Know your candidate: Brea Huang Sami, Burnaby South
The Beacon talked TMX, childcare, and affordable housing with Liberal candidate Brea Huang Sami in a virtual interview.
In the run up to Canada’s federal election, the Beacon is conducting interviews with candidates affiliated with the 4 major parties in Burnaby’s 3 ridings (Burnaby North-Seymour, Burnaby South, and New Westminster-Burnaby).
We asked each candidate for a virtual sit-down interview, followed by a short segment recorded on video. Not all candidates were available to appear on video or agreed to do so. The Beacon will post the segments with the candidates who did appear on video on our social media channels.
Candidate: Brea Huang Sami (Liberal Party of Canada)
Riding: Burnaby South (read more about the riding here)
Brea Huang Sami says if you elect her as the MP for Burnaby South, you’re electing a local voice that shares your interests and concerns—something she says you won’t get with Jagmeet Singh.
But on one of the most divisive issues in Canadian politics, its epicentre in our city, Sami says Burnaby residents may be misinformed.
She’s talking about the TMX expansion project. The party she’s running for bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2015 and has pledged to push the expansion through, even in the face of opposition from the provincial and municipal governments, local First Nations, and advocacy groups.
Sami wouldn’t directly commit to opposing the project, even if a majority of Burnaby South residents told her they didn’t want it to go forward.
Sami tells the Beacon that she supports the expansion because a pipeline is actually a safer way of transporting bitumen than “traditional” ways, like by train; and she says the expansion will also grow Canada’s economy.
“It’s part of the energy transition programme. Ultimately we want to achieve net zero by 2050. We want to move the whole community to a greener, healthier environment. And when the government is involved in this pipeline, you will see if you look further into details, detail level, you will see this very strong risk management control and protocols and analysis in place before the government put this in,” Sami said.
“A lot of people don’t have the full picture or full information, and they may be looking into limited information, or maybe some other party will try to just bash [it, like] ‘oh, this is bad’. So I would just like to invite all my neighbours in Burnaby South, even Burnaby North, to just take a full picture on this project.”
“And they are very carefully planned, because we know our Liberal team has always put our life and safety first. And we’re continuing to do so in every single project we are doing.”
Opposition in Burnaby
Among the project’s vocal opponents is Sami’s counterpart in Burnaby North-Seymour, Terry Beech. The incumbent MP of the riding, Beech was 1 of only 2 Liberal MPs to vote against the project in Parliament.
“I have hosted town halls and I have attended community gatherings, protests and constituency meetings. I have conducted surveys, open houses, polls, coffee meetings, and knocked on almost every door in our community since the last election, many more than once,” Beech said in a 2019 statement.
“Through many conversations in our community, and thousands of responses to our surveys, I can say with confidence that constituents in Burnaby North-Seymour, on balance, are opposed to this project.”
In a 2016 presentation to the Trans Mountain Ministerial Panel, meanwhile, Beech said he had over 2 years “knocked on over 56,000 doors and made over 25,000 phone calls … hosted town halls, 16 coffee meetings, and attended over 65 events in the community.”
When the Beacon asked Sami if she believed Beech was misguided in his opposition to the project or didn’t have the full information, she said she wasn’t aware of the case and couldn’t say too much about it.
And, when the Beacon pointed to Sami’s commitment to be a voice for Burnaby South residents—she wouldn’t directly commit if elected to opposing the Trans Mountain expansion project, even if the majority of her constituents wanted her to do that.
“They need to have trust in me. I’m open for different views and I have to listen to different voices and to really understand what our people living in Burnaby South want. So far from the doorsteps I haven’t heard any voice that clearly says they’re against the pipeline,” Sami said.
“I have family actually living just near the pipeline area on Burnaby Mountain. And she actually never complained about it. So I have my ear open for all different voices and if it’s [brought] in, I will take it seriously and work on it.”
The Beacon asked Sami several times whether she would oppose the project if a majority of her constituents wanted that, but she wouldn’t directly answer.
“I will always put their best interests of Burnaby South first as my first priority and first important mission to achieve,” she said.
Sami said the Liberal plan to focus on making house ownership more accessible to younger people by helping them save money faster (through a proposed “tax-free First Home Savings Account”), lowering the cost of transactions, and “lowering the mortgage costs” will be very helpful for Burnaby South residents.
She suggested a Liberal representative in Burnaby South would be more able to leverage the federal government for resources the riding needs.
“It is time to put a Liberal voice in Ottawa, to have a local voice who truly understands the needs and the concerns from here. It will build a better bridge and leverage better the federal resources especially in the re-elected Liberal government, how we can match the overall country-wide resources to cascade down to to really set up a specific plan in this region.”
When the Beacon pointed out that housing prices in Burnaby have steadily gone up over the past 6 years, when there has indeed been a Liberal voice in Ottawa as the governing party, Sami said the Liberals’ National Housing Strategy has helped a lot of families—but said the housing affordability crisis had gotten worse over the past 18 months of the pandemic.
The average sale price of a home in Burnaby has indeed increased from $836,095 to $1,010,569 according to data from MLS. When Justin Trudeau assumed office in November 2015, the average sale price in Burnaby was $748,131.