BC Liberals candidate Sam Sullivan: It's so important to have good people in politics

May 7 2017, 4:51 am

Ahead of the BC Election, Daily Hive has been speaking to a few of the candidates running from all three parties to find out what motivates them.

Here, Sam Sullivan, 57, who is running for the BC Liberals in Vancouver-False Creek, shares his story and political advice for young voters.

What’s your story?

I broke my neck in a skiing accident when I was 19 years old and I became a quadriplegic with limited use of my arms and no use of my hands. I was on welfare and living in social housing for seven years.

I hit rock bottom and decided to set goals to improve my life and others. I worked with other disabled people to set up Quality of Life organizations to help people sail, get into the wilderness, play music, garden, get assistive devices, fly gliders, paddle board etc. I helped other programs get established across Canada and beyond. For these things I received the country’s highest civilian award, the Order of Canada.

I realized how much government rules affected the lives of people with disabilities. Grace McCarthy inspired me to run for [Vancouver] City Council, and while on council, I became convinced that the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games would be good for Vancouver. Our proposal was accepted and when I became mayor, I went to Torino to receive the Olympic flag and devoted my term to making the city the best it could be before the world arrived.

When I was mayor, I focused on the most important but controversial issues. I believed that if we did not densify aggressively, the price of housing would become unaffordable to young people and our environmental footprint would continue to grow. My response was the EcoDensity Initiative.

I was also concerned about the terrible problems caused by addiction – both to the individuals caught in this problem – and to the broader community. I started the Chronic Addiction Substitution Treatment (CAST) initiative in which substances would be prescribed to people with addictions so they would not have to risk overdose from dangerous street drugs.

I opposed hiring more police as a way to address social problems and instead explored alternative ideas under Project Civil City. One idea I championed was the establishment of the Street to Home Foundation which has brought millions of dollars of private money to the homelessness problem and I gave 14 city building sites for housing which now houses about 1500 people.

All of these things were unpopular with the opposition and with important elements of my party. A city councillor from my NPA Party challenged me, forced an unplanned nomination review, and attracted just enough votes to force me to resign so I never got the chance to fully implement my ideas.

In 2013, several people encouraged me to get back into public life by running for election as MLA in my neighbourhood of Vancouver – False Creek.

Why this particular political party?

I have always found parties on the right are more open to innovation whereas the parties on the left tend to think think the answer to social problems is more government.

How’s the campaign going?

It is so hard to know because I cannot knock on doors and connect with people as is done in most other ridings, because most people live in residential towers.

What would you say to young people thinking of getting into politics?

It is so important to have good people in politics. But the most important training ground is getting broad experience in life.

To find more guides to all the issues, interviews with the BC party leaders, and plenty of opinions, check out our full BC Election coverage here: Battleground BC.

See also
Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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