Naomi Yamamoto

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The Honourable
Naomi Yamamoto
MLA
MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale
Incumbent
Assumed office
2009
Preceded by Katherine Whittred
Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations of British Columbia
In office
June 10, 2009 – October 25, 2010
Premier Gordon Campbell
Preceded by Joan McIntyre
Minister of State for Building Code Renewal of British Columbia
In office
October 25, 2010 – March 14, 2011
Premier Gordon Campbell
Minister of Advanced Education of British Columbia
In office
March 14, 2011 – September 5, 2012
Premier Christy Clark
Preceded by Ida Chong
Succeeded by John Yap
Minister of State for Small Business of British Columbia
Incumbent
Assumed office
September 5, 2012
Premier Christy Clark
Personal details
Born Vancouver, British Columbia
Political party BC Liberal
Residence North Vancouver
Occupation Computer graphics

Naomi Yamamoto is a Canadian politician who was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2009 provincial election. She was elected as a member of the BC Liberal Party in the riding of North Vancouver-Lonsdale. Yamamoto's party formed a majority government in the 39th Parliament and Premier Gordon Campbell included her in his cabinet, between June 2009 and October 2010, as Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations, and then as Minister of State for Building Code Renewal between October 2010 and March 2011. Following the 2011 BC Liberal leadership election, in which Yamamoto endorsed George Abbott, the new Premier, Christy Clark, promoted Yamamoto to Minister of Advanced Education.

Yamamoto has introduced one piece of legislation, the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2011,[1] which sought to implement several measures, including expanding the Personal Education Number system which tracks students in the BC educational system to also include private educational institutions, specifying that board members of colleges and universities are to act in the best interests of the institution, and updating the Architectural Institute of BC's dispute resolution process. The bill was introduced on November 3, 2011, but was not adopted before the winter break.

Prior to her election to the legislature, Yamamoto owned and operated a business that started as a specialty shop for laser printing but evolved to focus on design and had created props for the television and film industry. She spent time on the governing boards of Capilano College, the North Shore Credit Union, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation. She completed one term as president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and worked as the president and general manager of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce from 2007 until she was elected as MLA.

Background[edit]

Yamamoto is a third-generation Japanese-Canadian. Both her parents were born in Vancouver, but were interned in the Kootenays for part of World War II. Yamamoto was also born in Vancouver and grew up with one brother and one sister, who all moved to North Vancouver in 1970. Her father had instilled in her an appreciation of outdoor activities, such as fishing, trail running, and cycling, which turned into lifelong hobbies.[2]

She graduated, in 1982, from the University of British Columbia where she studied film and television production.[3] Then she went to work at her family's Japan Camera outlet for seven years.[3] In 1988, along with a business partner, she opened her own company, Lasercolor Design & Printing, which specialized in laser printing. With a growing clientele in the film and television industry who needed props, the business was renamed Lasercolor Business Graphics and Props.[3] As laser printing became more common, the company was renamed again to Tora Design, focusing more on the design aspect.

She started volunteering at the North Shore Neighbourhood House, which assisted seniors and at-risk children. She was active with the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce[4] and served one tern (1997–98) as president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.[5] She spent six years, beginning in 1995, on the Capilano College board of governors[6] and eleven years, beginning in 1998, on the North Shore Credit Union board of directors as well as eight years, beginning in 2001, on the Vancouver Coastal Health board of directors.[7]

In 1998 she helped organize a BC-specific economic summit[8] and participate in a provincial government task force examining how to improve the province's economy.[9][10] All her activities were recognized by the Vancouver Board of Trade, in 2000, with the Women in the Spotlight Award[3] and by the newspaper Business in Vancouver, in 2003, with their Influential Women in Business Award. She also served on the board of directors for the Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation for Young Artists, beginning in 2004.[11]

In February 2007 she started work as the president and general manager of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, a position she kept until she was elected as MLA.[12] As president of the NV Chamber of Commerce she supported the introduction of the carbon tax[13] and opposed a proposal for introducing a statutory holiday in February.[14]

Provincial politics[edit]

