November 10, 2015
On election night 2011, newly-elected Québec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau was ridiculed for being out of the country on election night, celebrating her 27th birthday in Las Vegas. Moreover, Ms. Brosseau was attacked in the media and by opposition MPs for never having stepped foot in her Berthier-Maskinongé riding during the entirety of the 35-day election campaign, for being a unilingual English-speaking 'paper candidate' — a 'poteau' in French slang — in a riding that was, and is, almost universally French speaking.
A 2011 op-ed in the National Post criticized Ms. Brosseau's inexperience, writing that she was "an extreme example of what happens when people sign up to run for a party with little or no expectation of actually winning." Yet, despite all, on election night 2011, Ms. Brosseau handily defeated incumbent Bloc Québécois Member of Parliament Guy André, former provincial Liberal MNA Francine Gaudet and three other candidates, winning a plurality, with 22,484 votes, representing 39.3% of all the votes cast.
Yet, even given all of the above, and what many in the political class considered to be Ms. Brosseau's "sordid past", at the conclusion of 2015's ruinous for the NDP 78-day election campaign, Ruth Ellen Brosseau — the failed university student and vegetarian single mother turned MP — upped her vote over 2011, raking in 42.24% of the vote, handily defeating all comers, as she secured a second term as MP for Berthier-Maskinongé.
No mean feat that, when the New Democrat Party caucus in Québec was all but decimated, crushed on election night October 19th 2015, as the NDP Québec caucus was reduced from 58 seats out of the province's 75 seats, to only 16 Québec seats out of 81 seats, of which Ms. Brosseau's was one.
"I was tagged the 'Vegas girl', and hoped from day one that I would lose that identity," says the now fluently bilingual Brosseau.
"With my win in the 2015 election, the fact that I not only won my riding for a second term, but that I was able to secure more votes and up my percentage win, demonstrates that over the course of the past four years I have gained the trust of the people I've been elected to serve — through hard work and being present in my riding for all of my constituents, as their champion and liaison to government, that through my continuing dedication to the people I serve — who like myself, live and work and raise their families in the riding — while working with a first-rate constituency team, together we have been able to accomplish much, to build on our successes, which makes me so, so very happy."
On the day of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first meeting with his mostly newly-elected 184-member caucus — 156 MPs were elected for the first time — just one day after the Prime Minister and his cabinet were sworn in at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, the Liberal party leader told his party's MPs ...
"I need each and every one of you to remember one thing. Regardless of the committees you're on, the roles you have, regardless of party demands, and the partisanship that will continue to exist in this House ... your one job, that you cannot ever forget, is to be a strong voice in service of the people who sent you here from your constituencies."
And so it is. As the newly elected rookie MPs, from all parties, set about to get a handle on just what it means to be a member of Parliament, Ruth Ellen Brosseau's story should become the instructive story of merit, that through it all, through all of the partisanship in the House of Commons and on the Hill, the prime directive always is to "serve your constituents well", for that is what is going to get you re-elected to a second term in office.
For rookie MPs, the transition to life as a federal politician will no doubt prove 'educational', if more than a little daunting, overwhelming and, as they burn the midnight oil, stressful. For rookie MPs must hire staff — both in Ottawa, and in their riding — sign a lease for a constituency office, find a place to live in the nation's capital, sign up for remuneration and benefits, be briefed on parliamentary protocols, and try not to get lost in the Centre Block in search of the bathroom, among other immediate tasks.
All told, there are 214 new MPs (of which 17 are former MPs but weren't sitting in the last Parliament) in the 338-seat House of Commons.
Last week, the newly-elected MPs participated in an administrative orientation session, the first of two being held for new MPs. A second session on parliamentary procedures will be held shortly before the House of Commons sits on December 3rd.
"It can all be quite daunting. There's a lot of information to absorb. It's not easy for them to arrive here with all the things happening to them all at once," said Marc Bosc, acting Clerk of the House of Commons, in an interview with Ottawa Citizen Parliament Hill reporter, Jason Fekete.
"The burden is very heavy. Members' time is spoken for almost from the minute they arrive here. If it's not caucus, it's committee work, or foreign travel, or constituency work. It's a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job if you let it control you to that extent. There's no limit to the amount of work you can do."
A multi-party panel of three long-serving and former MPs — re-elected Conservative MP Gordon Brown (Leed-Grenville), former Liberal MP Ted Hsu (Kingston and the Islands), and re-elected New Democrat MP Carol Hughes (Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing) — held a session last week with the rookies to share their experiences and provide advice.
One of the areas the veteran and former MPs addressed was maintaining a proper work-life balance. Parliament Hill, for many years, has been rife with broken marriages and personal struggles. In the interview with Mr. Fekete, Marc Bosc told the reporter that if he were to offer one piece of advice to new MPs, it would be: Don't neglect yourself.
"It's easy when you get here to forget about self care. It's important to have a good work-life balance, and a lot of MPs have to pay attention to that because it's easy to get sucked into the vortex of receptions and events, and lose sight of what's important in your life, whether it be exercise or your family or both," Bosc said. "Those members who are most successful obviously do a lot of constituency work but they also have some balance and carve out time for themselves and their families."
Steep learning curve, long days, a committee workload on Parliament Hill (and all that reading) will no doubt cause some of the new MPs to wonder what they've gotten themselves into. Some will burn out — which, one would have to think, played some role in the NDP's loss of 42 seats in Québec — while others will take to their new life as a swan takes to water.
Generational change in Ottawa, gender parity in the new Liberal cabinet, 25,000 Syrian refugees — 47% of whom will be children — on their way to Canada (perhaps, even before year's end), a new climate change policy, the long overdue end of the war on soft drugs, a new system for electing MPs to Ottawa on the near horizon and certainly in time for the next federal election in 2019, a programme for the realization of new light rail transit infrastructure in our cities, and the promise of an open, transparent and responsive government in Ottawa that will serve the interests of all Canadians — make no mistake, this is an exciting time in Canada's history, in the lead-up to the 150-year anniversary of our country, in 2017 (the celebration of which has been tasked to Trudeau confidante, Mélanie Joly).
This blush of first love, honeymoon period in the political life of Canada that we're all experiencing is, for all but the most dour of critics, nothing less than intoxicating. There is governing to be done, and a Canada to be transformed, so that we may recognize, once again, Canada as she is as a nation — recapturing who we once were and who we will be again and will remain, what we stand for as a nation, and the values we hold most dear, not just as a nation but in our warm, collective relations with one another.
We are our sisters and brothers keepers — let us hope and pray that the 214 MPs newly-elected to Ottawa from all parties, as well as the 124 returning Members of Parliament, work together in service of us all, in their constituencies, and in the House of Commons and on Parliament Hill.
For this is our Canada we want to reclaim — for each & every one of us, in every age group, from every ethnic community, from old stock Canadians to immigrants old and new, for every person along the gender variant spectrum, for every woman, man and child for whom Canada is home.
November 6, 2015
This past Wednesday, there was something vaguely romantic, a nostalgia-inducing cinematic, neo-realist quality to the proceedings that occurred when Canadians were able to see Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire, their two older children, Ella-Grace and Xavier, by their side, and the thirty new, incoming cabinet ministers strolling in behind the Trudeau family, all of them ambling together down the driveway toward Rideau Hall, Canada's government house, blessed by the sun and the 3500-strong throng of supporters, on an unseasonably warm mid-autumn Ottawa morning. And then, when young Trudeau son Hadrien, just a year old, ran towards his father, jumping into his arms, seeing his father and mother light up with smiles ... well, you couldn't help but tear up at this most human scene.
Contrast the above warmly inviting familial scene with the 2006 first capturing of Stephen Harper with his two children heading off to school on the day after Mr. Harper became our 22nd Prime Minister — stiff and unyielding, formally shaking his son Ben's hand as if he'd never met him before, with no hug for his then six-year-old tow-headed daughter, Rachel.
Make no mistake, dear and constant reader, Camelot has come to Canada.
If the scene described in the first paragraph above was captured in a Hollywood movie, you'd likely be caused to reflect about the unreality of it all — but, Canadians, this is in point of fact our new human-scale Canada, the new activist Canada, as Dominic LeBlanc, Liberal Party house leader and boyhood chum of the Prime Minister, constructed the early days of "Trudeau the younger's" sunny ways incoming federalist administration.
The National Post's John Ivison lauded "the positive symbolism" of the incoming Trudeau administration, "the atmosphere providential and full of possibility, and a powerful antidote to the severe, austere Harper years."
As was to be expected, the first question in the scrum held on Parliament Hill following the swearing-in ceremony and the first meeting of the Trudeau cabinet, referenced the election commitments of the Liberal party on proportional representation, and a time frame for the regulation and legalization of marijuana — both commitments remain at the top of the government's agenda, Mr. LeBlanc said, reinforcing to the assembled reporters that the Liberal government would move both pieces of legislation within the first 18 months of the new Trudeau administration.
The very next day, two of Canada's more powerful ministers of the Crown — Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, accompanied by Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos — set about to announce to Canadians that the new government would reinstate Statistic Canada's long-form census.
"We need good, reliable data," stated Mr. Bains, in a media scrum. "We know the history of the last government, who were very much focused on ideology," he said. "In contrast, the Liberal government is very much focused on sound, evidence-based policies, which will ensure that policy development in Canada will be driven by good evidence and quality data."
Activist, indeed, and we're all the better for it, with much more to come.
Much of the media focus in the first couple of days of the new Trudeau administration focused on two newly-appointed cabinet ministers hailing from British Columbia, Justice Minister and Attorney-General of Canada, and Member of Parliament for the newly-created riding of Vancouver-Granville, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Harjit Sajjan, Canada's new very able and well-experienced Defence Minister, a very real Canadian braveheart.
A CBC archive video, referencing Ms. Raybould-Wilson when she was a child, and making the rounds on social media on Thursday, focused on a 32-year-old exchange between First Nations leader Bill Wilson, the father of the newly sworn-in federal Justice Minister, and then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the father of Canada's newly sworn-in PM, Justin Trudeau.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sajjan, in broad and supportive media coverage in the first 48 hours of the new governmental administration has emerged in the eyes of many as a Canadian hero, reporters and members of the opposition alike waxing poetic about the new minister as a "true badass" whose work in the military in Afghanistan yielded crucial intelligence on the Taliban defences.
A defeated opposition weighs in on Canada's new government
Contrast the first impressions of the new government, the conduct of a newly accessible Prime Minister, and cabinet ministers prepared to answer all questions put to them by the media, with yesterday's coverage of the increasingly dour and hard-hearted leader of Canada's third-party, the New Democratic Party's Tom Mulcair — who could never pull off the kind of hope and change message the new government embodies. All the bearded one had to say was that it was the NDP who are the progressive party of change, not the Liberals, and it was he and his shadow cabinet who held the Harper government to account, while Mr. Trudeau went "gallivanting" across Canada, an "absent figure" on Parliament Hill. True — but who cares? Yawwnnn ... yesterday's news. Mr. Mulcair: you lost the election — a little humility might be in order, if not a statement of outright mea culpa.
You could hear, as well, in Thursday's NDP rhetoric what the tone of the first day of a New Democratic Party administration might have been, not "sunny ways", but rather rhetoric focused on statements not dissimilar to, "Ewww, the books are way worse than we expected. We're going to have to hold off on that change-y thing we were talking about. Not to mention, it's a cruel world out there — maybe we oughta rethink our position on repealing Bill C51." With the NDP it was always thus, dark statements devoid of hope, and a seeming inability to capture the public's imagination.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives have elected Ayn Rand-loving Rona Ambrose as their interim leader, and leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, hardly a departure from what came before (i.e. the secretive Stephen Harper), who took only two questions when the announcement of her new position was made public, the "scrum" cut short when Ms. Ambrose's faltering, and hardly up to par, French became all too evident, as she couldn't answer questions put to her in Canada's "other" official language — one can just imagine how many questions in French will be placed to Ms. Ambrose in the House in the days to come; it ain't gonna be pretty, folks.
The takedown has already begun
From Andrew Coyne's ludicrous, regressive column in the National Post, taking Mr. Trudeau to task for appointing a cabinet that had as one of its goals gender parity, to Christie Blatchford's takedown of the positive coverage of Trudeau's "ascension to the throne" in the same, right-wing rag, reporters across all media have proved more than cynical about the opening days of the Trudeau administration, from the "pageantry" of the opening day, to the news that five of the female ministers in the Trudeau cabinet are not, in fact, full-fledged ministers but "junior" ministers of state who must report to senior ministers to sign off on legislation.
On the latter issue above, a spokesperson for the Trudeau government stated emphatically that although it is, at present, contrary to the Act that governs such things, the appointed ministers of state will become, and are to be considered by Canadians to be full-fledged ministers of the crown in the Trudeau cabinet, rather than junior ministers, that each new minister will be compensated as such (note: ministers of state receive $60,000 per year on top of the $167,000 MP salary, while full ministers receive $80,000 — looks like legislation to enforce the claims of the spokesperson will be on the legislative agenda when Parliament resumes on December 3rd).
In the early days of the new Justin Trudeau-led Liberal government, expectations have been set impossibly high — no government, not even that of the affable and approachable Mr. Trudeau, could possibly live up to the expectations for the ...
"... most open, transparent and consultative government in Canadian history, a government that will act upon the wishes of all Canadians for a fairer and more just Canada, where child poverty will once and for all be eradicated, where equality of opportunity for all Canadians will carry the day, where Canadians will feel safe and secure within our borders in a too often uncertain world, a Canada where there will be a focus on the environment and the taking of very real measures to reduce the effects of climate change in Canada and across our globe, where the war on drugs will finally come to an end, and where the voices of Canadians will be heard and felt at the ballot box as Canada moves forward to an electoral system based on proportional representation, where every Canadian's vote will count. These, and the more than 300 commitments the Liberal government has made to Canadians will come to pass — patience will be required, but make no mistake, real change is on its way in Canada."
Camelot — a fantastical realm of romance and possibility, in our Canada.
Let us hope, for all our sakes, that the most positive aspects of Camelot come to pass, and not the failed idealism of the Arthurian legend, that change becomes papably real in Canada in the months and years to come, to be reflected in the social and economic experience of all Canadians.
November 4, 2015
This morning, just after 7:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ushered in a new era in Canadian politics, with a cabinet that is reflective of the country's ethnic diversity, a mix of veteran MPs and former Liberal cabinet ministers and newly-elected, rookie politicians, a cabinet keeps that Mr. Trudeau's promise (as he self-
identifies as a feminist) of gender parity, a federal cabinet of 30 ministers, composed of more women than ever before in Canadian history.
Bill Morneau, a millionaire Toronto businessman and a former head of the C.D. Howe Institute who has not previously held a seat in Parliament, was given the key Finance portfolio, while Chrystia Freeland, a Toronto MP and former journalist, as Trade Minister, and Navdeep Bains, who was an MP from 2004 to 2011, who will be Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development, and Scott Brison, as Treasury Board President, who will be tasked with vetting government spending, constitute the four Members of Parliament, and cabinet, who round out Mr. Trudeau's economic team, working toward setting Canada on a course for prosperity.
Some old hands return to cabinet, including veteran MP Stéphane Dion, the former Liberal leader, as Foreign Affairs Minister. John McCallum, the new Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister, has the difficult task of arranging for resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada by year's end, a commitment made by Mr. Trudeau during the election campaign.
Two newly-elected British Columbia Members of Parliament, Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former regional chief for British Columbia on the Assembly of First Nations and a former Crown prosecutor, and now federal Justice Minister and Attorney-General, and Harjit Sajjan, a retired and decorated Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, who becomes Canada's new Defence Minister, signal Prime Minister Trudeau's intention to take the country in a new direction, both with Canada's indigenous peoples and the diverse communities that comprise the Canadian multi-cultural mosaic.
For now, meet your new team of federal cabinet ministers, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also becomes Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth in the new government.
Please find below, the full list of names of Mr. Trudeau's first cabinet ...
- Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre), Finance Minister. Until his federal win, Mr. Morneau was the executive chair of one of Canada's largest human resources firm, Morneau Shepell, a firm founded by his father. He's also a former chair of the economic think-tank, the C.D. Howe Institute. During his career, he was appointed by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to an expert panel to recommend an Ontario pension supplement to the Canada Pension Plan; the panel was led by former prime minister Paul Martin. He also served as one of Mr. Trudeau's senior economic advisers. Mr. Morneau is the co-author of The Real Retirement: Why You Could Be Better Off Than You Think and How to Make That Happen;
- Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver-Granville), Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada. Ms. Wilson-Raybould is a former crown prosecutor, and adviser at the B.C. Treaty Commission and First Nations chief. During her time as regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, Ms. Wilson-Raybould focused on the advancement of First Nations governance, fair access to land and resources, and improved education and health. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation. Even though Ms. Wilson-Raybould is a rookie MP, it won't be her first time on Parliament Hill; she has made numerous appearances before Parliamentary committees to speak about aboriginal issues;
- Stéphane Dion (St-Laurent-Cartierville), Foreign Affairs Minister. Mr. Dion has served as an MP for the Montréal riding of Saint-Laurent (formerly known as Saint-Laurent-Cartierville) for nearly two decades. The former academic stepped down as Liberal leader after a failed bid to carry the party to an election win in 2008.
Mr. Dion's previous cabinet experience includes stints as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs under Jean Chrétien, and Environment Minister under Paul Martin. Mr. Dion is responsible for introducing The Clarity Act, which laid out terms under which the federal government would enter into negotiations for secession by one of the provinces;
- Carolyn Bennett (Toronto-St. Paul's), Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister. Ms. Bennett has held the seat of Toronto-St. Paul's (formerly just St. Paul's) since 1997. She is a former family physician and professor at the University of Toronto. Ms. Bennett ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2006, but withdrew to throw her support behind Bob Rae. Most recently, Ms. Bennett served as the party's critic for aboriginal affairs and northern development.
Ms. Bennett is also the author of Kill or Cure? How Canadians Can Remake their Health Care System. Ms. Bennett served as Minister of State for Public Health in Paul Martin's government;
- Ralph Goodale (Regina-Wascana), Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness. Mr. Goodale was first elected to the House of Commons as the MP for Assiniboia in 1974 at the young age of 24, a seat he held for five years. He then took a break from federal politics to lead the Saskatchewan Liberal Party, before returning to Parliament in 1993.
He has held the Regina-Wascana seat (previously known as just Wascana) ever since, earning him the nickname "King of Wascana". During that time, he has served as Finance Minister under Paul Martin and, most recently, as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party;
- Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale), International Trade Minister. Ms. Freeland, touted as Canada's first female Finance Minister, is a relative newcomer to the Liberal Party, but nonetheless a respected member of Mr. Trudeau's inner circle. An acclaimed former business journalist and winner of the prestigious National Business Book Award following the 2012 publication of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, a New York Times best-seller, Ms. Freeland won an award for most outstanding Canadian business-related book.
Plutocrats was winner of the 2013 Lionel Gelber Prize for non-fiction reporting on foreign affairs. Ms. Freeland is author of the 2000 book Sale of the Century, tracking Russia's journey from communism to capitalism;
- Scott Brison (Kings-Hants), Treasury Board President. Mr. Brison was originally elected as a Progressive Conservative for the riding of Kings-Hants in 1997. He sought the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives in 2003, then crossed the floor to join the Liberals days after the party merged with the right-wing Canadian Alliance-Reform party. Mr. Brison served as Minister of Public Works and Government Services in the Paul Martin government. Mr. Brison served as the Liberal Party finance critic in Parliament, dating back to 2010;
- Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville), Canadian Heritage Minister. A close Trudeau family friend, Ms. Joly is not new to the political world. She was the runner-up in the 2013 Montréal mayoral race, losing to Denis Coderre but taking a quarter of the vote. A lawyer by trade, Ms. Joly practiced in Montréal before jumping into communications at international firm Cohn & Wolfe. She also helped organize Mr. Trudeau's Liberal leadership campaign. In 2008, Ms. Joly was named Elle Québec's Woman of the Year, in the "up and coming" category;
- John McCallum (Markham-Thornhill), Immigration Minister. A veteran MP and cabinet minister, Mr. McCallum has held a range of cabinet positions over the past 15 years, including National Revenue minister and Veterans Affairs minister in the Paul Martin government, and national defence minister for Jean Chrétien. Most recently, he served as the party's immigration critic.
Before entering politics, Mr. McCallum was an economics professor at McGill and Dean of the Faculty of Arts. He has also worked as the chief economist for the Royal Bank of Canada. In 2001, he introduced a motion to make Nelson Mandela an honorary Canadian citizen;
- Jane Philpott (Markham-Stouffville), Health Minister. Ms. Philpott has been a family physician at the Markham Stouffville Hospital dating back to 1988. She also served as the hospital's Chief of the Department of Family Medicine, and is an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Department of Family and Community Medicine. She worked in Niger from 1989 to 1998, where she practiced general medicine and helped develop a training programme for local health workers. Ms. Philpott is the founder of Give a Day to World AIDS, an organization that has raised $4 million for people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa;
- Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour), Government House leader. Mr. LeBlanc, son of Roméo LeBlanc, a former Governor General and a cabinet minister in the government of Pierre Elliott Trudeau from 1972 to 1984, was a childhood chum of Justin Trudeau, as their two fathers were old friends who would often take their sons to a fishing camp in Miramichi for summer vacations.
Dominic LeBlanc was first elected to Parliament in 2000 in the riding of Beauséjour, and has held onto the riding ever since. The former lawyer ran for the leadership of the party in 2008, but dropped out of the race to endorse Michael Ignatieff. Mr. LeBlanc most recently served as the Liberal party's house leader;
- Judy Foote (Bonavista-Burin-Trinity), Minister of Public Service and Procurement. Ms. Foote has served as the MP for the riding of Random-Burin-St. George's since 2008, running in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity in October due to redrawn boundaries. She took the riding with 80 per cent of the vote. She has held the positions of deputy house leader and, most recently, party whip. Ms. Foote also served as a provincial MHA for 11 years, holding numerous ministerial roles.
