Rich Coleman served as MLA for Langley ridings from 1996 to this year, before deciding to resign at the end of his term. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Rich Coleman served as MLA for Langley ridings from 1996 to this year, before deciding to resign at the end of his term. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Rich Coleman gets back to roots after 24 years as MLA comes to an end

‘Coleman Country’ has been a Liberal stronghold since 1996

“It is weird, no question about it,” Liberal MLA Rich Coleman said of the election that winds up this Saturday, Oct. 24.

Coleman has served as the Liberal MLA in eastern Langley for more than two decades, but early this year he announced he would retire from the legislature when his term was up.

He expected to serve out the remainder of his term, which would have lasted until October, 2021.

“I felt I wouldn’t be an MLA who would cause a by-election,” Coleman said.

But then NDP leader John Horgan called a snap election.

“When the election got called, I was in my constituency office,” Coleman said. That meant his time in office was now to end shortly after election day.

“I thought, that was an awfully odd way to finish.”

Coleman isn’t sure exactly what he’ll be doing yet post-politics, as he thought he’d have another year to plan that. But he’s keeping busy while he’s still MLA, and while the election is being fought.

He’s so identified with the riding, which was known as Fort Langley-Aldergrove and then as Langley East, that it’s been dubbed “Coleman Country.”

During his time in office was heavily involved with ensuring the Langley Events Centre received provincial funding for its construction, and he’s served in multiple cabinet posts across his 17 years in government under Liberal leaders Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark, including as solicitor genera, minister of forests, and deputy premier. During the last Liberal leadership race, he served as interim leader of the opposition.

In 2013 and 2017, Coleman served as Liberal campaign chair, and while he’s passed that role on, he’s still busy, advising other campaigns in other ridings.

In the last few weeks, he’s been putting in the work trying to help Liberal candidate Margaret Kunst succeed him in Langley East, where she’s going up against the NDP’s Megan Dykeman and Green candidate Cheryl Wiens.

Coleman said he’s also going back to his roots, from when he first got involved in politics.

“I started out in the 1980s as a sign guy,” Coleman said.

He put up signs for local candidates back then, and now he’s doing the same for Kunst around the Langley East riding.

Signs are one of the major tools in this COVID-19 election, because so many other avenues to gaining attention for candidates have been cut off.

Big rallies of 500 or more party supporters used to be a key feature.

“None of that takes place now because of COVID,” he noted.

There have been a lot of conference calls, and the Liberals have been using a system they developed before the last election to let their volunteers do more work remotely, said Coleman.

“I think the biggest thing is the door to door communication.”

Now instead of knock and have a chat, it’s usually knock and leave a brochure.

In addition, many election volunteers are seniors, since they have more free time if they’re retired, and the level of COVID risk is higher for them.

Always a firm opponent of the NDP, Coleman was highly critical of the snap election call, and said he believes the Liberals are doing better than the polls might indicate.

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has gotten stronger as a campaigner over the last five weeks, Campbell said, and he believes Horgan was thrown off a bit by the debates.

The NDP has indicated in recent weeks that they believe they can challenge the Liberals for the Langley and Langley East ridings, with two appearances locally by Horgan and one by Adrian Dix.

Coleman’s own absence from the hustings may be a part of that.

“They have had me as a known quantity for 24 years,” Coleman said. Now they’re trying their luck against Kunst, a Township councillor best known for her involvement with the PuCKS charity.

He sees the appearances in Langley of Horgan and Dix as being one way to create a narrative, as much as an attempt to win the local ridings.

“You try and create the story of momentum with your leader’s tours,” Coleman said.

Coleman remains confident in a local Liberal victory, but he is also sure that we won’t know the final vote tally on Oct. 24.

“A lot of people are going to be in limbo,” Coleman said.

With thousands of mail-in ballots that won’t be counted until November, many ridings may find it impossible to call a winner.

“It will be the strangest election night in B.C.’s history, that’s for sure,” Coleman said.

AldergroveBC politicsBC Votes 2020Langley

Just Posted

Single Moms Oil Change in 2017. (Aldergrove Star files)
Single Moms Oil Change to be held for first time in more than one year

Free oil change for single parents offered by Acts of Kindness at Church in the Valley on Sunday

Langley Grad Week 2021 runs June 21-25. (Langley School District Facebook)
Langley Grad Week 2021 starts today

Community is invited to celebrate this year’s graduates

The new bike lockers at Langley’s Carvolth park and ride station are solar powered and open and close with a smartphone app. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Solar powered bike lockers in Langley’s Carvolth open with an app

The new TransLink lockers are part of a pilot program

Jodi Steeves, president of the Aldergrove Business Association, promotes local shopping. (Special to The Star)
Thirty days of shopping local in Aldergrove proves to be ‘exciting experiment’

Business association members strictly made all purchases in community from May 15 to June 15

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 following an assault. (File photo)
Trial underway in February 2020 death of White Rock senior

Ross Banner charged with manslaughter following Five Corners altercation

Most Read