After years of working behind the scenes in politics, the BC Liberal Party candidate for Vancouver-West End says he’s ready to run for office himself this May.
“I kind of felt it was my generation’s turn to do something,” Scott Harrison, 42, tells Xtra. “I’ve always been interested in politics.”
The father of two says he is on unpaid leave from his position as executive assistant to the minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations to run against incumbent NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert; Mathew Kagis, of the Work Less Party; and Green candidate Jodie Emery, wife of marijuana reform advocate Marc Emery, who is currently jailed in the United States.
Asked what differentiates him from Chandra Herbert, Harrison says, “I’m a little more free enterprise, a little more balanced budgets.
“Spencer and I agree on the same endgame,” he says. “We just disagree on how to get there. At the end of the day, I think that people who run for office have the best of intentions.”
Harrison is not new to political campaigns or the BC Liberal Party. He was the Vancouver-Burrard riding association president during the tenure of former MLA Lorne Mayencourt, then was the Vancouver-West End president after the redistribution of ridings. He also helped organize Premier Christy Clark’s leadership campaign.
Outside his political work, Harrison used to operate the West End-based renovation-design company maison d’etre, which he ran with a gay business partner. He has also worked in various project management and entrepreneurial capacities, he says.
Harrison says an issue he’s hearing about from the queer community is the affordability of housing as people age and how the West End can meet that demand.
He’s also concerned about the queer community’s need for a revamped community centre and what he can do to facilitate that should he become MLA.
Harrison also believes gay men are being treated disrespectfully by being refused the option to donate blood. “I can’t believe that hasn’t changed,” he says, adding that he would advocate for that to change.
Harrison stands behind Clark on the issue of the onsite renovation of St Paul’s Hospital in the West End.
“She actually took action and has finally committed capital to expand and build,” he says in reference to the premier’s June 2012 commitment of half a billion dollars to redevelop St Paul’s at its current Burrard Street site. “They’re working with stakeholders and the community.”
“We all agree wholeheartedly as downtown residents that is critical to us and we have to make it happen,” he adds.
On the issue of bullying, Harrison says the community “has a champion like Christy Clark” with the ERASE Bullying strategy announced in June 2012 and promoted to protect all children regardless of gender, race, culture, religion or sexual orientation.
“Homophobic bullying is wrong and will not be tolerated,” Clark said at the time. “That’s part of what we’re doing.”
Harrison says any kind of bullying should not be tolerated.