Meet the CML EDA Executive


Joanna grew up in the Cowichan Valley, with both parents as public school teachers, so naturally the NDP has always been the party of choice. In 2004 she joined the Jean Crowder team, and since then has volunteered on many local provincial and federal campaigns. Most recently Joanna has served on the Federal Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP executive as member-at-large, Vice President and now President.

She is a proud union member and holds an elected Local Chair position within her Union, the BCGEU. Joanna works as an Adult Basic Education Instructor at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus.

Vice President

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in a Lethbridge, Alberta restaurant sparked Gaye’s involvement in political action, but it didn’t take long for her to discover that “what the NDP said made more sense.” After thirty-eight years as president, two time candidate and life member in her 56-member East Lethbridge riding, Gaye relocated to Langford where she is delighted to be represented by an NDP MP and an NDP Premier. “It’s the first time I ever won my vote!” she ex-claimed after Alistair was elected. In addition to spending every Monday as a volunteer in Langford Juan de Fuca Provincial constituency office, Gaye will be volunteering on Wednesdays in Langford for Alistair, so don’t hesitate to drop in and say “Hello!”

Secretary and Past President

Donna Marentette was born and raised in the New Democratic Party stronghold of Windsor, Ontario, where she served a term on City Council and ran once as a provincial NDP candidate. Since moving to BC in 2014, Donna has served as Vice-President, President and now Past President and Secretary of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Federal NDP Electoral District Association. Donna is one of three Executive members who come from Langford at the south end of our riding.

Rick Lebitschnig grew up in Crofton and his first political memories are of Orange and black Tommy Douglas signs on his grandfather’s lawn. Rick joined the NDP in 1976 to attend the Young New Democrats Convention in New Westminster as a visitor.

Later that year, he returned to Crofton and joined the Cowichan-Malahat Provincial NDP executive as the YND rep. and later alternate Provincial Council Delegate for a short while before moving away for school and work.

Rick has been active in the NDP as an executive member and as a campaign volunteer almost continuously since joining the party, serving on various Provincial and Federal executives in Prince Rupert, Prince George, North Vancouver and Kamloops before returning to Crofton in 2006 and joining the Cowichan-Ladysmith executive as a member at large.

Rick joined the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford EDA in 2015. During the 2015 Federal Election, Rick was a member of the data coordination team.

Outreach Coordinator

Anne Balding is a long time New Democrat. She is a fundraiser and outreach coordinator for Cowichan Malahat Langford NDP EDA and is also a Member at Large for Cowichan Valley NDP executive.

Anne is a member of Cowichan Green Communities Food Security Coalition and is the volunteer coordinator for Meals on the Ground, a grassroots organization that provides a meal three times a week for folks who need more food security in their lives. Meals on the Ground recently received the 2018 Black Tie award for Volunteer of the year.

Financial Agent

Sue became involved in politics later than most of her colleagues on the Executive of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford (CML) Federal NDP.

Toronto born, educated at Western and Carleton Universities, she moved with her son and husband to a lovely spot on the island 20 years ago and has since become involved in a number of community activities, including musical theatre and community water management. About 10 years ago, she was invited to volunteer at Jean Crowder’s office and her commitment to the NDP grew out of her respect for Jean, and for all of the members of her amazing constituency team. At the time, this group included Alistair MacGregor; his commitment to his work with constituents, extensive knowledge and endless patience inspired her even more. Sue is currently a personal trainer for seniors, third in a string of careers from academia, to CBC consulting, to project management. She is the Financial Agent for the CML Electoral District Association.

Volunteer Events Coordinator

Leanne Finlayson is totally immersed in NDP politics as a constituency assistant to Alistair McGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford; life partner to Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan; Vice-President of the Cowichan Valley BC NDP Constituency Association; and volunteer events coordinator for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP EDA.

Still, Leanne finds time for her family Matthew, Brooklynne, and Maddy; volunteering at the BC Forest Discovery Center; highland dancing; and riding her favourite horse Dixie in local dressage and jump shows.

Member at Large

Tom Harkins has been a member of the NDP for 35 years and has served on either the Federal or Provincial executives (currently both) since 1987. Tom has organized the signs and sign crews for countless Federal and Provincial elections. After 40 years in the forest industry as an IWA Steelworker, Tom adopted a second career calling into CFAX 1070 to express his labour-oriented, blue-collar NDP views. You can find Tom gardening; spending time with Pat, his wife of 40 years; or hanging out at his second home, the Cobblestone Inn.

Member at Large

Jennifer Hermary is a proud resident of the Cowichan Valley who became interested in politics during the completion of her degree in Criminology at Vancouver Island University.