Yamamoto expressed interest in pursuing a career in provincial politics in June 2008 when there was speculation that long-time MLA Daniel Jarvis was going to retire.[15] While Jarvis kept his options open, fellow MLA Katherine Whittred did retire, and in the subsequent BC Liberal Party nomination meeting, Yamamoto was challenged by former Member of Parliament Don Bell and former Vancouver city councillor Jennifer Clarke.[16][17] Yamamoto was considered the underdog but defeated Bell in the second round of the preferential ballot.[18] In the subsequent general election, held in May 2009, Yamamoto was challenged by former North Vancouver mayor Janice Harris for the BC New Democratic Party, acupuncturist Michelle Corcos for the Green Party,[19] former leader of the BC Reform Party Ron Gamble, and BC Conservative Party candidate Ian McLeod.[20] While the riding was previously considered safe for the BC Liberals, Harris was also considered a star candidate for the NDP.[21] Both candidates had awkward moments, with Yamamoto refusing to participate in an all-candidates forum sponsored by the local teacher's association.[22] The North Shore Credit Union, of which Harris was a member and Yamamoto a board member, had donated $7,500 to the BC Liberal Party.[23] Nonetheless, Yamamoto won the election, making her the first person with Japanese ancestry to be elected as a MLA in BC.[24]

In the 39th Parliament, Yamamoto's BC Liberal Party formed a majority government. She was not appointed to any committees but Premier Gordon Campbell included her in his cabinet as Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations. In this position she worked with American and Canadian federal officials in resolving US-Canadian border prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver,[25][26] as well as hosting officials from other governments during the games. She helped coordinate the provincial government response to the US state of Montana and the United Nations concerning resource extraction in Flathead River Valley that was impacting the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park; the province implemented a short term ban on mining and oil/gas extraction, followed a permanent ban in a designated area with the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act in 2011.[27][28]

She was a strong advocate of the Harmonized Sales Tax,[29][30] as she had been lobbying in favour its introduction in BC for years prior to running for political office.[31] However, it proved to be an unpopular initiative with 6,786 people in the North Vancouver-Lonsdale signing the FightHST group's petition asking for it to be repealed.[32] The FightHST group also considered conducting a recall campaign against Yamamoto. Just prior to his resignation, Premier Campbell shuffled his cabinet, moving Yamamoto Minister of State for Building Code Renewal. In this role she was to oversee the modernization of the provincial building code with considerations given to new techniques and technologies, as well as reconciling provisions for single- and multi-family dwellings.[33] In the 2011 BC Liberal leadership election, following Campbell's resignation, Yamamoto endorsed George Abbott. She had found all the leadership contenders held similar views on economic issues, health care and education, but that Abbott was the more personable contender.[34] After Christy Clark won the party leadership, and became premier, she promoted Yamamoto to Minister of Advanced Education.[35] She toured various post-secondary institutions across the province[36][37][38][39] and announced $1.5 million for healthcare training programs,[40] $500,000 for a First Nations teaching program,[41] $300,000 to train First Nations aquaculture workers.[42] She rebuffed calls for greater student affordability and provincial funding for the universities, defending the existing student loan program[38][43] and the existing provincial funding formula,[44] citing the "challenging fiscal environment".[45][46][47] She advocated for a greater role for international students,[48] which Premier Clark's BC Jobs Plan called for increasing by 50% within four years the number of international students in BC.[49] The BC Jobs Plan also called for the creation of a new international education council, which seemed to duplicate the existing BC Council for International Education[50] and led to criticism that the government was either re-announcing old measures or were not aware of the existing council.[51] Yamamoto supported the creation of the new council, as an independent steering committee with a broader scope.[52]

As Minister of Advanced Education, Yamamoto introduced the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment Act, 2011 (Bill 18), which sought to implement several measures, including harmonizing the federal and provincial student load procedure, expanding the Personal Education Number system which tracks students in the BC educational system to also include private educational institutions, specifying that board members of colleges and universities are to act in the best interests of the institution, and updating the Architectural Institute of BC's dispute resolution process.[53] The bill was introduced on November 3, 2011, but was not adopted before the winter break.

