Norm Macdonald (politician)

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Norm Macdonald
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Columbia River-Revelstoke
In office
May 17, 2005 – May 9, 2017
Preceded by Wendy McMahon
Succeeded by Doug Clovechok
Mayor of Golden
In office
December 1996 – December 1999
Succeeded by Walter Scott
Personal details
Political party BC New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Karen
Occupation Teacher, school principal

Norm Macdonald is a former Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and a member of the British Columbia New Democratic Party. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly from the riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke in the 2005 provincial election and re-elected in the 2009 election and the 2013 election, though his party formed the official opposition to a BC Liberal majority government each time. He served various critic roles and on several committees.

In the 38th Parliament of British Columbia, Macdonald was the official opposition's critic on municipal affairs, then critic for tourism, sport and arts, and then education. In the 39th Parliament, he was the opposition's critic on forests and lands. During the 2011 NDP leadership election, Macdonald endorsed Mike Farnworth, though Adrian Dix went on to win and replace Carole James as leader of the BC NDP. In the 40th Parliament, he has continued as the Opposition Critic for Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations[1] and Chair of Rural Caucus.[2]

Prior to becoming an MLA, he was principal of Nicholson Elementary School in Golden and has more than 20 years teaching experience. Macdonald was also previously a town councillor and mayor of Golden.

Background[edit]

Like his father, Macdonald worked as a teacher for most of his life.[3] He taught at a First Nation school in Manitoba for a short time before moving to the Columbia Valley where he taught at a secondary school.[3] Living in the small town of Golden, British Columbia, he served one term, between 1993 and 1996, as a municipal councillor and one term, between 1996 and 1999, as its mayor.[4] He has also taught for a total of six years in Tanzania and Lesotho, Africa.[4] Once back in British Columbia, he became the principal (as well as a teacher) at Nicholson Elementary School, a rural school south of Golden.[3]

As the BC New Democratic Party were preparing for the up-coming 2005 provincial election, Macdonald put his name forward as a potential candidate for the Columbia River-Revelstoke electoral district.[4] At the November 2004 nomination meeting, attended by party leader Carole James, in Windermere, Macdonald was selected, with a 75% vote, over Kimberley-resident Brent Bush[5] to be the BC NDP candidate.[6]

Provincial politics[edit]

With the election set for May 2005, Macdonald continued working at his teaching job while travelling on weekends to build his support network.[7] The incumbent MLA, Wendy McMahon of the governing BC Liberals, was promoted to a ministerial position (Minister of Women's' and Seniors' Services) in December 2004[8] and major improvements to Kicking Horse Canyon Highway and rural roads were announced.[9] However, Macdonald's campaign highlighted provincial services that had suffered since the 2001 election, such as the closure of several schools,[10] the closure of the Kimberley hospital, reduced capacity at extended care facilities in Golden and Revelstoke,[11] and the elimination of conservation officers.[12] He also campaigned on his ability to provide better representation of local issues[13] and was supported with campaign stops in the area, in late April, from party leader Carole James.[10] Despite the late entrance by a Green Party candidate, who did not campaign in the riding,[14] Macdonald won the election with over 50% of the vote, though his party lost the provincial election to the BC Liberals who formed their second majority government. Macdonald spent $38,430 on his campaign, the lowest amount of all the winning candidates.[15]

38th Parliament[edit]

As the 38th Parliament began, Macdonald was assigned to be his party's critic for Municipal Affairs.[16] In a June 2006 critic shuffle, Macdonald was reassigned to Tourism, Sport and Arts[17] and then to Education critic in their August 2008 shuffle.[18] On provincial issues he spoke out against the 2005 back-to-work legislation for teachers and Bill 30 which exempted independent power producers from local government review,[19] a bill that allowed hotels in provincial parks,[20] a reorganization of Office of the Fire Commissioner which resulted in fewer rural fire officials.[21] He worked with fellow NDP MLAs Scott Fraser and Maurine Karagianis on a bill called First Nations Heritage Protection and Conservation Act[22] which was introduced into the Legislative Assembly by Karagianis in May 2008, though it did not move past first reading. He called for a "seniors representative",[23] similar to the province's Children's Representative[24] and he hosted a forum in his riding to discuss seniors-specific issues.[25] He joined a NDP delegation who traveled to Taiwan to promote tourism and economic issues.[26] Macdonald and neighbouring MLA Bill Bennett of the BC Liberals had an ongoing feud.[27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

