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New civic party to run “progressive” candidates in New West in 2022 civic election

Together New West is progressive - but it's not to be confused with the New West Progressives
Team Cote
Members of Team Cote were all smiles after taking most of hte spots on city council and school board in the 2018 civic election. Some of the folks on Team Cote are part of the newly formed Together New West civic party.

A new municipal party is aiming to elect “progressive candidates” to council and school board in next year’s civic election.

Together New West, which held its inaugural annual general meeting on Zoom on Dec. 5, is a new municipal party that has been created to support and help elect progressive candidates for mayor, city council and school board.

“This has been in the works for the last few months,” said Gurveen Dhaliwal, who currently serves as chair of the New Westminster School Board. “I think we realized that the local government election is less than a year away, so we recognized that working together as a team that we needed to form that political party.”

Together New West is pledging to develop a full platform prior to the Oct. 15, 2022 civic election.

Dhaliwal said the party’s small team of organizers includes some elected representatives, including herself and Mayor Jonathan Cote, as well as some community members of the community.

“Together New West provides a platform to run a strong slate of candidates in 2022 in order to strengthen our commitment and work on our shared values and vision for New Westminster,” Cote said in a news release. “New Westminster is an amazing community and Together New West will allow us to continue the work we have been doing building a progressive city.”

Together New West says its priorities include creating affordable housing, engaging in reconciliation and decolonization, addressing the climate emergency and supporting a strong public education system.

In the 2018 civic election, Dhaliwal and Cote were part of a group of candidates running under the Team Cote banner, which swept all of the positions on city council and won the majority of positions on school board. At that time, they described themselves as being “like-minded, but independent” candidates who had some shared goals that they wanted to advance at city council and school board.

“Last election we ran individual campaigns and filed individual statements with Elections B.C.,” Dhaliwal said. “A political party, such as Together New West, requires a constitution, bylaws, a board of directors and registration with Elections BC. It’s about having a framework for a team that has a common vision and values for New Westminster.”

During the last election, the New West Progressives, a local electors group, also fielded candidates for council and school board. The New West Progressives criticized Team Cote members of “running under the guise of being independents” even though they had all been endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour Council.

“We are not formally affiliated with the NDP,” Dhaliwal told the Record. “When it comes to the labour council, the labour council has been a stakeholder in the development of this party. But they will, like they do every election, they will be working on their own independent endorsement process.”

According to Dhaliwal, Together New West hasn’t made a decision about how many candidates it will run in next year’s municipal election or whether or it will run a full slate of candidates, as that will be determined through the party’s committees and by the executive.

“Any current incumbent, if they decide to run in 2022, they will have to seek a nomination with Together New West,” Dhaliwal said. “As a newly formed political party, it doesn’t have any incumbents associated with it.”

Together New West has already come under criticism from the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association, which had a branding campaign featuring the same name.

It’s not the first time that the name of a political party has raised eyebrows around town.

In the 2018 civic election, the New West Progressives electors coalition ran several candidates for city council and school board. The group, which stated it wasn’t aligned with any provincial or federal parties, garnered criticisms from progressive voters because of the use of the word progressives in the group’s name (as it’s a word widely used by candidates who are traditionally more left-leaning and are endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour) and its choice of promotional materials (which featured the colour orange, a colour long associated with the left-leaning NDP).

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus