Submissions raise eyebrows at Electoral Boundaries Commission public hearing in Surrey with ‘Gracie’s Finger’ references, opposition to changes in key Liberal ridings.

On a rather mundane Thursday afternoon in April, without any press or fanfare, representatives from the Electoral Boundaries Commission conducted a public hearing in Surrey at the Guildford Sheraton Hotel.

The purpose of the public hearing was to allow voters in Surrey the opportunity to give input on the proposed electoral boundary changes to ridings in the city, which are significant –  in fact Surrey will receive one new riding for the 2017 election if the changes are eventually accepted.

However, there were very few members of the general voting public in attendance at this public hearing – not terribly surprising because it was not largely publicized and the voting public tends to be nonchalant about most political matters,even ones that impact them directly.

What was surprising- or not depending on how you look at it- was the interesting mix of movers,shakers and well known BC/federal Liberal names that did show up among the other community members with vested interests. And what they had to say in opposition to some of the proposed changes was even more interesting.  Some of the presenters who gave verbal submission did not even live in the area or riding they gave an opinion on!

Here’s a list of who gave submissions:

Surrey public hearing

If you’ve followed local, provincial and federal politics for any amount of time south of the Fraser, you’ll spot a few noteworthy names immediately and of course,that would raise  your eyebrows.

Of the 23 people at the Surrey hearing who said the proposed map needs significant changes ( 27 attended in total) 14 were Liberals or Liberal supporters/donors. The remaining 3 NDP donors/supporters identified said they thought the EBC had done a decent job, though one did propose a small change to Fleetwood,one of the riding changes that seems to be contested the most.

Here’s a few notes, taken directly from the audio of the hearing posted at the link above:

Brenda Locke, former BC Liberal MLA & Federal Liberal candidate

– Donations to Libs:

– Wants to Keep Fleetwood as is, makes a comment  that Fassbender is a strong MLA in his riding, mentions Harry Bains, Gordon Hogg in comparison, boundaries have changed many times, said population growth has slowed based on 2014 when it increased 33%, would like to see boundaries shrink from west rather than the east.

John Les, former BC Liberal MLA

–  Asks indulgence of commission and audience to re-visit other decisions?? ( This is a Surrey hearing, but whatever – l.y)

-Leave Sumas in Abbotsford- When a Commissioner asked which he would prefer if the numbers allowed them to only do one, he said keep Hope in Chilliwack.

– was a MLA for 3 terms

– Don’t move Hope, leave in current Chilliwack/Hope, made mention of Aboriginal voters.

Ian MacPherson

– Donations to Libs:

– Says everything west of 148th St in the proposed Guildford riding should be in Whalley or Green Timbers, as the case may be.

– Concerned about length of riding, 114th past extend to 140th, west of 144th, particularly 148th s/b with Green Timbers

– Name change: would cause confusion for voters, go with new name with riding 104th /108th kinda the boundaries he would like

Ron Knight

– Donations to Libs:

– Keep Cloverdale as is and keep its population smaller than average to allow for future growth. (Commissioner pointed out these are conflicting desires.)

– Keep Fleetwood as is.

Carolyn Glazier

– No personal donations to Libs, but her employer is Bay Realty and they have donated:

– Keep Cloverdale as is-Keep Fleetwood as is. Lives in Morgan Creek ?

(Says the Whalley/Guildford boundary is no good, but when pressed, says she doesn’t have the map in front of her, and perhaps best to stick to her own area… ? )

– South and Cloverdale are going to grow faster than the rest and should be left below average population size.

Bill Brooks, former Federal Liberal candidate

***Makes a comment that is very questionable at the 1:03:38 of the recording when he suggests that the “Gracies Finger” in Surrey South be corrected!!

Says he uses this term “Gracies finger” in reference to something else….yet Gracies’ finger is one of the biggest gerrymandering scandals in BC history. What exactly is he inferring with this statement to the commission, using a reference that clearly indicates a benefit of  one partisan interest over another? ***

– Donations to Libs:

– Lives in Crescent Beach,wants to have Crescent Beach put in South.

– Keep Cloverdale as is and fix the Gracie’s Finger.

– Keep Fleetwood as is.

Adam Stowe

– Keep Cloverdale as is.

