“The Christy Clark government should apologize to BC students and parents for 15 years of cuts to classroom resources,” Vancouver Kensington’s MLA Mable Elmore (NDP) said last Saturday.
Speaking at the launch of her 2017 re-election campaign, Elmore told over 300 supporters that the BC Liberal’s chronic underfunding of BC education system “symbolizes, more than anything else, the contempt that the Clark government has shown to BC working families.”
“While Clark has been cutting taxes for the wealthiest of British Columbians in the past 15 years — they’ve been cutting resources in BC schools to pay for it. It’s outrageous,” Elmore said. “Last spring, they cut taxes yet again for the wealthiest by 2%. They are repeat offenders,” Elmore said.
“We can’t afford,” Elmore told her audience, “four more years of Christy Clark. After years of neglect, we can’t believe her when she suddenly says she cares.”
Elmore said improving education will be an important theme of her re-election campaign and she predicted students and parents who were involved in the Save Our Schools campaign last year will be out in force across BC to turf the Clark government from office.
Elmore’s campaign kicked off with a lively rally Saturday afternoon at John Oliver High School in Vancouver. The event featured music, a variety of First Nations, Philippine and Chinese entertainment, and a range of students, teachers and parents endorsing the Vancouver Kensington NDP MLA.
Mable Elmore is the first person of Filipino descent to be elected to a legislature in Canada. She has represented Vancouver Kensington since 2009.
Born in Langley, BC and raised in The Pas, Manitoba, Elmore only got to visit the Philippines when she was ten years old. It was a life-changing experience. Back in her mother’s hometown, during the town fiesta, she watched her mother’s family cook an amazing amount of food and invite a huge number of people to come and share the meal, including families with small children.
“There were families with their kids all lined up outside the family compound,” she remembers, “coming to eat with us, and then they carried as much food as they could on the way out.”
“My mom explained that there were some people who were poor and hungry and our family had a tradition of sharing food and helping the less fortunate.” At 10 years-old, Elmore remembered thinking that it was very wrong for other kids to go hungry and live in poverty.
This early lesson in the Bayanihan spirit, where a community comes together to help those in need, has become a guiding light throughout her life. And the fact that politics run in her genes from her mother’s side —her maternal grandfather was vice-mayor in their town for 5 consecutive terms — explained why she was drawn to the political life. She wanted to help make people’s lives better.
“I got involved in the anti-apartheid movement in Grade 11,” Elmore recalls, “then the immigrant rights movements. I have been advocating for caregivers and migrant workers for 25 years.”
“All caregivers and TFWs who work here in Canada, should have permanent resident status upon arrival and be able to bring their family with them,” Mable Elmore said.
In her campaign launch speech, Mable Elmore related the personal insights she had collected through talking to her constituents:
“Vancouver Kensington is an amazing dynamic community but I’ve been hearing from people that every day it’s getting harder and harder for people to live here.
“A father yesterday told me that he and his wife have their two kids in day-care and they’re paying $1900 a month. They can hardly afford the expense, yet they still consider themselves ‘lucky’ compared to many of their friends who are desperate but unable to find any childcare at all.
“Small business owners say it’s becoming more difficult to make ends meet due to rising costs and fees, under Christy Clark’s BC Liberals.
“A 19-year-old grocery clerk, a new immigrant from the Philippines, told me she was upgrading her education by taking adult education courses, but it was very expensive at $550 per course. These courses had previously cost only $25 but Christy Clark had cut funding for those, and now there’s a big barrier for young people and new immigrants wanting to upgrade their skills.
“I’ve also heard from Hazel, a 15-year-old student from Gladstone school, about the campaign to Save our Schools and stop the closure of public schools in Vancouver due to 15 years of underfunding from the BC Liberals.
“People are telling me that costs are going up, wages are flat, many are living paycheque to paycheque and people are falling behind. People are worried they won’t have the same opportunities as their parents.
“It’s clear,” Elmore concluded, “that Christy Clark isn’t working for the people.”
Mable Elmore is running for re-election because she wants to get a government that works for the people. She firmly believes that John Horgan and the BC New Democratic Party have the plan to make people’s lives better.
One example of this, Elmore remembers proudly, was how her group fought successfully to get some cuts to Adult Education funding restored a few years back.
A student from an adult education school near her office told her about the cuts. Elmore asked the student to get her classmates together. They then held a press conference where the students courageously spoke up. Elmore brought the students’ concerns to the legislature, their voices underlining their urgent need to have the cuts reversed.
“I’m proud of this because it involved the constituents – the people — coming together to raise their voice and take collective action.” Elmore said on the phone. “It’s what I’ve always encouraged everyone to do. And ultimately, it’s how social change happens. That’s what I’m trying to do — empower and help people speak up and take action.
“Because the work I do – that we do – in the legislature to get changes, reflects this power of the people.”
Elmore parting words to her audience: “I’m proud to stand with John Horgan and the BC NDP. We are on your side.
“The BC Liberals may have a lot of money. In fact, they have started their multimillion dollar attack ads. We know the elites will fund their campaign, but nothing beats a well-organized ground game built on people power.
“I’m asking all of you to get involved. Talk to your family and friends about what’s at stake in this election. Join us. Volunteer with us. Let’s make it happen.”
For people interested in volunteering, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Crisanta Sampang