On local issues Macdonald kept McMahon's constituency office in Revelstoke[34] and opened offices in Golden[35] and Kimberley.[36] His office produced a report, in early 2006, on health care services, based on public opinion and anecdotal user experiences, within his riding and delivered it to Interior Health.[37][38] While the health authority criticized and rebutted the report,[39] several municipalities and a regional district asked for a review of Interior Health's operations.[40][41][42] Macdonald issued a second, similar report later that year.[43] When the provincial government launched its own Conversation on Health, in late 2006, Macdonald advocated on behalf of health care professionals who felt they were being dissuaded from participating.[28][44] He was part of the opposition to the development of the Jumbo Glacier Resort[45] and opposed an application by Fairmont Hot Springs Resort to pave a road through Columbia Lake Provincial Park to access a proposed residential subdivision.[46] Macdonald continually lobbied Minister of Environment Barry Penner to re-acquire a conservation officer for Golden, a position that had been eliminated.[12][47][48][49] The BC Liberals had promised a new conservation officer in Golden during the election but did not fill the position until Spring 2009.[50] After the legislature voted to increase the wages of MLAs, Macdonald donated that increase to community foundations and food banks in Golden, Kimberley and Invermere, and the Stephen Lewis Foundation.[51]

One of the largest issues made public by Macdonald during this time frame was the fight to protect public power in British Columbia. Legislative changes made in 2006 by the BC Liberal government promoted the development of private power projects on formerly wild rivers and creeks.[52]

Columbia River – Revelstoke was particularly impacted by these changes with more than 20 projects proposed within the constituency borders.[53] The power projects which were touted as providing ‘green power’ were seen to be destructive to the environment[54] and were being approved without consent of local governments.[55]

Macdonald joined with the Golden Chapter of the Council of Canadians, local environmental groups and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee in hosting a series of Rivers at Risk rallies in Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere and Kimberley,[56][57] where the response was very strong.[58][59]

The community of Golden was particularly concerned about a proposed project on the Blaeberry River at Thompson Falls.[60][61] On May 26, 2008, Macdonald presented a petition signed by 1000 Golden and Area residents stating their opposition to a power project at Thompson Falls.[62]

The largest proposed private power project in the area was Glacier/Howser which was heavily opposed by Columbia Valley residents[63] which resulted in even larger protest events being organized in Invermere.[64] Former BC Social Credit Environment Minister and radio personality Rafe Mair, an outspoken opponent of the BC Liberal Energy Plan, spoke to a standing room-only crowd on June 11, 2008 where he said the government was “giving away our power to private interests, we will be handing over a great many of our rivers and creeks, which once underway, will be impossible to stop”.[65][66]

Rafe Mair also appeared with Macdonald in Cranbrook at a Rivers at Risk event on June 12, 2008[67][68] where Mair warned that the BC Liberal Energy Plan could result in the bankruptcy of BC Hydro.[69] Macdonald and Mair also dropped in to Selkirk Secondary School in Kimberley to meet with students to discuss environmental and social issues.[70]

Macdonald asked the Minister of Energy and the Minister of Environment to come to the communities of Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere and Kimberley and hold public meetings to answer the people’s concerns about private power.[71][72] While visiting Golden on another file, the Minister of Environment was met by a large group of protestors who wanted local rivers and creeks protected from private power developments.[73]

As part of the 2009 election campaign, the New Democrats promised a moratorium on private power projects until a full review could be made to ensure that projects made environmental and economic sense and that the cumulative impacts of all projects was fully understood.[74] In many communities in the constituency, private power was a ballot box issue; Macdonald won 55.29% of the vote.[75]

39th Parliament[edit]

As the 2009 provincial election approached, Macdonald was acclaimed as the NDP candidate[76] and Revelstoke mayor Mark McKee won the BC Liberal nomination.[77] BC Conservative leader Wilfred Hanni announced his intention to run in the riding[78] but later switched to neighbouring Kootenay East.[79] The Green Party added a late entrant, Sarah Svensson, a UBC doctoral student, but she did not campaign in the riding.[80] It was expected to be a safe win for Macdonald,[81][82] who attacked the BC Liberals over recent mill closures and forestry issues[83] while the BC Liberals tried to prove Macdonald was "secretly endorsing"[84] independent power producers while publicly calling for a moratorium on them. While Macdonald won the riding with over 50% of the vote, his BC NDP formed the official opposition to BC Liberals won re-election as majority government.

