Lib­er­als gear up to take on Wil­son-Ray­bould

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Joanna SMITH

OTTAWA — The Lib­er­als now have a can­di­date in the Bri­tish Columbia rid­ing of Van­cou­ver Granville, where their big­gest ri­val will be some­one they once called their own.

Taleeb Noor­mo­hamed, a 42-year-old tech en­tre­pre­neur, has been ac­claimed as the Lib­eral vy­ing to un­seat Jody Wil­son-Ray­bould, the former jus­tice min­is­ter now seek­ing re­elec­tion as an In­de­pen­dent can­di­date.

Wil­son-Ray­bould, who won the seat for the Lib­er­als as a star can­di­date with about 44 per cent of the vote in 2015, rocked the Trudeau gov­ern­ment ear­lier this year with allegation­s that she had been im­prop­erly pres­sured to end a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of SNC-Lavalin.

The con­tro­versy, which saw her re­sign from cab­i­net and ousted from the Lib­eral cau­cus, sent the party into a tail­spin, from which its for­tunes have not fully re­cov­ered.

Trudeau has main­tained that no one did any­thing wrong in ex­plor­ing a de­ferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment, as al­lowed by law, for the Mon­treal-based en­gi­neer­ing firm.

Noor­mo­hamed says he wants to fo­cus his cam­paign on lo­cal is­sues such as hous­ing, tran­sit and cli­mate change, which he says he is hear­ing about a lot more than SNC-Lavalin.

“I think that most peo­ple are fo­cused on the fu­ture,” he says.

The New Democrats, who placed sec­ond with about 27 per cent of the vote in 2015, chose cli­mate ac­tivist Yvonne Hanson as their can­di­date. Zach Se­gal, a former po­lit­i­cal staffer in Ottawa, is run­ning for the Con­ser­va­tives. The Green can­di­date is Louise Boutin, a real­tor, and Naomi Cho­cyk, a one-time con­stituency staffer to Wil­son-Ray­bould, is run­ning for the Peo­ple’s Party of Canada.

Noor­mo­hamed, who saw some of his cam­paign signs de­faced when he ran un­suc­cess­fully for the Lib­er­als in North Van­cou­ver in 2011, says he also wants to talk about the im­por­tance of guard­ing against racism.

“I think peo­ple here are very con­cerned that we make sure that we, all of us who are go­ing to be en­gag­ing in the de­bate and the di­a­logue, do not turn our backs on the whole idea of plu­ral­ism and the in­cred­i­ble value that di­ver­sity brings to this coun­try,” said Noor­mo­hamed, whose par­ents im­mi­grated from East Africa in the 1970s.

WIL­SON-RAY­BOULD

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