– agrees need new riding – Clayton North – do not divide, remain in Cloverdale, he is willing to submit on line submission to flesh his concerns/ideas out

Pocholo Insua

– Donations to Libs:

– Keep Fleetwood as is- Keep Cloverdale as is.

Stephen Gammer, Real Estate Agent and former candidate for Surrey council with Brenda Locke

– Donations to Libs:

– Keep Fleetwood as is.

– Leave Fleetwood community center inside Fleetwood, Clayton Heights in Cloverdale, Cr. Beach to S. White Rock, there are geographic & emotional boundaries, use Serpentine as a boundary

Al Payne, former BC Liberal, Federal Liberal, and Doug McCallum campaign manager

– Donations to Libs:

– Move the Whalley/Guildford boundary to 144th St. – Likes 9th seat.( of course he does…)

– Retain traditional boundaries of Fleetwood, 144th to Green Timbers, using Hawthorne Park who have fewer residents, use natural boundaries.

Judy Higginbotham, former Federal Liberal candidate and longtime former Surrey councillor

– Donations to Libs (Judy):

– Donations to Libs (Judith):

– Keep Fleetwood as is.- Keep Cloverdale as is.

– Morgan Heights will explode in population growth, leave Fleetwood where it is, groups deal with that MLA closely, (Fassbender) give Gracie’s finger back to Cloverdale, numbers don’t matter in family but heart of community matters (this refers to Cloverdale being 25% above acceptable range with 74,000 voters)

Sylvia Posypanka

– Keep Fleetwood as is – Keep Cloverdale as is.

– Happy with 9th seat

– Doesn’t want Fleetwood Park removed from Fleetwood, don’t split Clayton Heights, growth in Grandview Heights is amazing

Jorda Maisey, President, Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

– No personal donations to Libs, however donations made to Libs by FVREB with Maisey listed as an officer.

– Keep Fleetwood as is – Keep Cloverdale as is.

– Don’t put Fort Langley with Abbotsford.

– 63% realtors are in Surrey/White Rock, want you to consider the community, want to vote for who will make my community viable/sustainable, S. Surrey/Cloverdale projected 4% with 3% in 10 years, lots of talk about voters, happy voters, don’t split the community

Sarbjeet Sarai, active Federal Liberal

– Keep Fleetwood as is.

Rich Gorman, Board Chair, Semiahmoo House Society

– Keep Fleetwood as is.

– Generally reiterated comments of previous speakers who disliked the new Fleetwood. Reinforced Michelle Wieboltt’s peculiar comments re challenges to businesses if boundaries change re name change.

– Doesn’t want Fleetwood to go to Cloverdale. Want to keep Fleetwood Park & High School. Fleetwood is not growing like other communities

Catherine Ferguson, Executive Director, former Mayor of White Rock

– Keep Fleetwood as is – Keep Sumas in Abbotsford – Keep Hope in Chilliwack.

– former Mayor of White Rock – went on at length about not wanting to change boundaries

Rick Hart, President, Fleetwood Community Association

– Donations to Libs:

– Keep Fleetwood as is or move boundaries east

Kirk Fisher, VP, Lark Group 

– Donations to Libs:

– Donations to Libs (Lark Group):

– Make Cloverdale smaller to allow for future growth – Make Panorama smaller to allow for future growth.

John Russell

– Donations to NDP:

– EBC has done a good job with recommendations- Likes recommendations of EBC

– Likes name change

Louella Vincent

– Donations to NDP:

– EBC has done a good job with recommendations – Spoke about how happy to have a 9th seat, congratulated them on a job well done, said she would submit on line response.

Balwinder Chahal, former candidate for NDP federal nomination

– Donations to NDP:

– Put Fleetwood Park and Fleetwood Park Secondary back in Fleetwood, otherwise EBC has done a good job with recommendations.

This is a map of the changes to the Fleetwood riding that some Liberal members/ supporters are objecting to -even the ones that do not live anywhere near Fleetwood. The current riding boundaries are in blue, the proposed changes are in red.

fleetwood map

So why are so many Liberal supporters finding fault with this riding proposal, which makes sense to many residents I’ve since spoken to who actually live in Fleetwood? ( None of which had any clue this was going on,or that they could still give input )

Generally speaking, BC Liberal support is strongest in the south and the east of Surrey (towards Langley).

