Bowinn Ma

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MLA Bowinn Ma

Bowinn Ma (born July 25, 1985) is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2017 provincial election. She represents the electoral district of North Vancouver-Lonsdale as a member of the British Columbia New Democratic Party caucus. She also serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink, as a member of the provincial Treasury Board, a member of the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and as the Chair of the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations.

Quotes[edit]

  • A government serves people, and when a government delivers services, they deliver them to real people — people who live, who laugh, who cry, who suffer, who yell out in pain, who love and are loved.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, September 12, 2017: BUDGET DEBATE
  • We must support this budget because climate change and poverty, opioid overdoses, homelessness and hopelessness are real issues. It should not be a question of whether or not we can afford to resolve them but a question of whether we, as a society, can afford not to. From regulations that manage climate change and the environment to the distribution of social funding and poverty reduction, governments provide the fundamental framework within which companies operate and within which people live, work, succeed, suffer or die. It is a heavy burden, and there are never easy answers. But I am optimistic because I know that the decisions and choices this government has made are informed by learning from the mistakes of the previous government. These are priorities that put people first, not profits. And these are choices that help the many, not the very few at the top.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, September 12, 2017: BUDGET DEBATE
  • The revitalization of Indigenous languages is not simply an exercise in translating words. It’s the beginning of the healing of cultures, through which an expression of world view emanates. It speaks to a person’s core identity. Ideas, values, feelings, aspirations, hopes and dreams are communicated in ways that sometimes cannot be done in any other way. It’s about grounding a person; tearing down the walls of isolation; reconnecting them to their ancestors, their community, their family, their environment, their Creator and, indeed, even themselves.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, March 12, 2018: INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES
  • I get that the job of an opposition is to oppose. I get that. But they’re supposed to at least oppose on behalf of the people, not themselves. Let me read a quote from the leader of the B.C. Liberals from last year: “We currently have a government where we’re in opposition, and our job is to convince the public that we should form government once again.” I find this quote completely demonstrative of the power motive that drives that party. The role of an opposition party is to challenge government to implement the best possible policies and legislation for the public by ensuring that differing views are expressed and defended, not to plot their way back into power. This motion and the fractured narrative that they’re trying to build is just another pitiful example of how they’re more concerned about playing politics than they are of actually helping people, more concerned about confusing the public than they are in supporting them. I don’t know, and I don’t think they know anymore, who they represent. They are flailing, because without big money in politics, without their big corporate donors telling them what to do, they’re learning the ugly truth of it all. They don’t know how to work for people.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, April 8, 2019: MOTION 6 — CARBON TAX AND GAS PRICES
  • We need to talk about car infrastructure, like roads and bridges. Electric vehicles take up the same amount of space on the road as a gas vehicle. Congestion issues aside, expanding and maintaining car infrastructure is expensive, both in dollars and GHGs. For instance, the cement industry is one of the largest producers of man-made carbon dioxide in the world, producing, by some estimates, 8 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. That means that if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of CO2 in the world, after China and the U.S. While it is critically important that we electrify our transportation system as soon as possible, there are problems with focusing only on electric vehicles to achieve reductions in the transport sector. That’s exactly why our CleanBC plan doesn’t do that and why it includes so much more than that. Critically important, CleanBC includes a strong emphasis on more environmentally and socially responsible modes of transportation, like public transport and active transportation, along with the recognition that we need to reduce travel distances for people, by building complete communities where people live, work, play, study and shop without going very far. CleanBC demands that we build safe cycling, walking and rolling infrastructure whenever we upgrade bridges or interchanges, and makes an expansion of our public transportation network a top priority.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, October 28, 2019: MOTION 22 — CLEANBC PLAN AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION
