Richmond’s first of four NDP candidates for this May’s provincial election has been nominated.
Dr. Lyren Chiu is a nursing instructor at Langara College who emigrated from Taiwan in 1999 and has lived in Richmond since 2014. She will vie for a seat in Victoria representing Richmond North Centre.
Chiu says the mere fact that she lives in a condo in the City Centre area is something that gives her a leg-up in the race against her main MLA competitor, Burnaby resident Hon. Teresa Wat, the incumbent BC Liberal and B.C.’s Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy.
“People don’t know about her. So far, from what I hear, she doesn’t spend time with local people and she doesn’t live here,” said Chiu, who started her Canadian career at University of B.C. as an assistant professor, a title she held for nine years.
Chiu said her first venture into politics was back in 2008 when she says she opposed a federal bill on placing restrictions on natural health products, such as traditional Chinese medicine.
Chiu, whose doctorate is in nursing, is an advocate of spiritual healing and Chinese medicine and says she conducts research in the area.
She said her decision to enter politics was nudged along by speaking to Meena Wong, Vancouver’s mayoral candidate for the COPE party, who placed third in the 2014 municipal election on a platform that included addressing empty homes and foreign homeownership.
“Housing has become the number one concern in Richmond,” said Chiu, adding that low-income people don’t have enough resources to live adequately.
Chiu said her own experience in Richmond has added to her concerns about housing; she moved to Richmond from Vancouver to be able to live more affordably.
“I thought Richmond was convenient and had reduced living costs. Not true!” she exclaimed.
Chiu, who does not own a car, said the Canada Line works well but connecting buses do not.
She said she didn’t vote in the 2015 transit plebiscite.
Nevertheless, she wants to increase funding for mass transit and opposes the planned Massey Tunnel replacement bridge, citing the $3.5 billion price tag.
“With that money we can extend the Canada Line south of the Fraser,” she said.
“I’m an evidence-based researcher. They’ve never showed evidence of benefits of this project. There’s little technical analysis. I want to get more into this with more research,” said Chiu.
“But from the info we have, this is not a wise decision,” she added.
Coming from a nursing background, Chiu said she has concerns about the healthcare system in B.C. As it pertains to Richmond, she stated the announcement by Wat last year, to fix Richmond Hospital, remains an “empty promise.”
Another talking point sure to make any debate in Richmond will be education funding, said Chiu.
Notably, the NDP has no detailed party platform yet, to offer solutions to the purported problems.
Chiu, who remains close with her mother in Taiwan, said she ran a Chinese medicine consulting firm named Beautiful Minds between her time at UBC and Langara.
Fluent in Mandarin, Chiu is a founding director of the Federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine Colleges of Canada and president, founder and executive director of the Canadian Research Institute of Spirituality and Healing.
In 2013 Wat won Richmond Centre with 49.8 per cent of the popular vote, with 43.7 per cent voter turnout.
This election sees Richmond Centre split into South and North ridings, as they absorb portions of Richmond East, as that riding subsequently absorbs New Westminster’s Queensborough neighbourhood.
All BC Liberal incumbents are returning, while former Global BC reporter Jas Johal will vie for the Liberals in Richmond-Queensborough.