Ms. Foote had an extensive media and communications career before entering politics. She hosted the CBC radio show "Here & Now", eventually leaving journalism to work as the director of public relations for former Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Clyde Wells;
- Marc Garneau (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount), Transport Minister. Known by many for his exploits in space than on Earth, the former astronaut represented the downtown Montréal riding of Westmount-Ville Marie, and now represents the redrawn riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount. Garneau initially made a bid for Liberal leadership in 2012, but eventually withdrew and threw his support behind Mr. Trudeau. Most recently, he served as the Liberal foreign affairs critic. Mr. Garneau started his career in the Royal Canadian Navy and rose to the rank of Commander, before becoming the first Canadian to fly in space in 1984, going on to become the president of the Canadian Space Agency;
- Diane Lebouthillier (Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine), Revenue Minister. Before entering politics, Ms. Lebouthillier was a social worker at the Rocher Percé Health and Social Services Centre for 23 years. In 2013, she was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the Royal Canadian Legion for her work. Until recently, Ms. Lebouthillier served on the Board of Governors of Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, a general and vocational college, and chaired the boards of directors of Réseau collectif Gaspésie Les Îles and Transport adapté et collectif des Anses. She is a mother of three adult sons and grandmother to one grandson;
- James Carr (Winnipeg South Centre), Natural Resources Minister. Prior to entering public life, Mr. Carr worked as a journalist with the Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC. In 1988, he was elected as provincial MLA for Fort Rouge and eventually became deputy leader of Manitoba's Liberal Party. He then went on to found the Business Council of Manitoba in 1997, before running for the Liberals at the federal level this year. Mr. Carr began his career as a musician, and played oboe with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra;
- Carla Qualtrough (Delta), Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. A lawyer by training, Ms. Qualtrough has a background in human rights, inclusion and sport. She was vice-chair of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal of B.C. and legal counsel for the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. She competed in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Paralympic Games, winning three medals in swimming. She remains involved in the world of sport, serving for four years as the president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
- Navdeep Singh Bains (Mississauga-Malton), Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister. Mr. Bains is a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management. He is a certified management accountant, and was a financial and accounting analyst for years at Ford Motor Company. In his years outside of Ottawa — Bains previously served as the MP for Mississauga-Brampton South from 2004 to 2011, when he was defeated by then-Conservative Eve Adams — he played a key role in Justin Trudeau's leadership campaign;
- Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre), Environment and Climate Change Minister. Considered a star Liberal recruit, McKenna defeated longtime Ottawa-Centre NDP MP Paul Dewar on October 19th. As an international trade lawyer, Ms. McKenna brings a wealth of experience to the table, including her time as a former legal adviser to the negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor. She is also a board member at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and has taught at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs. Fun fact: Ms. McKenna's husband, Scott Gilmore, is a longtime Conservative. He wrote a piece in Maclean's magazine about his decision to vote Liberal in the October 19th election, calling the decision "the unthinkable";
- Jean-Yves Duclos (Québec City), Families, Children and Social Development Minister. Mr. Duclos is an economist, published author and conference speaker. He is involved with a number of economic associations, including the Canadian Economics Association and C.D. Howe Institute. He is also the co-founder of the Poverty and Economic Policy Research Network;
- Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton-Stanstead), International Development Minister. Ms. Bibeau had a varied career before making the jump into politics. She started at the now-defunct Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), working in Canada and Africa. For the past 15 years, she's co-owned a small tourism business called Camping de Compton. She is also the executive director of the Sherbrooke Museum of Nature and Science. Ms. Bibeau is married to Sherbrooke Mayor Bernard Sévigny;
- Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan), Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister. A long-time Liberal MP, Mr. MacAulay has served as the Solicitor-General of Canada, Minister of Labour and Secretary of State for Veterans Affairs and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He has also served as the opposition critic for Fisheries and Seniors;
- MaryAnn Mihychuk (Kildonan-St. Paul), Employment Minister. Ms. Mihychuk was elected as a member of Manitoba's NDP government in 1995, serving as Minister of Industry, Trade, and Mines, and Intergovernmental Affairs during her nine years as an MLA. She joined the Liberals in 2014. She is a founder of both Women in Mining Canada, and Women in Mining Manitoba;
- Kent Hehr (Calgary Centre), Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of Defence. Mr. Hehr comes from a family of educators — the son of a teacher and school principal. He grew up in Calgary, where he played hockey for the Calgary Canucks and Mount Royal University Cougars, and envisioned a future as an athlete. But Mr. Hehr's life changed forever in 1991 when he was a struck in a drive-by shooting at the age of 21. The injury left him a quadriplegic.
Despite his injuries, he completed his education, becoming a lawyer. In 2008, he ran for the Alberta Liberals in Calgary-Buffalo and won a seat at the provincial legislature. Mr. Hehr also mounted a mayoral race in Calgary's 2010 muncipal election but later withdrew to endorse Naheed Nenshi. In 2005, the University of Calgary named Mr. Hehr its graduate of the decade, and one of the 40 top graduates over the last 40 years;
- Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha), Democratic Institutions Minister. Ms. Monsef's family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan, moving to Peterborough. She is a graduate of Trent University and has been a member of more than 30 community-based action committees in Peterborough. In 2014, she ran for mayor of Peterborough, finishing a close second to Mayor Daryl Bennett. Ms. Monsef has an activist background in community engagement, communications and outreach, recently co-founding the Red Pashmina Campaign, which raised more than $150,000 for women and girls in Afghanistan;
- Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut), Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. An Inuit leader, Mr. Tootoo was first elected as a MLA for Iqaluit-Centre in 1999, and held numerous cabinet positions over his 14 years in the legislative assembly, including two years as speaker. Prior to his work in politics, he was a businessman and co-founder of the Iqaluit branch of Arctic Insurance Brokers Ltd. In 1997, Tootoo ran as an NDP candidate for the federal riding of Nunavut, but finished third. He was chosen as a candidate by the Liberal Party earlier this year. Fun fact: Mr. Tootoo is a cousin of New Jersey Devils forward Jordin Tootoo, who was the first Inuk to play in the NHL;
- Patricia Hajdu (Thunder Bay-Superior North), Status of Women Minister. A former Executive Director for Shelter House, Thunder Bay's largest homeless shelter, Ms. Hajdu is widely known in northern Ontario for leading discussions on substance use, harm reduction, housing and public health, where she chaired the Drug Awareness Committee of Thunder Bay and authored the city's drug strategy. She and her family have lived almost exclusively in Thunder Bay since 1980. Ms. Hajdu is a frequent op-ed contributor to The Chronicle-Journal newspaper in northwestern Ontario;
- Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), Defence Minister. Mr. Sajjan and his family emigrated to Canada from India when he was five years old; he was raised in south Vancouver. A former police detective and highly decorated Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, Mr. Sajjan served three tours in Afghanistan and one in Bosnia. He was the first Canadian Sikh to command a Canadian military regiment. Brigadier-General David Fraser once said about Mr. Sajjan that he was "the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre" and "single-handedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan." Mr. Sajjan served 11 years with the Vancouver Police Department, most recently specializing in gang violence;
- Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North), Science Minister. First elected to Parliament in 2008, Ms. Duncan is a medical geographer, and has taught at the University of Windsor, the University of Toronto and Royal Roads University. She has served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization that won the 2007 Nobel Prize with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore;
- Amarjeet Sohi (Edmonton Mill Woods), Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Mr. Sohi, won his seat in the October 19th federal election by a slim 92 votes, defeating former Conservative MP Tim Uppal. Mr. Sohi was first elected as an Edmonton City Councillor in 2007. He has volunteered with Public Interest Alberta, the Centre for International Alternatives and the Canadian Labour Congress. Mr. Sohi is also a former member of the Edmonton Police Commission;
- Bardish Chagger (Waterloo), Minister of Small Business and Tourism. Perhaps the biggest surprise appointment to Mr. Trudeau's cabinet (no pundit had her on their list of possiblities), the 35-year-old community organizer has spent much of her working life acting in the role of special projects co-ordinator at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre. Ms. Chagger also worked as the executive assistant to former Kitchener-Waterloo MP Andrew Telegdi, providing her with insight into the mechanism of government. Over the past few years, Ms. Chagger has volunteered with a number of community organizations, including the Interfaith Grand River, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
- Carolyn Bennett (Toronto-St. Paul's), Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister. Ms. Bennett has held the seat of Toronto-St. Paul's (formerly just St. Paul's) since 1997. She is a former family physician and professor at the University of Toronto. Ms. Bennett ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2006, but withdrew to throw her support behind Bob Rae. Most recently, Ms. Bennett served as the party's critic for aboriginal affairs and northern development.
November 3, 2015
Only hours from now, Canadians will know the names and personages of the Liberal Party members of Parliament — some veterans, many more first time electeds, at least half of whom will be women — who will constitute the Trudeau government's diverse and unrivaled first Cabinet of equals.
Speculation has run rampant lo these many days. Today, what the pundits think they know. As for the rest of us, we'll know soon enough — on or before 7:30 a.m. PST, Wednesday, while we watch live coverage of change in motion, as Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau and his chosen Cabinet alight from the bus that will transport them to Rideau Hall, to be sworn into office by Canada's Governor General, David Johnston.
First off, read this very fine column by Kate Heartfield in the Ottawa Citizen, a defense of gender parity in the Trudeau cabinet.
For one thing, it is a statement of philosophy. Trudeau is the leader of a party that ... faces a number of challenges in which gender plays a part, from prostitution law to a promised inquiry about missing and murdered indigenous women.
The simplest answer to why women should make up half of Cabinet is, simply, why not?
"One human being out of two is a woman, so it is a question of simple justice that women hold half of political positions," explains Manon Tremblay, a professor at the University of Ottawa who studies gender and politics, in an email. "Since women are subjected to the law, they must have a fair participation in the public decision making process."
And who will be the strong Ministers of the Crown who will sit in Mr. Trudeau's Cabinet, who will develop policy, and transform your lives?
Finance. As we wrote yesterday, Toronto MP Chrystia Freeland seems to be the odds on favourite to become Canada's first female Minister of Finance. Tracking not so far behind her is former Nova Scotia Conservative Party member, and last term, Liberal Party shadow Finance critic, Scott Brison. Late speculation, from CTV News, has first-time elected Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre), "who has a Bay Street background but has never sat in Parliament" taking the position of Finance Minister, where he'll be supported by Université Laval economist Jean-Yves Duclos, who recently won his first federal election, representing Québec City in Parliament.
Environment. With the Paris Climate Change Conference due to get underway November 30th, Prime Minister Trudeau will want to be up-to-speed on environmental issues. Who better to appoint than former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion (and Paul Martin's Environment Minister)? Vancouver Quadra's Joyce Murray, a former British Columbia Environment Minister is also in the running — although late word is that she'll be passed over for cabinet entirely, as the B.C. seats in cabinet will go to three first-timers: Jody Wilson-Raybould, Carla Qualtrough and Pam Goldsmith-Jones.
There's speculation that PEI's Sean Casey will become Canada's new Justice Minister. Calgary's Kent Hehr is apparently set to become Treasury Board President, while his colleague, Edmonton City Councillor, Amarjeet Sohi is under consideration for National Revenue or Natural Resources minister. Winnipeg South Centre MP will likely become our next Agriculture Minister. New Brunswick Southwest MP? Why not Karen Ludwig as Fisheries Minister?
Then there are the new faces in the Liberal caucus, destined for cabinet: Medical geography professor Kirsty Duncan, the MP for Etobicoke (Science and Technology Minister?); either former Newfoundland cabinet minister, Yvonne Jones (Labrador), or Judy Foote (Random-Burin-St. George's), who held numerous cabinet posts in Clyde Wells' provincial government — but not both; Montréal lawyer (and close Trudeau family friend), Mélanie Joly (apparently slated to become Heritage Minister, as Canada prepares to mark 150 years; Ottawa lawyer and former U.N. legal advisor, Catherine McKenna; and former West Vancouver mayor, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones; not to mention the only BC lock for cabinet, Vancouver-Granville MP, Jody Wilson-Raybould, being touted as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development minister; former Manitoba NDP provincial Minister of Industry, Trade and Mines, MaryAnn Mihychuk, looks to be set for Public Works minister; retired Lieutenant Colonel Karen McCrimmon is reportedly a lock for cabinet, as is refugee advocate and medical doctor, Jane Philpott, and from rural Québec, either businesswoman Diane Lobouthillie (Gaspé), or Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton-Stanstead). Healthcare manager / former University of Toronto Vice-Chair, Celina Caesar-Chavannes (Whitby), is also under consideration. In addition, rookie Ontario MPs — representing the all important 905 area outside Toronto — investment specialist Karina Gould (Burlington), and community organizer Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha) stand an outside chance of making the cut in Justin Trudeau's first cabinet.
Late speculation from the Sun chain of newspapers Parliamentary bureau chief David Akin had Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Liberal MP Filomena Tassi making the cut, although Mr. Akin is the first pundit to report Ms. Tassi as a serious contender for cabinet; we'll know Wednesday morning.
Let's be very clear: with only 28 to 30 spots open in the Trudeau cabinet, perhaps only half of those named above will end up making the final cut.
The art of cabinet-making means diversity and regional representation, as well as representation from all creeds and cultures. As such Northern Ontario will have to be represented, most probably by Patty Hajdu (pronounced "high-dew"), the former executive director of Shelter House in Thunder Bay. Southwestern Ontario will have to have a seat at the table, so the chatter is that someone like Kate Young, a former TV anchor and newly elected MP for London West, will get a position.
Of course, old Liberal warhorse Ralph Goodale (Regina-Wascana) — the only Saskatchewan Liberal MP — will find almost certainly find himself in a senior cabinet portfolio, as will one time astronaut and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount MP Marc Garneau, who is reportedly under consideration to become Canada's next Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dominic Leblanc (Beauséjour), an old family friend of the Trudeau family, is also all but a shoo-in for cabinet. Kelowna-Lake Country's Stephen Fuhr (Kelowna-Lake Country) to Veteran Affairs? Might be a good fit.
Also, there will be one Sikh minister, most likely Navdeep Bains, a Mississauga MP who played a key role in Trudeau's leadership bid in 2013, who will emerge as a trusted Justin Trudeau cabinet minister.
Men will hold up half the sky in the Trudeau cabinet, so there's likely room for retired Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie — late breaking news: according to the Globe and Mail, he's out , as are former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, and Toronto lawyer Marco Mendicino, who turned 40 on election day. Former Manitoba business council head Jim Carr may be headed for cabinet, as is almost certainly the case with Québec City MP, the former head of the economics department at Laval University, Jean-Yves Duclos, who could become Canada's next Human Resources Minister, or take on an economic portfolio. All things being equal, there may be room for former speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut Hunter Tootoo (likely), but are prospects dimming for retired police and military officer, newly-elected Vancouver-South MP, Harjit Sajjan?
Absences from the cabinet list? On the outside looking in? Popular former Toronto City Councillor Adam Vaughan (Spadina-Fort York), who may be given a non-cabinet role related to affordable housing; former defense minister John McCallum (Markham-Thornhill); former cabinet minister Carolyn Bennett (Toronto-St. Paul's); former Solicitor General Wayne Easter (Malpeque, P.E.I), former Minister of Labour Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) — the longest-serving MP in the history of Prince Edward Island — former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Geoff Regan (Halifax West), brother of former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, David McGuinty (Ottawa South), former Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Status of Women, and long-serving Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry, former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in the Paul Martin government, Judy Sgro (Humber River-Black Creek), and Mark Holland (Ajax), a key organizer of Trudeau's 2013 leadership campaign could be on the outs.
Despite all the post-election speculation about how difficult it would be for Trudeau to choose a cabinet from the "abundance of riches" that Liberals won a majority government and 184 seats in the Oct. 19 election, according to insiders, the job turned out to be surprisingly easy. Trudeau, aided by Liberal co-campaign Chair and the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Katie Telford and policy wonk Gerald Butts, went about the process of building a cabinet considering several key factors: gender equity, ethnic diversity, regional distribution and a balance of new and veteran MPs, but leaning to young and generational change, versus old and experienced.
Stephen Harper's cabinet had 39 ministers. The Trudeau cabinet will likely be comprised of 28 to 30 members, the incoming Prime Minister dedicated to a leaner, more efficient cabinet team than his predecessor.
November 2, 2015
Although a low priority on the incoming Liberal Party's governmental agenda, there are two iconic election promises — both with broad popular support — which will serve to determine whether incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be viewed by Canadians as a man who keeps his word, or is a politician who promises a feast, and delivers only thin gruel.
Make no mistake, there is a great deal on the incoming government's legislative agenda, promises Canadians will want to see kept: sustaining home mail delivery; resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by year's end; modifying Bill C-51 (anti-terrorism legislation) to satisfy civil libertarians (and most Canadians), while implementing robust national security oversight; cancelling the delivery of the F-35s in favour of less expensive fighter jets; restoring the retirement age to 65, while working with the Premiers on a reform of Canada's pension plan to ensure no senior lives in poverty; comprehensive reform of Canada's access-to-information process; appointment of an independent, arm's length federal Commissioner to oversee expenditure of monies on advertising, ensuring that the ads are not partisan; and, in addition, establishing an independent commission to organize leaders' debates in time for the next federal election, in 2019.
And let's not forget the $10 billion annual expenditure on new spending on infrastructure — transit and more — a top priority for the new government.
As if the above was not enough, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party also made election commitments on: reform of the Senate and the Supreme Court appointment process; ensuring free votes for MPs on legislative items other than confidence bills, fulfillment of platform commitments, or "matters pertaining to our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter"; redefining House of Commons' procedural standing orders to prohibit omnibus bills; empowering and enriching Parliamentary Budget Office oversight; restoring the mandatory StatsCan long-form census; establishing "a pan-Canadian framework for combating climate change" within 90 days of the Paris conference that begins on November 30th; renewing Canada's commitment to peacekeeping operations; immigration reform to enhance family re-unification; for aboriginal peoples: enacting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, adopting and implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, closing the aboriginal educational achievement gap, working towards the elimination of the over representation of aboriginal people in custody, ensuring the provision of clean water on reserves and the introduction of a programme to build housing, and the establishment of a federal inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women; and, restoring and increasing funding for the arts, as well as for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
All of the "promises" above, to be turned into federal legislation, constitute much less than half of the 180 commitments made to Canadians by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party during the recent 78-day election campaign.
On Wednesday morning, November 4th at 10:30 a.m. EST, the newly elected Liberal Party of Canada majority will be sworn into Canada's 43rd Parliament as Canada's government, as the Right Honourable Justin Pierre James Trudeau becomes Canada's 23rd Prime Minister, working alongside a Cabinet of trusted colleagues, twenty-eight Ministers of the Crown who will form government, and rule as the governing party of our nation.
Prime Minister-designate Trudeau, in a press conference held last week in the House of Commons Press Gallery Theatre (the first press conference of its kind in more than eight years) told the assembled press, and Canadians, in the moments following the swearing-in ceremony announcements will be made respecting the fufillment of Liberal party election commitments.
Despite the naysayers, both within and outside government, the first commitment to be filled will be the transport of 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before year's end, to be housed on the ten Canadian armed forces bases across Canada. There will also be an official announcement that the Premiers of the ten provinces and the Territories, and the leaders of Canada's opposition parties, will accompany the Prime Minister as delegates to the Paris Climate Change Conference, that begins at the end of the month. Mr. Trudeau is likely to announce that the House will be called back into session in the second week of December, for a brief session of Parliament where the government will move to act on its legislative agenda.
At the top of the government's December legislative agenda: implementation of the promised "middle class tax cut", in order that such legislation might become policy, effective January 1, 2016.
Next on the government's agenda: the formation of two Parliamentary committees, both of which are to report out on February 16, 2017: 1) an all-party committee on democratic reform, leading to a recommendation on the implementation of a form of proportional representation to be legislated as government policy governing the 2019 federal election; and 2) an all-party committee to provide recommendations on the implementation of a framework for the introduction of detailed and specific legislation on the legalization and regulation of marijuana in Canada, such groundbreaking legislation to be introduced in the 2017 spring session of Parliament.
Informed pundit speculation has it that Prime Minister Trudeau will announce a mid-winter session of Parliament — as early as mid-February, although that seems early to this writer — at which time the government will announce in the Speech from the Throne their legislative agenda for the term, followed by the announcement of the date for the introduction of the budget by the new Finance Minister (currently speculated to be either Liberal member Parliament for Toronto University-Rosedale, Chrystia Freeland, or recent Liberal Party Finance critic and Liberal member of Parliament for Nova Scotia Kings-Hants (formerly Annapolis Valley-Hants, a rural locale with which VanRamblings is intimately familiar), Scott Brison.
Prime Minister Trudeau must be seen to be running an open government, and continue to be accessible (he's their best salesman). As above, there are some hopeful early signs: holding an open press conference in the Parliamentary Press Theatre, and announcing to President Obama that Canadians troops will be pulled out of the Middle East before year's end.
Make no mistake, the process of change will be slow, slower than most Canadians would wish, but as was the case with former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien — who implemented 78% of his promised Red Book agenda early in his first term of office — change will come.
Make no mistake, either, the government's honeymoon will be short-lived as Mr. Trudeau and his Ministers will most assuredly be given a rough ride by the opposition, and by the media. Tom Mulcair, as leader of the New Democratic Party, and whoever it is the Conservative Party caucus chooses as their interim leader this upcoming Thursday, as well as whoever becomes the new leader of the Bloc Québécois, and re-elected leader of Canada's Green Party, Elizabeth May, will hold the government to account, on behalf of and in the interests all Canadians, from sea to sea to sea.
Now is a time of hope, and change. Mr. Trudeau, don't break our hearts.
October 20, 2015
Given the uncertainty of the day's election outcome, the best possible result for Canada's 42nd federal election occurred on Monday evening — a stable Liberal Party of Canada majority government, led by Justin Trudeau.
Heading into Monday, October 19th, rumours were rampant that unless Justin Trudeau secured a majority, Stephen Harper would hold on as Prime Minister — as is his constitutional right — until he lost a confidence vote in Parliament next spring. Imagine — seven more months of Stephen Harper. The only possible way that Canadians could be assured that Mr. Harper would step down involved Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada securing a majority of seats in Parliament, as occurred on Monday evening.
Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party of Canada, on the other hand, suffered a devastating defeat in Monday's election, losing dozens of seats across Canada — down from 95 seats at the dissolution of Parliament on August 2nd, to the bare 44 seats that the party achieved on Monday evening — seeing its bedrock Québec support collapse as a sea of red carried the Liberals back into power after 10 lost years in the wilderness.
NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie and longtime St. John's East MP Jack Harris, as well as respected Parliamentarian Paul Dewar, Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer, former interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel, Yellowknife MP Dennis Bevington, the always feisty Pat Martin, and high-profile candidates Peggy Nash, the NDP's Industry critic, and veteran politico Olivia Chow were among the dozens of New Democrats who lost their seats.
In respect of the Conservative party, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Finance Minister Joe Oliver, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, Associate Minister of Defence Julian Fantino, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, Multiculturalism Minister Tim Uppal, Economic Development Agency Minister of State Gary Goodyear, Minister of State John Duncan, Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford, Minister of National Revenue Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Minister of State (Sport) Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Atlantic Opportunities) Rob Moore, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, and Minister of State (Science & Technology) Ed Holder suffered respective crushing defeats at the polls, almost all of whom were virtually unknown to most Canadians, given that Stephen Harper operated the mechanism of government solely and unilaterally out of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
What does Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau's victory on Monday evening mean for Canadians? As written previously on VanRamblings ...
- A government that will address the long overdue problem of child poverty in Canada;
- A more open and accessible government in Ottawa;
- Moving 650,000 Canadian seniors out of poverty with a commitment of $750 million annually to raising the Guaranteed Income Supplement, not to mention lowering the pension eligibility age from 67 to 65;
- Strong, independently-minded Ministers of Government, at least half of whom will be women;
- A fairer tax system that will close tax loopholes and see corporations pay their fair share of taxes;
- Implementation of an immigration policy that will focus on family reunification, doubling the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents to 10,000 each year, changing immigration rules to allow spouses immigrating to Canada to receive immediate permanent residency, as well as elimination of the current 2-year waiting period;
- An additional $380 million in funding for the arts, and the undoing of Conservative funding cuts to the CBC;
- Reducing wait times for a first EI payment to one week from two, and implementation of a six-month family care employment insurance benefit similar to the EI parental leave benefit;
- First, decriminalizing the use of marijuana in Canada, and then legalizing the administration and use of marijuana across our country;
- $100 million a year to create more than 40,000 jobs, paid internships and co-op placements for youth over four years, as well as the expenditure of $1.5 billion over four years on a youth job strategy to help 125,000 young people find a job;
- Funding affordable and co-operative housing, and for those 111,000 Canadians who live in co-ops, a renewal of the $2 billion subsidy for tens of thousands of Canadians requiring a subsidy on their housing charge.
