Constance Barnes, vice-chair of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, has set her sights on becoming the Vancouver Centre NDP candidate in the next federal election and recently held a meet-and-greet with passersby in Davie Village.
If she cops the nomination to run in the riding, home to a significant gay demographic, Barnes would likely face incumbent Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who has held the seat since she defeated Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell in 1993. Many, including Canada’s first out gay MP, Svend Robinson, have tried to unseat Fry, but none has succeeded.
“I think change is a good thing,” Barnes tells Xtra.
Barnes is the daughter of Emery Barnes, who was one of the first black politicians to be elected to provincial office in BC, Rosemary Brown being another. Both were first elected to the BC legislature in 1972.
Constance Barnes was first elected to the park board in 2008, winning reelection in 2011. She says the environment, housing density, childcare and housing are big issues in the Vancouver Centre riding.
Barnes adds that the LGBT community still faces discrimination and wants the issue to be tackled through education and changes to criminal law. She believes the federal government should do more to promote transgender rights, saying trans people need to have a level of comfort using public facilities and the rights to support that.
Barnes was one of seven commissioners on the park board who voted April 28 to support a plan to make Vancouver parks facilities more trans-friendly. Still, greater awareness of civil rights and diversity is needed, she contends.
Barnes has already received endorsements from Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore and Vancouver Pride Society director Rick Leonovich.
“I am privileged and proud to support Constance Barnes. She has deep roots in the community and is always a strong voice on various issues,” Elmore says. “She is hardworking, dynamic and passionate about public service, and her track record at the polls and as a park board commissioner proves that she gets the job done. We need her fearless voice in Ottawa.”
“Constance believes in supporting LGBTQ issues and will continue to forward the causes of Vancouver’s queer community on a national scale,” Leonovich adds.
A nomination meeting date has not been announced.