In 2013, she started working for Jean Crowder. After the 2015 election, she was pleased to accept a position as the Community Outreach Coordinator for MP Alistair MacGregor.

She is passionate about social, economic, and environmental justice and looks forward to building a better Canada.

Member at Large

Darryl has lived on Vancouver Island most of his life. Born in Victoria, he spent time as a child in Campbell River before finally ending up in the Cowichan Valley. He grew up in a family of progressives and has always held the values of the New Democratic Party close to his heart.

Darryl left home at the age of nineteen to attend the University of British Columbia where he completed a degree in Political Science. And it was while attending UBC that he became active in the Young New Democrats (YND). He was elected President of the BCYND in 1988.

Darryl took a hiatus from active involvement in politics during the 90’s and early 2000’s while raising a family and establishing his career in aviation. But, thanks to the passion and persuasion of his life partner, and current CML EDA President, Joanna, he is again involved with the Party and is looking forward to helping ensure we continue to have an NDP MP represent us in Ottawa.

Member at Large

Growing up in an isolated mining town in Northeastern Manitoba, Faye’s first contact with politics as a fifteen year old was when her father took her to a CCF campaign meeting. When the local United Church minister was fired for trying to organize a union—there were mine managers on the church board, the church was on mine property—the injustice confirmed Faye in her commitment to the CCF and later the NDP as the party that would fight for the values she believes in.

Faye is a retired social worker, having spent many years working as an employee of Cowichan Tribes. Faye serves as membership co-lead on the Executive and also sits on the Executive of Cowichan Valley BC NDP.

Member at Large

Justin is a 30-year-old North Cowichan resident, technology entrepreneur, gold miner/prospector, and a philanthropist along with a pocket full of hope and the dream of being a Civil Engineer.

His interests include sports, history, law/justice, politics, business, economics, real estate, environment, mining, engineering, technology innovation and lifelong learning while spending time with family and friends. He recently started volunteering on Friday’s for Alistair MacGregor at the Duncan Office and apart of DELVE, a global platform for Artisanal & Small Scale Mining through the World Bank and Pact.

He also spend sometime volunteering with the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) and the Cowichan 2018 BC Summer Games. In the past year, he volunteered for Jagmeet Singh’s NDP Leadership Race, Elections BC and Duncan-North Cowichan Citizens’ Assembly on Amalgamation. He believes strongly in civic duty because he is passionately concerned about the accessibility, approach-ability, accountability, efficiency, safety, strength, infrastructure, environment and economical development of our community and its future.

Communications and Media

Jules is an openly disabled gay and trans man who has a lot of experience with just how exclusive our society is and how difficult it is to be LGBTQ, especially in the Cowichan Valley. He recognizes that the NDP has been making a good effort to more inclusive, but honestly, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, especially on a local level. He would like to be even more active and help to make positive change, not only for the benefit of Canada, but also for the benefit of youth in our riding.

He worked on Jagmeet Singh’s NDP Leadership campaign, not only with communications but he also helped to write Jagmeet’s LGBTQI2S+ policies. Not only has he helped to write LGBTQI2S+ policies at the federal level, but he also helped the Cowichan School Board craft their policies and has helped to ensure BC legislation passed by the BC NDP government is trans-inclusive. He has been an on-again off-again member of the NDP for close to 30 years.

Member at Large - Youth Designate

Lexy is a 13-year-old student at Quamichan School who has been exposed to the NDP party for many years. She developed her interest in politics two years ago with youth mock elections in elementary school.

At school, she has participated in political debates,engaged local representatives during campaigns, and attended the legislature in Victoria multiple times; most recently to watch as a petition regarding lowering the youth voting age was presented. She has attended multiple NDP functions including Tommy Douglas dinners, town hall meetings and the post swearing-in reception of our provincial NDP government. She says, “If youth are the voice of the future, it is time for us to participate and engage to support the creation of the future we want to see.”

Member at Large

It was NDP policies on women’s equality, child care and the environment that motivated school teacher Mary Annis to get involved with the NDP in Brandon, Manitoba.  While there she was appointed by the NDP government in power to both the provincial schools finance board and a community college board and has been chair of the Brandon East NDP executive.

Since retiring and moving to BC, Mary has served on the Cowichan Valley BC NDP Constituency Association executive for the past seven years and also has experience serving on the executive of the Federal Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Electoral District Association in the past. Mary has worked on both federal and provincial elections and was co-coordinator of the front desk in the 2017 Provincial election. You may have met her when you dropped into the office or received one of the numerous calls she made to campaign volunteers.

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