Palmer: Cailey Lynch sheds supporting role, steps into NDP politics

Opinion: For the second time this year — this time in a nominating race — the premier’s wife has stepped out of the backrooms

Get the latest from Vaughn Palmer straight to your inbox

Article content

VICTORIA — New Democrat Andrea Reimer accepted defeat in a party nomination fight this week with a predictable concession to winning candidate Christine Boyle and a surprising nod to Cailey Lynch, the wife of Premier David Eby.

“Congrats to Christine Boyle, Cailey Lynch and the rest of her endorsers,” wrote Reimer in a social media posting shortly after the result in Vancouver–Little Mountain was announced Thursday evening.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Friday afternoon she expanded on the reference: “We went up against a candidate who had a three-month head start and the premier’s wife behind her, and came within 12 votes.”

Reimer’s twin mentions of Lynch, a family doctor, drew attention to the unusual role the latter played in the campaign, an aspect the premier’s wife herself noted in endorsing Boyle.

“I will admit this is a somewhat unusual step,” wrote Lynch at the outset of a two-page letter distributed to party members in the riding. “Since my husband entered provincial politics over a decade ago, I have more or less kept off the campaign trail and focused on a supporting role at home.”

Nevertheless, she continued, “I’ve come to believe that one has to trust their own judgment, remain clear in their reasoning, and be willing to accept perhaps unanticipated consequences in order to speak up at the right time for a good reason.

“Christine has shown up for us in every election from 2011 straight into 2024 and I feel quite honoured that this time, I get to show up for her.”

She went on to describe a years-long personal bonding process that included “attending sister summer camps” and “singing the same church hymns,” with Boyle, a United Church minister and current member of Vancouver city council.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“When it came time to christen my son, I asked Christine to be his godparent.”

Not that Lynch was hoping Boyle would pass along any religious theory. Rather it was “her commitment to the common beliefs that our shared future relies on collectivism, on strengthening and deepening community, and on environmental action and stewardship.”

Now that Boyle has a seat on Vancouver city council, Lynch says that when she and the premier “pass city hall, we point out to our kids that Auntie Chris works there and talk about her wins on housing, climate leadership and Indigenous partnerships.”

The Lynch letter touted Boyle’s skills as a communicator, strategist, consensus builder and leader.

“We would be lucky to have her as part of our team in Victoria,” she wrote. “It has been my hope for some time that she would eventually join us at the provincial table.”

Despite multiple references to “we” and “us” and “our team,” throughout the letter, Lynch closed by maintaining that she did not “speak for the NDP or the premier.”

Nevertheless, “I do believe I have the complete authority to speak from my heart to all of you in asking if you will join me to support Christine Boyle as your candidate.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

When the New Democrats announced the winner Thursday night, they did not disclose the voting tally. This is a party that is open and transparent only when it suits its political interests.

However, I gather about 155 votes were cast, 83 for Boyle and 71 for Reimer. The Lynch endorsement might well have made the difference, particularly if some New Democrats concluded that (disavowals notwithstanding) she was speaking for the premier as well as herself.

Notwithstanding Reimer’s claim to have started three months behind, she commenced the official part of the nomination fight with what looked like an advantage or two.

When the incumbent MLA and cabinet minister, George Heyman, announced his retirement on March 4, he endorsed Reimer as his successor.

Later that day, Boyle declared her candidacy as well.

The NDP riding association then set the nomination meeting for April 4, leaving no time for either candidate to sign up new members. The NDP constitution imposes a 90-day limitation on new members when it comes to voting on nominations.

Reimer was a member of Heyman’s riding executive, which had some New Democrats thinking the fix was in. The sense that Heyman and Reimer were being too clever by half may have backfired in the end.

Advertisement 5

Article content

There may be other fallout as well.

Most spouses play a minimal role in the political arena and the news media reciprocates by minimizing coverage of them.

But Lynch herself acknowledged that her high-profile intervention in the nomination campaign might have “unintended consequences.”

This marks her second entry into the political arena this year. In January, she spoke at a news conference to endorse the NDP government’s decision to provide improved screening for cervical cancer.

Eby tried to make a joke of the presence of Lynch, alone among the province’s 5,000 family doctors, saying it was part of the couple’s New Year’s resolution “to spend more time together.”

But it was the premier’s choice to enlist his doctor wife as a validator of NDP policy in an election year. And it was her choice to take a decisive presence in a close-fought nomination campaign in a key riding for the NDP.

[email protected]

Recommended from Editorial

Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.

You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.

Article content


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button