All of the above barely scratches the surface of the commitments made to Canadians by the incoming federal Liberal administration, not the least of which is a plan to fund needed transit and infrastructure across Canada.
Make no mistake, on October 19th, 2015 Canadians elected a government that will be on their side — a day of deliverance for each & every one of us.
October 19, 2015
Today VanRamblings will forego our usual partisanship, and simply urge you to get out to vote today (that is, if you were not one of the 3.6 million Canadians who voted at the advance polls), to exercise your hard fought for democratic franchise, and vote for the political party and candidate of your choice, be they Tory, NDP, Liberal, Green, Independent, or "other".
Lineups at your polling station are likely to be longer than you experienced in the past, the wait even longer, given the provisions of Canada's new Fair Election Act, given Royal Assent on June 19th, 2014, which eliminates the use of vouching — the practice of allowing a voter with proper identification to vouch for the identity of another individual who lives in the same polling area — and Voter Information Cards as a form of ID, now requiring picture ID from you with your address, as well as your Voter Information Card.
In addition, poll clerks are no longer allowed to simply check your name off a voters list, as was previously the case, but must now hand-write your name into an election book, which you must sign, a process that will likely serve to dramatically slow the voting process at your local polling station.
To vote, you must be registered. However, if you're not registered, you can register at your polling place, just before you vote.
What To Do If You're Not Registered at Your Local Polling Station
Have you moved recently? Got a new address? To have your name added to the list of electors at your polling station, you must fill in a Registration Certificate with the registration officer or poll clerk. Once the Registration Certificate is authorized by the deputy returning officer, and you show satisfactory proof of your identity and address, you can then vote.
You may also fill out and print your Registration Certificate at home.
To find the address and location of your local polling station, where you may take in your completed Registration Certificate, click here.
Click here for a list of Elections Canada approved identification, and the three options you have to prove your identity and address.
Note: One representative of each candidate in the electoral district is legally entitled to be present to observe the process at a Registration Desk; or two representatives per candidate to observe the process at a polling station.
Again: when you vote, you must prove your identity and address.
You have three options:
- Show one original piece of identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains your photo, name and address (for example, a driver's license), or
- Show two pieces of identification from a list authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Both must have your name and at least one must have your address (such as a health card and hydro bill), or
- If you have two pieces of identification but can't prove where you live, you may have your residence attested to by another elector who knows you, who lives in the same polling division as you, and is on the list of electors or is registering to vote (for example, a neighbour or your roommate who has proof of identification and address). In this case, you must both take a written oath.
Note: Pieces of identification must be in either English or French. Expired documents are accepted. Your passport, with picture, is adequate identification.
Polling hours have also changed across Canada, as per the graphic below.
With the new, staggered polling hours across Canada, for the first time in a Canadian election, we're not likely to know the outcome of the election until the wee hours of the morning following voting day. As above, polls close in Ontario at 9:30pm Eastern Time, or 6:30pm Pacific Time. We're not likely to know how Canadians in eastern Canada voted until near midnight eastern time, and 9pm pacific time, keeping us glued to our TVs til late.
Note should be made that in British Columbia, polling stations will close at 7pm, a full hour earlier than has usually been the case in the past; voters lined up at the polls before 7pm will be allowed to vote past the 7pm deadline — but given the changes to the voting procedures in 2015, getting to your polling station early will better serve your interests.
In the 2015 election, there are 66,000 ballot boxes that will be distributed to 20,000 polling locations, with a polling station staff of 250,000 polling clerks retained for the election, at a cost of $375 million, based on the longest-in-a-century 78-day campaign, a cost that could actually go higher.
Today's the day when you elect a new government to a probable four-year term in power. Today, then, Oct. 19, 2015 is the day to get your vote on!
October 18, 2015
In less than 24 hours from now — on Monday, October 19th — Canadian voters will head to the polls to elect a new federal government in Ottawa.
As a service to VanRamblings' readers, we will today present a précis of a trenchant, first rate article published in The Guardian, written by British investigative journalist & documentary maker, Nick Davies, who in autumn 2010 broke Britain's News of the World phone hacking scandal, and wrote the book, Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch.
The Guardian article on Canada's election is titled Stephen Harper: master manipulator. Davies asks the question, "Despite several scandals worthy of Watergate over the past decade, Stephen Harper could win a fourth election October 19th. Can the master manipulator work his dark magic?"
Davies goes on to compare Stephen Harper's politics of manipulation to those of discredited U.S. president Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon, writing ...
"In the Watergate scandal, all the president's men were accused primarily of breaking the law to get Nixon a second term in the White House. In Canada, some of the prime minister's men and women have been accused not simply of cheating to win elections but of conspiring to jam the machinery of democratic government."
"Some of these allegations have been proved."
"In the 11 years since he became leader of Canada's Conservative Party, the party has been fined for breaking electoral rules, and various members of Team Harper have been caught misleading parliament, gagging civil servants, subverting parliamentary committees, gagging scientists, harassing the Supreme Court, gagging diplomats, lying to the public, concealing evidence of potential crime, spying on opponents, bullying and smearing. Harper personally has earned himself the rare rebuke of being found to be in contempt of his Parliament."
"At heart, Harper's team are not that different from politicians across the developed world who have discovered that democracy is a pretty sweet theory but that, in reality, if you want to get hold of power and use it, there are all kinds of devious moves available that have very little to do with that antique idea."
Davies writes that the path to electoral crime is rarely trodden but that there is a close alternative, what Nixon's people called ratfucking — acts of sabotage to damage an opponent. Not exactly criminal. Not always.
For example, when the current Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, recently held an open-air press conference in Ottawa — as has been the case this past week, wherever Trudeau held a rally — he found himself being heckled by a group of young protesters waving placards. The Huffington Post revealed that these hecklers were interns working for the Prime Minister's Office.
In his October 15th article in The Guardian, Davies expands on the idea ...
"In the fortnight before polling day in 2011, Liberal supporters started receiving nuisance calls from people who claimed to be Liberal party workers - calling Jewish voters on the Sabbath, waking up others in the middle of the night. Liberals said this was Conservatives trying to alienate their support. Then, in the final three days before the vote, Elections Canada received a series of complaints about robocalls — recorded messages sent by automatic dialing — that told voters quite falsely that their polling station had been moved."
"By election day, anxiety was rising among officials, as internal emails recorded: 'It seems that Conservative candidates are pretending that Elections Canada or returning officers have changed the polling stations ... They have actually disrupted the voting process ... It's right across the country except Saskatchewan ... It appears it is getting worse.' This looked like a national campaign to suppress the Liberal vote by scattering it away from the polling booths."
When a group of voters from the six affected Ontario ridings went to federal court to challenge the results of the election, Mr Justice Mosley issued a devastating verdict, stating ...
"I am satisfied that it has been established that misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country and that the purpose of those calls was to suppress the votes of electors who had indicated their preference in response to earlier voter-identification calls."
Even so, the judge declined to order new elections.
Davies goes on to call Harper a "master tactician" which reflects his "clever and harsh" character, who has turned the democratic process into a sequence of ugly political manoeuvres that hew closely to the philosophy of American political conspirator, himself a master manipulator, Arthur Finkelstein, a senior advisor to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, and who has consulted on all five of Stephen Harper's campaigns for office.
One of Harper's allies in the 1990s, Gerry Nicholls, captured in his memoirs the special cynicism of Finkelstein's will to manipulate the electorate in his dictum: "We have to convince Canadians to drink pig's piss."
How did Harper go about achieving this far from laudable goal?
Attack ads smearing the opposition, in 1993, a focus on Liberal leader Jean Chrétien's facial disfigurement, caused by Bell's palsy, and more recently exploiting "wedge" issues that aim to alienate a section of the opposition support, such as demanding the closure of the unit where heroin addicts in Vancouver may access safe injections, not to mention descending into old-fashioned, U.S.-style pork-barrel politics — as he did prior to the August 2nd election call — pouring public money into ridings that were politically important. A Globe and Mail investigation this year found that 83% of the Harper government's new infrastructure projects had gone to the 52% of ridings that were in Conservative hands.
Once the election was called eleven weeks ago today, Stephen Harper — having stopped public funding for political parties, yielding the financial advantage to his corporate-funded Conservative party — the prime minister, when he made speeches or held photo ops avoided questions from the press, dragged out Canadian idol Wayne Gretzky — hardly a deep political thinker — to endorse the Conservative party, thereby garnering headlines and nightly television news hours coverage, microtargeted home owners with a tax break on home renovations, and when the party was slipping backwards in the polls, came up with a brilliantly successful wedge issue that devastated the New Democratic Party campaign — where Harper insisted that no Muslim woman should be allowed to take the oath of Canadian citizenship while wearing a niqab, appealing to "old stock" Canadians, who fear Muslim migrants as intruders, and liberal feminists, to whom one of Harper's ministers appealed by describing the niqab as "a medieval tribal custom that treats women as property rather than people."
For speaking up in favour of a Muslim woman's right to choose what she wears, Tom Mulcair, the leader of the New Democratic party, was punished with a disastrous collapse in his poll ratings, while Harper surged upwards.
Davies concludes his article in The Guardian, writing ...
"Harper has the natural advantage of an opposition, which is divided between Mulcair's NDP and Justin Trudeau's Liberals. He also has the advantage of what looks like a form of voter suppression which, unlike robocalls, is legal — a requirement that voters produce an official document in addition to their voter card to prove that they have a home in the riding."
"Harry Neufeld, who has been running elections in Canada since 1982, said he estimated that at least 250,000 qualified electors would be denied a vote. These are likely to be people who would not vote Conservative — students, the poor, aboriginal people."
"I believe the legal changes amount to systematic manipulation," he said. "It saddens me to see this happening in Canada. It reduces the perceived integrity of our national elections. And it damages our reputation as a country with deep democratic values."
Will Canadians elect Stephen Harper to a fourth consecutive term in office as Canada's Prime Minister, a feat not achieved since the bygone days of Liberal prime minister Sir Wilfred Laurier, at the outset of the 20th century?
Only you can reject the politics of fear and division. Only you can say to Stephen Harper, "Enough is enough!" Tomorrow the polls open in British Columbia at 7 a.m., closing 12 hours later at 7 p.m. Get out and vote.
As we have suggested previously, consult with Éric Grenier's threehundredeight.com, and make sure that you cast a ballot for the Liberal or NDP candidate in your riding who will best be able to defeat the Conservative candidate on the ballot, and put an end to heinous Canadian politics in the form of Stephen Harper.
On October 19th make your voice heard. Tell Harper, Enough is enough!
October 17, 2015
The notable figure in the Nanos Research poll above is not the fact that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals maintain a near seven-point lead over the fusty, Canadians ain't gonna be returning 'em to office Stephen Harper-led Conservatives, but at 22.6% in the polls, the utter collapse of the New Democratic Party campaign, not just in the waning days of the 42nd federal campaign for national office, but over the course of the past seven weeks.
Today on VanRamblings, a glancing blow at just what happened to the New Democrats this past 76 days, why Tom Mulcair and the NDP seem to have lost favour with the voting public, and how it is that Canadians no longer see the New Democratic Party of Canada as the agents of change party, but rather a national political party promising more of the same old, same old.
If you ask Rick Salutin, current Toronto Star columnist, longtime Globe and Mail columnist, and for more than 40 years the authoritative voice of the left in Canada, Mr. Salutin would chock the NDP campaign collapse up to Tom Mulcair's and the New Democratic Party's essential mean-spiritedness, a lack of respect for Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal party, and a neoliberal NDP campaign that pitched to right, promising a succession of balanced budgets and a social and economic plan that would take at least ten years to implement, and would require the uncertain support of the provincial and territorial premiers from sea to sea to shining sea.
"Justin Trudeau has withstood a pummeling that wasted the two previous Liberal leaders so badly that each broke down publicly during their campaign under the scorn and humiliation. Trudeau survived and overcame. You wanted a narrative?" writes Salutin.
"A major weapon was referring to him only as Justin, as if he was nine. Sort of first-naming and shaming. Thomas Mulcair of course was Mr. Mulcair, like your math teacher. This may have overreached. 'He's 43! barked a high school student I know, as if nothing more needed saying. Forty-three is senior enough for anyone under that age."
"Mulcair could have expressed revulsion at the scuzzy tone of the assaults on Trudeau, which I think would have been politically astute. Instead he piled on, calling Trudeau, 'Justin', in the debates and running ads saying 'I'm ready,' which made him sound like Harper's poodle. It was a sad denouement for someone who'd made many forceful sallies against Harper during Question Period — though it's richly dramatic in terms of plot line. It reached a nadir at the Munk debate when Mulcair said Trudeau needs others to write his lines for him — even though Mulcair himself has clearly been coached on how to behave and which level to calibrate his smile at. Trudeau replied that we've had 10 years of personal slurs from Harper and we don't need more."
"I fully expect the Liberals to screw us over if they win. Liberals always break your heart after the election. It's conventionally known as running from the left and governing from the right. The NDP, on the other hand, has taken to breaking our hearts before the election."
While Justin Trudeau appealed to the angels of Canadians' better nature, in what appears less than 48 hours before election day to be a winning campaign of hope that will see him become Canada's next Prime Minister, Mr. Mulcair piled onto Harper's campaign, aimed at the annihilation of the Liberal leader — in 2015, Canadians have clearly had enough of the politics of personal destruction, as the Tory campaign has engaged in divisiveness and the politics of xenophobia and racist provocation, while Mulcair, and the New Democrats, has continued to rely on the Just Not Ready narrative.
Then there's the listless, too-safe-by-far and, at least of late, unfocused nature of the New Democratic Party campaign, with NDP leader Tom Mulcair no longer seen as the effective and necessary agent of change, waging an uninspiring protean and prosaic campaign that seems only to say to Canadians, "Well, gosh, we're just darn better than the other guys."
Honestly, what is the real difference between the Liberal and New Democratic Party campaign platforms? Mr. Trudeau has made a more compelling and — and as left-wing gadfly and columnist Terry Glavin writes in his Ottawa Citizen column — more rousing argument for change ...
"You don't have to drill down through the finer points of the NDP and Liberal campaign platforms to notice that the few substantial differences in their economic and spending policies can be read in such a way as to situate the Liberals to the left of the NDP. The foreign policy and domestic policy notes on everybody's election concertinas are in the same key. Terrorism, citizenship revocation, niqabs, trade policy, Syrian refugees and the parties' tireless wooing of ethnic votes have ended up being at least as entertaining as the competing bread and butter tunes all three parties were hoping to play. But between Mulcair and Trudeau, it's Trudeau's renditions that are proving the most rousing."
Glavin then goes on to write about Trudeau's inspiring leadership ...
"While Mulcair gives the impression of mostly being aggravated by the Conservatives' deucedly fiendish campaign chess moves, Trudeau relishes the fight, insisting that what is at stake are inviolable frontiers that decent societies must never allow to be crossed. Hallowed boundaries circle the dignity of the individual and the rights of citizenship, Trudeau will tell you, and fleeting assumptions about the civic good or national security, no matter how popular, must not be permitted to trespass across them."
"That's the sterner stuff of liberal idealism. It is a devil of a thing to champion effectively at the best of times, but it is the difficult philosophical standpoint that Trudeau has been most vigorously and extemporaneously defending. What does Mulcair stand for again? What does Harper stand for?"
While it is true that Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats have not necessarily made any discernible faux pas during the course of the 42nd national election campaign, Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party of Canada have failed to galvanize their initial support as the best alternative to a tired and out of touch Conservative Party — which is too bad, really.
For, make no mistake, Tom Mulcair and the New Democrats — even given the lacklustre nature of their campaign, and their utter failure to inspire the imaginations of Canadians on the topic of a fairer Canada — remain the singular party of principle on the national scene, the one federal and provincial political party that will always, always, always support and further the aspirations of working Canadians for a better future for themselves and for their families, and in the process ... a better Canada.
On Monday, October 19th make your voice heard. As we've written previously, consult with Éric Grenier's threehundredeight.com, and make sure that you cast a ballot for the Liberal or NDP candidate in your riding who will best be able to defeat the Conservative candidate on the ballot.
October 16, 2015
Make no mistake: this is a change election.
On Monday, October 19th, Canadians will likely elect a minority Liberal government to Ottawa, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives will be relegated to official opposition (the consequence of which will see Harper step down as Tory leader in the days following Monday's election), Tom Mulcair and the NDP — whose popularity has recovered somewhat in recent days — will return, in Canada's 43rd Parliament, to their traditional third party status, maintaining in the neighbourhood of 85 seats (which is to say, more than five times as many seats as the NDP held at the federal level only a decade ago), as Canadians once again reclaim our traditional values of respect for cultural differences, and a commitment to social justice.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, more than 3.6 million Canadians cast a ballot at one of the hundreds of advance polls across our land — fully one-quarter of all voters who cast a ballot in 2011, and almost double the number of voters who cast a ballot in the advance polls in the previous election — as change for the better was on their mind.
In 2015, Canada will move inexorably forward. If you haven't voted already, make damn sure that you get out to vote on Monday, October 19th. Only you can help to make change happen.
Make your voice heard. Consult with Éric Grenier's threehundredeight.com, and vote for the Liberal or NDP candidate in your riding who will best be able to defeat the loathsome, heinous Conservative candidate on the ballot.
October 15, 2015
VanRamblings believes that the various polling companies — in suggesting that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada maintain a seven-plus-point lead over Stephen Harper — have understated support for Mr. Trudeau and the Liberals, and that in fact, on October 19th the Liberal Party could very well emerge with a majority government of more than 170 Members of Parliament in a rejuvenated and much changed nation's capital.
Pollster Quito Maggi, CEO of Mainstreet Public Research — which predicted the NDP's orange crush in Alberta earlier this year — told The National Observer's Fram Dinshaw in an article published yesterday that ...
"It's just a matter of how big the momentum is for the next few days, it could end up in a landslide relative to what we've seen for the majority of this campaign, which was a three-way deadlock."
According to Mainstreet's polling data, the Liberals are surging across Ontario's vast heartland, with current support for the party pegged at 47 per cent of the electorate to only 30 per cent support for the Tories, while Tom Mulcair's New Democrats lag far behind at just 18 per cent support.
More worryingly for Stephen Harper's Conservatives, the Liberals are surging in Toronto's suburban 905 ridings, as the NDP collapse has handed the anti-Harper vote straight to the Grits, in a vote that is no longer split.
"Right now everything that's happening nationwide is being confirmed by what's happening in individual ridings," said Maggi. "If things continue moving in the direction that they've been going, the eventual outcome is a Liberal majority. It still has to move a few more points."
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, a record 507,920 British Columbians cast a ballot at the advance polls — a whopping 96% increase over 2011, when 259,278 eligible voters in B.C. cast advance ballots — indicating not only almost certain change in government at the federal level come October 19th, but generational change, unlike anything Canadians have witnessed in almost 50 years, dating back to 1968 when Pierre Elliott Trudeau swept to power in an overwhelming victory that proved near revolutionary.
In exit interviews conducted by the three main parties outside the advance polling stations, recorded data indicates that almost 60% of those casting a ballot were in the 18-44 age group, which suggests much greater involvement by the millennial generation in the 2015 election over 2011, when only 38.6% of voters aged 18-44 voted in the previous election.
All you needed to do was look around at the number of baby buggies and strollers, the number of young children running around along the polling lines hour upon hour, with their parents lined up leading up to the table where voters were issued their ballot — there was a new and vital energy at the polling stations, consisting not just of the parents of these young children, but of the children themselves, who represented a new electorate of future engaged citizens, an electorate of families of every description.
In 2015, in order to make polling results more accurate, pollsters are "weighting" published poll results over raw data returns, correlating past voting behaviour with current voting intention.
Given that roughly four out of ten voters aged 18-44 voted in the 2011 election, only four tenths of raw data collected for the 18-44 age group are factored into published poll results. Meanwhile, more than 70% of voters in the 55-80 age group cast a ballot in 2011; the weight given the voter intention of seniors by pollsters is counted at a much greater seven tenths.
If, in fact, as this past weekend's advance polling station exit interviews would indicate that almost 60% of voters age 18-44 will in fact cast a ballot in 2015, pollsters have been woefully understating current voting intentions for the millennial generation, exit interviewees indicating to enumerators that they had cast ballots in overwhelming numbers for the Liberal party.
The Liberal Party of Canada have momentum on their side, as Justin Trudeau's message of hope — very similar to the campaign of hope waged by Barack Obama in 2008 — appears to be resonating with a broad cross-section of the voting electorate. Even if Stephen Harper successfully manages to dampen the prospects of a surging Trudeau campaign, it would only mean that most of the 70 per cent or so of Canadians desiring a change in government would cast a ballot for a party other than the Tories.
As of today, according to CBC pollster Éric Grenier at his poll amalgamation site threehundredeight.com, the Liberals are now leading in 15 seats in British Columbia, 10 seats across the three Prairie provinces, an astounding 68 seats in Ontario, 24 seats in Québec, and 27 seats in the Maritimes and the Territories, for a potential total of 144 seats in Canada's 43rd Parliament, up eight seats today over yesterday, as the wave of support for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada continues unabated.
According to Mainstreet's Quito Maggi, traditional New Democratic Party voters in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia who supported their provincial NDP branches abandoned the federal party as it pitched right, as the Liberals wooed them over with its resurgent progressive messaging.
"By taking that vote for granted and tacking right and trying to outflank Trudeau on those economic issues they lost their base on the left, and by the time Mulcair and the NDP realized that and tacked back left it was too late," says Maggi.
Maggi goes on to report that Mainstreet Public Research polling results indicate that the Liberals have enjoyed access to a large pool of such traditional NDP voters, as 55% of New Democrat respondents have indicated they were prepared to vote for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party in the 2015 federal election, a troubling development for the NDP.
While the 70 per cent of Canadian voters wanting change would now appear to be flocking en masse to the Liberal tent — and may yet prove to be Stephen Harper's worst nightmare on Monday evening, October 19th — the Conservatives retain their core, right-wing Reform-Alliance support base of roughly 30% who, despite all, remain loyal to the slumping Tories.
October 14, 2015
We live in a time of some great social and political turbulence.
War in the Middle East plagues the world. A renewed Cold War heats up between a crippled Russian bear, and a United States in turmoil (Donald Trump running for President? ... make no mistake, the U.S. is in trouble).
At home, Canadians have experienced 10 lost years at the malevolent hand of our homegrown dictator, Stephen Harper: the economy roils with anxiety, record numbers of families are in distress as child poverty grips our land, environmental concerns remain a sour afterthought, and only days away deliverance beckons as but a forlorn hope for an uncertain — but let us hold out for all our sakes, a buoyant and aspirational — future.
For the progressive forces of change, let us take joy where we may find it.