  • Our economic and financial system is captured by the fossil fuel industry, and I say this extremely seriously. It’s not just B.C. We see it across Canada. Canada was economically built on resource extraction. I think that it’s important to acknowledge that, and it’s important to respect and be grateful for what resource extraction has done for our country and be grateful for what petroleum products have brought to civilization. But just because we have come from a place where fossil fuels have been embedded into our economic and financial system doesn’t mean that we need to continue forward in that way. We have to transition. We have seen…. I have seen in my time as an MLA here how captured our entire system is by this industry, how it influences the way that individuals see their options for prosperity in certain parts of the country. We have seen the way that it limits the kinds of choices that governments feel like they can make. I have learned about how many wars, how many regime changes, how many sanctions have been placed on countries around the world, based on whether or not they will or won’t play ball in terms of fossil fuel and gas and petroleum exports — in particular, with the United States. This is something that we all need to grapple with as we go forward into actually meeting our climate targets, because it’s not just about emissions. Emissions on their own won’t release us from the grasp of the fossil fuel industry.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, November 19, 2019: BILL 38 — CLIMATE CHANGE ACCOUNTABILITY AMENDMENT ACT, 2019
  • I come from a generation…. I’m a millennial, an elder millennial, probably on the earlier end, in terms of the years that millennials are considered to be millennials. I remember when we, as a generation, sounded the alarm on intergenerational inequality — not just financial inequality, not just on wealth and income, but also on climate and the environment. As a generation, we were told to shut up. We were called “lazy, entitled, naive.” We were told to stop whining, to go get a job. “Come back to the table when you have more experience. Then talk to us about what’s going on. Go out and work really hard, and stop being lazy. Give up your avocado toast and your lattes, and then everything will be fine.” You know what? That’s what we did. We went out, we got jobs, and we put our concerns aside for a while. We lived in smaller homes, rode our bikes, took public transit, composted and recycled, and it didn’t fix the problem. It did not fix the problem, and now we are back. But this time, we won’t stay silent, and you can’t get rid of us. We are in your workforce. We are in your streets. We are supporting people who are even younger than us and encouraging them to speak up, not sit down. We are also in your city councils, and yes, we are in your legislatures. Not that many of us, mind you. Out of 87 MLAs in the B.C. Legislature, only three of us are millennials, despite making up the largest voting bloc today. We make up only less than 3.5 percent of the people who sit in this House and make laws for future generations.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, November 19, 2019: BILL 38 — CLIMATE CHANGE ACCOUNTABILITY AMENDMENT ACT, 2019
  • As the Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink, I have the privilege of supporting a government and an organization committed to public transit. As a public transit and SeaBus user myself, I love encouraging people to take and support environmentally and socially responsible modes of transportation. Public transit is good for urban mobility and good for people—health-wise, mobility-wise, and to enable strong economic and social justice through the reduction of inequality by providing mobility to all.
    • Input: Land and Real Estate Issues in British Columbia, Summer 2020, Volume 48, Issue 2
  • The choice we made to support TransLink in ensuring that public transit service is available to people as we restart will play a critical role in supporting the workforce as they return to work. Our government’s steadfast commitment as a funding partner in the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Vision, the largest transit investment in history, will result in continued transit improvements throughout the region, making life better for everyone.
    • Input: Land and Real Estate Issues in British Columbia, Summer 2020, Volume 48, Issue 2
  • As a woman who has worked in male-dominated industries my entire life so far, I am sadly no stranger to casual sexism. Like many women in these situations, I found myself making choices about the way that I act, dress, or carry myself to avoid having sexist interpretations read into my interactions – interactions such as, for instance, deliberately speaking closely with an elder who is very hard of hearing. It is a burden that women should not have to bear while they are simply trying to live their lives and do their jobs. The video of BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson watching on as a multi-term BC Liberal North Shore MLA sexualized my interactions with another multi-term BC Liberal North Shore MLA is a deeply uncomfortable characterization of my efforts to extend kindness across partisan lines. However, this is not about me. Young women deserve a province that encourages them to take on leadership roles without fear of sexism. If we want more young women and people of colour to enter politics, we must commit to creating environments that respect them. The comments and reactions in that video do the exact opposite.
  • Young women deserve a province that encourages them to take on leadership roles without fear of sexism. If we want more young women, and more people of colour to enter politics, we must commit to creating environments that respect that.
    • City News 1130, City News 1130: Bowinn Ma questions BC Liberal Party leadership after sexist comments in video, October 11, 2020
  • Campaigns are normally very, very social. Politics is absolutely a team sport. And doing all of these campaign activities from separate homes and not being able to gather … it’s far more challenging to feed off each other's energy, even on the Zoom call.
    • North Shore News, North Shore News: North Van-Lonsdale incumbent Ma not making any predictions, October 24, 2020
  • Votes are not owned, they're earned. And I will continue to work hard every single day for as long as I have the honour of serving North Vancouver-Lonsdale to deserve their support.
    • North Shore News, North Shore News: Ma's declared win in North Vancouver-Lonsdale a landslide for NDP, October 24, 2020
  • Do not despair, my dear friends; instead, let us redouble our commitment to life beyond the pandemic in the actions we must take today.
    • Twitter, @BowinnMa on Twitter, December 27, 2020

Bowinn Ma's Response to the September 2017 Throne Speech[edit]

