This morning, Newton-North Delta streets are streaming with crocodile tears. Local Tories are simply overwhelmed by the news that former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum botched his bid to run for the Conservative candidacy in that constituency. After all, Mr. McCallum lost his civic seat by 10,423 votes. So there was some question as to whether he could hold that riding for the Tories. And his political fortunes are still clouded by questions concerning how he handled a series of sexual harassment complaints at city hall. But, according to a review of press clippings by your humble organ, the man who will be running in that constituency for the Conservatives - fisheries activist Phil Eidsvik - is not without some of his own baggage.
As executive director of the British Columbia Fisheries Survival Coalition, Mr. Eidsvik has been lobbying and protesting against expanded commercial fisheries for aboriginal peoples since the early nineties. In the past, he has described such fisheries as being "foul and offensive," "race-based" and even "evil." And his coalition was an early advocate for putting First Nations treaties to a refrendum. Back in September 1999, the group wrote to British Columbia municipalities asking them put the following question on their local election ballots: "Do you support the Nisga'a final agreement as it stands today?" All this will be surely trotted out by the Liberals as further proof Tory leader Stephen Harper is opposed to First Nations rights.
Also part of Mr. Eidsvik's luggage: in a column published in September 2000, The Vancouver Sun's Barbara Yaffe reported New Brunswick fisherman were threatening vigalantism if the government didn't remove aboriginal lobster traps that had been set in defiance of federal regulations. In that column, Ms. Yaffe wrote Mr. Eidsvik "admired" those fishermen "for making it crystal clear that if the native traps weren't hauled out of the water pronto, they'd do it themselves." And she quoted him as saying "The government responds much better to violence and confrontation than to political process and use of the courts."
And what will the law and order fans in Mr. Eidsvik's constituency think when they remember his coalition violated the Election Act to distribute brochures opposing the Nisga'a agreement? Back in the 1996 provincial campaign, third parties were restricted from spending more than $5,000 on advertisements. But the coalition blew that budget by about $25,000 and was fined $220,481 as a result. That fine was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which ruled such restrictions were an unwarranted limitation on free speech. A version of this article was originally published in today's edition of 24 hours.