Green Party candidate Maureen Curran also works as a coordinator for advocacy group Protect the Planet Stop TMX, which has been conducting treesits in Burnaby this week. Maureen Curran / Facebook

Know Your Candidate: Maureen Curran, Burnaby South

Burnaby South candidate Maureen Curran says TMX is far from inevitable; its cancellation just needs cooperation from Canadian politicians.

By Srushti Gangdev | September 10, 2021 |5:00 am

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: Maureen Curran (Green Party of Canada)
Riding: Burnaby South (read more about the riding here)

Green candidate Maureen Curran is approaching this election—and her opposition, the leader of the federal NDP—from a realist’s perspective.

Jagmeet Singh’s widespread popularity aside, Burnaby South is an NDP stronghold and has been for decades. 

So what makes Curran, a teacher and SFU faculty member, think she can change orange to green on the ballots later this month?

“Let’s be honest, I’m not confident I can change it. But I also feel it’s always worth a try. That’s what democracy is about. It’s about making sure that everybody has a voice. You don’t give up just because the chances are small,” Curran told the Beacon.

“You also don’t just give up and walk away and leave people unrepresented. Our electoral system needs massive reforming. There are far too many ridings that are like this, where the large parties can just parachute in a candidate from somewhere else.”

Singh, who was born and raised in Ontario, was elected in Burnaby South in a 2019 byelection called after now-Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart vacated the seat. He was already part leader, and was parachuted in to the safe NDP riding.

But Curran said when that happens, residents lose access to local representation from someone who really understands them.

And while she said she may not win in Burnaby South, she’s optimistic about the party’s future.

“Maybe this year won’t be the Green Party’s, here in this riding. But if we build and if we create the connections, and if we show the people who are around us, my neighbors, that we care about them, and we start gaining their trust, then I do hope that in the long run, we will be able to get more members into parliament.”

Cross-party cooperation

Curran said she’d like to see a change in the way Canada’s electoral system works, to support a diverse range of MPs that can work together to achieve progressive policy—most importantly, when it comes to the climate crisis.

“I think [the Green Party’s] platform is really, really strong. But there are good people and smart people in other parties as well. And some of their policies and ideas that they’re coming up with are decent ones,” Curran said.

“And that’s why we really need voting reforms so that we have that best case scenario of all the best people working as a coalition to solve these things. It is going to take all hands on deck.”

Trans Mountain

However, Curran—who has worked as a coordinator for anti-TMX advocacy groups Extinction Rebellion and Protect the Planet, Stop TMX—wants to see stronger responses from all other parties about issues like the Trans Mountain pipeline. 

Even as Trans Mountain carries out 24/7 construction on the Burnaby Tunnel to speed up the timeline to complete it, and the company stacks court wins against the province and the city, Curran said the expansion is far from inevitable.

“I think we’re very close to getting it cancelled … So this is the first step. First, we have to control expansion. And at that point, we’ll look at capping what we’ve got and starting to work our way down,” she said.

“And I do think all the parties right now are talking about that to some level. Some are still trying to sell the idea that we need the pipeline in order to accomplish that, but it doesn’t take much to be able to see through that and realize there’s just no way that that’s actually possible.”

Reconciliation

Curran’s work with PPSTMX has helped her make connections with Indigenous advocates and groups who are also opposed to the pipeline. She said those experiences have taught her that Indigenous people who don’t trust the government have good reason to feel that way.

If she were elected in Burnaby South, she said she would do a lot of outreach with local First Nations leaders to try and build up good relationships—through actually listening to them and their concerns.

I would hope to be able to bring their voices because it is definitely something that is lacking and needs to be done.”

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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