Shane Dyson won the NDP nomination in Fort Langley-Aldergrove on Sunday afternoon.
Dyson, a longtime Aldergrove resident, won the nomination by defeating Gail Chaddock-Costello, who ran for the party in the riding in the 2009 election. She is also president of Langley Teachers Association.
It was the first contested nomination in memory for members of the NDP constituency association executive, and the contest helped the party double its membership in the riding.
The event began with a speech from party leader Adrian Dix, who has made many appearances in Langley in the past two years. He repeated his assertion that the party can win seats in the Fraser Valley — including Fort Langley-Aldergrove, and cited the results of the Chilliwack-Hope byelection, where the NDP won a seat it had never won.
“We are not satisfied with writing off 30 to 35 seats any more,” he told the 130 people in attendance.
Dix said the party will continue to press the government on issues, but will not engage in personal attacks.
“We are not going to disrespect people involved in the political process,” he said.
Dix said the party has had far more influence on B.C. than winning three out of 21 elections would indicate.
“The NDP is not about me, nor is it about me sitting in the premier’s office. It is about a more just, fair and equal society,” he said. “We do it by getting a mandate for change. We need to take the fight to Rich Coleman, Mary Polak and change the way people of Langley think about the NDP.”
After Dix spoke, the two candidates outlined their visions for the province and the riding, and the audience asked questions of them.
Dyson said the NDP has steadily been gaining votes in both Langley ridings provincially, and said the 2011 federal election was particularly successful, with candidate Piotr Majkowski getting more votes than the NDP had ever received in Langley.
He said there must be more effort made to get commuter rail into the Fraser Valley, south of the Fraser. He said water issues are important, particularly in rural Langley, and called for strengthening of the Agricultural Land Reserve and farmworkers’ rights.
“This (Liberal) government is a tired government and well past its best-before date. Let’s move away from the current government’s obsession with lowering taxes. It’s all a shell game anyway. All it has done is transfer costs through user fees like higher MSP payments and ferry rates and bridge tolls,” he said.
One questioner asked Dyson and Chaddock-Costello how they would convince people disllusioned with the Liberals to vote NDP, and not just stay home.
Dyson replied that the party had a much better record as government in the 1990s than it is given credit for.
“We do need to engage people,” he said. “We will certainly not fall into the trap the Liberals did — say one thing before an election and a few days after the election, start work to bring in the HST.”
On Monday, Dyson said he expects a far more vigorous campaign in Fort Langley-Aldergrove than the NDP has run in the past. The party has committed to give Fraser Valley campaigns more resources, and he expects there will be an enthusiastic team of campaign workers.
Dyson said he also plans to learn from recent political examples and make good use of social media to engage potential voters.