Mary Polak

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The Honourable
Mary Polak
MLA
MLA for Langley
Incumbent
Assumed office
2005
Preceded by Lynn Stephens
Minister of Environment of British Columbia
Incumbent
Assumed office
June 10, 2013
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by Terry Lake
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure of British Columbia
In office
September 5, 2012 – June 10, 2013
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by Blair Lekstrom
Succeeded by Todd Stone
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation of British Columbia
In office
March 14, 2011 – September 5, 2012
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by Barry Penner
Succeeded by Ida Chong
Minister of Children and Family Development and Minister Responsible for Child Care of British Columbia
In office
June 10, 2009 – March 14, 2011
Premier Gordon Campbell
Preceded by Tom Christensen
Succeeded by Mary McNeil
Minister of Healthy Living and Sport of British Columbia
In office
June 23, 2008 – June 10, 2009
Premier Gordon Campbell
Succeeded by Ida Chong
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for the Conversation on Health of British Columbia
In office
December 19, 2006 – June 23, 2008
Premier Gordon Campbell
Personal details
Political party BC Liberal
Religion Roman Catholic [1]

Mary Polak is a Canadian politician and Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (MLA) for the riding of Langley. She was re-elected to the B.C. legislature in 2013, having represented the constituents of Langley since 2005 and was appointed Minister of Environment on June 10, 2013 by Premier Christy Clark. Prior to her new cabinet post, she served as the Minister Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, Minister of Children and Family Development and Minister Responsible for Child Care, Minister of Healthy Living and Sport, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for the Conversation on Health.Before being elected to the legislative assembly, Polak served as a trustee and former chair of the Surrey School Board in Surrey, British Columbia. She currently resides in Langley, British Columbia.

Surrey School trustee[edit]

Same-sex-parents book controversy[edit]

Polak was recruited to run as a member of the Surrey Electors Team by school trustee Heather Stilwell. As a Trustee on the Surrey School Board, she voted down a request, along with the majority of the school board, to add three specific books dealing with same sex families as recommended learning resources for the kindergarten and grade one curriculum. These books were requested by a kindergarten teacher to reflect the realities of today's families and to teach his pupils about diversity and tolerance. The BC Government also declined to approve the same books.

A legal battle to overturn the decision to ban the three books went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where the school board's decision was returned to the board.[1] The judgment cited the need for families headed by same-sex couples to be respected. Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin dismissed the school board's argument that children would be confused or misled by classroom information about same-sex parents.[2] The Surrey School Board then approved a different set of books depicting same sex families. In doing so, Surrey became the first school district in BC to approve books depicting same sex families as recommended learning resources for primary grades, including kindergarten.

Results publishing[edit]

As school board chair, Polak made Surrey the first school district in B.C. to publish school-by-school results for both elementary and secondary schools. These results were based on controversial standardized tests, opposed by a majority of public school teachers. They were published in Vancouver newspapers as "rankings" by the Fraser Institute. Polak also served as Chair of the Council of British Columbia School Districts and on the Board of Directors of the B.C. School Trustees Association.

Provincial politics[edit]

She tried unsuccessfully to gain a seat in the Legislature as a candidate for the BC Liberal Party, but lost the 2004 Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election to Jagrup Brar, the New Democratic Party of British Columbia candidate. This was a substantial defeat for the governing Liberals.

Polak won a seat in the 2005 provincial election in the riding of Langley by over 52%, 18 points ahead of her next closest competitor. As an MLA for Langley she served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for the Conversation on Health and later as the Minister of Healthy Living and Sport.

Polak ran successfully again in the 2009 Provincial election, earning more than 56% at the polls and increased her margin over her nearest opponent to more than 20 points.[3]

In the 2013 British Columbia general election, Mary Polak sought reelection in Langley for a third term. She won her riding easily with nearly 52% of the popular vote nearly doubling the vote total of Andrew Mercier, the NDP candidate. She also defeated John Cummins,the leader of the BC Conservative Party who received less than 12% of the popular vote. [4] A week before Election Day, Polak's campaign manager, Todd Hauptman, resigned, citing homophobia among the Langley electorate as his reason for stepping down.[5] Polak suggested that Hauptman had not fully disclosed his reasons for resigning.[6] She said that Hauptman quit after being alleged to have leaked information about the Liberal Party's strategy to the New Democratic Party (NDP);[7] Polak said that the NDP candidate was a friend of Hauptman's.[8] Hauptman, a gay man, issued a press release about his resignation.[9] Xtra!, a magazine that publishes lesbian and gay Canadian news, requested an interview with Hauptman to which he originally assented and later declined.[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]