Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Julian West and Standard for Candidates

For those of you that do not know, I have known Julian West, the now former NDP candidate in Saanich - Gulf Islands, since about 1996. I have worked on electoral reform with Julian for many years and known him socially as well.

Julian is smart, genius smart. He also rubs huge numbers of people the wrong way because he comes across as arrogant and uncaring. I know he is like this, I take it with a grain of salt. Julian also has very high expectations of what people should accomplish and pushes people to try for more than they can - sometimes he gets people to do more than they knew they could but often he will piss them off.

I have known about the incident from 1996 more or less the whole time I have known Julian. I was not there and I have only heard second and third hand what happened. The source I relied on the most was the investigation by Steve Kisby at the time. Julian has also told me what happened. I can not judge and decide what is the truth because I was not there, but based on what has been in the media lately, Julian's actions did hurt or harm in some way some of the young women there at the time.

Not to brush this under the table, but how does everyone that was involved get beyond what happened? Or does this incident mean that Julian West can never be a public figure again? Is the rest of life condemned by this?

I am a Quaker and one aspect of being a Quaker is seeking that of God within everyone, not to never condemn anyone as being incapable of something good, of having a positive light within. In the world of politics the partisan people on all sides, and the media, seek out to condemn people as no good. I can not work that way.

In the process of trying to find out about the people running for the local elections, I can not bring myself to write the negative aspects of the people and always seek someone way to find the aspects that are worth celebrating about people. Yes, I can fail at this but I strive to find that of God within them.

Julian should have known this would be an issue in his campaign, I know I have asked him about it and he seemed to think he had it handled. But now hearing that the young women involved are coming forward says to me he did not do what was needed.

I hope Julian meets with the women that were there 12 years ago and honestly sits down with and tries to understand why they are upset. I suspect that there is a closure they need and an understanding he needs to gain and acknowledge to them before this issue ends for Julian.

We as a society seem not to be willing to forgive past errors. Would any party be willing to run a candidate that had done serious time? If our criminal justice system is about rehabilitation the parties should be ok with ex-cons running, but the reality is that our society will not allow people to ever be fully equal citizens once they are released.

I grew up in a very white upper middle class neighbourhood and was sheltered from having any interaction with people that had been through the criminal justice system. When I was 30 I went to work for a First Nation in the interior and became good friends with guys that had done hard time as youths. They had done some pretty nasty stuff. The men I knew were no longer the ones that did those crimes. They had changed, their lives were turned around and they were contributing more to the betterment of society than the vast majority of people.

People make mistakes and people learn from them. I have yet to meet a single person in my life that at their core was not a loving person that wanted a better world. I even try to see the good in racists and anti-semites, but boy does this take a super human strength on my part.

Julian has contributed a lot to BC and Canada but has only made national headlines for one incident 12 years ago. He needs to start the journey to allow there to be a peace about what happened.
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