B.C. NDP reserves 25 ridings for female and minority candidates
Ridings reserved for female candidates:
- Peace River North
- Surrey Tynehead
- Prince George-Valemount
- Kamloops South
- Westside Kelowna
- Port Moody-Coquitlam
- Surrey Panorama
- Richmond Centre
- Burnaby Deer Lake
- North Vancouver-Lonsdale
- Comox Valley
Seats with outgoing NDP MLAs now reserved for women:
- Saanich South
- Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
Ridings for candidates from under-represented minority groups:
- Vancouver West End
- Kootenay East
- Abbotsford West
- Delta South
The B.C. NDP has set aside 25 ridings for female and minority candidates to contest in the next provincial election.
The selection of the ridings follows a motion at the party's annual convention last November that required the party to nominate women to run in at least 30 per cent of seats not currently held by the NDP.
The motion required an additional five riding nominations be restricted to persons from ethnic and other minority groups that are under-represented in the legislature.
As separate motion also required that women be nominated to run in any seats vacated by NDP MLAs who won't be running in the next election. Thus far an additional five seats have been reserved for women, making a total of 25 seats reserved for female and minority candidates.
B.C. NDP president Jeff Fox said riding associations in 11 of the ridings involved volunteered to be part of the initiative. Another other nine were picked by the party based on geographic distribution and local support.
The party also sought an even distribution of ridings that were considered safe NDP seats, competitive seats and Liberal strongholds.
Mary Pollack, a Liberal and the provincial minister of sports and healthy living, was critical of the initiative.
"I'm not sure what they are implying about women and minorities," Pollack said. "I won my nomination, and it was a lot of hard work.
"There is a reason why parties have nomination processes. You really learn from it, having to go out and sign up supporters, and so does the community."
But the NDP's Fox said the restrictions have created some exciting races for nominations, citing a four-way race for outgoing MLA Corky Evans's seat in the Kootenays.
"There are some really strong women candidates and we've had some really positive feedback about this process," he said.
Fox defended the overall initiative as democratic, saying it was developed over a two-year period by the party and was passed by an overwhelming majority at last fall's convention.
There are currently seven women in the party caucus of 32 sitting MLAs, including party leader Carole James. Former MLA Gregor Robertson recently resigned to run for the Vancouver mayoralty.
The Liberals have 10 women among their 46 MLAs.
There are 79 seats in the B.C. legislature. The next election, according to the province's fixed election date law, is to be held in May 2009.