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Lesbian MLA in tight race in Vancouver-Kensington

Liberals pit Filipino candidate against Mable Elmore

"I'm working hard," NDP incumbent Mable Elmore says. "I'm not taking anything for granted."

NDP candidate Mable Elmore says she’s not taking anything for granted this election.

Elmore, who became BC’s first Filipina MLA in 2009, is in a reportedly tight race to keep her seat in Vancouver-Kensington, where the Liberals are now running their own Filipino candidate.

The Liberal candidate is Gabby Kalaw, who ran with the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association for a seat on the city parks board in 2011.

Elmore says the race between Filipino candidates has raised the profile of the election in her riding.

“I’m running hard, I’m working hard,” she says. “I’m not taking anything for granted.”

To Elmore, the major issues this election are affordable housing and childcare, accessible education, and the need for mental-health support for youth and children.

“There’s a sense of wanting a change,” she says.

Elmore is a veteran of various sociopolitical movements and has advocated for queer visibility, particularly in the students’, women’s, labour and peace movements. She has facilitated courses about fighting homophobia in the workplace, both in BC and Ontario, as well as coordinated a cross-Canada program to raise awareness about queer issues in the workplace.

She has been on hiatus from her job as a bus driver since winning her seat in the legislature four years ago.

In the legislature, Elmore has served as opposition critic for ICBC (the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) and as deputy critic for finance, for childcare and early learning, and for multiculturalism and immigration. She has also served on the select standing committee on children and youth.

Kalaw’s campaign did not respond to Xtra’s requests for an interview.

His campaign biography says he was born in the Philippines and moved to Richmond at a young age. He attended Nova Scotia’s Acadia University, earning a bachelor of arts in political science with a minor in economics. He was also managing editor of the school’s student newspaper.

After university, Kalaw worked with Journalists for Human Rights in Ghana, training local journalists in identifying social justice issues and human rights abuses. He was also an editor of the social justice section at The Chronicle, Ghana’s largest private national newspaper.

Kalaw is currently a business development manager at a telecommunications software company. He is a member of the board of directors of the Friends of Bloedel Conservatory and of the Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce.

Vancouver-Kensington is an ethnically diverse riding, where 52 percent of residents identify as Chinese and about 16 percent as Filipino, according to data from the 2006 BC census.

In the 2009 election, Elmore beat Liberal candidate Syrus Lee by 2,077 votes.

The two Filipino candidates will be up against Green Chris Fjell and Conservative Raj Gupta this May.