On October 19th, amidst the maelstrom, there are some joyous certainties:
- Next Monday, the Liberals and the New Democrats will triumph in upwards of five ridings out of 34 in Alberta, a formerly true blue bastion for the federal Conservatives. Political strategists and MPs told The Hill Times that in the current tight, three-way election national campaign, the Liberals and the NDP have a realistic shot at making gains in the Edmonton and Calgary-area ridings. The Liberals and the NDP will win the Edmonton-area ridings of Edmonton Centre, Edmonton Griesbach and Edmonton Strathcona, while Calgary Centre, Calgary Confederation and Calgary Skyview will go to the Liberals.
- More than two and a half dozen incumbent Conservative MPs are certain to go down to defeat on October 19th, including: Jay Aspin (Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont.), Ryan Leef (Yukon), Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver, BC), Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, Ont.), Jacques Gourde (Levis-Lotbiniere, Que.), Chungsen Leung (Willowdale, Ont.), Kerry-Lynne Findlay (Delta, BC), Lawrence Toet (Elmwood-Transcona, Man.), Chungsen Leung (Willowdale, Ont.), Wai Young (Vancouver South, BC), John Carmichael (Don Valley West, Ont.), John Duncan (Courtenay-Alberni, BC), Joe Daniel (Don Valley North, Ont.), Roxanne James (Scarborough Centre, Ont.), Peter Braid (Waterloo, Ont.), John Weston (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country, BC), Peter Braid (Waterloo, Ont.), Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, Man.), Bernard Trottier (Etobicoke Lakeshore, Ont.), Stephen Woodworth (Kitchener Centre, Ont.), Susan Truppe (London North Center, Ont.), Royal Galipeau (Orléans, Ont.), Bryan Hayes (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.), Joan Crockatt (Calgary Centre, AB), Joe Daniel (Don Valley North, Ont.), Keith Ashfield (Fredericton, NB), Scott Armstrong (Cumberland-Colchester, NS), and Parm Gill (Brampton North, Ont.).
In addition, five Tory cabinet ministers are set to go down to defeat: Finance Minister Joe Oliver (Toronto Eglinton-Lawrence), Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls), Minister of State (Science and Technology) Ed Holder (London West), Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq (Nunavit), and best of all, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander (Ajax), who angered so many Canadians for his role in the Syrian refugee tragedy.
In these waning days of the 2015 federal election campaign, the ride continues to be dizzying, the leaders full-throated, the outcome uncertain, but at least we can take some solace in the knowledge that Stephen Harper will lose more than 20% of his certain-to-be-defeated caucus.
Here are the updated poll results from Nanos Research — conducted for the CTV and the Globe and Mail — and Éric Grenier's CBC Polltracker, which today projects a 136-seat minority for the Liberal Party of Canada.
October 13, 2015
Although pollster Michael Marzolini states to War Room writer Warren Kinsella in an October 12th article in The Hill Times that support for the Conservatives is "extremely understated", that although support for the Conservatives is ...
"very weak among young voters, and amongst all the demographics that don't tend to vote, in hard numbers, when one factors in that Conservative support is almost exclusively among high turnout groups, including seniors (whose turnout rate is almost double that of voters aged 18-44)", at which point in the article, Mr. Marzolini ..."
... goes on to predict 37% Conservative support on election night, October 19th, to 32% support for the Liberals and 27% support for the New Democrats, VanRamblings will take as an article of faith that the Forum Research, Nanos Research, Angus Reid and the plethora of other reputable polling companies cannot possibly be understating support for the Conservatives by 9%, and that the distinguished Mr. Marzolini is dreaming in technicolour, and that next Monday, we will in fact elect a minority Liberal government. VanRamblings will proceed today to post about what the election of a Liberal government to Ottawa will mean for all Canadians across our land. In the meantime, we would plead with you to get out to vote, in order to stave off the potential for a soul destroying Tory victory.
Moving Canadian seniors out of poverty. A central tenet of the Liberal platform involves increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors by $750 million annually, to lift more than 650,000 Canadian seniors out of poverty. The Liberals would also cancel the Conservative plan to increase OAS eligibility age to 67. In addition, Mr. Trudeau has stated that he would hold a First Ministers Conference with all of Canada's Premiers, and that he is open to the position taken by the Premier's Conference that over the next eight years, Canada would move to ensure that no senior would live on less than $2000 a month in pension benefits.
Boosting youth employment. Youth unemployment is nearly twice the national average. A Liberal government will put in place a Youth Hiring Incentive for small and medium sized businesses: they'll pay no Employment Insurance premiums for any Canadian youth they hire. More importantly, perhaps, the Liberals will provide up to $100 million a year to create more than 40,000 jobs, paid internships and co-op placements for youth over four years, as well as spend $1.5 billion over four years on a youth job strategy to help 125,000 young people find a job.
In addition, the Liberals will create a Prime Minister's Youth Advisory Council, consisting of young Canadians aged 16 to 24, to provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister on issues facing the country.
Funding affordable and co-operative housing. For those who live in the more than 2,000 housing co-ops in Canada, housing greater than 111,000 Canadians, a renewal of the $2 billion subsidy for tens of thousands of Canadians requiring a subsidy on their housing charge is absolutely mandatory; the Liberal party has made that commitment, the Conservative party — who have the worst record on housing of any Canadian government in the 148-year history of our nation — has not.
One can check which Liberal, or NDP, candidate will best be able to defeat the Conservative candidate in your riding by consulting Éric Grenier's threehundredeight.com — you can take it as gospel that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives are not on your side.
What other changes will a Liberal government in Ottawa bring about that will serve the interests of the broadest cross-section of Canadians?
- Unlike Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister will hold regular meetings with the Premiers to discuss and come up with resolutions to the important social, political and environmental issues of the day;
- No longer will Canadians be subject to an imperial Prime Minister's Office, with decisions taken in secret, and forced upon Canadians without consultation with Members of Parliament, or Canadians across our land;
- As has always been the case under Liberal regimes, a Liberal government will have strong, independently-minded Ministers of Government — the notion of an imperial PMO will thankfully be off the table, once and for all;
- The Liberal party will reverse corporate tax cuts, which will serve to plough more than $5.2-billion annually into the Canadian economy;
- Liberal immigration policy will focus on family reunification, doubling the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents to 10,000 each year; in addition, there will be a change to the rules allowing spouses immigrating to Canada to receive immediate permanent residency, eliminating the current two-year waiting period.
- Liberals will provide $380 million in additional funding for the arts, as well as undo Conservative funding cuts to the CBC;
- Liberals will reduce wait times for a first EI payment to one week from two. In addition, Liberals will implement a new six-month family care employment insurance benefit similar to the EI parental leave benefit;
- As every knows, the Liberal party will both, initially, decriminalize use of marijuana in Canada, and present legislation to Parliament that will legalize the administration and use of marijuana across our country.
The entire Liberal party platform is available here.
Perhaps the single most despicable act of the Stephen Harper Tories involves sending Canadians troops into harm's way — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Syria, and other war torn parts of the world — and upon arriving home from the theatres of war, denying our injured troops pensions, health programmes and support, cruelly leaving our veterans and their families to fend for themselves. One is left to wonder how Stephen Harper, the members of his party, and those who would deign to vote for the Conservatives manage to sleep at night knowing of the tragedies that have been created by their heartless, penny-pinching Tory administration.
Let's be clear: Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada will re-establish lifelong pensions for our injured veterans, as well as increase the value of the disability award; Liberals will invest $25 million to expand access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance; invest $40 million to increase the Earnings Loss Benefit to 90 percent of pre-release salary; invest $80 million per year to create a new Veterans Education Benefit (in the U.S., it's call the "GI Plan") that will provide full support for the cost of up to four years of college, university, or technical education; invest $100 million per year to expand support for families of veterans; and, re-open the 9 Veterans Affairs service offices closed by the Harper Conservatives.
The choice is clear. On October 19th, 2015 Canadians of heart and conscience will vote for the candidate in their riding who will best be able to defeat the Conservative party. As it happens, if the polls are correct, in upwards of 134 ridings across Canada, the candidate who will best be able to defeat the Conservatives is the Liberal candidate in your riding.
October 12, 2015
On day seventy-two of Canada's 2015 marathon election, according to a consensus of more than 70 pollsters, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have pulled away from the pack and now have a substantial lead over both the fusty Conservative Party, and the principled but hapless New Democratic Party. One week from today, we may have a new government.
As can be seen in the latest Nanos Research Poll conducted for CTV and the Globe and Mail, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have opened an almost insurmountable seven-point lead over Stephen Harper's Regressive Conservatives, that lead in voter support finally — according to CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier's Polltracker — translating into a substantive seat count confirming a slim but workable minority government for the Liberals heading into Canada's 43rd Parliament, in the process ridding our country of the most malevolent force in federal Canadian politics in all of Canada's 148 years as a nation, not to mention the ten lost years of leadership at the federal level under a Stephen Harper-led government.
As VanRamblings posted last Tuesday, reiterated by Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith this weekend, according to Éric Grenier's threehundredeight.com, the Liberals are now leading in 14 seats across British Columbia, a rise of 12 seats over the 2011 federal election results.
"When Parliament was dissolved, the Liberals held only two B.C. seats: Vancouver Centre (Hedy Fry) and Vancouver Quadra (Joyce Murray)," writes Smith.
"The (threehundredeight.com) website has the Liberals likely or in serious contention to elect the following candidates in addition to Fry and Murray: Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville), Terry Beech (Burnaby North-Seymour), Carla Qaultrough (Delta), Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), Jonathan Wilkinson (North Vancouver), Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast), Lawrence Woo (Richmond Centre), Joe Peschisolido (Steveston-Richmond East), Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey-Newton), Ken Hardie (Fleetwood-Port Kells), and Judy Higginbotham (South Surrey-White Rock)."
Grenier currently projects 10 seats across the Prairies for the Liberals, 62 seats in Ontario (representing more than half the seats in the province), 22 seats in Québec, and 26 seats in the Maritimes and the Territories.
Across Ontario, the Liberal Party of Canada has established what can only be described as a massive lead as the ABC (Anything but Conservative) strategic vote coalesces around Justin Trudeau in response to the NDP's support evaporating in Québec, according to a survey carried out by Google Consumer Surveys and commissioned by ThinkPol.
The Liberals currently sit at a solid 45% in voter support in Ontario, followed by the Conservatives at 27%, the NDP at 24%, and the Greens at 4%. In the ThinkPol survey, the Liberals dominated both genders and all age groups except the 65 and over group, which sided with the Conservatives, who came last behind the Greens for the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups. The Liberals also led in all income groups except the $24,000 or less group, which favoured the New Democratic Party.
Support for the NDP in MetroToronto and the 905 (the suburbs surrounding Metro Toronto) has all but vanished, as committed voters have moved to the Liberals as the Anyone But Conservative party. The remaining gains for the Liberals come at the expense of dwindling support for the Tory party.
Justin Trudeau continues to make his pitch to those voters who had previously cast their ballot for Stephen Harper's Tories ...
"At a rally held earlier today in the riding of Nepean in suburban Ottawa, the Globe and Mail reports, Mr. Trudeau said 'the Tories have a proud history,' before taking shots at Mr. Harper's promise to remove the Canadian citizenship of convicted terrorists with dual nationalities."
"Most importantly, Progressive Conservatives — Tories — can be proud that their prime ministers didn't base everything on wedge politics. They didn't divide Canadians over differences of religion or citizenship. Progressive Conservative prime ministers believed that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian," Mr. Trudeau said in front of hundreds of supporters."
"The Liberal Leader said that in the past, PC governments fought against poverty and helped to improve Canada's reputation on the world stage. "Those are values that haven't disappeared, they have just disappeared from the current Conservative Party and disappeared along with anything progressive about them," he said.
Six days to go until election day Oct. 19th, the last day of advance polling in the 2015 federal election today, with the Liberals trending up daily, second wave Trudeaumania in full on mode as VanRamblings wrote on September 30th, when we first predicted a minority government for Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada and, finally, an end to the politics of division, and the election of a Canadian government that will reclaim the values that all of us who call our nation home may, once again, be proud.
October 6, 2015
VanRamblings does not live for film alone, for there is a critically important federal election going on, that we've somehow managed to follow with alacrity. So, it's back to writing about the 34th annual Vancouver International Film Festival tomorrow, and a column today as to why it is necessary to — 13 days out from Canada's 42nd federal election — give serious thought to voting Liberal in key ridings across Canada, even if it costs seats to the New Democratic Party or Elizabeth May's Green party.
Make no mistake, VanRamblings is a dyed-in-the-wool Dipper, always have been, always will be (we believe in the fundamental maxim, "Ya dance with the one that brung ya."). Even so, in this too-close-for-comfort election, it is necessary to cast a ballot for the party that has the best chance of defeating Stephen "I'm a xenophobic, fear-mongering racist" Harper, and that party would be the Liberal Party of Canada, and the first-rate, should win candidate running for the Liberal party in your home riding (at least in close races, anyway — and, please, do vote NDP where that party is way ahead, or vote Green where it won't make a darn bit of difference to the outcome of the election — otherwise, vote Liberal, vote Liberal, vote Liberal).
The 2015 national election is not about voting with your heart, but is all about ridding Canada of the most malevolent national political force ever to take office at the federal level, in the 148-year history of our glorious land.
As VanRamblings predicted last week, second wave Trudeaumania has gripped the nation as — according to CTV and pollster Nik Nanos — Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party have gained one point in the polls each day since that column was published, catapulting from 29.3% support to the 35.6% support you see in the three-day rolling poll results above. Meanwhile, the NDP would appear to have dropped out of serious contention for government, losing 12 points in the Nanos poll over that same period, plummeting from 34.6% support to the paltry 22.8% above.
Unfortunately for Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal Party, the much-increased support of Canadians for the Liberal plan, and the Liberal leader, has failed to properly and fortuitously translate into the necessary projected seat count increase in the upcoming 43rd Canadian Parliament, a seat count that will ensure the defeat of Stephen Harper and the (not progressive, but regressive, George Bush-like) Conservative party.
Only 9 more projected seats than the Conservatives when the Liberal Party has a 4.6% polling advantage? Clearly, the Liberal Party has some work to do to convince an increasing number of Canadians that it is the Liberal Party alone, that can defeat Stephen Harper on election day, Monday, Oct. 19th. Consult 308.com to see which candidates are doing well in your riding.
In British Columbia's 1996 provincial election, Gordon Campbell's Liberal party garnered 41.82% of the popular vote to the NDP's 39.45%, yet the NDP gained a majority in the BC Legislature, winning 39 seats to the Liberals' 33 seats. On the national level in 2015, Canadians cannot allow a similar scenario to play out in the current federal election.
In British Columbia in 2015, all 13 of the winnable Liberal seats must, in fact, go to the Liberals. As we've written previously, there are half a dozen BC ridings that are a lock for the Liberals (Vancouver Quadra, Vancouver Centre, Vancouver South, North Vancouver, Surrey-Newton, Vancouver-Sunshine Coast) but, if the Liberals are to form government in the next Parliament, the Liberal party will need to take the winnable seats of Vancouver-Granville, Surrey-White Rock, Delta, Steveston-Richmond East, Fleetwood-Port Kells, Richmond Centre, and Burnaby-North Seymour.
At the moment, Eric Grenier's threehundredeight.com projects 12 seats across the Prairies for the Liberals, 51 seats in Ontario (which will have to climb to 60, representing half the seats in the province), 20 seats in Québec, and 26 seats, or better, in the Maritimes and the Territories.
Despite the late election Trudeaumania wave, the seat projections above represent a best case scenario for the Liberals, and even if the projections above prove accurate, the Liberals will end up electing only 131 members to Parliament, for the slimmest possible minority government.
Contrary to the ads the Conservative party has run ad nauseum the past couple of years that Justin Trudeau is "not ready", if you've seen Mr. Trudeau on the hustings, in the debates, and on the nightly news television clips, it is clear to any thinking, rational human being that Justin Trudeau, and the Liberal Party, are indeed ready to form government, and that the ads are so much codswallop. Co-operating with the NDP post election night, together the two progressive parties at the federal level will work to undo the damage of Canada's lost years under the mean-spirited, not on your side, secretive and corrupt Stephen Harper-led government in Ottawa.
VanRamblings would have preferred a Tom Mulcair-led New Democratic Party government in Ottawa — but that ain't gonna happen, folks. Let's be clear about what's at stake in this election, which is — in case you didn't realize it — the very soul of our nation, and any notion of responsible government that serves the interests of the broadest cross-section of Canadians, on all of the important issues of the day, ranging from health care to affordable housing, to upholding the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the consequent respect for the 9 Justices who sit on the Supreme Court of Canada (a respect Stephen Harper has sorely lacked), and the building of a full-employment economy that will allow our nation to once again thrive, as it had prior to the election of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister, and as it will again under the leadership of Justin Pierre James Trudeau, held to account by Mr. Mulcair & the federal New Democratic Party.
September 30, 2015
In every election, there's a turning point, a moment in time that becomes indelible in the Canadian political consciousness, and that moment occurred on Monday evening at the Munk Debate in Toronto, when Justin Pierre James Trudeau emerged, once and for all, as the Canadian federal political leader for a new millennium, and when we came to see Stephen Harper's churlish tenure as Prime Minister for what it always was: an aberration, a political history Canadians will not reflect kindly upon in the years to come.
Fifty-eight days into Canada's 42nd federal election campaign, federal Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau has finally found his voice, and is uttering the language of hope Canadians most want to hear ...
"I am my father's son. I stand for the same values and principles for which my father stood. Make no mistake, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms remains a central feature of my father's legacy, as does a multicultural Canada and respect for diversity. Not to mention, it was my father who lowered the voting age from 21 to 18, sought to keep government out of the bedrooms of the nation, extended Canada's territorial waters to 200 miles, and with the passage of the Canada Health Act restricted provinces from privatizing health care."
Make no mistake, Pierre Elliott Trudeau is a beloved Canadian political figure.
When Tom Mulcair invoked the memory of the War Measures Act, Justin Trudeau turned the tables on the NDP leader for one of the night's most memorable moments, as he embraced his father's record in a way he'd not done previously. Pointing out that it was the anniversary of Pierre Trudeau's death may have been unfair, since it's unlikely Mr. Mulcair had any idea when he negatively invoked his memory, but it was effective — and so wounded the NDP leader and his party that the NDP will not recover from the gaffe.
Meanwhile, a wearied Stephen Harper appeared as a vacant vessel on the Munk Debate stage, an uncomfortable and discomfiting old man who wished on this night of change that he could be anywhere else but on that stage.
All Politics is Local
Now that Justin Trudeau has emerged as the electable, popular and populist agent of change on Canada's federal political scene, the impact for Conservative and New Democratic party candidates across Canada may be seen as, at best, prejudiced.
In British Columbia, Liberal "bubble" candidates may very well carry the day: it is entirely likely Terry Beech will emerge as the winning candidate in Burnaby-North Seymour, Judy Higginbotham could well take Surrey-White Rock from former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, lawyer Carla Qualtrough could win Delta for the Liberals, Translink public affairs manager Ken Hardie could come from behind for a win in Fleetwood-Port Kells, Lawrence Wells' prospects in Richmond Centre all of a sudden look much better, as is the case with Jody Wilson-Raybould in Vancouver Granville and Joe Peschisolido in Steveston-Richmond East, while Jonathan Wilkinson in North Vancouver appears primed to take that seat in a walk, as is the case with Sukh Dhaliwal in Surrey-Newton, Canadian Armed Forces Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver South, and Pamela Goldsmith-Jones in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky, not to mention Liberal incumbents Joyce Murray in Vancouver Quadra and Dr. Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre, for whom electoral support is rock solid. All told, potentially winning Liberal candidates in B.C. constitute the lucky 13, for a 650% increase over 2011.
Canadians are about to witness, and be participants in, a generational change in political leadership in Ottawa, a dramatic political transformation that will see the influence of baby boomers give way to a younger and more vibrantly alive, alert and attuned millennial generation, all the members of which have very different ways of seeing the world, connecting and working.
In Canada, we are about to come out of a decade of lost leadership.
In Justin Trudeau, over the course of the next 19 days, Canadians will increasingly come to realize that it is Mr. Trudeau who offers change and hope for Canada's future, and a new political vision founded in a higher sense of ethics and values, a new generation who will bring along with them new perspectives and ideas, and the energy and boldness to achieve them.
For the first time in almost 50 years, even in this cynical unforgiving age of ours, Canadians are about to be party to a dynamic, engaging and contemporary manifestation of Trudeaumania, and a hope for Canada's future that is one based on generosity and reason, fairness and social justice, wisdom and security. In twenty days, on election day, Monday, October 19th, a record number of millennials will take to the polls, in the process transforming Canada into what once was, and can be again.
September 10, 2015
For those who may not realize this fact: VanRamblings is a partisan blog.
Although we have friends in all of the federal political parties — and respect their individual right to support the party, and candidates, of their choosing — VanRamblings remains firmly in the tank for the NDP, believing as we do that it is Tom Mulcair's federal New Democratic Party that will provide the best government for all the people of Canada going forward into the future.
Today's column, then, offers an explanation of where VanRamblings' support arises, the issues about which we are most passionate, and how it is that the NDP — and Tom Mulcair's New Democrats alone — present the opportunity for meaningful change, change that will impact on the quality of life of all Canadians, in the process creating a fairer & more just society.
1. Affordable housing, social housing, and housing co-operatives. Housing co-operatives are a made-in-Canada solution to social and affordable housing, a creation of the defacto 1972-74 Trudeau Liberal — David Lewis NDP "coalition": self-administered, not-for-profit housing residents actually own (although residents must sell their unit back to the Co-operative should they move), where members pay no more than 35% of their income for housing, where one-third of members receive a deep subsidy on the low-end market housing rate, one-third receive a partial subsidy, and one-third of residents pay a low-end market housing charge.
Early on in Campaign 2015, the federal NDP committed to renewing the Canada Mortgage and Housing operating agreements that govern housing co-operatives, providing subsidy for members in need; without implementation of this New Democratic Party commitment, thousands of Canadians risk being thrown out onto the street — a Conservative party eventuality Canadians of conscience cannot allow to occur.
VanRamblings wrote about housing co-operatives during 2014's Vancouver municipal election; as background on the history and contribution of housing co-operatives to our community, the column is worth a read.
2. Lifting our seniors out of poverty. Statistics Canada data shows that 12 percent of seniors live in poverty, amounting to almost 600,000 people. Seniors living alone are particularly hard pressed financially, with more than 1 in 4 single seniors, most of whom are women, living in poverty. Twelve million working Canadians do not have workplace pension plans; Canadians are increasingly unable to save sufficiently for their own retirement.
Tom Mulcair's New Democratic Party has committed to boosting the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) by $400 million annually, a necessary step that will lift seniors out of poverty. "No one should have to grow old in poverty, insecurity or isolation," Mulcair has said. "The NDP will ensure that all seniors live with dignity, with the care and support of all Canadians."
3. Creating a North American environmental policy. From the outset of the current federal election campaign, Tom Mulcair and the NDP have made it clear that this December at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, working with President Obama, the two nations will present a unified North American environment and climate change policy that will not only cut greenhouse gas omissions, but as well ...
- Adopt tougher rules that will work to help prevent oil spills;
- Adopt a pan-continent cap-and-trade mechanism to fight climate change;
- Seize new opportunities for clean energy that will effectively cut carbon pollution, reduces risks to our communities and coastlines, and establish an assessment and review process that Canadians can put their trust in once and for all;
- Invest in clean energy over subsidizing fossil fuel;
- Implement a 'polluter pays' principle; and ...
