Pamela Goldsmith-Jones wore a plaid shirt and jeans while canvassing door-to-door in Squamish last weekend, eschewing the stuffy red blazer worn by many federal Liberal candidates.
And when she went to the first door, it was clear that it had not been pre-selected for a media photo op, as the man who answered appeared undecided and did not want his photo taken.
Goldsmith-Jones, it seems, is not playing by the old rules of politics, and she hopes her fresh approach garners more votes for the Liberals in the federal election next week and lands her a seat in Parliament over the Conservative incumbent.
She even spoke positively about the Liberals reaching out to the Green Party, even though they had just had a major campaign event in Squamish. She is aiming for the politics of cooperation and inclusion.
“There’s an old joke, Why did the Canadian cross the road?” she says over coffee in Squamish. “To get to the middle.”
Goldsmith-Jones, who brought no entourage to the interview at Big D’s Restaurant, is a UBC political science grad who went on to complete a masters degree in local government.
She was a mother of three young children when she decided to run for council in North Vancouver. She didn’t run again after completing her first term, choosing instead to stay home to homeschool the kids for six years. Goldsmith-Jones divided her time between the city and a cabin in the Gulf Islands, then moved to California.
When she, her husband and the children returned, Goldsmith-Jones says she was recruited to run for council in West Vancouver, where she later became mayor. After two terms running the city, she took another break from politics.
But after years running her consulting business and this year earning her MBA in aboriginal business and leadership, Goldsmith-Jones was thrilled to receive the Liberal nomination for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country as part of Team Trudeau.
She believes the Liberals stand a good chance of forming the next government. “Our economic platform has been well received,” she says. “Justin Trudeau has hit his stride. The team around him is a strong team with lots of experience, and most Canadians don’t support Stephen Harper.”
What does she think of Harper’s comments about the niqab?
“I think Canadians are tired of the politics of division, which is what the niqab debate is all about,” she says.
Vote-splitting, she notes, is a legitimate concern, but she’s proud that Trudeau “has advocated for Elizabeth May to be in all the debates.”
“We will be able to work constructively with the NDP as well,” she adds.
She believes her campaign picked up steam as people started really thinking about who they want to represent the riding – and lead the country.
“They are happy to talk to us about it,” she says. “It was lonely for the first few months…. They hadn’t really thought about it, but they are ready for change.”
Goldsmith-Jones, despite her small physique, speaks powerfully about her views. “I think people view this election as pivotal in Canada’s history, and we have an opportunity to restore Canada’s role in the world as a moderate middle power…. Canadians would like a return to the idea of being an open, tolerant, accepting society. The politics of division have to end with this election. People want leaders who collaborate and work… with respect.”
Goldsmith-Jones, 54, is a fourth-generation resident of West Vancouver. “I have been here my whole life,” she explains. “The West Coast of Canada is about being inclusive and accepting.”
Rebuilding infrastructure, protecting the environment and strengthening the economy for the middle and lower classes would be priorities, should the local voters send her to Ottawa next week. “The distance between the wealthy and the people really struggling has never been greater,” says Goldsmith-Jones.
The Liberals would increase spending by borrowing to make a $60 billion infrastructure investment and would raise taxes for people making more than $200,000, she says.
Goldsmith-Jones is excited about the childcare plan that makes up to $6,400 in costs tax-free, even though she won’t benefit personally; her son and two daughters are now adults and university graduates who all live together in East Vancouver.“People in Squamish, there are many young families, and they are very interested in our child-care plan,” says Goldsmith-Jones.
She then sets off to meet with her team canvassing apartment buildings in Squamish.