The newly formed ParentsVoice B.C. is currently backing more than two-dozen school board candidates across the province including four in the Tri-Cities.
Discussing the Port Coquitlam-based organization’s mission, campaign manager Fritz Radandt drew a parallel with recent comments from Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre.
It’s about freedom, Radandt said. And, most of all, he added, it’s about transparency.
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The party contends that both a teacher’s lesson plan as well as agendas from school clubs should be “available for all to see,” according to the party’s website.
“I think a lot of parents just want to know what their kids are doing at school,” Radandt said. “If there’s nothing that anybody’s worried about, then why shouldn’t it be public?”
Radandt said he expects the party to be criticized as opposing SOGI 1 2 3, a program designed to foster inclusion for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
“People are going to say we’re anti-SOGI,” Radandt said. “That’s not the case. We actually have people on all sides of that issue.”
He added that potential candidates were not asked where they stood on that issue.
Behind the party
Radandt has been involved in politics for about 15 years with the federal Conservatives as well as the B.C. Liberals
Marc Vella, president of ParentsVoice B.C., has previously beseeched Christians to get more involved in civic affairs.
In an opinion piece for the B.C. Catholic, Vella emphasized the impact a small group of people can have on a political issue.
“. . . the Conservative party pledged to stay silent on abortion because 101 people out of 37 million didn’t go to a convention and raise a voting card,” he wrote.
However, ParentsVoice B.C. is not a Christian organization, emphasized Radandt.
“That isn’t at all a part of anything that we’re doing. [Vella] hasn’t gone to churches and recruited.”
The party was formed, in part, due to what Radandt described as a disconnect between communities and their school boards. He noted that even in predominantly conservative areas, the school trustees didn’t necessarily reflect conservative values.
After discovering they could register with the same name in multiple districts, the elector organization started vetting candidates and registering in several school districts.
However, there’s no central bank account or structure, Radandt said.
“We just had the same people register it in all the places,” he said.
While candidates are members of the party, Radandt said they will all be independent, something he acknowledged sounds “counter-intuitive.”
“What we feel is many of the candidates now, especially the union-backed ones, aren’t independent,” he said.
If elected, members of ParentsVoice B.C. will only be accountable to their communities, according to Radandt.
“We don’t have caucus meetings,” he added.
The party’s website outlines an attempt to “take back our schools” by creating a provincial brand.
“By creating a provincial brand, voters will know that ParentsVoice BC candidates support their independent, families-first values,” the website states.
The goal is for the party to keep going, Radandt said.
“We want to keep pushing these values and ideas,” he said.
The organization’s overarching concern, according to Radandt, is when big issues have “landed in the classroom without a lot of discussion, without a lot of ability for people to understand actually what it is and how it’s going to affect their kids,” he said. “That’s why people start getting afraid.”
A key issue is control, according to Radandt.
“Should it be the parents that have control of kids’ education, or the state?” he asked. “We would argue that the system is broken and the government is basically telling the parents how their kids should be educated with very little input going the other way.”
The election is set for Oct. 15.