- Address the issue of the transportation of dangerous goods, and boost the government's preparedness for "a major environmental disaster." Citing the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, Tom Mulcair said "it's time we had rail safety standards that Canadians can trust."
As the Québec Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks from 2003 until 2006, in the Liberal government of Premier Jean Charest, Tom Mulcair launched Québec's Sustainable Development Plan, tabling a draft bill on November 25, 2004. Also included was a proposed amendment to the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms to create a new right, the right to live in a healthy environment that respects biodiversity, in accordance with the guidelines and standards set out in the Act.
Tom Mulcair's Sustainable Development Plan was based on the successful European model and was described as the most progressive environmental policy in North America. Following a 21-city public consultation tour across the province, Tom Mulcair's Sustainable Development Act was unanimously adopted by the National Assembly of Québec, in April 2006.
4. Decriminalization of marijuana. On October 20th, should the New Democratic Party become the government of Canada, as Prime Minister-elect Tom Mulcair will sign an order-in-council that will immediately decriminalize the use of marijuana across Canada; further, Tom Mulcair has said that by Christmas 2015, all Canadians currently serving prison sentences for simple pot possession will be released from incarceration.
Since the Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, the Conservatives have slammed the door on the previous government's plans to reduce or decriminalize marijuana penalties; arrests for pot possession have jumped 41 per cent. In the past 10 years, police report more than 650,000 marijuana-related arrests, roughly equivalent to the population of Coquitlam, Burnaby, New Westminster, Port Moody, Bowen Island, Abbotsford, Duncan, Courtenay, Fort St. John, Nelson, Creston, Vernon and Oliver, British Columbia combined.
Justin Trudeau's Liberals propose to legalize marijuana in Canada, which would engender an arduous and cumbersome multi-year legislative and administrative process that in all likelihood would never pass Parliament, or be accepted by the provinces. As is most often the case, Liberals promise a great deal during an election, but deliver on very little once in government.
Drug legalization and decriminalization are not the same thing. In the case of marijuana, decriminalization would remove the criminal and monetary penalty for possessing it for personal use, but dealing the plant could still land you in jail. On the other hand, legalization would remove criminal penalty and implement control and distribution by the government. There is no country across the planet that has legalized drugs altogether, whereas many countries have successfully implemented marijuana decriminalization.
5. Implement proportional representation in the 2019 election. Early on in a Tom Mulcair-led New Democratic Party government, the NDP would introduce legislation that would implement proportional representation, rather than the current "first past the post" electoral system, for the 2019 federal election. The graphic above offers evidence as to what Parliament would have looked like after the 2011 election had proportional representation been in place. Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has not introduced, and passed, such legislation.
6. Repeal Bill C-51. On February 23, 2015, the Stephen Harper Conservative government introduced Bill C-51 — The Anti-Terrorism Act — which passed second reading in the House of Commons with a vote of 176-87, all members of both the Liberal and Conservative parties voting in favour. Only Tom Mulcair's New Democratic Party held out, all NDP MPs voting against a bill that could be used to target environmental activists and aboriginal protesters, or any other form of protest without an official permit or court order. An RCMP report names Greenpeace in language that would permit the Canadian government to act against this respected Canadian-founded, now international environmental organization.
In a column published in the Globe and Mail on March 6th of this year, Daniel Therrien, Canada's federal Privacy Commissioner, wrote that the bill fails to protect the safety and privacy of Canadians, granting excessive and unprecedented powers to government departments and agencies, "opening the door to collecting, analyzing and potentially keeping forever the personal information of all Canadians," including every instance of "a person's tax information, personal business and vacation travel."
Only a Tom Mulcair-led New Democratic Party government would repeal Bill C-51, while implementing new security legislation that would protect the valued privacy interests of Canadians while keeping all Canadians safe.
7. Reinstate the long-form census. The elimination of the mandatory long form census by Stephen Harper's government represents one of the most regressive pieces of legislation passed by the Conservatives since they were first elected in 2006, compromising the ability of the private sector and government to plan for the needs of Canadians.
Business organizations — you know, such well-renowned left-wing organizations as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Economics Association, Martin Prosperity Institute, both the Vancouver and Toronto Region Boards of Trade, Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Association of Business Economics — have told the government that the elimination of the mandatory long form census, "makes it harder to pinpoint trends such as income inequality, immigrant outcomes in the jobs market, labour shortages and demographic shifts." Businesses say it's become harder to know where to locate stores, tailor marketing and understand local markets. Meanwhile, Crown corporations and private-sector companies cannot properly predict labour market trends and housing demand.
Robert Fairholm, a respected economist and partner at the Milton, Ontario-based Centre for Spatial Economics continues to express concern about the elimination of the mandatory long form census, stating ...
"We need good data. It's a multibillion-dollar mistake to eliminate the good quality long-form census, the decision serving only to create uncertainties and distortions in the Canadian market ... I think of these data as a public good ... that provides a benefit to all Canadians, either directly or indirectly."
We are losing a generation of data in terms of understanding and addressing labour market and other issues, as we hobble researchers and policymakers; it's disastrous for the economy, and an outrage for all of us.
8. Honour our veterans. Over the past 10 years, first under Jack Layton, and for the past four years under Tom Mulcair, the New Democratic Party has consistently urged Stephen Harper's Conservatives to recognize its obligation to past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces, believing that a covenant exists between the Canadian people and the government to provide equitable financial compensation and support services to past and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have been disabled or have died as a result of military service, and to their dependents, which the government is obligated to fulfill.
"Canadians recognize there is a moral, social, legal and fiduciary obligation to care for the men and women who have bravely served in Canada's military," says NDP MP Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam). "We are ready to demonstrate our commitment to stand for veteran's rights."
With egregious mean-spiritedness, Stephen Harper's Conservatives have eliminated pensions for returning soldiers in need, instead offering a one-time payment of $40,000. The Conservatives closed veteran's offices across Canada, and virtually eliminated support services for soldiers returning from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the Tories finally capitulating to public outrage by offering veterans $50 million in support services — it took the CBC to discover that the $50 million would by doled out at the rate of $1 million dollars per year over fifty years!
As NDP Veteran's Affairs critic Peter Stoffer told the House of Commons ...
"All political parties voted for the New Veterans Charter in 2005, the Conservatives' implementation of the charter has short-changed essential pension and support services that veterans have earned and rightfully deserve. Denying our obligation to veterans is not only shameful, it is unacceptable."
Only Tom Mulcair's NDP has committed to widening access to quality home care, long-term care and mental health care services for veterans, pensions and other vital supports, as well as the re-opening of the nine frontline Veterans Affairs offices closed by the Stephen Harper government.
9. Childcare. The NDP is the only Canadian political party that has committed to a national childcare programme; Justin Trudeau's Liberals are opposed — why would "Mr. Grew-Up-With-a-Silver-Spoon-in-his-Mouth," "Mr. I charge $20,000 for my speaking engagements, and earned $277,000 last year speaking across the country, and why wouldn't I charge, my Parliamentary salary a paltry $161,000, not enough for my wife Sophie, and my children Xavier, Hadrien and Ella-Grace, to get by on" take time to consider the plight of the tens of thousands of families who are not in the privileged economic position in which he and his family find themselves?
A national, affordable $15-a-day childcare programme is as critical to our future as are our publically-funded education and health care systems.
The Paul Martin Liberal government brought in a national childcare programme in 2005, the first national social programme in more than 40 years. Apparently, Paul Martin's "socialist" childcare programme doesn't wash with the "Justin Trudeau, I'm a pretty face, but if you tear away the façade you'll see that I'm actually Stephen Harper underneath" Liberals.
High-quality child care helps ensure healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. Children learn to socialize with other children and learn to navigate the ups and downs of peer relationships, as well as learn self-control, how to get along with others and to share.
Studies show that children in high-quality childcare scored higher on measures of academic and cognitive achievement years later as teenagers. The research is clear: the quality of early childhood experiences matter, good quality childcare helping children to thrive. Too many young children do not have the opportunity to participate in high quality child care; more than 30% enter Kindergarten vulnerable in one or more areas.
Québec's average $10-a-day child care system returns $1.05 to its government for every $1 invested, and Ottawa recovers 44 cents, even with no direct investment. More broadly, every public dollar invested in quality child care returns at least $2.54 to our overall economy — investing in child care has a bigger job multiplier effect than any other sector.
With access to affordable, quality child care, as many as 250,000 Canadian mothers will be able to enter or return to the labour force, or allow them to move from part-time or casual work to full time jobs. The NDP's $15-a-day childcare plan will also provide new and better jobs for early childhood educators, who are overwhelmingly female. Women will be better able to support their families, put their skills and talents to work and more fully participate in their communities. Their paycheques will go further, and many families will move out of poverty. The NDP's $15-a-day childcare plan will also return more than $5 billion annually in additional tax revenue paid by early childhood educators and working mothers.
September 8, 2015
The prayers of the 70% of Canadians who wish to see the back end of the most mean-spirited government in Canadian history are, daily, being answered as Stephen Harper's nasty and inept Conservative party lurches from one misstep, blunder and scandal to another, offering solace to all those in Canada with a beating heart, and a dedication to social justice.
Over the course of the 78-day election campaign — the longest campaign for government in modern Canadian history — from campaign's outset on August 2nd, until now, Stephen Harper and his federal Conservative party have found themselves, day after day, "knocked off message". Defeat is in the cards for the Tories as, according to the polls, their popularity continues to plummet, from a high of 39% in the 2011 federal election to, at present, 24% -26%, depending on the poll (Forum Research has the Tories at 24%, Nanos registers the Tories at 26%, a drop of five points).
For political pundits, as well as for many Canadians across our land, the months leading up to Canada's 42nd national election are best remembered as a series of Conservative-created "events", mainly focusing on ...
1. The never-ending roll out of ads — all paid for at Canadian taxpayer expense, just shy of $1 billion expended on those ads by the Tories, each ad extolling the virtues of various programmes brought in by the Tory government, lauding as well the halycon days that would follow the re-election of Stephen Harper's hide-in-plain sight Conservative government, where the Tories set about to advertise programmes that hadn't even passed Parliament prior to the calling of the election;
2. Conservative party largesse — once again, paid out of the pockets of Canadian taxpayers — as Conservative Ministers of the Crown fanned out across the country (surprise, surprise, all paid for by Canadians) promising billions of dollars in expenditure on infrastructure programmes, in every region of our nation — mind you, spending destined only for federal ridings held by the Tories, or ridings where the Stephen Harper Conservatives felt they had a fighting chance at picking up a seat that might propel them back into government.
Stephen Harper's plan for permanent hegemony on the Canadian political scene seemed so on track in the early halcyon days of 2015, until the Prime Minister decided to call the election, fifty-three days earlier than usual. And, boy oh boy, did the wheels then start to come off the Tory party bus.
The first weeks of Campaign 2015, Stephen Harper had a near impossible time getting his message out as the Ottawa-based Mike Duffy trial consumed media and public attention, none of the revelations emerging from the trial reflecting favourably upon Stephen Harper, as 75% of Canadians told pollsters they thought the Prime Minister was lying about what he knew, when he knew it, and whether or not the Prime Minister's Office was involved in a cover-up. Can you say the word, "scandal"?
Next it was the drip, drip, drip of a Canadian economy on the wane, Canada the only G7 country experiencing a recession, with 8 of 15 sectors of the economy experiencing a significant downturn, the dollar plummeting to levels not seen in a generation, the Canadian unemployment rate up, and despite Stephen Harper's imprecations to the contrary, a multi-billion dollar deficit on the horizon (a deficit that would only be exacerbated by the billions in expenditures promised by the Tories in the lead up to the election) — no matter who forms government post election day, Oct. 19th.
And just as Stephen Harper was attempting a campaign recovery from the hourly and myriad reports of a Canadian economy in dire straits, and a Mike Duffy Senate scandal that said, "That Stephen Harper government, they're a secretive bunch, and y'know what, they seem like a pretty darn corrupt bunch, too", three-year-old Alan Kurdi's lifeless body washed up off the shores of Turkey, the nephew of Coquitlam-resident and Syrian emigré, Tima Kurdi — Stephen Harper's response to the tragedy just as inhumane as you'd expect from him, every word out of his mouth spin, every word meant to engender fear of "the other", making Canada and Canadians appear as mean as he and his government have proven to be since 2006.
Finally, on Monday, the Peegate / UrineTrouble / Pleasuring Himself on YouTube dual scandal of two high-profile Toronto Tory candidates, Jerry Bance caught on camera in the kitchen peeing into the coffee cup of a future constituent, Tim Dutaud posting videos of his harassing women, not to mention demeaning the developmentally disabled.
The wheels are off the Conservative campaign bus, the Tories in freefall.
Some 70% of Canadians (that percentage rising with each passing day) saying they'll vote anybody but Harper and the Conservatives in 2015, with 43% of British Columbians who voted Tory in 2011 saying they'll park their vote anywhere else in 2015, with one Tory "scandal" after another emerging each new day of Campaign 2015, in 41 short days from now we can all finally say good riddance to the meanest, most anti-Canadian people government in Canada's relatively short 154-year history. Hallelujah!
September 2, 2015
For those closely following the various perambulations of the 2015 Canadian federal election, there are any number of "tools" that, daily, sate the need to remain informed, and just as is the case with tracking the Oscar race (yes, VanRamblings does that, as well — as we intend to write on this topic ad nauseum in the days, weeks and months to come ... beginning tomorrow, actually), there is little more satisfying an idiosyncratically subjective political "tool" than Milton Chan's totally unscientific, yet oft times surprisingly accurate, Election Prediction Project.
As can be seen in the graphic to the left, as of August 28th Chan believes that the Conservatives have 96 seats across Canada locked up, the NDP trailing with 85 seats, the Liberals a certainty to win 50 seats in the next Parliament, with one lone seat for beleaguered — but wildly popular and populist, and phenomenally articulate and incredibly sympathetic and credible political figure — Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, and 105 seats in the 338-seat 43rd Parliament simply too close to call fifty-one days out from election day, October 19th.
What is Chan's methodology? Answer: subjective input from constituents in each of the 338 federal ridings. Let's take the riding of Vancouver Centre, where NDP candidate Constance Barnes is battling it out with Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry, Conservative candidate Elaine Allen (who?), and 2013 COPE Council candidate / Green Party rep, Lisa Barrett. Chan says Fry is a lock to retain her seat; all one has to do is read the following comment to know why VanCentre is a lock for Hedy Fry ...
"The Liberals will win here by default not because they are strong in any part of the riding but rather both the NDP and Conservatives have sections which are hostile to them. The Tories will do well in Yaletown and Coal Harbour where you have a lot of wealthy condo owners but get clobbered in the West End which has a large gay community. By contrast the NDP will do well in the West End but get clobbered in Yaletown and Coal Harbour. The Liberals will win by simply being competitive in all sections of riding."
A compelling narrative that. Unless Ms. Barnes runs a hyperlocal "issues-based" campaign (as David Eby did in the 2013 British Columbia election), gets out of the NDP message box, and challenges Ms. Fry to address the critical issue of affordable housing (the NDP have a plan for Co-operatives, the Liberals ... nada on the subject), Hedy Fry probably has this riding locked up as a sure "we've got the bucks, we've had our office open for weeks, we've got a first-rate campaign team, and we're way better funded than you granola-eating NDP types" Liberal party win. Meanwhile, Grenier has Barnes dropping to 22.6% support, a loss of 7 points in the last week.
In yesterday's coverage of Decision Canada 2015, VanRamblings wrote that Eric Grenier — creator of political polling amalgamation site threehundredeight.com, and in the 2015 federal election the official CBC pollster — was predicting 126 seats nationally for the Conservatives, 120 seats for the NDP, 91 seats for the Liberals, and 1 Green seat for Elizabeth May. Here's Grenier on CBC Polltracker; what a difference a day makes. All of a sudden, the federal New Democrats are slated to take 127 seats, the Conservatives slide precipitously down to 116, the Liberals are on the rise with 94 seats, while Elizabeth May holds on to her lone Green Party seat.
A Liberal Party apparatchik was telling VanRamblings last week that star candidates recruited by the party are not doing close to as well as expected. Case in point: former Toronto Police Chief / taker down of Toronto Mayor Rob "Buffoon" Ford continues to drop in the polls, currently at 38.5% against NDP incumbent Dan Harris (35.4%). My informant tells me that Scarborough West is far from a lock for Blair, as the NDP continue to hammer the ex-police chief on his role in the abrogation of the civil rights of peaceful G20 protesters, and the police violence that followed.
In an August 27th Globe and Mail editorial, Bill Blair is held to account ...
"Mr. Blair has never adequately accounted for the misbehaviours of his force during the G20. Ontario Ombudsman André Marin called it "the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history." It was a very bad day for the Toronto Police Service. There was a failure of leadership at the highest level. Whether he lost control of his officers or failed to properly oversee their poor decisions, Mr. Blair needs to revisit the lost weekend of 2010 and explain his force's performance. An election campaign is as good a place as any to demand answers."
The steady drumbeat that demands Bill Blair be held to account means nothing but harm to his nascent candidacy, and the prospects for a win for this much sought after Liberal party candidate. Scarborough Southwest emerges, then, as a riding to keep an eye on through until election night.
September 1, 2015
Forty-eight days out from Canada's 42nd national election, on Monday, October 19th, and change in the Canadian politic seems to be in the air.
In today's (overlong — some things never change) post, VanRamblings will focus on Eric Grenier's threehundredeight.com projections for all 338 federal ridings. Grenier is Canada's Nate Silver (who accurately predicted Barack Obama's wins in 2008/2012, as well as Congressional and Senate seats, and the gubernatorial races, right down to a tenth of a per cent).
Note should be made that during the course of the 2015 election campaign, Eric Grenier has signed on as CBC's official pollster, and that much of his work is poured into the CBC Polltracker. Me, I'll miss the graphic at the top of threehundredeight.com (see the Alberta graphic below for an idea of what I mean). Still and all, the threehundredeight.com projections for the 338 federal ridings provide a service not offered elsewhere, allowing voters and those political folks among us (who live for this stuff) to track dynamic riding-by-riding poll results throughout the 88-day (!) election period.
In the recent Alberta election, Grenier predicted a 55-seat win for Rachel Notley's NDP (the NDP won 54 seats, which could turn to 55 should the NDP take Jim Prentice's vacated Calgary-Foothills seat, as appears likely, according to the polls). Meanwhile, all of Alberta's political pundits were calling for a Progressive Conservative win, with 26 seats going to the NDP.
Grenier was not as accurate in predicting British Columbia's 2013 provincial election. Grenier published his projections based on polls conducted by Leger, Insights West, Ipsos-Reid, EKOS, Angus Reid, Nanos, Forum Research and Abacus, among others — none of which were weighting their polls. Pollsters now weight their poll results statistically by age, region and other variables (including voter intention to actually vote) to ensure the sample reflects the population according to the latest census data.
Voter turnout for the May 2nd, 2011 Canadian federal election was 61.1%, 2.3 percentage points higher than the all-time low of 58.8% for 2008. Turnout steadily increased with age from 38.8% for ages 18-24 to 75.1% for ages 65-74, declining to 60.3% for those 75 and older. Polling among the age group 18 to 44 generally shows a propensity for overwhelming support for the NDP - but voter turnout for this (age) demographic group is relatively low, when compared to the population as a whole. Pollsters now weight their poll results, taking into account that fewer than four in ten "younger voters" will actually arrive at the polls on voting day to cast their ballot — weighted polling means much more accurate polling results.
Now it's time to get down to brass tacks, as my mother used to say.
According to Grenier's poll projections for British Columbia, the NDP are on track to win 19 of the 42 seats up for grabs in our province, with Stephen Harper's Conservative party in second place with 15 seats, the Liberals projected to win 6 seats, and Elizabeth May picking up her lone Green Party seat, in Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Grenier's predicting 28 Conservative seats in Alberta, 3 seats for the NDP (Edmonton Griesbach, Edmonton Strathcona and and Lethbridge absolute locks), and two seats for the Liberals (Calgary Skyview, and Edmonton Centre, although the Libs are in a real fight with the NDP for the seat).
As to the remaining provinces and territories, Grenier's projecting ...
Saskatchewan: 19, Conservatives; 5, NDP; 1, Liberals
Manitoba: 7, Conservatives; 4, Liberals; 3, NDP
Ontario: 50, Conservatives; 41, Liberals; 29, NDP
Québec: 60, NDP; 14, Liberals; 4, Conservatives
New Brunswick: 5, Liberals; 3, Conservatives; 2, NDP
Nova Scotia: 7, Liberals; 4, NDP; Conservatives, 0
PEI: 4, Liberals; NPD and Conservatives shut out
Newfoundland/Labrador: 5 Liberals; 2, NDP; Conservatives, 0
Northwest Territories: 2, Liberals; 1, NDP; Conservatives, 0
In his threehundredeight.com polltracker, Grenier has the Conservatives taking 126 seats nationally, the NDP winning 120 seats, with 91 seats for the Liberals, and one lone Green seat for Elizabeth May.
Last week, a Forum Research poll conducted for the Toronto Star predicted an NDP parliamentary majority of 174 seats ...
"The Forum Research poll for the Toronto Star projects the NDP with enough support to win 174 seats in the Oct. 19 election. Justin Trudeau's Liberals now sit in second place with 30 per cent support, while Stephen Harper's Conservatives are losing support and have the backing of just 23 per cent of the 1,440 Canadians surveyed."
That same day in a front page story, the Globe and Mail polltracker predicted more seats for the Conservatives in the next Parliament than for the Liberals and NDP, despite the NDP lead in the polls.
In the 2015 federal election, there seem to be lies, damn lies and polls. We'll all have a better idea as to where Canada is headed closer to election day, 10 days out — that's when the polling really starts to count. During the course of the recent Alberta election, on the Monday before election day, the NDP looked to pick up 18 of 19 seats in Edmonton, and one of 25 in Calgary; by Friday, the day before the election, polls showed the NDP winning all 19 seats in Edmonton, 15 seats in Calgary, and both seats in each of Lethbridge and Red Deer, as well as a smattering of seats across every region of the province, for an overwhelming legislative majority.
With 68% of Canadians saying it's time for change, with as many as 43% of those who voted Tory in 2011 saying they won't do so again in 2015, the Tories would seem to have an uphill battle to win an unprecedented fourth parliamentary government — but, clearly, it could happen.
VanRamblings will cover the election through until election day, October 19th, along with coverage of the upcoming 34th annual Vancouver International Film Festival (intensifying during VIFF, Sept. 24-Oct. 9).
November 24, 2014
Tonight, all but one of Vancouver Park Board Commissioners step down from their elected posts, having performed a service in the public interest that will not soon be forgotten, a service that should both be cherished and celebrated, as well as publically acknowledged on this blog, and elsewhere.
No mean feat placing yourself in the eye of the storm that is elected office, particularly in the maelstrom that is Vancouver politics.
