Wai Young, the former Conservative member of parliament for Vancouver South, finally appears ready to announce she’s running for mayor.
A letter obtained by Postmedia has “Wai Young for Mayor” at the top and announces a “Spring Fundraising Dinner” slated for March 8 at a restaurant in Chinatown. The letter declares “change is possible — and it starts with you. Change means each of us contributing what we can to support Wai Young for Mayor in 2018. She is proven, effective and compassionate.”
Young has been rumoured for months to be interested in running for mayor.
The letter, dated Feb. 8, touts Young as “a credible and unique leader…who has been a strong community advocate, a successful business owner, a Member of Parliament, and a single mother.”
Familiar themes — traffic, housing and the opioid crisis — are named at the beginning of the letter: “Over the past 10 years, Vancouver has become gridlocked with traffic, housing has become more unaffordable, opioid deaths have increased, and the vulnerable continue to spiral downwards. Building process are a nightmare, taxes have skyrocketed, and Vancouver is in debt and plans ever more debt.”
“It’s clear we need a major change at City Hall in October 2018. To achieve this, we need a unique leader with a team of experienced Vancouverites to unite out city. We need solid experience which comes from operating businesses, compassionated knowledge of the complex issues in the Downtown Eastside, seasoned multi-government leveraging, and someone who lives the diversity which is Vancouver.”
A phone call to a number listed on the letter was not answered and went to voice mail; the recording said it was for the “Wai Young for mayor campaign.” The number is listed as belonging to Lianne Rood, a former Non-Partisan Association board member and federal Conservative staffer, who now works at Lotus Capital, a Vancouver real estate investment and asset management firm.
The NPA issued an “open call for mayoral candidates” on Jan. 30.
Screenshot from Wai Young for Mayor website, Feb. 19, 2018.
It appears a mayoral campaign website has already been set up: the website’s landing page (votewaiyoung.com) features a photo of a beaming Young and a title that reads “Wai Young for Mayor.” A message states “Be Right Back. A little maintenance – website will be back up soon.”
As of Monday afternoon, the rest of the website is locked from public view. Website metadata suggests the imagery on the page was last updated in November, while registration data suggests the website was originally set up in 2011 — presumably ahead of that year’s federal election campaign — but was updated last August.
On her personal website waiyoung.ca, Young lists herself as the principal at Wai Young and Associates, where she has “20 years of project management to achieve successful outcomes” for governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations. She also says she was the founding executive director for the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, which represents 10 provincial alliances and more than 450 member groups.
A Vancouver resident for 40 years, she has been recognized for her volunteer work by the Vancouver Parks Board and the YWCA.
“Wai has been a seminal advocate for immigrant integration and accreditation, youth at risk, and diversifying the economy through expanded trade with the Asia Pacific,” her website says. She says she has worked for the provincial ministry of children and families and as youth counsellor for the Outreach Alternate School in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Wai Young celebrates her win in the 2011 federal election. She served as MP for Vancouver South from 2011 to 2015.
Last summer, the Georgia Straight reported she was considering running for mayor and was organizing a September fundraising dinner to “gather funds, advice and ideas from attendees who want to see change.”
At the time, it was expected she would put her name forward as a candidate for the NPA. Last December, she sent a fundraising email bashing Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Young served as one term as Conservative MP for Vancouver South, from 2011 to 2015, defeating Liberal incumbent Ujjal Dosanjh. She had previously lost to Dosanjh in the 2008 federal election by just 20 votes.
She lost to the Liberals’ Harjit Sajjan in the 2015 federal election. The next year, she ran for a seat on the Conservative Party’s national council but wasn’t elected.
Young, who has said she doesn’t read newspapers because “most of the facts in there are not facts,”, claimed in 2015 that CSIS had advance knowledge about the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people but didn’t tell the RCMP because they were prevented from doing so. She later expressed regret over the comment, saying she “misspoke.”
A devout Christian, she also drew criticism for comparing favourably the Harper government’s anti-terrorism bill to Jesus Christ’s teachings about doing the right thing, even if it’s unpopular.