VICTORIA - Abbotsford city councillor and retired farmer Moe Gill freely admits that revenge is the top issue of his campaign in the Abbotsford West riding held by Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong for the last 19 years.
Gill, 69, says he decided to run as an Independent candidate in de Jong's riding after the Liberals snubbed him and refused to sign nomination papers for him to run as a Liberal in the neighbouring Abbotsford South riding.
Gill said he had been gathering support for two years to back his Liberal run in Abbotsford South, but when it came time to sign his papers, he was told University of the Fraser Valley criminologist Darryl Plecas was getting the Liberal endorsement.
"I've been around politics long enough, I could smell it," said Gill about the Liberal decision not to back his candidacy.
Gill said voters in Abbotsford are keenly aware of his issues with the B.C. Liberals and they support his decision to run as an Independent candidate in the May 14 election.
"I'm standing up for democracy in Abbotsford West," he said. "I am out there to win this race and I want to show the parties, any party, that, please, do not do this to any individual in the future."
"When I'm campaigning, people are telling me they put a knife in your back and we are very disappointed and that is not how it should be done when you've been a friend with a person for 19 years, and we are going to give you our support," said Gill.
He said he was a member of the B.C. Liberal Party for 19 years up until the day the party rejected his nomination.
Gill said he had been a major backer and organizer for de Jong since 1994, when de Jong defeated former well-known Social Credit cabinet minister Grace McCarthy in a byelection.
"When a government does not play fair and the governing body for Premier Christy Clark and her core group doesn't treat you right and does not let democracy proceed, then the best option one has is to stand up to them," said Gill.
The B.C. Liberal Party issued a short statement about Gill, saying they have chosen a candidate to run in Abbotsford South.
"Mr. Gill informed the party in writing that he would seek the nomination in Abbotsford-Mission, only to change his mind after the fact," said the statement. "We have a fantastic candidate in Abbotsford South in Darryl Plecas. Mr. Plecas is an award winning criminologist and we look forward to him winning Abbotsford South on May 14th."
University of the Fraser Valley political scientist Hamish Telford said Gill will have a difficult time beating de Jong, who won the riding in 2009 with 55 per cent of the vote.
Telford said running on revenge as the major issue likely won't generate broad voter appeal in Abbotsford.
"He has to offer voters more than that," Telford said. "He needs to persuade them he would be a good representative for the community. A lot of people have reservations about supporting an Independent."
Telford said de Jong's camp could be somewhat concerned about Gill's candidacy because it puts three candidates on the free enterprise side of the ballot, which could result in a vote split and allow the New Democrat candidate to challenge de Jong.
"Abbotsford West is a real free-for-all," he said. "Obviously, Mike de Jong is the leading candidate there, but evidently the Conservatives have a fairly strong candidate in Paul Redekopp. Moe Gill has deep roots in the community and is well-known from his time on council, and the NDP has a very strong candidate — Sukhi Dhami — over there as well."
Gill said the voters he meets in Abbotsford tell him to continue his fight to bring honesty and integrity back to government.
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