As the 39th Parliament began, caucus members elected Macdonald as Caucus Chair[85] and party leader Carole James reassigned Macdonald to be the critic for Forests and Range and Integrated Land Management, with Bill Routley as his deputy critic.[86] Together the critic team toured Vancouver Island investigating the issues of the island's forestry industry[87] and successfully made amendments to the government's proposed Woodworkers Lien Act.[88] Macdonald joined local opponents and the Western Canada Wilderness Committee who sought to block logging operations in the Mount Arrowsmith UNESCO biosphere reserve near Nanoose Bay.[89] Locally, Macdonald closed his Revelstoke office and opted to hold public meetings in various communities throughout the year.[90] He worked with the Ministry of Environment on addressing an urban deer herd in Kimberley.[91] He continued his feud with Bennett, this time over the proposed Jumbo Resort[92] and the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax,[93] both of which Macdonald opposed but Bennett advocated for. Macdonald openly advocated on behalf of workers at the British Columbia Ambulance Service who were on strike[94] and he put his support behind a proposal to include the David Thompson Heritage Lands, the Columbia River, as a National Historic Site.[95]

In October 2010, Macdonald abruptly resigned as the NDP caucus chairman.[96] He explained that the resignation was in reaction to the party leader's removal of Bob Simpson, who had publicly criticized James, from the NDP caucus without consulting the caucus beforehand.[97] As more MLAs came out against James' leadership, Macdonald backed Jenny Kwan's request that James call a leadership convention.[98][99] While James initially rejected the request, James did resign in December.[100] During the subsequent leadership election, Macdonald endorsed Mike Farnworth calling him "competent, ethical (and) responsive to the issues that the people feel are important".[101] Adrian Dix eventually won the leadership vote but Dix kept Macdonald as the party's forestry and lands critic.[102]

In January 2011, Macdonald published an opinion piece in which he advocated for three specific democratic reforms: adopting a mixed-member proportional representation voting system, strengthening the role of the legislative committee system, and strengthening oversight offices like the Auditor General and the Children's Representative.[103]

Electoral history[edit]

British Columbia general election, 2013: Columbia River-Revelstoke
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic Norm Macdonald 6,463 48.26
Liberal Doug Clovechok 4,847 36.19
Conservative Earl Olsen 1,162 8.68
Green Laurel Ralston 921 6.88
Total valid votes 13,393 100.00
Total rejected ballots 45 0.33
Turnout 13,438 53.60
Source: Elections BC[104]
B.C. General Election 2009: Columbia River-Revelstoke
Party Candidate Votes % ± Expenditures
     NDP Norm Macdonald 7,419 55 $39,287
Liberal Mark McKee 5,093 38 $120,550
Green Sarah Svensson 907 7 $350
Total Valid Votes 13,419 100
Total Rejected Ballots 101 0.7
Turnout 13,520 56
B.C. General Election 2005 Columbia River-Revelstoke
Party Candidate Votes % ± Expenditures
     NDP Norm Macdonald 7,460 52 $38,430
Liberal Wendy McMahon 5,750 40 $93,950
Green Andy Shadrack 1,217 8 $168
Total Valid Votes 14,427 100
Total Rejected Ballots 104 0.7
Turnout 14,531 62

