As a resident of Port Moody and the Tri-Cities for the past 15 years, I was intrigued to find out more about Tim Laidler, the recently announced Conservative candidate for the newly established riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam as I personally had never heard of him previously and knew nothing about him or his background. Accordingly, I started my search for information concerning Mr. Laidler.
What I found was extensive information concerning Tim Laidler, the veteran. Like many I’m sure, my initial impressions of Mr. Laidler were highly favourable. He is young (late 20’s), dare I say handsome, a veteran of the Afghan conflict, with a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from UBC. Very impressive indeed. It appears by all accounts that he is a tireless worker and campaigner on behalf of veterans’ rights and issues, who focuses on helping veterans transition back into society, particularly those who are dealing with Post-traumatic Stress Disorders, via the Veterans’ Transition Network (VTN), of which he is Executive Director.
But how you may ask does this distinguished background qualify you for Federal office (or any kind of political office for that matter) particularly when you have never run for or held a political office at any level (whether at the Provincial or Civic level) previously? If being a veteran, acquiring a graduate degree, providing selfless service to the community and Nation, and being an eloquent and prolific public speaker on issues on which you have expertise were exclusively the only necessary requirements to attaining public office, thereby giving you a pass on election night to election victory, then by all rights, Gaetan Royer should be the current Mayor of Port Moody as he too is a veteran having served in Bosnia, has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Queens, and has spoken numerous times on planning and intra-governmental issues. However that clearly isn’t the case. As such, putting his considerable personal achievements aside for the moment, I am still left with the question as to what exactly does Mr. Laidler stand for politically and who is he? In other words, who is Tim Laidler the politician? Why should I as a constituent of the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam vote for him other than in order to support a veteran? What are his views on the environment? Does he agree with the use of omnibus bills and all other aspects of the current Conservative administration under Stephen Harper, etc.? The answers to these questions unfortunately so far are not so easy to discern.
In attempt to answer who Tim Laidler, the politician is, I initially tried to access his promotional website, TimLaidler.ca/why I’m running. This website was utilized by Mr. Laidler to promote his candidacy for the Conservative nomination in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam. I tried to access the site in order to see indeed exactly that, why was he running. However, that webpage no longer exists. I became aware of its prior existence as it was identified in a series of old tweets including a tweet on Twitter on June 28, 2014 and was also referred to in a tweet posted by James Moore on August 13, 2014, the day after Mr. Laidler’s nomination meeting. The domain timlaidler.ca is currently being utilized as the website for Former Anmore Councillor Tim Laidler’s, Remax realty listings (his father’s business). The deletion of the webpages and the information that it contained is somewhat curious considering that all the other promotional candidate websites for all of the fellow candidates for the Conservative nomination (Bernie Hiller, Maria Javier, and Janine Davies) are all currently still active and I can easily see what these people stand for and their extensive ties to the local community. Curiously, only Mr. Laidler’s webpages have been taken down. One wonders why a candidate would not want their information to remain out there? Shouldn’t a website saying why you ran be a benefit for you as a candidate?
Very few clues are provided as to who Mr. Laidler, the politician is by Mr. Laidler’s promotional candidate’s video. This video was produced as part of the nomination campaign leading up to the eventual nomination meeting which took place on August 12, 2014 where Mr. Laidler won on the third ballot. The majority of the promotional nomination video is taken up by various TV news clips documenting his distinguished work on behalf of veterans (telling the Mr. Laidler the veteran story) but where is the information concerning him and his political views and his vision for the country? Near the end of the video there are a few short statements regarding the economy which are so vague and so void of actual content that no one could argue or disagree with them as they lack any real substance or meaning. I too am “for trade”. Perhaps more detailed policy discussions took place at the nomination meeting itself. Unfortunately, only those present would know.
Digging deeper, it appears that Mr. Laidler is not the political neophyte that he appears to be trying to project. In fact, digging deeper it appears that Mr. Laidler has been until relatively recently, heavily involved in both Civic and Provincial politics in the City of Vancouver (note not in the Port Moody-Coquitlam area where he only recently took up residence by his own admission with him stating on June 25, 2014 that he had only “recently moved to Port Moody”).
