The NDP has now finalized all of its candidates running in Vancouver's 11 electoral districts following a nomination held Sunday (Jan. 27) for Vancouver-Quilchena.
Nicholas Scapillati, the executive director of the sustainable food non-profit group FarmFolk CityFolk, won the nod over schoolteacher Chris Moon to become the party's candidate for the May 14 provincial election.
It was the first nomination race in the NDP's history in a riding famous for being a Liberal Party stronghold. Former finance minister and deputy premier Colin Hansen, who has served as Quilchena's MLA since 1996, won more than three times as many votes as the NDP runner-up James Young in the 2009 election. Hansen, one of the architects of the controversial HST, is not seeking re-election again.
Scapillati thinks all bets are now off for supposedly "safe" Liberal ridings.
"I think that every riding in this province is open and I think the people of British Columbia want a change," he told the Courier. "Colin Hansen did so well because he was the incumbent and over time you build up those strong numbers, but with a new Liberal candidate it will be different. People say the 'orange wave' is rolling into every corner of the country and now it's rolled all the way into Quilchena, and hopefully that will be the difference in the next election."
Scapillati believes protecting the environment is one of the biggest issues for voters and he hopes his record will speak for itself. He has a biogeography degree from McMaster University and has worked in the conservation field for nearly 20 years, including a stint as a researcher and project coordinator at the David Suzuki Foundation and serving as the executive director of the Musqueam Ecosystem Conservation Society.
"I've worked in Quilchena for a long time, working closely with the Musqueam First Nation for 17 years, and I've done a lot of work on the ground engaging the local community in Dunbar, Southlands and Kerrisdale in protecting Vancouver's last wild salmon stream [Musqueam Creek] that runs through that neighbourhood and also creating Vancouver's first sustainable street, which is Crown Street," he said. "I've helped bring stakeholders together - the Musqueam, the city, the local communities, the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club, the park board and GVRD - to get things done and I've done a lot of on-the-ground work in the community. I feel like I have connections there, I have a lot of friends and the community has given a lot back to me."
Scapillati will take on either former B.C. Liberal president Andrew Wilkinson or two-time NPA city councilor Suzanne Anton after the Liberals vote for their own Vancouver-Quilchena candidate Feb. 17 at Prince of Wales secondary school.