In the case of Surrey-Fleetwood, the Commission is tightening it up and proposing moving it west-which makes sense because the core of the community is within the new boundaries.

The Liberals are presumably not pleased that the map drawn by the Commission would make the Surrey-Fleetwood seat, held by Peter Fassbender, Minister of Education, an uphill battle for Fassbender in the next provincial election.

The resulting loss of voters from the more pro-Liberal voters east of the seat and the addition of voters from the less Liberal supportive west could pose a real problem for the Liberals in Surrey.

Because Fassbender won this seat by fewer than 200 votes in the 2013 election, these proposed boundaries could make Fleetwood very difficult for him to hold on in 2017, in particular with parents and teachers growing outrage over the ongoing cuts to education as a result of districts being forced to find millions in budget savings.

Based on previous results, the new Surrey South seat would be solidly Liberal, so Fassbender could presumably run there if he doesn’t like his chances in Fleetwood.

However, the Liberals could avoid having to move Fassbender, while at the same time limiting the NDP’s chances of picking up any additional Surrey seats, if they can convince the Commission they’ve got Fleetwood all wrong and need to go back to the drawing board.

Which makes the multiple references to ‘Gracie’s finger’ by Liberal supporters all that more ironic when you think about it!

While every single voter has a right and perhaps some might say, a duty to provide input on political matters than impact them directly- including everyone of these presenters -one has to question the partisan nature of some of these submissions when the people giving them don’t even live in the riding impacted.  And in once case, when questioned as to why they didn’t like a boundary, couldn’t even answer…

Any new seat in Surrey will be highly sought over by every political party as the city continues its stance as a political powerhouse at both the provincial and federal levels.

And while everyone agrees Surrey does need and deserve a new seat to reflect the growing population, the motivation behind many of the changes provincially have already come under fire. 

My advice to Surrey residents is to not let the politicians and their supporters shape the province for you – shape it for yourself.

There is still time to give input to the commission on what you think is best for your riding, and your community. Changes are happening not only in Surrey, but Richmond and all over the province.

You can access the maps of proposed changes to any of the ridings in your area here:

You can give your input via the form at this link  and make sure you let them know where you heard about this from.

You might not be thinking ahead to the 2017 provincial election in British Columbia right now, but let me assure you, the political parties vying for power certainly are.

When it comes to the changes in Surrey, it’s worth a stroll down memory lane to understand why the mention of Gracie’s Finger in this public hearing are so darn compelling.

5 thoughts on “Submissions raise eyebrows at Electoral Boundaries Commission public hearing in Surrey with ‘Gracie’s Finger’ references, opposition to changes in key Liberal ridings.

  1. Interesting comment about Fort Langley/Abbotsford. The two communities have nothing in common (I live in Ft. Langley) except they’re staunchly Liberal.


  2. Clearly shows that the electorate needs to pay attention to these things.

    There is a time and process where your voice has the most impact and once things are done it’s pretty hard if not impossible to change them.

    I’m hoping the people of every riding under review takes note and use this opportunity to voice their concerns, approvals or disapproval


  3. Does Fassbender actually believe the change of electoral boundaries is the only reason he will go down to defeat?
    Hmmmm lets see if we can find a few OTHER reasons why he’s toast in 2017.
    Ongoing govt scandals, never ending tax increases , cuts to everything except govt salaries, the Education portfolio, the Health portfolio, Christy’s endless mindless blithering bs, Translink, LNG, Kinder Morgan, Mount Polley, and on and on and on …

    Yeah, Its the electoral boundaries that will bring the Liberals down next election…

    Hubris and the fall.

    I cant wait


    1. I think the phrase… any port in a storm? Forgive my cynicism, but we are two years out from the next election and the vast majority of scandals may well be forgotten by the next election and/or the NDP may yet again fail to convince the voters as has been the case for the last few elections…altering an electoral boundary might seem like a small thing but in an a riding where the current MLA won by 200 votes,it may very well be the saving grace.

      Either way, residents who actually live in that area should be filling out that form to share their input.


  4. Hi Laila,
    I’ve been busy like everyone else and would not have noticed this latest Liberal stunt if you haven’t had shed some light on it. Thank you


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