He was wearing green, was hanging out with Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr and campaigning to get elected as a Green candidate.
But Richard McCubbin is not running for a council seat, or a spot on school board in Vancouver’s Oct. 14 byelection. The New Zealand medical doctor happened to be in Vancouver on a layover while en route back home to continue his campaign for a seat in his country’s 120-member parliament.
And what better way to spend some idle time than to track down some local Greens and talk politics. That’s what McCubbin did. He was at Canada Place Tuesday as the local party held a news conference to release its platform for the byelection.
“I’m spending a day here, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to have a look at the city, to talk to my Green family friends here and to spread the message to vote,” said McCubbin, who believes there is a fair-sized population of New Zealanders living in Vancouver and across the province.
In his research, he said, he learned issues top of mind for Vancouverites such as homelessness, affordability, mental health and addictions match concerns for New Zealanders. He said Auckland is one of the most unaffordable cities in the world.
“It’s very much the same problems,” said McCubbin, whose campaign is focused on working with farmers and protection of the environment. He is running in the riding, or electorate, of Kaikoura, a coastal town about 180 kilometres north of Christchurch. “New Zealand has an image of being clean and green. In fact, it’s something of a myth. There are beautiful pristine areas of New Zealand wilderness, but the places which are not wilderness have been polluted, they’re not clean and green — we have rivers we can’t swim in, we have polluted lakes.”
The centre-right National Party has been in power in New Zealand for nine years. The Greens hold 13 seats and McCubbin hopes for an increase and the possibility of a Labour Party-Green coalition to form government on Sept. 23.
In New Zealand, voters have a choice for their first-past-the post candidate and a vote for the party.
“Even if we didn’t win any first past-the-post seats, if we got say 20 per cent of the vote, we’d get 20 per cent of the seats,” he said, noting each party ranks their candidates on a list to determine which ones get a seat. “What it means is minor parties have a good chance of being represented because if they get past the five per cent threshold, they’re in.”
The purpose of McCubbin’s trip to Canada was to celebrate his daughter’s wedding to a Canadian from Halifax, where he appeared on a radio station to urge New Zealanders to cast an absentee ballot. It’s his first run for public office.