Electoral history[edit]

B.C. General Election 2009: North Vancouver-Lonsdale
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Naomi Yamamoto 10,323 49 $108,381
     New Democrat Janice Harris 7,789 37 $86,306
Green Michelle Corcos 1,791 9 $1,555
     Conservative Ian McLeod 862 4 $250
Reform Ron Gamble 232 1 $1,491
Total Valid Votes 20,997 100
Total Rejected Ballots 163 0.8
Turnout 21,160 56

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bill 18
  2. ^ Greenaway, John (September 2011). "Community Profile: Naomi Yamamoto, MLA". The Bulletin: A Journal of Japanese Canadian Community, History & Culture. Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Aarsteinsen, Barbara (March 9, 2000). "Spotlight pointed on 'well-rounded' involvement". The Vancouver Sun. p. D1. 
  4. ^ "On the Move". The Vancouver Sun. July 4, 1994. p. D10. 
  5. ^ "Moves". The Vancouver Sun. June 9, 1997. p. D2. 
  6. ^ "Regional Roundup: North Vancouver". The Vancouver Sun. October 31, 1997. p. B4. 
  7. ^ Wild, Matthew (April 14, 2002). "Health board chosen". North Shore News (North Vancouver). p. 27. 
  8. ^ Hunter, Justine (October 30, 1998). "Summit spotlight turns to Pattison". The Vancouver Sun. p. F1. 
  9. ^ "Ideological differences limit the red-tape commission". Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia). September 8, 1998. p. B6. 
  10. ^ Ross, Howard; Peter Kennedy (November 9, 1998). "B.C. businesses demand lower taxes, less red tape". The Globe and Mail. p. A3. 
  11. ^ McGrath, Paul (July 14, 2004). "Gordon and Marion Smith Foundation Lunch". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 16. 
  12. ^ Seyd, Jane (January 24, 2007). "NV chamber head named: New president brings wealth of experience". North Shore News. p. 5. 
  13. ^ Weldon, James (February 22, 2008). "MLA McIntyre high on carbon tax". North Shore News. p. 1. 
  14. ^ Geake, Elisabeth (February 28, 2007). "Labour argues for Feb. stat: Chamber president sees just another cost". North Shore News. p. 11. 
  15. ^ Cooper, Sam (June 12, 2008). "MLA Jarvis to seek re-election". The North Shore Outlook. p. 9. 
  16. ^ Cooper, Sam (November 21, 2008). "Naomi Yamamoto running for BC Lib nomination in North Van; Don Bell still mum on future". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  17. ^ Lautens, Trevor (February 20, 2009). "Lonsdale Liberal nomination race intrigues". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  18. ^ Cooper, Sam (March 2, 2009). "Yamamoto topples Bell and Clarke in NV-Lonsdale". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  19. ^ Barrett, Jessica (April 8, 2009). "Green candidate has big-picture approach; Michelle Corcos to run in North Vancouver-Lonsdale". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 12. 
  20. ^ "Meet the candidates". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). April 30, 2009. p. 1. 
  21. ^ Bermingham, John (April 14, 2009). "Hot ridings to watch; Here are 10 election contests where seats could change hands, the races are tight, the issues tense and the candidates touchy". The Province (Vancouver). p. A6. 
  22. ^ Pi, Daniel (May 4, 2009). "Yamamoto backs out of North Van all-candidates meeting". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  23. ^ Seyd, Jane (April 24, 2009). "Harris rips credit union for donation; N. Shore Credit Union gives Liberals $7,500 while Yamamoto on its board". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  24. ^ Cooper, Sam (May 12, 2009). "Yamamoto becomes B.C.'s first-ever Japanese-Canadian MLA". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver). p. 1. 
  25. ^ Levitz, Stephanie (July 3, 2009). "Amtrak to add second run from Seattle to Vancouver for 2010 Games". The Canadian Press. 
  26. ^ Johnson, Gene (July 28, 2009). "Homeland Security chief tours Olympic centre in Washington". Kamloops Daily News. p. 4. 
  27. ^ Cuthbertson, Richard (September 17, 2009). "UN review could settle mining dispute; Company exploring for gold near park". Calgary Herald. p. B1. 
  28. ^ Cuthbertson, Richard (February 10, 2010). "B.C. protects Flathead; Environmentalists win ban on oil, gas, mining projects". Calgary Herald. p. B7. 
