June 24, 2022

New Western political party and business group clash over name

A name meant to unite the community causes a wedge between a prominent business organization and a new civic party in New Westminster.

Together New West, a new municipal party created to support and help elect progressive candidates for mayor, city council and school board, held its first annual general meeting on Zoom on December 5.

The Downtown New West Business Improvement Association immediately expressed concerns about the party’s name.

“Our president reached out to party leadership to discuss the #togethernewwest brand we created in the spring of 2020 (and continue to use) and a meeting was held to discuss our concerns about their name choice. We are in continuous talks, ”said a statement from the BIA after the party’s AGM. “The Downtown New West BIA does not endorse or affiliate with any political party or candidate in any municipal, provincial or federal election.”

In an email from December 15 to RegistrationTogether New West member Gurveen Dhaliwal said the party has no plans to change its name at this time. She said a branding exercise was completed in the summer of 2021, with the priority being to develop a brand that reflects the party’s values ​​and vision for the city.

“Our brand image – and its various supporting elements – is unique,” she said. “We also recognize that hashtags often change and evolve and are used by different individuals and groups at different times.”

Dhaliwal said Together New West will liaise with local businesses to publicize the new party and that “they may determine whether they wish to disassociate themselves from the campaign.”

“Our name reflects our belief in bringing together and building community,” she wrote. “This includes empowered and empowering approaches to housing, education, transportation, access to public space and art, culturally appropriate and inclusive programs and accessible public services that support all residents. of New Westminster. “

On December 15, the BIA executive issued a follow-up statement to the Registration.

“The Downtown New West BIA has respectfully requested that the new” Together New West “party change its name, as it is a brand that we created and have continued to use since spring 2020. Much to our disappointment, we have just been informed that our request has been denied, “the statement read.” We are exploring all possible options, including legal ones, to determine next steps. “

A day later, Mayor Jonathan Côté took to Twitter to resolve the issue.

“I firmly believe that when you make a mistake you own it and you take action to redeem yourself. I have to take responsibility for participating in the launch of a new local party that has had a negative impact on an important community partner, ”he wrote. “There was no malice or ill will behind this action, and I take responsibility for not having done the necessary due diligence and commitment beforehand.”

He continued:

“The last thing I want to do is undermine my fellow politicians who I support and care deeply about and what I do will likely break all the rules of party discipline. Yet I did not join (and help create) a political party so that I could undermine my own integrity, ”he tweeted. “I am disappointed that the party executive has decided not to work with @DowntownNewWest to fully address the legitimate concerns they have raised. In all sincerity, I apologize to the @DowntownNewWest. “

The apologies were generally well received and received many thanks from members of the community.

“We appreciate your apologies and would be happy to discuss directly with you what steps can be taken to rectify this,” the BIA tweeted.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
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