  • I became an MLA because I could no longer stand idly by while I learned more and more about how the previous government was hurting the people I loved. They were hurting members of my family, my community, my neighbours, my colleagues, my friends — and hurt they have been.
  • British Columbians can see through rhetoric that contradicts their own lived experiences. Under the previous government, while the province enjoyed a surplus, it was the people of British Columbia, the people of North Vancouver, my parents, my family members, my community, my friends, my colleagues who paid and paid dearly for it.
  • A government serves people, and when a government delivers services, they are delivering them to real people. These are people who live, people who laugh, who cry. These are people who suffer, who yell out in pain, who love and are loved. These are the people we love.
  • Although my parents did the best that they could, like most families, they were not perfect. There were many years when life at home was not good. So I stayed away from that home for as much as possible. I hung out, out of the house, after dark, maybe far longer than I should have. I snuck out at night. I skipped classes. I was aggressive. I was argumentative. I was combative. My grades dropped significantly. It was a public school teacher that turned it all around for me — a public school teacher that noticed that something wasn’t quite right and that I was squandering my potential. I remember her coming up to me in the halls of my high school one afternoon after school. She grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around and said: “Bowinn” — pardon me — “what are you doing? You’re ruining your life. You need to snap out of this. You need to do this better.” I turned my life around. Instead of hanging out after dark, I spent a lot of time at my school, in after-school programs. I put a lot more effort into my classes. I eventually graduated and went to UBC. I became an engineer, and now I’m an MLA. But what would have happened to me if my teachers had been too stressed out, too overworked, too under-resourced to be able to notice that I was struggling? What would have happened? What happens to the people who attend schools when schools are no longer able to function as the critical component of the social safety net that they are? What happens when children are not caught before they fall? I wonder, often, what would have happened to me if I had grown up not in the ’90s but under back-to-back B.C. Liberal governments.
  • I will be supporting this throne speech because climate change, poverty, opioid overdoses, homelessness and hopelessness — these are all real issues. I do believe that this should not be a question of whether or not we can afford to resolve them, but rather a question of whether we, as a society, can afford not to.
  • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, September 21, 2017: THRONE SPEECH DEBATE

Meaning of Name[edit]

  • My English name is Bowinn Ma, but in Chinese, it’s Ma Bo Wen. Ma literally translates as “horse,” which is the family name, and Bo Wen literally translates to “plentiful script.” But what it means can be roughly translated as “ocean of knowledge” or “broad scholar.” It means someone who has a broad understanding of many things and someone who has the wisdom to use this knowledge in a good way. It represents what my parents and grandparents had hoped I would become as an adult. In English, my name is just a name, a series of sounds used to identify me. But in my traditional language, those two simple syllables are a culmination of all of the hopes and dreams that my family have had of me since my birth — aspirations that could never truly be translated properly across cultures in as succinct a way.
  • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, March 12, 2018: INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES

Three Things About Leadership[edit]

  1. Don’t be afraid to listen and allow new information to change your mind and your decisions.
  2. When things get difficult, it’s important to remember why you’re doing the work that you do. I always think of the people I came to serve.
  3. No one believes they’re the bad guy in a discussion or a debate. Patience and understanding can go a long way to connecting with people, even when you disagree.
  • Input: Land and Real Estate Issues in British Columbia, Summer 2020, Volume 48, Issue 2

Why and How Transit Helps Drivers[edit]

  • We, as a society, have grown so car-centric that we somehow have allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of believing that personal vehicles are the only way to get around in an urban setting and that failing to invest every transportation dollar into roadways is somehow a disservice to society. I absolutely insist it is not. We must recognize that when it comes to transportation planning, the goal is to move as many people and as much goods around as possible, as time-efficiently as possible, for as little money per trip as possible, expending as few GHGs as possible, while ensuring safety is a core consideration. Doing that means being more of what I might refer to as being mode-agnostic and mode-diverse. Cars, bikes, buses, trucks, trains, gondolas, ferries, SeaBuses and shoes — they are all valid ways to get around. It is not about cars; it is about people. And people can move around in a whole lot of different ways. For the North Shore, our commitment to public transportation as a way forward is absolutely critical. You know what? Whether it’s more SeaBuses, more buses, new routes or aspirational concepts like underwater tunnels for transit, SkyTrain to the North Shore, or more, it’s time for us to shift the conversation from the question of how we move cars around to how we move more people around. That’s why we must also commit to encouraging active transportation options as a way to allow people the choice of leaving their cars at home so that existing roadway capacity can be better utilized for goods movement and used by people who depend on their cars to get around. If done properly, biking infrastructure is an effective way of keeping cars off of our roads. Let’s be absolutely clear, however. Being pro–public transit and pro–active transportation doesn’t mean that the family of six that depends on their car to shuttle their children to school and soccer games should be forced to leave their car at home. It means that the options to allow other people, like myself, to get off of the roadways and onto my bicycle or onto a bus is available so that that family of six can get around in their vehicle more quickly. It also means that the ability for their children to travel by bus on their own when they’re old enough and responsible enough exists so that their parents are not transporting them around until they have their own driver’s licence or their own vehicle. It is about choice. It is about health. It is about freedom. It’s about people.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, October 23, 2017: THE IMPORTANCE OF PUBLIC TRANSIT
  • Let me be clear as well that improvements of public transit and rapid transit do help drivers as well, because if we can provide people with options for moving around, then even though not everybody can leave their car at home every single day and take the bus, if we can give people the options to take the bus, then that actually leaves more room on the roads for drivers.
    • British Columbia Legislative Hansard, March 3, 2020: Throne Speech Debate

