A few weeks ago I went to the Elections Canada office at Brentwood Town Centre to update my voter information. When our business was finished the poll clerk invited me to cast my vote there if I so desired.
I figured it would be good to get it out the way so she issued me a special ballot that differs from a regular ballot in that the voter writes in the name of the candidate.
So, I wrote “TERRY BEECH” on the dotted line.
This is the first time I have ever voted for a Liberal candidate. I am not a Liberal and am not a huge fan of their leader but when I vote I simply choose the person who I believe would be my best representative in Ottawa.
The electoral district of Burnaby North—Seymour was created in 2013 and first contested in 2015. At that time I supported the Green candidate Lynne Quarmby because I am an environmentalist and believe she was best suited to address the issues that I felt were most important to this region such as climate change and renewable energy.
That was an arduous campaign for everyone involved. The Conservatives, Liberals, Greens and New Democrats were in this to win and sometimes tensions would flair up and people, including myself, did not always engage respectfully with their perceived political opponents.
Many people aligned with one party in particular were especially nasty to Green supporters and this severely tested the bounds of my self-control. I did not always respond with tact or respect.
Additionally, I was downright rude to Terry at certain points during the campaign and for that I sincerely apologize.
I wrongly conflated him with a party, leader and series of decisions that I was opposed to. In short, I was self-righteous and dismissed him as an individual.
He never responded in kind. In fact, he was always eminently polite, professional and composed. He’s the dictionary definition of unflappable.
There has been a lot of that going around this election and I am just as guilty as the next person.
A lot has changed in four years including my own perspectives on life, my community and the world at large. Leaders and parties be damned – I feel that the most important thing is how we treat each other on an individual basis. As far as I could see Terry and his team of supporters were always polite, self-controlled and respectful during the last election.
Unlike 2015 this riding now has an incumbent in Terry and I believe that he has been an outstanding Member of Parliament. In all of my life I have never had an MP who took as much time to listen to his constituents irrespective of their political leanings. He is visible and very active in this community.
I recently told a friend who was a Liberal politician at one point in the past that I intended to vote for Terry Beech. She admitted that she was not familiar with that name and I told her that was probably a good thing.
The fact is he was too busy working on behalf of his constituents here in Burnaby and North Vancouver to ever make a big name for himself across Canada. When that does happen, and I believe it will, it will be a result of his work ethic and public service.
While I have never voted for a Liberal candidate I did for Terry Beech back in 1999 when he ran for city council in our hometown of Nanaimo.
Although we grew up in the same neighbourhood I don’t think we ever knew each other. I believe our first encounter took place shortly after Halloween in 1999.
An article about Terry’s 1999 run for Nanaimo city council in the Mind’s Eye youth newspaper:
In Nanaimo we had a wonderful post-Halloween tradition that takes place on a tree-lined stretch of Jinglepot Road called “shady mile.” After Halloween area residents put their old jack-o-lanterns along the side of the road and it’s a lovely sight.
In 1999 I recall seeing Terry and his enthusiastic team of volunteers waiving hand-made signs in support of his campaign. I was simply amazed that someone who was the same age as me had the knowledge and wherewithal to run a serious campaign.
And he won!
I recall watching the election results roll in on community television. When the host interviewed him his excitement was palpable. In that interview committed to working on behalf of his constituents “24/7.”
And I heard that he did. I didn’t stay in Nanaimo long enough to witness that with my own eyes but I know that he was a good city councillor who stood in support of the gay and lesbian community back when that was a controversial issue.
However, his electoral success was a huge inspiration to me about the power and possibility of following through with a goal. It’s true, him and I are very different people, however, it’s very meaningful to have such a positive connection to my early life right here in my neighbourhood.
My childhood in Nanaimo was rather challenging and I did not always feel as though I had agency over my life outcomes. That phenomenon is certainly not unique to me or people from Nanaimo but it was a pivotal factor in my decision to move out of Nanaimo on January 31, 2000 which was also my last day of high school.
With Terry Beech I had a peer who is also a role model. He makes me proud to be from Nanaimo and I guess I feel somewhat invested in his success. I believe that he is in the early years of his career as a federal politician and believe that he will someday do great things for our province and country.
Effective politicians deal with individuals as opposed to groups. Terry has done an excellent job of this over the past four years and I was as proud to vote for him today as I was in 1999.