Rich Coleman served as MLA for Langley ridings from 1996 to this year, before deciding to resign at the end of his term. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Rich Coleman served as MLA for Langley ridings from 1996 to this year, before deciding to resign at the end of his term. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Rich Coleman gets back to roots after 24 years as MLA comes to an end

‘Coleman Country’ has been a Liberal stronghold since 1996

“It is weird, no question about it,” Liberal MLA Rich Coleman said of the election that winds up this Saturday, Oct. 24.

Coleman has served as the Liberal MLA in eastern Langley for more than two decades, but early this year he announced he would retire from the legislature when his term was up.

He expected to serve out the remainder of his term, which would have lasted until October, 2021.

“I felt I wouldn’t be an MLA who would cause a by-election,” Coleman said.

But then NDP leader John Horgan called a snap election.

“When the election got called, I was in my constituency office,” Coleman said. That meant his time in office was now to end shortly after election day.

“I thought, that was an awfully odd way to finish.”

Coleman isn’t sure exactly what he’ll be doing yet post-politics, as he thought he’d have another year to plan that. But he’s keeping busy while he’s still MLA, and while the election is being fought.

He’s so identified with the riding, which was known as Fort Langley-Aldergrove and then as Langley East, that it’s been dubbed “Coleman Country.”

During his time in office was heavily involved with ensuring the Langley Events Centre received provincial funding for its construction, and he’s served in multiple cabinet posts across his 17 years in government under Liberal leaders Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, including as solicitor genera, minister of forests, and deputy premier. During the last Liberal leadership race, he served as interim leader of the opposition.

In 2013 and 2017, Coleman served as Liberal campaign chair, and while he’s passed that role on, he’s still busy, advising other campaigns in other ridings.

In the last few weeks, he’s been putting in the work trying to help Liberal candidate Margaret Kunst succeed him in Langley East, where she’s going up against the NDP’s Megan Dykeman and Green candidate Cheryl Wiens.

Coleman said he’s also going back to his roots, from when he first got involved in politics.

“I started out in the 1980s as a sign guy,” Coleman said.

He put up signs for local candidates back then, and now he’s doing the same for Kunst around the Langley East riding.

Signs are one of the major tools in this COVID-19 election, because so many other avenues to gaining attention for candidates have been cut off.

Big rallies of 500 or more party supporters used to be a key feature.

“None of that takes place now because of COVID,” he noted.

There have been a lot of conference calls, and the Liberals have been using a system they developed before the last election to let their volunteers do more work remotely, said Coleman.

“I think the biggest thing is the door to door communication.”

Now instead of knock and have a chat, it’s usually knock and leave a brochure.

In addition, many election volunteers are seniors, since they have more free time if they’re retired, and the level of COVID risk is higher for them.

Always a firm opponent of the NDP, Coleman was highly critical of the snap election call, and said he believes the Liberals are doing better than the polls might indicate.

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has gotten stronger as a campaigner over the last five weeks, Campbell said, and he believes Horgan was thrown off a bit by the debates.

The NDP has indicated in recent weeks that they believe they can challenge the Liberals for the Langley and Langley East ridings, with two appearances locally by Horgan and one by Adrian Dix.

Coleman’s own absence from the hustings may be a part of that.

“They have had me as a known quantity for 24 years,” Coleman said. Now they’re trying their luck against Kunst, a Township councillor best known for her involvement with the PuCKS charity.

He sees the appearances in Langley of Horgan and Dix as being one way to create a narrative, as much as an attempt to win the local ridings.

“You try and create the story of momentum with your leader’s tours,” Coleman said.

Coleman remains confident in a local Liberal victory, but he is also sure that we won’t know the final vote tally on Oct. 24.

“A lot of people are going to be in limbo,” Coleman said.

With thousands of mail-in ballots that won’t be counted until November, many ridings may find it impossible to call a winner.

“It will be the strangest election night in B.C.’s history, that’s for sure,” Coleman said.

AldergroveBC politicsBC Votes 2020Langley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Veale, seen here at Brookswood Secondary School on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, has been coaching girls basketball for more than 20 years (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Coach Chris Veale backs his players

When the gym closed, this dedicated basketball coach found another way

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Government drives up cost of affordable housing

An Ottawa developer digs into building costs after reading about Langley’s new affordable housing

Tabor Village took to social media on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 to share what it meant to them to have Langley Lodge staff visit and provide support. As of Tuesday (Dec. 1), the outbreak at Tabor had resulted in a total of 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4. (Tabor Village/Facebook)
Langley Lodge shows ‘solidarity’ by visiting staff of B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak

As of Tuesday, Abbotsford facility recorded 147 cases and 19 deaths since Nov. 4

Brian Lott, of the Rotary Club of Langley Central, emceed the prize draw on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
Langley woman wins $73,615 in first ever Langley Rotary Mega Draw

After months of ticket sales, the draw was livestreamed from the Rotary Interpretive Centre Thursday

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
‘No smoke, no fire’ defense says in conflict case that could kick three off Langley Township council

Lawyers argued there’s no evidence of any conflict or vote-for-money deal

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Most Read