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New West politics: orange is the new outrage

An email landed in my inbox on Saturday from New Westminster school board trustee Kelly Slade-Kerr, who has decided not to run again on Oct. 20.
New West Progressives
The New West Progressives, a group that's fielding candidates for city council and school board in this fall's civic election, has released its latest platform - this one focusing on economic issues in the city.

An email landed in my inbox on Saturday from New Westminster school board trustee Kelly Slade-Kerr, who has decided not to run again on Oct. 20.

She was pitching me a story about a voter that she said had agreed to put up a campaign sign at their home from the New Westminster Progressives, but had since changed their mind. The reason for the change of heart, according to Slade-Kerr, was because “the voter thought orange plus progressive meant an affiliation with the NDP.” She was willing to connect us with the voter for an interview.

I’m writing about this story pitch because it’s brought up an issue I’ve been hearing about for the past month so – is there something inherently wrong with the Progressives using the name “progressives” and the colour orange for their campaign?

I’ve received about a dozen letters or emails implying that the people behind the Progressives have somehow violated a code of conduct or are playing dirty by the name and colour they chose.

The people who have written in sound like they clearly support Team Cote and they argue that the Progressives policies are not progressive enough for their liking and therefore can’t use the name. They also argue that the most prominent member of the Progressives, council candidate Daniel Fontaine, is too tied to the BC Liberals through his past work with Vancouver MLA Sam Sullivan to use a colour similar to the NDP.

That’s their arguments.

This is my argument - child, please.

This is politics.

A lot of it is about branding and I’m sorry but the NDP haven’t cornered the market on being progressive. You could even make the argument that the BC NDP’s lust for an LNG project and the Site C dam have made them decidedly anti-progressive due to their potential threats to the environment and how they have ignored Indigenous opposition to those two areas.

I could also make an argument that the NWP are at the very least in the ballpark of being progressive in their platforms surrounding education, innovation and engagement at the municipal level.

I’m not making that argument or the one about the BC NDP, but my point is that you can make a case for and against most political parties based on various platforms or decisions.

This is the orange used by the federal NDP and it's clearly lighter than the orange chosen by the New West Progressives. - SCREENGRAB

What’s ironic is I’ve read a lot of comments on social media accusing the NWP of announcing platform items that have already been implemented by the City of New Westminster – which is run by very same members of Team Cote who have, apparently, truly earned the right to be called “progressive.”

If that’s true, then why can’t the NWP also be called progressive if their policies are similar to what Team Cote has already implemented in the city?

Look, if you don’t think the NWP are progressive enough for your tastes, then don’t vote for them. But stop with the letters implying they’ve done something unethical.

It’s a word. Nobody owns it.

As for the colour, that made me laugh even more. First of all, it’s a different shade of orange than the NDP. I think it’s sort of in between BC NDP orange and BC Liberal red. There aren’t a lot of colours you can use for a campaign that wouldn’t be associated with some sort of political party (green for greens, blue for conservatives, red for liberals) – and out of those remaining, such as yellow, there’s a reason people don’t use them.

I can’t even believe I ended up spending an hour going through political party swatches to compare the two. This is an election, we’re supposed to be talking about important issues like housing and transportation.

Instead, people are crying because a political party branded itself in a certain way and – wah, wah – they don’t think it should be allowed.

Stop with the gutter politics. Campaign on the issues. If you think the NWP’s policies are bad, then say so.

As for the voter that Slade-Kerr feels was duped, I have no sympathy. If you agree to take a political party’s sign before doing your proper due diligence on their policies, then that’s on you. If you are confused by a shiny colour, then that’s on you.

Do your research. Get informed. And then vote.