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Pitcairn, Loo seeking seats as Liberals

By Don Fennell

Published 5:20 PDT, Mon September 21, 2020

Matt Pitcairn and Alexa Loo are hoping to represent the community in which both were raised.

Most recently the president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Pitcairn has been nominated by the BC Liberals to replace incumbent MLA John Yap in the Richmond-Steveston riding in the Oct. 24 provincial election. Yap, 60, has decided to retire from politics rather than seek re-election.

And Loo, most recently a city councillor, is seeking the Liberal seat previously occupied in Richmond South Centre by incumbent Linda Reid who has also decided to retire from the political arena.

“It’s a big task to try and fill John’s shoes, but I’m willing to give it 150 per cent,” Pitcairn told the Richmond Sentinel. “I don’t think anybody expected an election during a pandemic, but the premier decided to call one and I’m honoured to have the opportunity to seek a seat in the community where I grew up.”

Pitcairn said he hopes to connect with every voter, and if elected to be able to assist them with any needs they may have and work to build an even better neighbourhood.

“(But) I think we need to put the health and safety of BC first and foremost and get through this pandemic,” he stressed. “To me, it (means) a non-partisan effort.”

Pitcairn said economic growth is also needed, suggesting the Liberals have a solid record as economic stewards over the last 20 years, and “the best party to lead us through the economic recovery we need.”

Yap was first elected to the BC Legislature in 2005, the first of four successive election victories in the Richmond-Steveston riding.  He said serving his neighbourhood, and the province, has been “the honour of my lifetime.”

“I am profoundly grateful to my constituents for their trust and support through 15 years and four elections,” said Yap, who served as BC’s Advanced Education Minister, Multicultural Minister and Minister of State for Climate Action among other roles.

He said he is “proud that a dynamic young leader of Matt Pitcairn’s calibre has come forward to be a strong voice for young families, small businesses, and the whole diverse constituency of Richmond-Steveston. I endorse him wholeheartedly.”

Of Yap, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said, “John Yap has been an exemplary public servant, a pillar of the BC Liberal Party and a universally trusted member of our team. We will miss him greatly in our caucus, but we couldn’t be more pleased and proud to welcome Matt Pitcairn to our team of candidates in this critical election.”

Pitcairn is also past-president of the Richmond City Centre Community Association, treasurer of the Steveston Historic Society, and director at the Richmond Caring Place Society. He and his wife Vanessa have two sons and a daughter.

Like Pitcairn, Loo if elected, will be replacing a political icon. Reid, who announced several months ago her intentions not to seek re-election, was the longest serving MLA in the just-dissolved parliament having been first elected to represent Richmond in 1991. She was re-elected to represent her community seven consecutive times, and is the longest serving woman in BC history.

“I’ve been considering it for a little while,” Loo said of possibly seeking the MLA seat in the Richmond South Centre riding.

“Linda suggested a while ago I should consider moving to the provincial level, and Olga Ilich (also a former Richmond MLA) also encouraged me. I’d love the opportunity to continue the legacy of these great women.”

The mother of two boys, Loo is a chartered professional accountant and a two-time Olympian, competing for Canada at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games in the parallel giant slalom snowboarding event. She later served as the athlete representative to the International Ski Federation, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and for many years on the board of AthletesCan. Growing up in Richmond, she participated in several sports.

The Official Opposition Critic for Seniors in the last parliament, Reid previously served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, chaired the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, and served as Advanced Education Minister. She was also Minister Responsible for Early Childhood Development from 2001 to 2005, and for child care from 2005 to 2009.

The remaining Richmond incumbent MLAs (both Liberals)—Jas Johal in Richmond-Queensborough and Teresa Wat in Richmond North Centre—also plan to seek re-election.

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