three weeks remaining in the campaign.

“And McRitchie, a long-time member of her local NDP executive, showed a lot of courage by running in a new riding that was traditionally a Liberal stronghold,” he said.

Hancock credited the work of CUPE BC’s member-to-member phone campaign for pulling the vote in crucial NDP ridings that could have gone Liberal but didn’t.

“Our phone bank volunteers, and other members who were booked off to work the campaign, did a tremendous job reaching other CUPE members,
connecting them with their local NDP campaigns, and getting them out to vote,” said Hancock. “Really, our campaign was second to none in the labour movement in this province. Barry and I can’t thank everyone enough for their hard work and dedication. It really is inspiring.”

Hancock said the union owes special thanks to Bruce Richardson, the political action zone coordinator for the Metro area, along with phone bank coordinators Marcel Marsolais (CUPE 409), Dennis Magee (CUPE 116), Karen Dixon (CUPE 23 and COPE 491), Michael Lanier (CUPE 1936) and Ian Norton (CUPE 394) for keeping things running smoothly at regional office, while Dave Murray (CUPE 498) and CUPE 703 president Leslie Franklin made great strides with the new Fraser Valley phone bank.

In total, more than 30,000 calls were made in CUPE BC’s member-to-member campaign. By last Thursday (May 7), 20,165 of those calls were made from BC regional office and 6,000 from the Fraser Valley phone bank. On May 11 and 12, there were a combined 3,748 calls from both locations, with another potential 700 from New Westminster.

During three of the most productive days of the campaign, locals 389, 391, 409 and 561 made over 2,500 calls on April 7, locals 389, 561 and 409 made more than 1,400 calls on April 15, and locals 561, 386, 116 and 1004 made over 1,800 calls on April 16.

Richardson said the addition of a separate phone bank in the Fraser Valley this year made a big difference.

“We’d never been able to organize anything out there in terms of getting phone volunteers, because it’s tough to get people to drive out here to volunteer, so to be able to set up a phone bank in the Valley is really important,” said Richardson.

In another encouraging development, CUPE Research identified several constituencies long considered BC Liberal strongholds which, on May 12, saw the normally large Liberal plurality reduced by a surge in support for Conservative candidates.