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
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  4. ^ a b c Rooney, David (September 8, 2004). "Former Golden mayor seeks NDP nomination". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  5. ^ Rooney, David (September 15, 2004). "Brent Bush seeks NDP nomination". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 3. 
  6. ^ "Macdonald earns NDP candidacy". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. November 10, 2004. p. 3. 
  7. ^ Grant, Carolyn (January 11, 2005). "On the campaign trail in Kimberley". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  8. ^ "MLA achieves a valley rarity". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. December 22, 2004. p. 10. 
  9. ^ Birnie, Peter (May 14, 2005). "Columbia River – Revelstoke". The Vancouver Sun. p. K9. 
  10. ^ a b Zacharias, Yvonne (April 30, 2005). "Golden feels 'forgotten'". The Vancouver Sun. p. A5. 
  11. ^ Grant, Carolyn (February 7, 2005). "McMahon, Macdonald debate seniors' issues". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  12. ^ a b "Government's broken CO promise is wrong, says MLA Macdonald". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. August 24, 2005. p. 19. 
  13. ^ Macdonald, Norm (September 29, 2004). "Golden MLA is not representing constituents". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. p. 10. 
  14. ^ Grant, Carolyn (May 10, 2005). "Columbia River Revelstoke candidates enter the stretch run". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Burley, Gail (March 22, 2009). "Norm Macdonald gears up for another term". The Golden Star. Golden, British Columbia. p. 3. 
  16. ^ Grant, Carolyn (June 24, 2005). "MacDonald gets Municipal Affairs in shadow cabinet". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  17. ^ Willcocks, Paul (June 30, 2006). "James shuffles critics; Dix to health". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 11. 
  18. ^ "Macdonald named education critic". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. August 11, 2008. p. 5. 
  19. ^ Rooney, David (May 17, 2006). "City, MLA oppose Bill 30". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 3. 
  20. ^ Grant, Carolyn (August 3, 2006). "Macdonald opposed to hotels in parks: Penner's explanation that overnight facilities will help aging population is "disingenuous:" MLA". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
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  26. ^ Rooney, David (November 22, 2006). "MLA wooing Taiwanese tourism, film officials". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 24. 
  27. ^ "Bennett accuses Macdonald of subverting process". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. September 20, 2006. p. 6. 
  28. ^ a b Warner, Gerry (October 16, 2006). "Conversation on Health gets argumentative: MLA Bennett angrily denounces criticism from MLA Macdonald". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  29. ^ Warner, Gerry (October 20, 2006). "Bennett says he won't apologize; "Its time to move on." Macdonald, Dix say". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
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  60. ^ Saving the Blaeberry Thompson Falls, concerned residents gather. Golden Star’’. May 21, 2008. p. 10. 
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  75. ^ [5]
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  85. ^ MLA Norm Macdonald named NDP Caucus Chair,Golden Star. July 1, 2009. p. 1. 
  86. ^ Orlando, Aaron (June 22, 2009). "New forest critic Macdonald puts focus on keeping mills open". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 3. 
  87. ^ Simpson, Sarah (July 24, 2009). "NDP forest industry tour hits N. Cow.". Cowichan Valley Citizen. Duncan, British Columbia. p. 15. 
  88. ^ "MLAs co-operate and public wins". Times Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. June 3, 2010. p. A10. 
  89. ^ Bellaart, Darrell (August 23, 2010). "Fight is on to save unique Nanoose forest from logging". Nanaimo Daily News. Nanaimo, British Columbia. p. 3. 
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  91. ^ Grant, Carolyn (March 5, 2010). "Macdonald pleased with Environment Minister's response to deer issue". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 3. 
  92. ^ Grant, Annalee (August 10, 2009). "Macdonald, Bennett disagree on Jumbo decision". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 5. 
  93. ^ "MLA Macdonald criticizes Bennett on HST tax issue". The Kootenay Advertiser. Cranbrook, British Columbia. August 28, 2009. p. 9. 
  94. ^ Grant, Carolyn (September 11, 2009). "Still on strike; Paramedics/Macdonald call for arbitrator". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
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  96. ^ Hunter, Justine (October 16, 2010). "B.C. NDP faces crisis of leadership". The Globe and Mail. p. A12. 
  97. ^ Smyth, Michael (October 17, 2010). "NDP caucus chairman quits over matter of principle; Carole James gave rebel the shove without 'involving' caucus in decision". The Province. Vancouver. p. A4. 
  98. ^ Grant, Carolyn (December 3, 2010). "Kwan is right, says MLA; NDP icon must be listened to, MLA Norm Macdonald says". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  99. ^ Fowlie, Jonathan (December 4, 2010). "James heads for showdown with dissidents". The Vancouver Sun. Vancouver. p. A19. 
  100. ^ Grant, Carolyn (December 8, 2010). "Time was right for James to step down, MLA says". Daily Bulletin. Kimberley, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  101. ^ "MLA Macdonald supports Mike Farnworth bid". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. January 25, 2011. p. 1. 
  102. ^ Crane, Darryl (May 3, 2011). "NDP Shadow Cabinet announced". The Lake Windermere Valley Echo. Invermere, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  103. ^ Macdonald, Norm (January 19, 2011). "MLA Macdonald proposes reforms in Victoria". Revelstoke Times Review. Revelstoke, British Columbia. p. 1. 
  104. ^ "Statement of Votes - 40th Provincial General Election" (PDF). Elections BC. Retrieved 17 May 2017. 

External links[edit]