Excerpts from Xtra West interview with Peter Ladner on gay issues.
XtraWest: There was a sense that there was a scrambling to get a gay nominee within a week of rejecting Jamie Lee Hamilton’s application for nomination. How did the NPA find [council candidate] Sean Bickerton?
Peter Ladner: Sean Bickerton found us many weeks before anything happened with Jamie Lee Hamilton. Because if you know how the NPA screens members, it takes sometimes months to go through the process. You have to raise some money, you have to fill out a questionnaire, you have to get support from all kinds of people, you have to go and meet the board. All these things had happened before Jamie Lee’s incident showed up.
And we were thrilled to have Sean. I think he’s a fantastic candidate, and I don’t know why anyone would argue that it’s a bad thing Sean is on the slate. It’s a fantastic thing that he’s on the slate.
XW: The issue of tokenism was brought up with regard to Sean. You told Xtra West, you asked why is our candidate seen as token while other parties’ candidates aren’t. How would you answer your own question?
PL: I don’t know. It’s someone else’s accusation. I don’t even think it deserves an answer.
I think if somebody is a good candidate and they happen to be gay, I think it’s a completely cheap shot to say it’s tokenism if they’re on one slate but if somebody is gay on another slate, they’re not tokenism.
The question should be, ‘Is he qualified in other ways?’ It would be tokenism if we just found somebody who was only on the slate because they were gay. But Sean Bickerton is on the slate because he got involved organizing his community in Tinseltown, and because he has an extensive arts background and a business background, and he’s very, very dedicated to this community.
He’s down at the Union Gospel Mission all the time, and he wanted to contribute to the city, and the fact that he was gay was, for me, a bonus. But it wasn’t in any way a determining factor.
XW: During Larry Campbell’s tenure, there was a city liaison to the gay community. There isn’t now. Would you like to reinstitute that?
PL: City liaison?
XW: Yeah. It was a mayor’s appointment. There was a liaison between…
PL: An appointment?
PL: Who was that?
XW: Tim Stevenson was the person at the time of Larry Campbell. Is that something you’d like to reinstitute as mayor?
PL: First of all, I don’t know that Tim Stevenson had any official capacity as the liaison to the gay community. He was a self-appointed liaison to the gay community, and Larry would have gone along with that, sure. But the same way that I think that you want to take whatever strengths you have from any candidates, and Sean’s got connections in the gay community. By all means, I would listen to him and he would be a first point of contact.
You can read the full interview on the Xtra West website.