The following details what is publically available concerning Mr. Laidler’s prior participation in both Civic and Provincial politics in the City of Vancouver. According to his linkedin profile, from September 2011 to March 2014, Mr. Laidler was a Board Member of the NPA (Non-Partisan Association) in Vancouver. Below is a photo taken from a November 15, 2013 Georgia Straight Article showing Mr. Laidler at the announcement of the NPA candidates for the last civic election. Mr. Laidler is quoted in the article.
Provincially, Mr. Laidler worked extensively for the B.C. Liberals under Christy Clark during the last Provincial election, working as the campaign manager for Fatima Siddiqui, the wife of fellow NPA Board of Director and fellow former Alpha Delta Phi alumni Tanveer Siddiqui, in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings. In the most recent election, Ms. Siddiqui managed to finish a distant second in the riding, garnering approximately 28% of the popular vote in comparison to Shane Simpson of the NDP who took the riding with almost 59% of the vote. Below are a few photos of taken of Mr. Laidler out campaigning for Ms. Siddiqui in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings during the last Provincial election. Mr. Laidler also worked as an event coordinator for the B.C. Liberal party for a year in 2009.
Mr. Laidler interestingly also seems to be quite connected politically with former Mayor, former NPA member, and current B.C. Liberal MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, Sam Sullivan. Below is a photo of Mr. Laidler at a BBQ in honour of Candidate Siddiqui which was attended by Mr. Sullivan. Mr. Laidler also spoke Sam Sullivan’s Public Salon in September of 2012 and was one of the organizers of the “City Social” event put on by the NPA in 2013 at which Mr. Sullivan spoke. This is somewhat understandable given both Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Laidler’s ties and connections to the NPA.
In regards to the Port Moody-Coquitlam riding, it should be noted that Mr. Laidler has already dipped his toes politically into local Port Moody civic politics (presumably after recently moving to Port Moody) by posting two tweets on October 27, 2014, prior to the most recent civic election and two and a half months after accepting the nomination for the Federal Conservative Party of Canada for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam on August 12, 2014. The two tweets are posted below. On October 27, Mr. Laidler composed a tweet on Twitter showing Councillor Diana Dilworth “exposing Fin Donnelly’s civic election slate” and in another tweet posted on the same day, Mr. Laidler also accused Fin Donnelly of meddling in civic politics in Port Moody.
The irony of one Federal candidate accusing another fellow Federal candidate of meddling in civic politics by posting tweets to two local papers, thereby meddling in civic politics was clearly lost on Mr. Laidler. These two tweets are also somewhat ironic in retrospect as the whole notion of slate politics during the most recent Port Moody civic election has recently been described by two local political pundits in the Tri-City News as being a “red herring”.
By now you might be getting an idea about Mr. Laidler’s political leanings and his political background but what about his views on major issues such as the environment? Some insight into this are provided by the transcript of the City of Port Moody National Energy Board Trans Mountain Town Hall Meeting that took place on June 25, 2014. During the meeting, at which numerous environmental concerns over the Trans Mountain pipeline project were expressed, Mr. Laidler stood up, walked up to the mike, and made the following statement/question.
Tim Laidler, Port Moody: Hi there. I grew up in Anmore, but I have recently moved into Port Moody. I think what we’re faced with here is weighing the risks and the benefits of the project. So my question is specifically around the economic benefits and some of the jobs numbers. I, myself, served in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces and, since coming home have been working at a non-profit organization helping Veterans transition with things like PTSD. And what we found from the veterans is we can help them with some of the psychological issues from war, but if they don’t get back into meaningful careers, they tend to struggle quite a bit. So what would be really important to me and to my colleagues who are all transitioning back into the work force is some of those job numbers, during the construction, but also are there going to be jobs after the construction. Also the second question is around the access to world markets. I’ve heard that a lot, and I was wondering if you could explain that a little bit better.