Daily Hive: MLA Bowinn Ma claps back at “fragile” BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson (2020)[edit]

Daily Hive: MLA Bowinn Ma claps back at “fragile” BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, October 11, 2020, Mo Amir

  • I’m trying to be compassionate and I’m trying to be generous. But I have some serious, serious issues with a lot of the policies that the BC Liberals have represented, certainly the policies that Andrew Wilkinson represents. And while I’ve not been shy about criticizing the BC Liberals and occasionally naming Andrew Wilkinson as the leader there, I also recognize that there is definitely a portion of the population that Andrew Wilkinson speaks to. So if you are somebody who is very wealthy, yeah, I would understand why Andrew Wilkinson would kind of speak to you that way. ... I think that there is something to his personality that I also find distasteful and distrustful, but more important than that, it’s what his policies would do to British Columbians. And I actually think that a lot of them would harm the average British Columbian a lot.
  • My tweets have shown up in BC Liberal attacks during Question Period [in the BC Legislature] a number of times. I’m a little bit surprised because they raise it like their own shit don’t stink. I’m actually surprised by how shameless they are about it often. I know that their MLAs also say incredibly ludicrous things online. And if I were them, I might be concerned about throwing stones in a glass house.
  • I do avoid attacking individual MLAs with the exception of naming Andrew Wilkinson, because I believe that as the leader of the party, he should be willing to stand by all of the positions that the party takes and be responsible for the actions of his MLAs.
  • I’m only the third NDP MLA to serve a community on the North Shore since World War II. So, I mean, history says that I will probably lose my seat at the next election, honestly. So I’m focused on working as hard as possible for my community in the time that I have. And if I do lose my seat, I really hope that it’s because the people have found someone better to represent them and not because the BC Liberals have destroyed me with a dirty campaign.
  • I mean what I say and I try to say what I mean.

Quotes about Bowinn Ma[edit]

  • Over the last three years I have been thoroughly impressed with Bowinn Ma. There are few elected officials who work harder for their community and it is evident that she cares deeply about people. Bowinn has been a breath of fresh air in the Legislature and is one of our strongest voices in the fight against climate change. I certainly hope she is re-elected in North Vancouver-Lonsdale.
  • Like C.D. Howe, she's an engineer-turned-politician. I think she's one of a new generation of elected leaders who gets the climate crisis.
    • Seth Klein, author of "A Good War" about mobilizing for the climate crisis, Twitter, Sept. 3, 2020, [1], Twitter, October 22, 2020
  • The way Bowinn comports herself is beyond reproach. She’s an extraordinary woman, a young woman of colour who has broken barriers as an engineer, broken barriers as a student at the Sauder business school, and also broken barriers as a compassionate, forward-looking member of the legislature. And she is now, again, blazing a trail for women around British Columbia and, indeed, around the world that you can do anything, and you do not have to tolerate sexist jokes. You can stand up to that, and I’m very proud of her and, quite frankly, proud of the hundreds of thousands of British Columbians who are responding positively to her message.
    • British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Oct. 12, 2020 City News 1130, City News 1130: Bowinn Ma questions BC Liberal Party leadership after sexist comments in video, October 11, 2020
  • "Bowinn Ma is a legislator of singular democratic integrity. To thrive in the challenges facing the North Shore and BC — from a sustainable COVID recovery to climate justice — we absolutely need to re-elect Bowinn."
    • Michael Markwick, Professor & BC Green Candidate, West Vancouver-Capilano (2017), Bowinn Ma Facebook Page, October 22, 2020

External links[edit]

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