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Green candidate 'not an environmental activist'

Of the four candidates competing in Monday’s federal by-election in the New Westminster-Coquitlam riding, the one with the least environmental experience is the one running for the Green Party.

“I am not an environmental activist. I’m not,” Rebecca Helps told The Tyee. “I’m a businessperson. I have a business degree. But I recognize that we need to have a sustainable economy.”

Helps, a Port Moody resident who has worked for the Yellow Pages, is running against Fin Donnelly, who founded the Rivershed Society, Diana Dilworth, who has worked for the Fraser Basin Council, and Ken Beck Lee, who consults for a United Nations agency that monitors climate change.

“Now the others might have more of an environmental background, or more connection with the environment,” she said. “But they’re not running for parties which are embracing the environmental movement or embracing the policies we need to adopt.”

Helps joined the Green Party last fall.

“I joined the Green Party because the other parties aren’t really planning for the future, and their members don’t always vote in the best interest of their communities. They have to vote the way their party boss tells them to vote,” she said. “That just seemed very undemocratic to me. What’s the point of throwing away a vote on representative who can’t actually represent you?”

Helps called the party to inquire about volunteering, and was offered the chance to run for office.

“The needed somebody to run in my riding provincially,” she said.

Helps ran in last May’s B.C. election. She said she spent about $800 and won about 1,200 votes in that contest.

She said she plans to spend between $8,000 and $9,000 on this by-election, and hopes to win 10 per cent of the popular vote.

“There are so many good reasons to vote green. One of them is the fact that the political parties are publically funded,” Helps explained. She said that if her party reaches that 10-per-cent threshold, it will receive a reimbursement equal to 60 per cent of its campaign expense.

“So if we spend $9,000 this time, then I’ll have $5,500 to start the next campaign,” said Helps, who plans to run again in the next federal election.

“Voting Green does makes a difference over time,” Helps said. “The other parties embrace our ideas and policies.”

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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