Recall petitioner in Vernon seeks to upend political system; MLA says she won't be intimidated

Seeking rise of citizenry

The woman behind a recall petition launched against Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu says B.C.'s two-party political flip-flopping has to end.

Genevieve Ring says she'd like to see more recall initiatives happen across the province and new era of governance emerge.

"The citizenry is beginning to get involved," she said Tuesday.

"If we just went to another election, it would just be changing the colour of the deck chairs."

Ring says she'd like to see independent candidates come forward across the province and an end to the party system of governance.

Ring says she feels confident she can get the 21,268 signatures required to unseat NDP MLA Sandhu.

"If I didn't think I had a good chance, I wouldn't have done it," she said.

For the recall to be successful, canvassers must collect signatures from 40% or more of eligible voters in the riding.

Ring, a regular protester at the Polson Park rallies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, says she believes the government has handled the situation poorly.

"Over the last couple of years, things have been in a downturn. Many businesses had to shut down because of the way the government handled COVID," she says.

"Hospital services are broken, the way they handled schools ... it was one thing after another.

"COVID, for me, opened the lid on how government works – or doesn't work."

Ring says Sandhu, a former nurse, "did nothing to help the community mitigate the mandates."

"The whole situation exposed how badly broken the government is."

She says governance "has to get back in the hands of the people ... let's not continue on the same way."

Ring says the recall petition "is a first step" and she hopes to flip government upside down.

"Leadership that's not top down, but bottom up."

Sandhu was in meetings Tuesday morning and unavailable, but on Monday said she will not be intimidated by what she called "a small group of extreme activists that do not represent the vast majority of people" in the riding.

Sandhu, who worked as a registered nurse at Vernon Jubilee Hospital before being elected in 2020, says she stands behind the decisions the government has made to keep residents and frontline workers safe during the pandemic.

"I will continue working every day to stand up for what's right and to make life better for the people I represent. From day one, I have worked really hard to represent all people of Vernon-Monashee diligently and I will continue to do so every day because I am so proud of the people I represent. I will not let any distraction take away from my work and commitment to the people I serve."

The petition has until Oct.11 to gather signatures, after which Elections BC has 42 days to verify them. In the event of a successful recall, the recalled member’s seat becomes vacant and a byelection must be called within 90 days.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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