Jenny Kwan will be NDP candidate in Vancouver East federal riding

Jenny Kwan
Jenny Kwan

JENNY Kwan, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, won what the federal NDP called a “hotly contested” nomination on Sunday in the Vancouver East federal riding.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said: “Jenny is an excellent addition to our team and will be an invaluable part of an NDP government. After decades of having Libby Davies as their MP, the people Vancouver East know well what it means to be served by a strong New Democrat MP. Jenny has built a reputation as a passionate and effective representative for families in BC and is committed to building on Libby’s work.”

Kwan said: “From the environment to addressing the very real challenges of crushing urban poverty, [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is taking Canada in the wrong direction and families in Vancouver East and across the country are paying the price. Tom Mulcair is the only leader with the experience and the principled plan to replace Stephen Harper and get us on track. I’m so proud to be part of Tom’s team, bringing forward practical solutions like affordable childcare.”

The federal NDP press release did not even mention the name of Kwan’s main rival in the nomination: Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, an ethnic Filipino. One-quarter of this riding’s population is supposed to be ethnic Chinese, yet Elmore gave Kwan a tough fight if the NDP’s claim that it was “hotly contested” is true.

Mable Elmore
Mable Elmore

That might give the federal Liberals a chance to win this traditional riding if their leader Justin Trudeau parachutes an outstanding candidate, preferably an ethnic Chinese like Kwan, into the riding.

This riding has always elected the candidate from the NDP and its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, except in 1974 and 1993. Those two defeats occurred, as one newspaper report put it, “when the Liberals won a national majority during periods when unpopular provincial NDP governments were in power in B.C.”

If there is a Trudeau wave, then a strong Liberal candidate could possibly win. After all, Kwan is no Libby Davies, the incumbent NDP MP who decided not to run again.

Kwan will have to face attacks about her $34,922 travel expenses charged to Vancouver charity Portland Hotel Society (she very conveniently blamed her ex-husband for it) and which she had to pay back to save her political career. Also, the Vancouver Sun reported last year during the travel expenses scandal that Kwan, who represents one the poorest neighbourhoods in the country, lives in a $1.9-million home!


BORN in Hong Kong, Kwan immigrated to Canada with her family when she was nine years old. After graduating from Simon Fraser University, Jenny began working as a community legal advocate in the Downtown Eastside.

In 1993, Kwan made history becoming the youngest City Councillor elected in Vancouver’s history.

In 1996, Kwan made history again as she was elected MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, becoming one of the first Chinese-Canadians to sit in the Legislative Assembly and the first Chinese-Canadian cabinet minister in the province’s history. She served as Minister of Municipal Affairs, Women’s Equality and Minister of Community Development, Cooperatives and Volunteers.

Kwan was re-elected in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013. During 2001 to 2005, Jenny fought shoulder to shoulder with Joy MacPhail to hold the B.C. Liberals accountable as a two-woman opposition.