Aaron Jasper — outgoing Chair of Park Board — Sarah Blyth, and Constance Barnes have sat on Park Board since December 2008. Their fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners, Niki Sharma and Trevor Loke, joined their Vision colleagues around the Park Board table some three years later, complemented by a contingent of two Non-Partisan Association parks & rec commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova, the former of the two of this latter group about to become — as of December 1st — the new Park Board Chair, and the ever-doggedly political Ms. DeGenova on the cusp of joining Vancouver City Council, where she is just as likely to drive her Vision Vancouver opponents at City Hall around the bend as has been the case this past three years at Park Board — with the added delight to those political observers among us who care about such things, where we will see her tear strips off Vision Vancouver city councillors Geoff Meggs and Kerry Jang, in particular, in full public view. Fun times await.
Aaron Jasper. Truth to tell, I think of Aaron as a son, someone I love, and for whom I have the deepest affection. Despite Aaron's deserved reputation as a bully, this past year at the Park Board table, Aaron has impressed, performing his duties as Park Board Chairperson not just with aplomb, but with an unerring commitment to the democratic process, and with a respect for the right — nay, make that obligation — to hold fellow Park Board Commissioners to account. I am not entirely certain that Vancouver Park Board will soon again witness as skilled and compassionate a Chairperson as those of us who have attended Park Board meetings this past year have witnessed this past 10 months, with Aaron Jasper at the head of the table.
Despite the recent provocations of VanRamblings — and this blog's sometime commitment to hyperbole — with Vision Vancouver "in charge" at Park Board this past six years there has been much to celebrate ...
1. Just yesterday afternoon, at the Dunbar Community Centre Vancouver Quadra NDP nomination meeting, outgoing Park Board Commissioner Sarah Blyth was telling those assembled about the pride she felt in moving forward Park Board's "Arts in the Park" initiative, where more than 30 local artists — including internationally renowned visual artist Germaine Koh and composer/double bassist Mark Haney — were selected in 2012 to participate in the Vancouver Park Board's artist studio residency project in seven park locations, taking up residency at field house studios in Hadden, Strathcona, Slocan and Memorial South parks and at the Burrard Marina, in addition to Elm and Falaise parks. Let us all hope this worthy initiative is renewed by the NPA-dominated Park Board that is about to take office.
2. Langara Golf Course. Following a seemingly extemporaneous remark by Mayor Gregor Robertson in the spring of 2012 that he was in favour of "hiving off" half of the Vancouver Park Board-operated Langara Golf Course, so that the land might be sold off to developers for the construction of "affordable condominiums", as so often happened at Park Board, the beleaguered Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners found they'd have to deal with the fallout, with much public opprobrium.
There was politics to be played with the issue of the disposition of the Langara Golf Course — "Don'tcha know, those damned elitist golf-playin' richy-riches, they don't deserve no golf-playin' "subsidized" by our parks board" — but, following a heart-rending presentation by members of the under-parked Langara neighbourhood, Aaron Jasper moved a "metrics" motion, and lo and behold, just a few months later when Park Board staff presented the Langara Golf Course Metrics Report, Aaron Jasper moved adoption of the report, and following the unanimous consent of Park Board, work began on remedying field drainage problems, enabling year-round usage of the course by families, teenagers, seniors, and all of the other folks in the city who, just like you and me, are not "rich", but who see the efficacy of enjoying the open air and our green spaces.
3. Hastings Park. In the past three years, never was I more proud of our Vancouver Park Board than I was when Park Board unanimously adopted a motion to seek the return of jurisdiction over Hastings Park to the Vancouver Park Board — where it rightfully belongs — tearing it away from the hands of Raymond Louie, who seems for all the world to view Hastings Park not as a park, but a development opportunity.
Relating to the above, in a special August 1, 2013 meeting of Vancouver City Council, Raymond Louie (Chairman, PNE Board of Directors) led the charge to block Park Board control of all park or green spaces in the 62-hectare Hastings Park site — but not without hearing from an articulate, impassioned Aaron Jasper, and the two NPA members of Park Board.
4. Trans-and-Gender-Variant policy. By far, the most moving Vancouver Park Board meeting this past three years, was the late April 2014 meeting of the Board where all 77 recommendations of the Trans* and Gender Variant Inclusion Working Group were unanimously adopted by Park Board. Thank you to outgoing Park Board Commissioner Trevor Loke for having moved the motion one year earlier that resulted in the striking of a Park Board committee that would report out, as Trevor hoped, and serve to "greatly improve the quality of access to recreation and active health in Vancouver, and help make Vancouver the most inclusive city in the world." Mission accomplished, Mr. Loke. Mission accomplished.
5. Local Food Action Plan. The food available at concessions, and on food carts, in Vancouver parks, is of so much better quality than was the case previous to Vision Vancouver assuming control of Park Board in 2008.
Special thanks should go out to of all members of Vancouver Park Board's Local Food Assets Task Force, starting with task force co-chairs, Aaron Jasper, and Niki Sharma, the Board's Commissioner representatives.
Thanks — and a big round of applause — is also due the community members of the Local Food Assets Task Force: Park Board's Lindsay Cole; the ever-wonderful, Trish Kelly, representing the Vancouver Food Policy Council; Ian Marcuse, of the Neighbourhood Food Networks (one of my favourite people in the city); the City of Vancouver's Wendy Mendes; former Vancouver School Trustee, Kevin Millsip (also an amazing person); Ross Moster, Village Vancouver; Jamielee Ong, Rangi Changi Roots, and Kathryn Perkins, Grandview Community Centre Association.
All of our electeds at Park Board, are owed a debt of gratitude from all of those who enjoy the beauty of Vancouver's parks, and the varied services available at our community recreation centres.
Constance Barnes. Consistently the most compelling orator around the Park Board table, a true woman of the people, advocating for families, and working to ensure ready access to all facilities in our parks. Let us hope that the incoming Park Board picks up Constance's cudgel, and works to ensure that more of our parks currently without washroom facilities will have them constructed this next four years.
Trevor Loke. The most sensitive to the public will of all of the Commissioners on the Board, consistently impressive in his reasoned presentation of argument, a first-rate chair of the very difficult to navigate Park Board Committee (where all the real decision-making goes on at Park Board), and quite simply, at 26-years-of-age (Trevor celebrating his 26th just yesterday) the single most impressive young politico in Vancouver politics.
Sarah Blyth: From the beginning, an advocate for skating parks, recreational opportunities for our youth, the most human-scale of all the "politicians" around the Park Board table, a champion of the community, and for each and every one of us, Sarah was always on our side, the Commissioner who always sought the views of the public, arose from the Park Board table at breaks, and engaged with the public. Sarah's commitment to the common weal was, at all times, impressive and demonstrative of a commitment to democracy unequalled among many who practice politics in Vancouver.
Niki Sharma. Wow! What is there to say about Park Board's most thoughtful, incredibly intelligent, best-researched, most articulate before the cameras, reporters' microphones and the print media personage, what a loss of tremendous proportion it was nine days ago that Niki Sharma was not elected to Vancouver City Council, one of my very favourite candidates for Council, a person of tremendous integrity, wit, political acumen, and just an all-around incredible human being.
Aaron Jasper. Much of what I wanted to write about Aaron may be found above. Aaron proved, consistently, to be the best "advertisement" for the many initiatives undertaken by a Park Board of which he has been a member for six years, that commitment a critical aspect of a democratic engagement with the community that elected he and his fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board to two consecutive terms of majority office.
Melissa DeGenova: Killarney Seniors Centre simply wouldn't have happened without Melissa, it's just that simple. Somehow finding a way to put up with the worst treatment of an elected official I've seen in all of my 45 years on reporting out on the political scene, Melissa emerged as a populist, a tireless advocate for the public good, perhaps the most "political" of our Park Board Commissioners, but when being political means that you're committed to achieving much for your constituents ... well, Melissa practices politics, as it ought to be practiced.
John Coupar: My favourite for last? Yes, I think so. By far the most consistently reasoned and non-political voice around the table, the Park Board Commissioner who earned the respect and admiration of all those who sat around the Park Board table, and the many thousands who attended Park Board meetings this past three years, in my three years observing John Coupar and Park Board, and in our many calls and the times we've spent together away from the Park Board table, John Coupar has proved always to be the fairest and most equitable in his judicious and humane commentary about Park Board, and his Park Board collleagues, John's outstanding commitment to the maintenance and growth of our parks and our green spaces, was more acute and impassioned than any Park Board Commissioner I've witnessed in Park Board history dating back decades.
Tonight at Park Board — amidst the hubbub of contention — will be a night for a public display of thanks, well-earned and well-deserving of gratitude, to our outgoing and very, very fine Vancouver Park Board Commissioners.
Thank you to each and every one of you. Job well done.
November 19, 2014
Ever watch the Academy Awards, or maybe the Golden Globes, or Emmy's?
Do you recall, that as the winner of the Academy Award approaches the stage, and finally makes her or his way to the microphone, staring out at the crowd, what happens next? That's right — the winner thanks everyone who got her there, usually starting off with the four other actors in the category with whom she was competing for the Oscar, everyone who starred in the movie with her, her beloved spouse and children, her parents, all the teachers who encouraged her, her agents and manager, and everyone in the crew on the set of the movie she's just worked on that helped her get to the moment where she stands before you on the stage accepting an award that was but a distant dream of her youth.
Thank everyone? An acknowledgement the 'winner' did not get here on her own, that it took a team of supporters and managers, the media, & more.
In the political sphere, as you might well imagine, the candidates on the campaign trail who challenge for office depend on the support of an army of volunteers and supporters, as well as the campaign team proper.
If I might point out one instance in particular, the John Coupar win at Park Board, whose candidacy I and many others encouraged and supported, as well as all the other Commissioners who were elected to Park Board this past Saturday, would acknowledge that theirs was not a "singular victory", but a collective win, arising from the work of a great many people.
In politics, how does one go about thanking all those who played a role in helping her or him secure victory at the polls? Well, one becomes a mensch.
Allow me to illustrate what I mean.
On election night, one of the winning candidates who just barely managed to sneak into office, set about to telephone each and every one of the candidates who had challenged for the position that my friend had just barely won, save the other 'winners'. My friend the candidate thanked the candidates who'd come forward, thanking them for their civic engagement, their challenging of all the other candidates on the campaign trail (including my friend), told them that he hoped they might run again, and finally said to them that he would be available to them should they wish to speak with him about presenting their issues before Vancouver School Board.
On post-election Sunday, my friend made a point of either visiting the homes of, calling or e-mailing or texting each and every candidate who would sit across the School Board table with my friend over the course of the next four years. In addition, my friend called, visited, e-mailed or texted every campaign volunteer, member of the media, member of the campaign team, and supporter my friend had met at all-candidates meetings, and on the campaign trail that could be reached — promising a thank you celebration during the upcoming holiday season. In addition, my friend is preparing hand-written notes, on specially-made cards, to be mailed out.
As you might imagine, following five months of campaigning, my friend was bushed — still, it was necessary my friend felt, to reach out. During the course of the campaign, I wrote about the nascent 2005 candidacy of Spencer Herbert-Chandra (who since has written to thank to your humble correspondent — would we expect any less from Spencer), writing ...
In the 2005 COPE campaign, at the tender age of 24, Spencer Chandra-Herbert first ran for political office, as a Park Board candidate. Everyone in the campaign office hated him, his fellow candidates, the campaign team, everyone. Everyone that is except the voters, and me — I loved Spencer, and the energy he brought to his campaign for office.
Spencer was the only candidate with his own website — which drove all the other candidates nuts. Spencer posted to his fairly rudimentary website everyday. Facebook was a new-fangled social media tool — Spencer had a Facebook account, to which he posted several times a day (remember now, this is just months after Mark Zuckerberg had taken Facebook live). Spencer didn't sleep, he was everywhere all the time, nattily dressed, with his every present chapeau, a big grin, a hand outreached to shake yours, looking right at you, deep into your soul.
Spencer remembered the name of every person he met on the campaign trail, and not just their names, but some detail about them, their family, or an event of consequence that had occurred in their lives. I am often surprised when I run across Spencer, not having seen him for a year or 18-months, that he comes up to me, shaking my hand, saying, "Ray, it's so good to see you. How have you been?" And you know, he means it, he wants to hear about you, what's going on in your life.
The secret to political success, and to getting elected, and re-elected again and again? Spencer Chandra-Herbert has written the book.
Spencer is a mensch, the friend of whom I've written above: a mensch.
Last evening, I received a note from newly re-elected to a third term Non-Partisan Association city councillor, Elizabeth Ball, who wrote ...
Weep I did at my victory on Saturday night, and send so many thanks for your kindness. I always enjoy your company and look forward to a chat soon.
Am having a wild fling with an end of campaign cold, so have no voice but should be back next week.
Isn't it great to see so much good and interesting theatre and music in town! Am looking forward to all the holiday shows, and then PUSH in the new year. Amazing growth eh?
Wishing you all the very best,
As busy as you might imagine our third term city councillor to be, and given the travails of a campaign cold, Elizabeth Ball still found time to reach out.
On Tuesday evening, I asked newly-elected Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon to reach out to a person with whom a great many of us had worked, on the Save Kits Beach coalition. About half an hour after receiving my brief note, Stuart wrote back to say ...
All things calm.
All thing bright and beautiful.
Among other thoughts that ran through my head, upon receiving Stuart's note, were, "Thank God we've got someone possessed of wit and intelligence, and a warming sense of humour (Vision Vancouver's Catherine Evans, as well, unless I miss my guess) in our civic life in Vancouver.
Over the course of the recent election campaign, COPE School Board candidate Diana Day reached out to me each day she was on the campaign trail; we ended up corresponding regularly, as we do to this day.
You know, Raymond, I hope the newly-elected School Board Trustees have the political will to do the right thing by the Aboriginal students — it's just heart breaking that there are no mini schools for vulnerable aboriginal youth to attends — but I am glad that newly-elected Green School Trustee Janet Fraser spent some time with us at the Aboriginal Mother Centre, and heard first hand about the racism and discrimination that exists, and is directed towards not only aboriginal students but staff as well.
On election night, Diana Day contacted me to thank me for endorsing her candidacy — we've corresponded every day since.
Next time, in 2018? I'll move the sun, the Earth, the moon, the stars to work towards a victory at the polls for Diana Day. We need a voice at the Park Board table to represent vulnerable aboriginal youth.
My neighbour, David Cubitt wrote to me last evening, writing, "Thank you, Raymond, for your untiring efforts to bring about change, and for the useful / invaluable information you have provided to me, and to all who read your informative blog during the recent civic election campaign."
As I've written on social media — politics is a people business.
Beginning in 2005, with the election of Sam Sullivan as our Mayor, a new, meaner, confrontational and less humane era began in Vancouver civic politics — utterly unique, and regrettable, the level of civil discourse reduced to an all-time low, with little civility shown for the opposition councillors.
The level of discourse at City Hall has not improved since.
Today, on VanRamblings, I call for a return to civil municipal government.
In 2014, let us enjoy a renewed civic discourse.
To our elected politicians in Vancouver municipal government, a plea: please, reach across the table to members of all the parties on the body on which you sit, who were elected to office and who are not your own, so that together you might work in the interests of all those who elected you, let us witness a return to an approach to civic government in Vancouver that once was, and can be again, an achievable and necessary goal.
Of course, there will be disagreements on policy — that is to be expected, and desirable. Socratic discourse, the exchange of ideas in service of the public good is a necessary component of a thriving and vital democracy.
Today, I call on John Coupar, a friend and one of the most humble and good men of my acquaintance — who soon will lead one of the two civic bodies where a civic party holds a majority — to reach out to the newly-elected Green members of Park Board, Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, and to Vision Vancouver newly-elected Park Board Commissioner, Catherine Evans, and assure them your administration will dedicate itself to a civil discourse, and respect for the opinions of all Park Board Commissioners who will sit around the Park Board table this next four years.
Let the divisiveness of the past be just that, in the past.
John Coupar: Ensure that your message of a new era of co-operation is a clarion one, one that safeguards against the utterly regrettable, perceived arrogance and meanness that for many defined the previous Vision Vancouver Park Board civic administration, that in the forthcoming John Coupar-led Park Board administration, all the elected NPA Park Board Commissioners will work towards a new era of co-operation and accommodation around the Park Board table, in the interests of all Park Board Commissioners, and in the interests of all the citizens of our city.
November 18, 2014
On December 1st, a new Vancouver Park Board will take office.
The Non-Partisan Association, with the support of VanRamblings and in support of incoming Park Board Chairperson, John Coupar, with a goodly number of the public, were elected to a majority position around the Park Board table: second-term Park Board Commissioner, John Coupar, will be the individual his majority NPA party colleagues — Sarah Kirby-Yung, Erin Shum, and Casey Crawford — will choose to lead them over the next year.
The remaining, newly-elected members of the Vancouver Park Board include the Green Party of Vancouver's Stuart Mackinnon, who held office on Park Board from 2008 til 2011, his fellow Green Party elected, Michael Wiebe, and lone Vision Vancouver Park Board elected, Catherine Evans.
The most politically astute politicos sitting around the Park table are Stuart Mackinnon and Catherine Evans, both veterans of the political wars, savvy, extremely bright, community-oriented politicos, Stuart Mackinnon's claim to fame his dedication to democratic governance and community involvement in Park Board decision-making, and Catherine Evans — appointed to the Board of the Vancouver Public Library in 2009, and most recently, Chairperson of the Board, and more than any other of the newly-electeds, an individual who throughout her adult life has dedicated herself to building consensus, in the community, as a member of Boards on which she sat, and in every other endeavour in which she has engaged, where it was necessary to move forward collectively, wholly, in the best interests of all.
Needless to say, Vancouver voters were wise to elect Catherine Evans — who topped the polls this Saturday evening past, with 64,707 votes, quite clearly, the consensus choice of the people — and Stuart Mackinnon (56,406 votes), the Green Party running their 2014 campaign for office on a shoestring budget, approximately 5% of that of the two mainstream parties, Vision Vancouver and the Non-Partisan Association, to Park Board.
As anyone who reads VanRamblings on a regular basis is aware, we are more than a little over-the-moon about the Non-Partisan Association's incoming Chairperson, John Coupar, for most assuredly, one of John's NPA colleagues will nominate him for the position of Chairperson of Park Board.
VanRamblings had hoped for a unanimous vote of support for the principled & utterly humane Mr. Coupar, a defender of Vancouver's parks system like no other — you may wish to read VanRamblings' profile of Mr. Coupar, for an insight as to why we have written so generously about the man, about his character and integrity, and commitment to public service.
As of Monday, November 18th, the prospect of John Coupar's ascension to the role of Chairperson, Vancouver Park Board, receiving the unanimous consent of all of his Park Board Commissioner colleagues sitting around the Park Board table would very much seem to be in doubt.
When John Coupar was running for a second term at Park Board, his platform was a simple, but transformative: restoration of a parks system that had been desecrated and allowed to fall into abandon under an overly politicized Vision Vancouver Park Board, and an early resolution of the almost two-year-old dispute between six of Vancouver's community centre associations, and the previous Park Board and City of Vancouver, the latter charge led by the — it has always seemed to VanRamblings — none-too-psychologically stable City Manager, Dr. Penny Ballem.
On this Sunday past, on the day following Saturday's surprising, and not-so-surprising, Vancouver civic election vote, VanRamblings had contact with Stuart Mackinnon, who indicated he was in partial agreement that ...
A majority Vancouver City Council will subvert everything that Park Board will attempt to do — which, of course, doesn't meant that a Park Board led by John Coupar and Stuart Mackinnon won't be a strong defender of our beleaguered parks and recreation system, but rather that Vision Vancouver will attempt to starve the Park Board of funds, and go to war with a Park Board no longer under its control, employing the ugliest of tactics, while undermining their own elected, Catherine Evans, who is a good person, and someone the entire Board will both enjoy working with, and from whom the Board has much to learn.
To be perfectly frank, Stuart, I have concerns in respect of John Coupar's fitness to lead the fight, and the possible consequences for his health. John's goals as a Park Board Commissioner have been simple ones, and are what brought him into public life: John Coupar wishes to serve the public, and to protect the integrity of our parks.
Certainly none of the other NPA elected are capable, or possess the political sophistication necessary to take the fight to Vision (at least not yet). In fact, it very well may be you, Stuart, who in the coming years emerges, at some point in the future, both as the Chair of the Park Board, & the public face of the defense of the interests of all of us who have a deep caring for our Vancouver parks and recreation system.
I have no doubt that you are up for the fight, if it comes to that.
I am concerned, at present, for the employment of Park Board General Manager, Malcolm Bromley, with whom I have very much been impressed since his arrival from Ontario, in 2010. At the time Malcolm was hired, City Manager, Dr. Penny Ballem, changed the terms of his employment contract, such that as had always been the case previously, and was the case with the outgoing Park Board GM, Susan Mundick (who was "dismissed" in 2010), the incoming PB GM would report not to the Park Board Chair, but to her — creating divided loyalties for Mr. Bromley.
Malcolm Bromley has proven in his short time at Park Board to be a forward-thinking, dedicated public servant, who has well-served the public interest, a person of integrity and character who in the most difficult of circumstances, has somehow managed to troll the roiling waters of discontent between the City Manager's office, and Park Board — even during the tenure of the Vision Vancouver-led Park Board — that did not always do the bidding of the notoriously demanding, brooks no dissent, it's my way or the highway, City Manager.
I believe that Vision Vancouver will almost certainly move to make application to the provincial government to change the Vancouver Charter, to convert the independently-elected Park Board into a Committee of Council, employing an argument of citizen indifference (bordering on hostility, among some members of the public, they will say) to Vancouver Park Board, the Park Board as just another level of government that "drains the taxpayers' pocketbook."
In such a scenario, Vancouver Park Board would certainly mount a vigorous defense of the interests of Park Board and all it represents, no doubt reminding Dr. Ballem and the members of Vancouver City Council that the Vancouver Charter clearly stipulates that dissolution of Park Board requires a 2/3 majority vote of Park Board Commissioners — to which Vision Vancouver would almost certainly reply, "Application has been made to repeal that particular section of the Charter."
Clearly, an action in Supreme Court would ensue, which would be funded out of the public purse. As anyone who has followed the decision-making thought processes of the estimable Dr. Ballem, and the elected Vision Vancouver members of Council, the office of the City Manager, with the full support of the Vision councillors, would move to deny Park Board the necessary funds to mount a legal defense of the position of Park Board, before the Courts.
Make no mistake: the next four years at Park Board may very well prove gruelling, indeed. Park Board Commissioners will have to keep a wary eye on those persons at City Hall who, to the public detriment, would use Park Board as their political whipping boy.
Job number one for the incoming Park Board must be to seek the support of the broadest coalition of members of the public, and to maintain and build on that public support for one of Vancouver's most cherished instituitions.
Now is not the time for division on Park Board, nor among members of the public who present to Park Board, and whose interests are many and varied. Park Board, with the generous support of the citizens of Vancouver, must become a united force in defense of Vancouver's much-beloved — and, perhaps, imperiled — Vancouver parks and recreation system.
Given the potential for a circumstance such as the one described above to unfold, VanRamblings was surprised and very disappointed to read of incoming Park Board Chairperson John Coupar's decision to, as his first order of business around the Park Board table to reverse a motion passed by the outgoing Vision Vancouver Park Board, to ban the breeding of cetaceans in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium, perhaps the single most divisive issue he might have chosen to engage as he and his Park Board colleagues undertake a restorative programme of change at Park Board, in defense of Vancouver's very much untended to and beleaguered parks system, and in defense of Vancouver's beloved community centres, which have suffered from the hostile actions of City Manager, Penny Ballem, and the Vision Vancouver majority administration at Vancouver City Hall.