Michael Davies: Okay, there is a lot there. In terms of economic benefits, it’s a $5.4 billion construction project. About 60% of that will be spent in British Columbia. There will probably be about 4,500 jobs at the peak of the construction and 750 of those would be in Burnaby. And those would develop benefits or spinoffs for all of the local communities along the pipeline and, particularly, there is a lot of construction that is proposed for the Lower Mainland here. In terms of longer term jobs, we have about 130 employees in BC now. I think there would be about another 90 jobs in total in Trans Mountain. About 50 of those would be in BC. What Scott didn’t get to with his part of the presentation around Western Canada Marine Response and those new spill bases and the expansion of the existing spill response; that would probably result in, and the early estimates right now is probably 90-100 new positions as well in those communities along, well there would be more here in Burnaby as well, but certainly along the route through the Salish Sea. The, we pay local taxes. We pay about $50,000 a year in taxes to Port Moody for the piece of pipeline that we have now. That’s not going to change because there is no change to the pipe, but the local taxes in BC would increase by about $20 million. About $6 million of that is for the City of Burnaby. So there are some significant benefits. Those are the ones that are directly related to the project. The second part of your question is about world markets. Of late, the price of oil in North America has been about $20-$30 less per barrel than what it is in the rest of the world. Canada can only sell into the continental US market, that market with the depressed price. So we are selling our oil to the US at a markdown price, where if we had access to tide water and global markets, we would be able to, I mentioned earlier two million barrels a day that is exported, we would have the opportunity to raise the price of those two million barrels a day by $20-$30. That’s a big part of what this project is about. Now those differentials come and go. Things will change in the market and they won’t always be there, but the point is that when they occur, Canada has no opportunity to take advantage of that. And that’s where the interest is in expanding our infrastructure to be able to serve international markets.
Tim Laidler: Thank you. Can I do a follow-up? (Sure.) I just want to say thanks. That answers my questions. And I just wanted to offer something to the process here. Again, my experience in Afghanistan, we saw a lot of community type forums like this that were not nearly as civilized, so I think we all are doing a pretty good job in the process. Thanks so much to the City of Port Moody for hosting.
A link to the video of the Port Moody Town Hall Meeting can be found here on the City of Port Moody website. Go to 78:21 to see Mr. Laidler’s participation in the meeting. Please consider his question/statement in the context of the rest of the questions that were being asked that day and remember that at the time of the Town Hall Meeting that Mr. Laidler was already actively seeking the Conservative nomination for the riding (note the date on the tweet below indicating that a reception took place almost a full month before the Kinder Morgan hearings). However, he choose not to disclose that as part of his question/statement.
What are we to take from the Conservative candidate of Port Moody-Coquitlam’s question to the NEB concerning the Trans Mountain Pipeline project? Was he concerned about the environmental impacts of the project on his potential constituency? Clearly, the answer is no. Did he somewhat oddly repeat the same talking points about himself out of context when the only instruction to speakers from the NEB was to “clearly state their name, City of residence and whether they are representing a Port Moody business”. Well, frankly yes. Did he take the job values and economic spinoff values provided by the Trans Mountain representatives at face value? Yes, numbers that have since been shown to be greatly exaggerated as identified in the recently published SFU report (Nov. 10, 2014) entitled “Economic Costs and Benefits of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX) for BC and Metro Vancouver” which clearly identifies that Kinder Morgan has inflated the pipeline’s job numbers by a factor of three while dramatically underestimating spill costs. So where does Mr. Laidler stand on the singular most paramount environmental issue potentially facing the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam? Very difficult to say from his attendance and participation at the open house in June of 2014. His question to the NEB during the Town Hall meeting would seem to indicate that environmental concerns are not a concern of his at all so we’ll have to wait for his answer to that question during the upcoming election campaign.
Given the proceeding, what then do we now know about Mr. Laidler both the veteran and the politician? Undoubtedly, he is an honoured veteran who has provided great service to the Nation and his fellow veterans and who is very smartly courting the sizable Korean vote in the Tri-City area. No one can dispute his service to the country and its veterans and I as a citizen of this country will always be grateful and thankful for his sacrifices. I myself come from a military family with my father retiring after 26 years of service in the British Intelligence Corps at the rank of Major with my mother having been a British Army nurse in Africa so I am well aware of the sacrifices made by those serving their country. Taking Mr. Laidler’s military service and personal achievements with the VTN away for a moment however, and one is left with a young, possibly parachuted candidate who has never been elected to a political office at any level who has strong ties to the Vancouver NPA party and the BC Liberal party. Is that what we as residents of the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam want as our Federal representative? Are we as a riding looking for an importation of NPA-style politics to the Tri-City region? Do we want to be represented by a candidate with only distant past ties to the riding and the community? That ultimately will be up to the constituents of Port Moody-Coquitlam to decide. Given that Mr. Laidler won the Conservative nomination on August 12, 2014 on the third ballot of a preferential vote, this would suggest that Mr. Laidler was clearly not even the primary choice of many of those local Conservatives who attended the nomination meeting. Was it because he was perceived as an outsider in the riding and someone who was parachuted in possibly by the party with the backing of local MP James Moore? How does Mr. Laidler, a relative outsider, beat out the then Chair of the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce Janine Davies and two other far more locally tied candidates? Does Mr. Moore see himself in the young candidate? Is he a James Moore Mach II? Perhaps some of the unsuccessful candidates for the position or others who may have attended that meeting could shed light on what exactly happened at that meeting.
