Fellow travellers

Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon has his fingerprints all over the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election. Not only was he the power behind Surrey school trustee Mary Polak's successful provincial Liberal nomination bid, but it turns out he's also good friends with her campaign manager Chris Gardner. In an interview with Public Eye, Mr. Gardner told us he met Mr. Falcon while attending Simon Fraser University. Together, the two Young Socreds helped setup Students Working Together, a legendary centre-right coalition that booted the lefties out of student government during the 1985/86 school year. That coalition included former deputy premier Christy Clark and independent Liberal MLA Tony Bhullar (seeds of the future perhaps?). After graduating from Simon Fraser with a history degree in 1988, Mr. Gardner became involved in civic politics.

He was one of the founding members of the now dominant Surrey Electors Team, along with Kevin Falcon and prominent local backroom operator Janet Pierotti, who passed away two years ago. Mr. Falcon and Ms. Perotti, who was one of Premier Gordon Campbell's earliest supporters, continued to play prominent roles in that team, managing mayoral candidate Doug McCallum's successful 1996 civic campaign. But, by that time, Mr. Gardner was in Korea.

After graduating from the University of British Columbia's law school in 1991, he dropped out of politics to take a job as an associate for that country's second largest law firm Lee and Ko. He then went on to work as a manager with Samsung Electronics Co.'s international finance department and a director with ING Groep NV's investment banking arm in Korea, before becoming chief executive officer of Mobilewise Inc. (a company he remains involved with as a major shareholder).

He returned to Canada in 2002, jumping back into politics as the campaign manager for the Surrey Electors Team during the recent civic elections. Mr. Gardner is also one of iTrend Research Group Inc.'s partners, a polling company that has been in business since August 2003. Ms. Polak also works for that firm.

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