  29. ^ Seyd, Jane (September 2, 2009). "Provincial deficit to jump to $2.8 billion; MLAs defend government priorities". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  30. ^ Yamamoto, Naomi (June 9, 2010). "HST 'transformation' will strengthen B.C. Economy". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 6. 
  31. ^ Walkinshaw, Bruce (August 31, 2011). "HST... and the Shore". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  32. ^ Alldritt, Benjamin (August 13, 2010). "MLAs targeted for recall vote; Anti-HST campaigners plan to force North Van reps from office". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  33. ^ Weldon, James (October 27, 2010). "Campbell gives Yamamoto new portfolio; Need to update construction practices, says MLA". North Shore News (North Vancouver). p. 3. 
  34. ^ Hoekstra, Greg (February 1, 2011). "North Van MLA casts support for George Abbott". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  35. ^ Hoekstra, Greg (March 14, 2011). "North Van MLA nets new cabinet position". The North Shore Outlook (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  36. ^ Lux, Ryan (March 31, 2011). "Education to create more Northern opportunities". Alaska Highway News (Fort St. John, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  37. ^ Nielsen, Mark (March 31, 2011). "P.G. hosts education frontbencher". Prince George Citizen (Prince George, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  38. ^ a b Smith, Jennifer (July 8, 2011). "Cabinet minister says student debt not so bad". Kelowna Capital News (Kelowna, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  39. ^ Crawley, Bruce; Sally MacDonald (September 12, 2011). "College asks for four-year nursing degree; MLA, College President in talks with Minister of Advanced Education". Daily Townsman (Cranbrook, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  40. ^ Burnett, Stewart (August 25, 2011). "Northern Lights College benefits from healthcare funding". Alaska Highway News (Fort St. John, British Columbia). p. 3. 
  41. ^ "B.C. looks to get more First Nations teachers". Dawson Creek Daily News (Dawson Creek, British Columbia). April 4, 2011. p. 3. 
  42. ^ "VIU receives $167K for aquaculture workers". Nanaimo Daily News (Nanaimo, British Columbia). June 22, 2011. p. 5. 
  43. ^ Holloway, Tessa (November 20, 2011). "Cap U funding crunch makes cuts likely". North Shore News (North Vancouver). p. 3. 
  44. ^ Holloway, Tessa (May 22, 2011). "Cap U faculty protests program cuts; Adult Basic Education, literacy programs slashed in new budget". North Shore News (North Vancouver, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  45. ^ Walker, Dustin (May 4, 2011). "Minister says VIU funding formula remains sufficient". Nanaimo Daily News (Nanaimo, British Columbia). p. 5. 
  46. ^ Hunter, Justine (September 13, 2011). "Party leaders in campaign mode even without an election". The Globe and Mail. p. S1. 
  47. ^ Schwitek, Jessica (November 22, 2011). "Minister defends Liberal advanced education policies". The Golden Star (Golden, British Columbia). p. 1. 
  48. ^ Yamamoto, Naomi (June 27, 2011). "Launching the next generation as international citizens". Alaska Highway News (Fort St. John, British Columbia). p. 4. 
  49. ^ Cassidy, Olivier (September 21, 2011). "International students key". The Province (Vancouver). p. 6. 
  50. ^ Shaw, Rob (September 21, 2011). "Clark targets education in jobs plan". Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia). p. A3. 
  51. ^ Palmer, Vaughn (September 24, 2011). "Results will be paramount to Clark's future after five days of jobs rhetoric". The Vancouver Sun. p. A3. 
  52. ^ Steffenhagen, Janet (September 21, 2011). "B.C. faces tough competition in bid for international students". The Vancouver Sun. p. A2.  Also, "Premier looks to cash in on international students" by Jonathan Fowlie, same page.
  53. ^ Kines, Lindsay (November 4, 2011). "Bill will cut students' paperwork for loans". Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia). p. A5. 

External links[edit]