The New Democrats have replaced former Vancouver-False Creek candidate Ray Lam with City of Vancouver employee Jordan Parente.
It’s Parente’s first foray into politics as a candidate and one he says he’s enjoying — despite his late start after Lam’s resignation three weeks ago.
Lam, a former Pride Society board member, opted not to continue his campaign in the new riding after his Liberal opponent, Mary McNeil, brought sexually playful photos on his Facebook pages to the attention of the media.
One photo shows Lam with his hand on a woman’s clothed breast, while the other shows a man and a woman tugging at Lam’s underwear while his pants are around his thighs.
The photos were taken at a Pride celebration four years ago.
McNeil called the photos “inappropriate” and “offensive,” and she said they show poor judgment. But some comments on news websites asked what all the fuss was about. More than 200 people have since joined a Facebook group in support of Lam.
Lam says he stepped down so as not to distract from the rest of the NDP’s campaign.
Parente, 28, is an employee of the City of Vancouver parking management branch and was active in the Vision Vancouver municipal election campaign last fall.
He says the main issues specific to the Vancouver-False Creek riding are cost over-runs at the new trade and convention centre, as well as the Liberals’ unilateral decision to place the new Vancouver Art Gallery in the area without consulting the city or residents.
The riding was creating when the old Vancouver-Burrard riding was split in two.
St Paul’s Hospital may be in the new Vancouver-West End riding but Parent says it’s important to both ridings that the facility remain where it is despite ongoing rumours of its being moved.
He says facilities such as the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS connected with St Paul’s are vital for the West End area.
“It’s a must for the community,” he says. “Those services need to be in place. Period. Full stop.”
Parente — who is straight — also believes hate crime legislation must be better used in order to stop gaybashings in the area.
“It’s so important,” he says. “It’s not just the gay community. It’s just unacceptable behaviour.”
And, to end that behaviour, he says, children must be better educated about tolerance.
“We need to get children’s heads around it,” he says.