Wearing bright red shoes, and the confidence to match, BC Liberal candidate Helen Poon is pledging to donate her salary to charity if elected MLA in Mid-Island Pacific Rim.
“I want to find a way to give back to our community and I know that there’s lots of non-profits in this community and there is a lot of need,” she said.
The 31-year-old, who is currently a Port Alberni city councillor, is independently wealthy after success in Vancouver real estate. She’s done so well that she collects Rolls Royce cars, and says she can afford to donate the over $100,000 salary.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to build up my career in a way that allows me to do so and I wish everyone could do so but unfortunately that’s not the case,” Poon said.
But in this working mill town that’s seen many downtown businesses close in the pandemic, the pledge is not receiving the reaction that Poon may have expected.
Carol-Anne Phillips is the owner of Steam Punk Coffee House and says Poon’s pitch doesn’t connect with her as a struggling business owner.
“I know we just bought the cafe in February before COVID but of course, I’m a saver so I’m in a good position to be able to hold on to it, but it, it’s scary,” she said.
Royal Roads Professor David Black says this offer to donate the MLA’s salary, might now complicate what voters look for from a candidate
“It should be on the power of the ideas, the platform, the personal integrity of the candidate. Not how wealthy he or she might be and how able they might be to forego their salary,” he said.
BC NDP candidate for Mid-Island Pacific Rim Josie Osborne agrees.
“I think this kind of offer is something that only the wealthy and the privileged can make and I ran to work for people. So I think this is a sign of just how out of touch the BC Liberals are,” Osborne said.
BC Green candidate for Mid-Island Pacific Rim Evan Jolicoeur also doesn’t agree with the pledge.
“I do believe that Helen cares for the people in her community,” he said.
“This is definitely something that only those who have the privilege and the capacity to do, can do.”
But Poon isn’t making any apologies for her success and says she hopes voters will see it as an act of caring for her community when it really needs a helping hand.