VanRamblings posted the following to Facebook last evening ...
[Update: Apparently, John Coupar has left the employ of the company which put him into conflict. The NPA's reverse motion will pass 4-3]
Green Party of Vancouver Stuart Mackinnon's first public pronouncement related to the Supreme Court action this upcoming Thursday, as Mr. Mackinnon mounted a vigorous defense of Vancouver's community centre associations — one expects because it is the most important issue that should be of concern to the incoming Park Board Commissioners, an issue on which all Vancouver citizens are united, and one of the primary reasons there remains on the Park Board, only one lone member of Vision Vancouver, and the least partisan member of Vision Vancouver, at that — John Coupar, in all his infinite wisdom and lack of political astuteness — expounds on the single most divisive issue that has come before Park Board in 2014, an issue that reached compromise resolution this past July, following the presentations of more than 90 members of the public — and many, many more protesting outside — who expressed their reasoned opposition to the continued containment of whales, and other cetaceans, at the Vancouver Aquarium.
In respect of the about-to-become newly-elected Chairperson of the Vancouver Park Board, the estimable John Coupar, VanRamblings does not express concern that Mr. Coupar would act to fulfill a campaign promise that was made by NPA mayoral candidate, Kirk LaPointe, in the early days of his campaign for office — and a platform tenet about which VanRamblings expressed deep concern to Mr. LaPointe, as a divisive issue, and one that was ill-suited to a candidate for office who was attempting to present himself as a mayoral candidate for "all the people".
Rather, VanRamblings' concern relates to the inadvisability of John Coupar choosing as divisive an issue as reversing the motion on the ban of the breeding of cetaceans in captivity, as an issue of primary concern that he would express to the public (in a most unfortunate joking manner on Global TV last evening), as his first order of business at the Park Board table.
Surely, Mr. Coupar, the pending court case on Thursday must be of greater concern to you, and to your Non-Partisan Association colleagues, more deserving of your collective attention, and deserving of an outreach to the incoming Green Party of Vancouver Park Board Commissioners than moving forward a reversal of a motion — that had you left it well enough alone — would simply have died on the order paper. You should know better.
November 16, 2014
There was so much that was not published on VanRamblings in the lead up to Decision Night 2014, on issues involving the Mayor's personal life, the details of which we found to be sordid, and in consequence had decided some while ago not to publish or speculate on, despite many entreaties to do so, even by members of the mainstream media — and, quite honestly, if publishing allegations of moral wrong-doing, and an attack on the Mayor's character was to be a determinative factor in how voters were to decide on how to cast their ballot for a Mayoral candidate, while not focusing on the issues of the day, the primary focus of VanRamblings, then, this past five months, the raison d'être of this blog, would come to mean nothing more than VanRamblings as a disquieting, scandal-mongering tabloid, full of rumour, speculation and innuendo. Not for me, thank you very much.
Anyone who reads VanRamblings on a regular basis knows the site means to inform — and entertain — that while creating content and writing in what it is hoped you find to be a "readable form," there is quite often contained in the words before you, a tendency to employ hyperbole, which is done for effect, so as to engage the readers' attention on matters of import.
For weeks, there's a "story" that's been making the rounds that, pre-election, Vision Vancouver had cut a deal with Christy Clark's provincial government, and the feds, for the subway down the Broadway Corridor, which would involve developers contributing half the cost (about $1.92 billion), through Community Amenity Contributions, which would be put towards the costs of the construction of the subway line down Broadway out to UBC, a "deal" that was allegedly brokered by Bob Rennie — real estate broker extraordinaire, and both Christy Clark's and Gregor Robertson's best friend — that would serve the interests of Clark's and Robertson's developers-friends and funders, at the expense of the interests of residents in neighbourhoods all along the Broadway corridor.
The deal wasn't announced because there was an election going on.
Vision Vancouver was concerned proclamation of the deal would incite the residents of Grandview-Woodland. Leave well-enough alone until after the election, when Mayor Gregor could announce that he had secured the funding to build the subway, and out to UBC, at that! There would be rejoicing throughout the city, Mayor Gregor would fulfill a campaign promise central to his re-election bid, and all would be right with the world.
In the Kitsilano neighbourhood where I have lived for thirty years, 52.8% (6,018) of residents voted Vision Vancouver, while 37.9% (4,319) voted for Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association candidate team.
VanRamblings has a question to ask the residents of Kitsilano ...
What part of, "If Vision Vancouver is elected to a third term of majority municipal government, a deal will be struck with developers for construction of a subway line, and stations, all along the Broadway Corridor — on the west side, in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, Oakridge Centre-style developments will be imposed at Arbutus, Macdonald and Alma, where developers will move into the neighbourhood to purchase properties at double the assessed market value, and for those business or homeowners who won't sell, the municipal or provincial government will expropriate properties on each of the four blocks surrounding the proposed subway stations," did Kitsilano residents not understand?
What part of, "When the developers build the massive four-square-block-radius, greenhouse gas consuming, neighbourhood-isolating, junctions at Arbutus, Macdonald and Alma, in our Kitsilano neighbourhood — that will consist of 40, 50, 60 and 70-storey highrises in Oakridge Centre-style like developments at each of the station junctions, the massive, out-of-scale to the neighbourhood "town centre" towers will cast a permanent shadow over single family and multiple-dwelling apartment buildings throughout Kitsilano, in the process creating a permanent, overshadowing darkness for nearby residents," did those Vision voters in Kitsilano not understand?"
Neighbours and friends look at me like I'm crazy when I say things like the above — and I say, "Come back to me in 10 years, and let's talk again."
The difference between a Vision Vancouver civic administration, and the one that Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe would have led, is that a Kirk LaPointe administration would consult with residents before taking a decision about development in a community, and act on the developed consensus of the neighbourhood's residents, ensuring a form of responsive democracy that would prove satisfactory to residents.
Vision Vancouver, on the other hand — and all you have to do is speak with anyone who lives in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood, or Mount Pleasant, the West End, Dunbar, Marpole, and listen to their experience of "working with" Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver colleagues ...
"We worked on a community plan for two years, met regularly with city planning staff. When the community consultation had drawn to a close, and we had signed off on a visioning plan for our neighbourhood, the consensus plan was submitted for review to the Director of Planning, Brian Jackson, and to Vancouver City Council. When those of us who had worked on the community visioning plan appeared before Council to speak in support of the developed-consensus plan, rather than the neighbourhood development plan we had so painstakingly worked on over many, many, many months, what we heard and saw presented was arbitrary, unilateral, dramatic and disturbing changes made to our much-beloved community plan, a "new plan" that bore virtually no relationship to the plan we had carefully developed and signed off on."
However you felt about Kirk LaPointe, and those who ran with him on the Non-Partisan Association ticket, Kirk LaPointe would have listened, and acted on the community consensus, as would have his colleagues.
In municipal politics, we call that democracy.
Vision Vancouver, on the other hand, never listens, or adopts the community plan developed by residents in neighbourhoods across the city, and doesn't feel it has to, or as Geoff Meggs is so often wont to say ...
"After all, a majority of Vancouver residents elected Vision Vancouver to consecutive terms in office. We must be doing something right. Why change a good thing? Residents don't really want to be consulted, they know that our Mayor, Gregor Robertson, and our committed, hard-working Vision Vancouver councillor team, are better-informed than ill-informed, uneducated, visionless residents. That we're better able to make appropriate decisions on the residents' behalf, that to listen to residents would be to give away our power.
The residents of Vancouver voted for the Vision Vancouver team so that we could exercise our power, even if some residents across the city accuse us of abuse of power. What do they know, those whiners & complainers, that rent-a-crowd bunch? We'll do what we think is best, and damn those ill-informed, unsophisticated and uneducated residents, those NIMBYs who don't have the best interests of the city at heart. We're the electeds, don'tcha know — we'll do as we damn well please!"
And so it goes. Given all of the above, given that the Vision Vancouver administration will not consult, given that Vision Vancouver knows what is best, given that a subway line will be built no matter what the residents want, no matter the protests, given that businesses and family homes will be expropriated, given that residents don't know what they want, and Kitsilano residents voted in overwhelming numbers for Vision Vancouver — damn the consequences to the livability of the Kitsilano neighbourhood.
With an arrogant, newly-elected Vision Vancouver civic administration in office for a four-year term, with the prospect of a subway line cutting through Kitsilano's tree-lined neighbourhood, residents are well on their way to living the nightmare scenario of a DC Comics-style, Vision Vancouver dystopia, through and across the very heart of the Kitsilano neighbourhood, where residents in the future can all look forward to our Vision Vancouver civic administration spinning the line to us that ...
"Your children will do fine growing up in the darkness. Sun causes melanoma. We're your elected civic government. We're just trying to help them, to keep them safe. And to create a better tomorrow."
All together now, let us sing in chorus as we salute the gigantic wall mural of our once and forever leader, the one true profit, Gregor Robertson ...
The sun won't come out tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be darkness
Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Don't clear away the cobwebs and the sorrow 'til there's none
When I'm in luck and there's a day that's grey and lonely
I just stick up my chin and grin and say, oh ...
The sun won't come out tomorrow
So why wait to hang on
'til tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're only a day away!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow
You're always a day away.
Soon enough, and not so long into the future, Vision Vancouver will move to rename Vancouver, Gotham City. The difference between the newly-renamed Vancouver version of Gotham City, and the DC Comics version of Gotham City is that, unlike the comic and the Christopher Nolan movies we have all come to love so much, in the renamed Vancouver version of Gotham City, there will be no Batman-like figure to come to our rescue.
No, Vancouver residents, given that you did not awaken from your Vision Vancouver, cult-like, drug-induced slumber we are, all of us, doomed to live in the forbidding and ominous gloom to follow, a creation of a once-and-forever Vision Vancouver, with no prospect of any help on the distant horizon, a hero-like figure who might rescue us from ourselves, and the decision we took last evening to vote Vision Vancouver back into power.
Forgive us, dear Father, we did not know what evil lurked. Please save us!
Soon, the wise ones will look around them, and in time to rescue themselves and their families, they will seek to leave the city, to find order and something akin to a quality of life that was once available to all citizens of Vancouver, for such no longer will exist in the city we once called home.
In electing Vision Vancouver last evening to a third consecutive term of majority power in city government, we have consigned ourselves to the torment of the dystopian nightmare that will come to pass, a permanent, perpetual, gloom-filled agony that will become the Vancouver that we once loved so much. For its has come to pass that thoughtless, uninformed, if well-intentioned citizens of good-heart, voted for a Vision Vancouver civic administration to a determinative, destructive and ultimately city-destroying third-term in the seat power where all decisions, mostly bad, are made.
November 14, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver School Board Endorsements may be found here.
Polls open at 8am Saturday for the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
Most voters will likely be taken aback at the 121 names on the civic ballot, the 29 contenders vying to fill nine slots on Vancouver School Board, the 31 contenders who want to fill one of seven vacant spots around the Park Board table, or the 48 Council candidates who fancy a job at City Hall.
As a service to readers, VanRamblings today will present a truncated Vancouver City Council Endorsements Rationale, the third and final in a series, that started out with VanRamblings' choices for Park Board, and went on to explore VanRamblings' choices for Vancouver School Board.
Vancouver City Council is the place where decisions will be taken over the next term of government at City Hall that will impact on the quality of life of every single citizen across every neighbourhood in our city, for whoever holds office and the seat of power in the upcoming four-year term of office.
For the past five months, VanRamblings has argued long and loud that Vision Vancouver has abrogated its right to a third consecutive term of office at City Hall (and Park Board), as perhaps the most developer-driven, dismissive of community concern, aggressively tyrannical civic administration since the hoary days of Mayor Tom Campbell, in the late '60s & early '70s.
In it's last-minute bid for a majority Council at City Hall, Vision Vancouver has ramped up their fear-based campaign against Kirk LaPointe, pointing out his non-existent ties to The Fraser Institute — the totality of the allegations so off-putting and egregious they hardly warrant a repeating in today's VanRamblings endorsement post for Vancouver City Council.
Quite franky, VanRamblings finds Kirk LaPointe to be a gentleman of the old school, and a thoughtful man of integrity and character — traits that are sorely lacking in our current Mayor.
Vision Vancouver's 2014 campaign of character assassination and their dedication to the politics of personal destruction are little short of despicable. Vote for Kirk LaPointe, if for no other reason than the discomfort you feel in the pit of your stomach when you hear terrible things being said about him, a decent person — as you've probably assessed for yourself — a loving husband and father, a well-educated man of great experience and accomplishment, who has in some great measure created his own success through hard work and determination, the love and support of those around him, and a dedication to making a difference.
When you go to the polls on Saturday, you will want to make sure that Gregor Robertson, and his Vision Vancouver team, hear the message loud and clear: enough is enough, we are not fools, we don't believe your last-
minute mea culpa — so many crocodile tears those, a mean and dishonest tactic designed to create sympathy for an administration that has, more wholly than any civic administration in a generation, given itself over to the interests of greedy developers, than any reasonable person could possibly have thought imaginable. We want a City Hall that will govern for us.
Vision Vancouver has painted the Non-Partisan Association as the BC Liberal farm team, died-in-the wool right-wingers who will turn the city into some kind of romantic, Benzedrine-popping Ayn Rand, survival-of-the-fittest, dystopian nightmare. Thus the dozens of fear-mongering, we're oh so sorry, we're bad but they're worse, telephone calls you've received this week that have invaded your home like so much acid rain.
Do you see the picture above? You're looking at BC Liberals' Executive Director Laura Miller's tweet of Vision Vancouver's very own Director of Communications, Marcella Munro, sitting right beside Laura's good friend, Don Millar, Vision's head of for-profit flack company FD Element, the guy who "manages and promotes" Mayor Gregor Robertson whenever he can.
And that @diamondisinger mentioned in the tweet? Could that be the very same Diamond Isinger who was Christy Clark's key online strategist in the Premier's bid for office last year who, don'tcha know, is now working for Clark's best friends, Vision Vancouver, performing the very same function?
And wasn't it former Non-Partisan Association President, Michael Davis, a spin doctor for big oil who was endorsing Gregor Robertson last week?
Let's see if we can make sense of all this: almost the entirety of Vision Vancouver's 2014 campaign strategist team are performing identical roles to the ones they played in Christy Clark's bid for the Premier's office in last year's British Columbia provincial election. Strange "coincidence", huh? Make no mistake, Vision Vancouver have painted themselves as the anti-tanker defenders of the environment. What utter nonsense: it's Vision Vancouver who are the BC Liberal farm team, all dressed up in 'green liberal', progressive New Democrat Party clothing. Just look at the picture above.
VanRamblings Enthusiastically Endorses Kirk LaPointe for Mayor
As Grandview-Woodland's respected community activist Jak King wrote in his endorsement today, "Kirk LaPointe represents a return to the glory days of the NPA, the days in which the NPA introduced both CityPlan and the Four Pillars strategy. By his very public endorsement of the Principles & Goals planning document of the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, LaPointe has grasped the future of collaborative planning. LaPointe's demeanour and quick intelligence on the campaign trail and in smaller meetings leads many of us to believe that he is a man one can work with."
VanRamblings could not agree more with Jak King's expressed sentiment.
Kirk LaPointe could very well become the Vancouver Mayor of a generation. Meeting the needs and serving the interests of a broad cross-section of the community in every neighbourhood, addressing social issues like child hunger, focusing on the economy and a jobs strategy to strengthen Vancouver's economy, restoring civic government based on openness, transparency and intent of purpose, consulting with the public and acting on the developed community consensus, a Kirk LaPointe-led administration would restore public confidence and lustre in Vancouver civic government.
Tomorrow, at the polls, vote Kirk LaPointe and a majority Non-Partisan Association Vancouver City Council and Park Board, as well as a significant contingent on School Board. Create the conditions to allow Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association team to begin the transformation of our city in order that civic government be placed in the hands of the people.
Along with Adriane Carr, George Affleck is the conscience of Council, a tireless advocate for the people's interest, a Councillor who puts in 60 hour weeks and still finds time for his beloved wife and the children he loves so much. George Affleck is a gift to our political landscape, devoted to public service and to furthering the interests of the community, in every neighbourhood across our city. In the 2014 civic election cycle, George Affleck was the star of the all-candidates meetings, and flat-out the most sympathetic and compelling presence on the dais, week-in and week-out. There's a cynicism among some about politics and politicians — if you knew George as I and thousands of others have come to know George Affleck, the City Councillor, all doubt there exists a shining star in the maelstrom that is Vancouver politics would be erased, for George Affleck is a city councillor who knows in his bones what it is to be a democrat, to live it, to feel it, to practice it — and to do it all in service of the community, and for you.
Elizabeth Ball has, in two previous terms, gained the confidence of voters. First elected to Council in 2005, when she is re-elected to a four-year term on Saturday evening, she will embark on her seventh year of service to the people of Vancouver. I came to know Elizabeth Ball in the 1990s when I was an arts reporter and she was the Managing Director of the Carousel Theatre — which she had founded some 20 years earlier. Always ready with an open smile, Elizabeth was a fount of information — there wasn't anyone, or anything, in the theatre world with which she wasn't familiar. The same dedication to task that she brought to the management of the Carousel Theatre, and the mounting of my very favourite productions over the many, many years I visited Carousel, has been matched by Elizabeth Ball's dogged work on Council, her ability to get to the heart of any matter, her peerless research skills, her advocacy for the public unmatched by anyone other than her NPA Council colleague, George Affleck. Chair of the NPA caucus, it was Elizabeth — working with Fraser Ballantyne and Rob McDowell — who spear-headed the expulsion of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo from the NPA caucus, and from any association with the Non-Partisan Association.
If you go to your dictionary and look up the word democracy, you will find Adriane Carr's picture next to the word — because Adriane Carr has come to define responsive, always on your side, honest, sincere, fight for what is right, democratic engagement in Vancouver municipal politics, her time on Council in her first term (when she squeaked in — I predict that she's going to top the polls in 2014) the most salutary manifestation of Abraham Lincoln's precept, as applied to our little burgh (with just the slightest change in wording) that in Vancouver "civic government is of the people, it is by the people, and it must always be for the people." Adriane Carr lived that axiom every single day of her first term of office, as she does each and every day of her life. You know it, I know it — Adriane Carr is the most beloved political figure in the Metro Vancouver region. How fortunate we all are to have Adriane Carr — a person of character, a person of integrity, a person of wit and intelligence and passion and reason, a tireless advocate always, representing each one of us, and ... within our midst. Vote Adriane Carr.
Nicholas Chernen has the royal jelly. In the 2014 vortex that was the run to secure office on our city's highest elected body, Vancouver City Council, onto our civic political scene there arrived a guileless, astute, sturdy and staunch, perceptive and charmingly innocent philosopher king, a dreamer who dreams as did Robert F. Kennedy that, kissed by the wind & good fortune, a boy who over the past twelve months was transformed into a formidably inspiring man of impossible grace and principle, looked around him & asked, "Why," and dreamed a dream of a thing that never was with Vision Vancouver holding the seat of power in our municipal government, and asked himself another question, "Why not," which, perhaps, in the fullness of time became less a question than an instruction, a call to duty, a re-awakening in him a long suppressed democratic commitment to the his family, and to our community. In 2014, Nicholas Chernen is one of two nascent political figures to emerge on the political scene whole (the other? the Greens' must-elect, Pete Fry). Nicholas Chernen: a leader, a future Mayor and Premier (as is the case with Pete Fry), brother to Glen, who arrived on the political scene in Vancouver and wrote the story of Campaign 2014.
Over the course of the past three years, working with her Non-Partisan Association colleague, John Coupar, in her role as a Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, Melissa De Genova emerged as the hardest-working, most dedicated to democratic engagement and populist political figure to emerge on British Columbia's tumultuous political scene in more the 40 years. If not for Melissa De Genova, there would be no Killarney Seniors Centre, if not for Melissa De Genova's tireless advocacy for the public interest, the voice of the people would not have been heard at the Park Board table — and our city, and parks and recreation system in Vancouver would be worse for the lack of Melissa De Genova's hourly, daily commitment to making our home the most livable city anywhere on this planet; which is not rhetoric, but rather a reflection on the efforts of a dogged and sincere public figure who aims to, and has, made a difference. Please, save a vote for Melissa De Genova at the polls.
The Green Party of Vancouver's Pete Fry has the best chance of any new candidate seeking the position of Vancouver City Councillor of any who have offered themselves for elected office in the 2014 Vancouver civic election. Pete Fry is the single most intelligent, pioneering, committed to democracy, engaged, generous, on your side political figure to emerge on Vancouver's political scene since ... well, since the emergence of his Green party running mate, Adriane Carr — what a duo they will make sitting on Vancouver City Council together, how fortunate we all will be to have two elected representatives in Pete Fry and Adriane Carr, whose dedication to our democracy is unparalleled in our city. Voting the Green Party of Vancouver's Pete Fry is not something you should just consider, voting for Pete Fry is an absolute imperative when you head to the polls in this, the most important civic election in more than 40 years. A vote for Pete Fry will be the single most important decision you will make in this election.
Tim Louis is the most important must vote in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, as the single candidate with the most wit, the candidate most committed to a fairer and more just city for all, the candidate who doesn't just argue for a better city, better transit, the construction of more affordable housing (and he means, non-market affordable housing, which is our only way out of our present affordable housing morass), the candidate most committed to social justice, and the only 2014 Vancouver municipal election candidate for office with a well-thought-out plan on how to get us there, and the candidate who will best hold his Vancouver City Councillors' colleagues feet to the fire — and always, always, a peerless advocate for the public good. Please, please save a vote for my friend, the most generous and thoughtful person of my acquaintance, the incomparable Tim Louis.
Involved in community services across the Metro Vancouver region for more than four decades, a now retired professional engineer who worked for the City of Vancouver, the senior city of Vancouver manager responsible for Chinatown's innovative Millennium Gate project, and a key member of Vancouver's Transportation Planning Team for the 2010 Olympics, Ken Low knows how things work and how to things done at City Hall. A husband and father dedicated to his two children, Ken Low is the legacy candidate in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, a reasoned, achingly intelligent and fit athletic figure who — more than any other candidate running for office in our current Vancouver civic election — possesses the skills and the ability to hit the ground running in the hours following his election to Vancouver City Council, to begin the process of change that will help to build a better Vancouver for you and for your family, and all your neighbours and friends.
Rob McDowell is, by far, my favourite new candidate for Vancouver City Council in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, the most articulate, generous, thoughtful, progressive new candidate on Vancouver's civic scene — and endorsed everywhere, by every one, across the political spectrum — the one candidate for Vancouver City Council who has built a broad, public consensus for his election to Vancouver's senior decision-making body, a person who would be a mediating force on Council who, having gained the confidence of his peers, would work to create the conditions necessary to move our city forward. A vote for Rob McDowell is a vote for change, a vote for reason and a vote for a better, and more equitable Vancouver. Vote Rob McDowell when you mark you ballot — and in doing so, you will have voted for the best new candidate seeking office as a Vancouver city council councillor, in the 2014 Vancouver civic election.
