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BC First cofounder vows to 'seek the will' of voters

Sal Vetro, a bus driver by trade, has taken to riding a 10-speed bike around the Vancouver-False Creek riding as he runs for MLA there in the upcoming provincial election.

Vetro, who is the candidate for the BC First Party, which he helped found in 2010, is not a political neophyte, having stood for the Canadian Alliance Party in the 2000 federal election and in 2001 for the provincial Unity Party. 

"You could say I'm the eco-friendly candidate," Vetro told The Tyee by phone recently, referring to his choice to campaign from his bike seat. "I'm on my bike with my signs and I'm out meeting people."

According to the BC First website, "A 'BC First' government will not impose its will on the people of BC, contrary to what we've all seen from the old line political parties, which are dictated to, by their support groups -- be they big business, big unions or any other special interest groups. A 'BC First' government will, instead, first seek the will of British Columbians, by way of Referendums, on major issues. Referendums can now be easily and quickly done by utilizing the Internet."

Vetro's biggest political victory so far was his involvement with the anti-HST referendum campaign, which he joined at the invitation of ex-premier Bill Vander Zalm, whom Vetro describes as a friend and mentor, and the man who urged him to get into politics 15 years ago. Vetro volunteered on the successful referendum campaign against the HST as a logistics co-coordinator. 

Last September, Vander Zalm told the Georgia Straight that B.C. voters should take a look at BC First, which he said was the only provincial party proposing "real change."

"Direct democracy is our platform," Vetro told The Tyee. One of the two candidates his party is fielding in the provincial election (the other is small businessman Doug Maxwell, running in Penticton), Vetro says that the success of the anti-HST referendum campaign proves that "direct democracy can work."    

Running in an urban riding (formed in 2008 and comprising much of downtown Vancouver) against former city mayor Sam Sullivan for the Liberals, digital media executive Matt Toner for the NDP, financial services industry figure Ian Tootill for the BC Conservatives, construction foreman James Filippelli for "Your Political Party" and Vancouver-based writer Daniel Tseghay for the Greens, Vetro is optimistic about his chances for victory -- despite the tough competition.

In the last sitting of the legislature, Vancouver-False Creek was represented by Liberal Mary McNeil, who decided not to run again this year.

Tom Sandborn regularly covers labour and health policy beats for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at [email protected]. Disclosure: Vetro and Sandborn were both employed as Handy-Dart drivers over a decade ago.

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