IAFF affiliates in British Columbia are celebrating a major election victory, including the first-ever election of a fire fighter to the province’s legislature.
Mike Starchuk, a retired Surrey, BC Local 1271 fire fighter and former Local 1271 secretary, was elected October 25 in the Surrey-Cloverdale riding as one of 55 New Democratic Party (NDP) legislators who will form a majority government. He was elected on a wave of support from Local 1271 and its members and from IAFF locals and members across the region who made personal campaign contributions, installed lawn signs, rang doorbells and dropped leaflets on his behalf.
Starchuk, who retired in 2014 and then served one term as a Surrey city councillor, has strong ties to the IAFF. He’s an IAFF Partnership Education Education (PEP) instructor and former District Field Services Representative (DFSR) and is also known throughout the province as a staunch defender of fire fighters having won $11 million in claims as a workers’ compensation advocate, a role he held until recently. Starchuk is an honorary member of the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association (BCPFFA).
In a message on his website, Starchuk, who won 50 per cent of the vote in his riding and defeated a longtime Liberal incumbent, says he is proud to be the first NDP candidate elected in the province’s Surrey-Cloverdale riding and proud to be the first fire fighter elected to the British Columbia legislature. He gives thanks to the members of Local 1271 in Surrey.
Surrey Local 1271 President Saverio Lattanzio says he is extremely proud of the grassroots work members of his local and nearby locals did in a short, 30-day period between the election call and polling day, and the amount of money that fire fighters personally contributed to his campaign. Only personal campaign contributions are permitted in British Columbia and IAFF members contributed significantly to Starchuk’s election effort.
Having a fire fighter in the legislature as a member of a majority government will be a great boost to the BCPFFA, which has 53 locals and 4,130 members. The BCPFFA lobbies the British Columbia government annually on a number of key issues, such as occupational disease presumptions and emergency medical response.
“There’s no question the IAFF’s voice will be carried stronger and louder in the British Columbia legislature with Mike Starchuk there,” says BCPFFA President Gord Ditchburn.
Overall, the BCPFFA fared extremely well in the election; it endorsed a total of 55 NDP and Liberal candidates and 51 were elected, a record of 92 per cent.