So far the majority of the information concerning Mr. Laidler, the politician has not, from what I have been able to discern, come out publicly which begs the following question: why did Mr. Laidler avoid mentioning any of his extensive prior political involvement in his nomination video for the riding? Did he consider it not relevant or was he trying to hide his fairly extensive political past as it didn’t follow the narrative that he is trying to project?
In regards to Mr. Lailder’s recent residency and his overall appropriateness as a candidate for the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam, I would have to say this: I personally grew up in Vancouver, went to high school in Vancouver, completed my first two years of University at Langara, and my mother still lives in the City of Vancouver as she has done so for the past 44 years. This hardly qualifies me to run Federally in the City of Vancouver, to know all the intricacies of the issues in the City of Vancouver, to know the details of the day-to-day running of the City of Vancouver, and what the most important issues are Federally to the City of Vancouver, etc. However, I personally am not running for Federal office in Vancouver. For me to do so would be highly presumptuous of me and could be interpreted as being political opportunism. It could be argued that Mr. Laidler would be a far more appropriate candidate for the riding of Vancouver Quadra given his long-term residence in the City of Vancouver, his extensive experience at UBC, and his familiarity for the politics in the City of Vancouver at both the Civic and Provincial level. The Conservative nominee position is at the time of this writing (January 1, 2015) is still not filled. One wonders why Mr. Laidler didn’t choose to run in that riding or some other riding in the City of Vancouver rather than in Port Moody-Coquitlam as he clearly has more ties politically to Vancouver? Was it that he thought (or others thought for him) that he would have an easier time getting elected in Port Moody-Coquitlam rather than in Vancouver Quadra or some other Vancouver riding? Did he perceive (or others perceive for him) that it was going to be too difficult for Mr. Laidler to defeat Federal Liberal incumbent Joyce Murray or some of the other incumbents so instead it would be better for him to go “back to his roots”, a place that he hasn’t resided in for many, many years? Mr. Laidler certainly is familiar with Joyce Murray , the Liberal Critic for National Defense, as he attended and presented at a MP Connections Breakfast sponsored by Joyce Murray on Nov. 30, 2012 (pictured below).
I suppose we will have to wait for the election campaign to start before we can ask him.
Since the original publishing of this blog post, Tim Laidler’s campaign webpage, http://www.timlaidler.ca, was published. Interestingly, Mr. Laidler’s bio page completely ignores his past political participation at both the civic and Provincial levels. Why would that be? Is it not relevant for a politician to discuss their political past? Being a director of the NPA (Non-Partisan Association) in Vancouver is quite an accomplishment politically. Why would you not acknowledge that? Could it be that being associated with the NPA and/or the BC Liberal Party could possibly be seen as a possibly detrimental to Mr. Laidler candidacy and possibly being elected in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam? Does it not fit the narrative that Mr. Laidler and his campaign are trying to portray? His recent move back to the Tri-Cities in 2014 after living many years elsewhere is also not acknowledged.
Also interesting about the campaign webpage is that none of the news articles on the webpage have hyperlinks that link back to the original articles. Only the website addresses are listed. It is possible that this is intentional as some of the comments associated with the original articles are highly critical of Mr. Laidler and perhaps he and/or his campaign wouldn’t want anyone to directly link to those stories in the fear that someone might actually read something that is not positive about Mr. Laidler.
As pointed out here and many, many other places elsewhere on this blog, Mr. Laidler’s lack of transparency is a constant theme. I can only hope that voters in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam will be able to see through the opportunistic candidacy of Mr. Laidler and vote for someone else (whoever that might be). The constituents of Port Moody-Coquitlam deserve a representative in Ottawa working for us not a Harper representative in our riding working for him.