Ian Robertson is the most able new candidate running for office as a Vancouver city councillor, the smartest — going to get things done — political figure on Vancouver's civic scene, the candidate most committed to our democracy and to a generous outreach to the community, and as is true of the candidates written about above, committed to a fairer and more just Vancouver, a Vancouver that will serve the needs of all. As a two-term Park Board Commissioner, Ian Robertson proved day in, day out that he was a tireless, hard-working, consensus-building advocate for the public good, who in his years of service to the people of Vancouver earned the respect of his peers, and a broad cross-section of our city's always wise voting population. Along with the other new candidates for Vancouver city council written about above, Ian Robertson is the most important vote you will make when marking your ballot. Vote Ian Robertson for a better Vancouver.
November 13, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver City Council Endorsements may be found here.
Support for public education was the criterion employed by VanRamblings in the candidate selection for Vancouver School Board Trustees.
As such, it is with a heavy heart that VanRamblings has chosen only three Vision Vancouver candidates to sit around the School Board table in the 2014 - 2018 term of office.
For, make no mistake, this past six years, the Patti Bacchus-led Vancouver School Board has emerged as our province's staunchest defenders of public education, Patti Bacchus and Mike Lombardi, in particular, emerging as two of the most important voices defending the interests of our children, their parents, and all of us who recognize that a well-educated, informed populace consisting of students who have been embued with critical thinking skills constitutes our democracy's greatest hedge against tyranny.
In Victoria, with the misnamed Liberal party we have an anti-education provincial government which, for all the world, appears to be dedicated to the dismantling of our most cherished public resource, our free, open and accessible-to-all public education system, and seem intent on replacing our public schools with privatized, Fraser Institute-endorsed charter schools.
Witness the unfortunate and utterly misleading foofaraw surrounding the completely erroneous, Non-Partisan Association "debate" over the "refused" $500,000 donation from Chevron to our Vancouver School Board.
According to Claudia Ferris, who works on the Communications Committee with Vancouver's District Parent Advisory Committee (DPAC), on behalf of her parent board Claudia talked informally with Patti Bacchus to discuss the prospect of Chevron's proposed donation.
The district parents then sought to engage in a dialogue with Chevron. Despite several calls to Chevron, DPAC never heard back from their supposed Chevron contact, or anyone else associated with the oil giant. Imagine Patti and DPAC's surprise when they turned on the news only to discover that a representative of Chevron, having called a press conference, set about to proclaim to the world that, "The Vancouver School Board has refused Chevron's generous donation, and have given into the anti-oil politics for which the Vision Vancouver civic party is so well known!"
Note should be made, too, of a concurrent Coalition of Progressive Electors Education Conference — the entire focus of the Justice Not Charity forum revolving around "the complex nature of privatization" in our public school system, where VanRamblings sat next to Patti Bacchus throughout the day, where we discussed the rising level of child poverty in our province, the failure of our British Columbia government to fund breakfast programmes for the children of wont and need, the increasing dependence on parents for fundraising, and on individual and corporate donors to fund a public education system that, for years, has been starved for funds by a provincial government seemingly intent on creating the conditions that would lead to the dismantling of our increasingly malnourished public education system.
Now, some VanRamblings' readers will read the previous paragraph as overtly "political", and it is. As a blogger, I am afforded the opportunity to be political on this blog. When it comes to the majority Vision Vancouver School Board caucus, though, Patti Bacchus and her colleagues have remained steadfast in their support of the children enrolled in the Vancouver school system, and have not ever indulged in the rhetoric of ...
"The current provincial government, our Premier and our education minister are the most reprehensible and despicable representatives of an anti-education movement anywhere in Canada."
The Vancouver School Board could, VanRamblings certainly would, but Patti Bacchus and her Vision Vancouver School Board caucus have focused on the provision of structuring a viable, open and accessible to all, public school system in Vancouver which, despite all the challenges, the provocations from Christy Clark's provincial government, the name-calling from the likes of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, attacks from a Non-Partisan Association campaign that while supporting their School Trustees campaign for office, has called into question the integrity and honesty of the most ethical, most in support of the interests of students, and public education, Vancouver School Board in the entire 128-year history of the institution.
Let me be very clear: As an educator with some 40 years experience teaching in schools across the province, now retired, a proud member of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, having sat on teacher contract negotiating committees, having been elected to the office of BCTF Learning and Working Conditions Chairperson, as the Assistant Director of PDP 401 / 402 — the first semester education programme at Simon Fraser University — and as someone who has taught at both the college and university levels, and as the COPE campaign Chair for Pauline Weinstein's successive victories in the 1980s, when she sat as the beloved and cantankerous Chairperson of Vancouver's School Board, I have never admired a Board of Education more than I do the Patti Bacchus-led Vancouver School Board.
Thoughout the entirety of my life I have fought for the preservation and promotion of public education as a central feature of how I have brought myself to the world, and prioritized my political activities around forwarding the cherished goals set by the British Columbia Teachers' Federation ...
To represent and advocate for the social and economic goals necessary to ensure a quality pluralistic public school system, through leadership and advocacy, and service;
- To represent values and principles that reflect a democratic perspective on public education, incorporating the principles of conceptual and procedural clarity, and to work to provide a standard of professional development that incorporates a repertoire of collaboration, research, mentorship, workshops, reading, course work, peer coaching, and reflection;
- To extend and support Aboriginal education across our province, and promote the practice of social justice to meet the needs of all students enrolled in British Columbia's public education system; and ...
- To advocate always for a quality public education system that is free and equitable for all students, and to resist privatization and commercialization in our province's schools.
In all of my 45 years of political organizing, and nearly that long as a teacher, despite my great respect and admiration for Pauline Weinstein, and for Noel Herron (Principal at my children's elementary school when they were growing up, and later a COPE Vancouver School Board Trustee, and a true friend), in all my time as an educator and an education activist, never have I been more proud and more in awe of a defender of public education than has been the case in what I acknowledge to you today as my undying admiration and respect for Patti Bacchus, for Allan Wong, Cherie Payne, Mike Lombardi, and the entire Vision Vancouver School Board caucus.
Vision Vancouver Board of Education Trustees: Thank you for your service to our community, to our province, to the preservation and promotion of public education, and for your service to our children for whose education you have been entrusted and for their beleaguered parents, as well, and for your support all of the dedicated educators and support staff who teach and work in the Vancouver public school system, who day-in, day-out must contend with an underfunded-by-the-province public education system.
As is the case with you, Patti, and as is the case for all the outstanding members of your Vision Vancouver Board of Education caucus who, despite all, have worked together to create the best possible educational experience for our children, securing theirs and our future, your Vision Vancouver Board is owed an expansive and warmly appreciative debt of gratitude from every citizen, in every community, across this province.
The legacy of your Board will live on through the ages, through the students whose lives you have touched, and played a pivotal role in enhancing, and for whose education you have taken on a responsibility of immeasurable proportion, for each and every boy and girl enrolled in the Vancouver public education system, working with parents and educators, you have played a critical role in shaping the minds and destinies of the boys and girls who will become the future hope of our world. Thank you.
Kirk LaPointe is running as a candidate for Mayor of Vancouver. I like him. One of Kirk's jobs is to ensure that a goodly number of his candidates running for City Council, Park Board and School Board are elected to office.
In much the same way that the NPA campaign has dined out on the secret tape revealed by Bob Mackin that suggests a pay for play / quid pro quo deal between CUPE Local 1004 — and their $102,000 donation to the Vision Vancouver campaign — and a "supposed commitment" by Vision Vancouver not to contract out union jobs, Kirk LaPointe has set as one of his many tasks to ensure the election of a goodly number of his — dare I say, not ready for prime time — Vancouver School Board candidates.
To that end, the Non-Partisan Association campaign has made a great deal about the "decision" by Patti Bacchus, and her Vision Vancouver Board of Education, to allegedly "refuse" a corporate donation from Chevron, the sordid details of which are explored above.
Truth to tell, VanRamblings is not displeased that the viciousness (one could say tenacity, but viciousness covers it so much better) with which Vision Vancouver has pursued elected office, and has been met blow-for-blow by a focused, driven, wildly inventive (& just a tad negative) campaign for office by folks associated with the Non-Partisan Association.
Quite honestly, VanRamblings has experienced perverse joy that, finally, a well-funded political entity has come on the political scene to challenge the arrogant, almost cult-like, presumed "supremacy" of Vision Vancouver.
But, not when it comes to the Patti Bacchus-led Vision Vancouver Board of Education. Politics is politics, and Patti and her colleagues have been taken aback — as has the whole discombobulated Vision Vancouver campaign team — with the effectiveness of the Non-Partisan Association targeted campaign for office. To some greater or lesser degree, several members of the Vision School Board caucus are likely to become casualties in the war of attrition that we will see come to pass this coming Saturday evening.
With the above in mind, VanRamblings has endorsed — and focused on — only three Vision Vancouver (incumbent) candidates for School Board: the incredibly principled Patti Bacchus, Cherie Payne and Allan Wong.
VanRamblings lost sleep over not endorsing Mike Lombardi — whom I've known since the 1970s when we worked together on COPE campaigns, and later as workmates at the offices of the BCTF — and I am verklempt that nowhere on the endorsement list above can be found the name of "new" Vision Vancouver School Board candidate, Joy Alexander, about whom everyone of my acquaintance is genuinely and spectacularly enthusiastic.
As I say above, this is politics, and things will be what they will be, very soon now the voice of the people will be heard, as the result of the people's will becomes clear late on Saturday evening, November 15th.
In the 2014 Vancouver civic election, there's much pressure been placed on pundits to endorse a mixed slate, so that's what VanRamblings has done.
The Public Education Project
To not vote for Jane Bouey & Gwen Giesbrecht, candidates for the nascent Public Education Project, is to say you don't give a damn about public education. All persons of conscience must vote for both Gwen and Jane.
Jane Bouey, former COPE Trustee and vice-chair of the Vancouver School Board, and absolutely beloved by Patti Bacchus — there's many the conversation I've had with Patti about Jane, and of how much Patti misses Jane's input on the Board on a vast range of issues, and of how invaluable was Jane's contribution to the Board — is a must-elect for School Board.
For VanRamblings, among the many initiatives that will come before the 2014 - 2018 Vancouver School Board, there is the implementation of the Board's new gender-variant policy. Here's an excerpt from a recent Jane Bouey post on Facebook ...
"I am deeply troubled by the Vancouver First School Trustee candidacies of Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, and their fear-based election campaign. I don't want to give them more attention, but there is a real danger, particularly if voter turn-out is low, that they could be re-elected to School Board.
In 2005, I was targeted by homophobes because of my role in the development and implementation of the Vancouver School Board's LGBTTQ+ Policy.
In 2011, I lost in my re-election bid for School Board.
I was targeted by homophobes and transphobes because I was working on early drafts of the updated Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities Policy. I lost because I am queer and proud. I will never stop standing up for LGBTTQ+ kids, and all of our children who face barriers in receiving the education that is their right.
My colleague, Gwen Giesbrecht of the Public Education Project, has been a vocal ally and stood alongside me, in this struggle.
The Vision Vancouver Board (especially Patti Bacchus and Allan Wong) have been vital and strong allies. Please take this into account when you are voting for School Board. Let your friends know — do not reward those who fan hate, or stand aside in silence.
Trustees have a duty to respect and uphold kids' legal and human right to accommodation, and to not fan fear and spread misunderstanding."
Gwen Giesbrecht, a parent & small business owner, is one of our city's true treasures, her life-long activism in support of public education and strong communities, both community driven, and in her work in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood where she lives — and where she serves as President of the Britannia Community Services Centre board of management, and Chair of the Britannia Secondary Parent Advisory committee — and across the city, has proved throughout a lifetime of activism of invaluable service to the larger community that is Vancouver.
In her work with Britannia, Gwen has worked toward the creation of an integrated model for community service delivery, and works closely in partnership with the Vancouver School Board, the Vancouver Public Library and the City of Vancouver. Working across the city, Gwen is a past chairperson of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), the COPE Education Committee, and was a co-founder of the Justice Not Charity education forum, featured above in today's VanRamblings' post.
On this upcoming Saturday, November 15th, most of those who intend to vote will go to the voting stations in their neighbourhood.
While walking, riding your bike, or driving to your local polling station, ask yourself, "What kind of world do I want to create for my children, for my family, for my neighbours, my friends, my colleagues and myself? Do I want a world of where all are provided an equal opportunity for love and acceptance, and if that is so, for whom do I cast my ballot?"
Reading Jane's discourse above, any person of principle is left with no other option than to cast their ballot, and place a checkmark beside the names of Jane Bouey, Gwen Giesbrecht, Patti Bacchus and Allan Wong — for there is the rock solid guarantee that in this too often confusing world that a vote for Jane, Gwen, Patti and Allan is a vote for a better world, a fairer and more just world, a more inclusive world where every boy and girl enrolled in the Vancouver school system will be afforded an equal opportunity to live the dream they dream for themselves to lead a productive, fulfilling life where love and acceptance for each and every one is the mantle they will carry throughout their lives. Vote Bacchus, Bouey, Giesbrecht, and Wong.
Were the above true of all the Non-Partisan Association candidates for office; it's not. Make no mistake, there are no homophobes or transphobes in the NPA campaign for office. Rather, outside of the outstanding NPA candidacies of Christopher Richardson, Stacy Robertson and Fraser Ballantyne, the Non-Partisan Association candidates are weak tea, indeed.
Now, VanRamblings likes, nay adores, NPA candidate for School Board, Sandy Sharma. The Straight writes about Sandy yesterday, "a progressive parent activist for many years and is well-versed in education issues, including the board's financial affairs." Sad to say, such has not been VanRamblings experience. In respect of Sandy's run for office, even her running mates have been concerned over Sandy's focus on cutting out contract-negotiated Professional Days, and shortening the Christmas and spring breaks — when the former is unchangeable, and the latter is, although to some extent within the Board's purview, provincially-mandated.
[Update: In response to the paragraph above, Sandy Sharma writes to say that she feels that the construction of her commentary, as written above, is "both misleading and inaccurate." Ms. Sharma is clear that it is not Professional Days to which she refers — and insists that she has always been "a proponent of Professional Days, and the very important role they play in furthering the goals of a vibrant public education system."
Rather, says Ms. Sharma, it is "District Days" to which she refers — a few years back, the Vision Vancouver School Board, to save money, extended Spring Break by 3 - 5 days, and closed schools on other days in the calendar school year, lengthening the school day for students in order that provincially-mandated hours / days of education would be met. Sandy Sharma believes that Vision Vancouver policy is the wrong way to go.
Sandy Sharma believes, and it is NPA policy she had a role in drafting, that to close schools for so many days each school year is wrong, and that an NPA School Board would look for cost savings elsewhere, restoring full school days, in support of the interests of children, and their beleaguered parents, whose pocketbooks are already strained, and who must arrange for childcare during the Vision Vancouver-imposed "District Closure" days.]
Me, I want a vocal advocate for public education. Even given the above, VanRamblings would not be concerned, and perhaps might experience some degree of joy for Sandy were she to be elected to School Board.
Were VanRamblings able to say that about NPA School Trustree Penny Noble's candidacy — a walking disaster if we ever saw one. Migawd!
Last week, when returning from the Mayoral debate at SFU Harbour Centre, sitting in Christopher Richardson's comfy SUV as he transported Penny to her car at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club (don't ask), we got to talking about the amount of time electeds often put into their jobs.
For instance, on School Board, I know that Patti Bacchus and Mike Lombardi often put in 40 - 60 hour weeks — they're dedicated, there's a job to be done, they're passionate defenders of the public education system, the media come calling and there they are out front of the VSB offices, or out front of their homes, answering the question of the day.
At Park Board, although NPA Park Board Commissioner John Coupar is reluctant to reveal the number of hours he puts into his work as a Park Board Commissioner (he's such a humble man), a 40+ hour a week is not uncommon for John, as is the case for fellow NPA Park Board Commissioner, and current NPA candidate for Council, Melissa De Genova.
While Christopher was transporting Penny and I over the Burrard Street bridge, the subject of committees at School Board came up, and a concern that had been expressed to me by one of the Vision Vancouver school trustees that Fraser Ballantyne didn't like committee meetings, and never turned up for them, even the ones he was supposed to be chairing. There are six standing committees at School Board: Education and Student Services, Planning and Facilities, Finance & Legal, Personnel & Staff Services, Management Co-ordinating, and Education & Student Services.
As you might well imagine, it is at the committee level where the lion's share of the Board's work occurs, all the planning, development of policy, co-ordinating, resolution of personnel issues, etc. The VSB committees play a pivotal role at the Board, they're time-consuming but productive, and all the Board members (save Fraser Ballantyne, apparently) attend.
Interjecting in the discussion Christopher Richardson and I were having about committees, and the certainty he felt that Fraser Ballantyne's contribution to the Vancouver School Board, and certainly to the Non-Partisan Association School Board campaign, was without compare — who am I to disbelieve Christopher, I trust Christopher on every single word I have ever heard from him, and we talk together frequently and at length, usually when he's riding his bike, and comes roaring up, at which point we engage in gregarious discourse — Penny Noble had his to say ...
"Committees. We don't need no damn committees. They're time-consuming, they're useless. The first thing I'll do when elected to office is cancel all of those committees. I'm going to shake up School Board when I'm elected. Forty hours a week! I've got better things to do with my time than spend 40 hours a week at the School Board offices. I'll spend ten, and no more!"
Gosh, one wonders if Penny is aware that School Board Trustees are also liaisons with the at least a dozen schools to which they're assigned?
Penny exits Christopher's vehicle, as Christopher rolls his eyes, assuring me that "we'll take it slow and easy, get our feet, get a feel for things, meet people, talk with everyone we can, attend committee meetings, find out what the priorities are, and work together with the other electeds, one of whom I would imagine and hope would be Patti Bacchus, with whom I'm really looking forward to working with should I be given the opportunity."
VanRamblings asks a question to which the answer is clear, but tests Christopher Richardson (it's a good question to ask of any potential School Board Trustee candidate): First order of business upon being elected, Christopher? The answer, "With the resignation of Superintendent Steve Cardwell, who's taking on the job as a Professor, teaching and a Director of Executive Educational leadership, at the University of British Columbia, the search for and appointment of a new Vancouver School Board Superintendent would have to a first priority for the incoming Board."
You pass, Christopher. Like I knew you would.
As VSB Superintendent Steve Cardwell told The Courier's Cheryl Rossi ...
The Vancouver School Board oversees 92 elementary schools, 18 high schools, seven adult education centres and the largest distance education school in the province. Vancouver schools serve some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in Canada and some of the poorest. Fourteen per cent of students participate in a school meal programme.
We have 55,000 students. We've got over 100,000 parents that have a real stake in our education system and fewer than 40 per cent voted. They need to exercise their democratic right to vote and have influence on our education system by voting for school trustees and voting for the city, for the mayor and council, as well, as part of this, and when provincial elections come around, of course, for them, too."
I know that Christopher Richardson has ridden his bike to every school in the district, introducing himself to the administration at each of those schools, and as many teachers as he could, not to get votes — although, he's good at that — but to get a feel for the depth and breadth of the Vancouver school district, and to hear from administrators, teachers — and when he runs across them, the parents — concerns that each would like to see addressed in this next term of the Vancouver School Board.
Christopher Richardson is, quite simply, one of the best people I know — I am over-the-moon about Christopher's candidacy for School Board.
Patti Bacchus has told me that she would look forward to working with Christopher — a progressive of the first order, who was enthusiastically endorsed by The Straight yesterday, and several other School Board candidates running for other parties have said the same thing about Stacy Robertson, with affection expressed for Fraser Ballantyne, as well.
Penny Noble? NPA candidate for School Board? In a word: disaster.
November 12, 2014
VanRamblings' Vancouver City Council Endorsements may be found here.
VanRamblings' Vancouver School Board Endorsements may be found here.
If you haven't read Part 1 of VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements List Rationale, you'll want to read it first, the post focusing mainly on VanRamblings' favourite candidate for Park Board, John Coupar.
Arriving at the conclusions I have in respect of identifying those candidates I believe possess both the gravitas to become true defenders of the public interest and, pragmatically, have a decent chance of gaining the trust of Vancouver voters and defeating what is for many the worst Park Board in the 128-year-young history of that august body was not an easy task.
Vancouver's Park Board Commissioners have — up until this past six years, when a Vision Vancouver-led majority Park Board slate was elected to office — acted as stewards of our parks and recreation system.
Let's have a look at the remaining Vancouver Park Board candidates endorsed by VanRamblings earlier in the week.
Following John Coupar on my list of must-elects to Park Board, my next favourite must-elect is the Green Party of Vancouver's one-term Vancouver Park Board Commissioner (2008 - 2011) Stuart Mackinnon who, as he says on his blog, "has fought for the preservation of our foreshore and our natural beaches, who believes in our Park Board's community services system," and who has always been a staunch defender of the independence of our neighbourhood community centre associations.
In addition, as a well-respected educator for some 26 years, central to Stuart's campaign platform is his belief that "every child should be able to play in their own neighbourhood," which means parks nearby and playgrounds, and a livable city for all of us who live across the vast expanse of our metropolitan city by the sea, is central to Stuart's belief system.
Earlier today, I received the following e-mail from my friend Margery Duda, an advocate for the restoration of community outdoor pools, who writes ...
Stuart Mackinnon advocated for outdoor pools when he was on Park Board, 2008 to 2011, and as a Green Party of Vancouver candidate for Park Board in 2011 was instrumental in having the Greens adopt a plan to replace outdoor pools fallen into disrepair, and build new ones.
Outdoor pools have gained a lot of traction in this election campaign, and that is music to the ears of pool advocates.
With the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) being on the record supporting outdoor pools via past Park Board Chairperson and current Park Board candidate, Anita Romaniuk, thanks to Stuart and Anita, the Non-Partisan Association's game-changing commitment to build three outdoor pools if elected, and now with the Greens making it official, too, outdoor swimming pools are sure to return as a part of Vancouver's recreation network, a development for which we are glad, indeed.
Note should be made, as well, that the smaller parties such as the Vancouver Cedar Party and IDEA have also committed to outdoor pools, as have some of the independents.
Those of us who have advocated for outdoor pools believe that it is unfortunate that six years were wasted under Vision Vancouver, when we could have been replacing our outdoor pools. When Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners first ran for office in 2008, a central tenet of their platform was a replacement of our outdoor pools network — since their election, they have reversed themselves on that very important commitment made to many of us who live in neighbourhoods across our city. We've continued our fight, in the community and at Park Board.
The Mount Pleasant Outdoor Pool could have been completed as early as 2010, when Mount Pleasant Park was re-developed following a public consultation that rated the pool as the community's top priority. During the six years of Vision Vancouver governance at Park Board, opportunities for green technology grants and federal infrastructure funding were passed over by Vision in favour of building expensive indoor destination pools only.
Although Vision voted against a proposal to fund an outdoor pool in the current Capital Plan presented to voters, with the great support that has been forthcoming from the Green Party's outstanding candidate for Park Board, Stuart Mackinnon, and support from our good friend, COPE's Anita Romaniuk, we believe that should a mixed Park Board slate of Green Party of Vancouver, the Non-Partisan Association, COPE and perhaps one or two independents — such as IDEA's Jamie Lee Hamilton or James Buckshon — outdoor pools are attainable within the current Capital Plan.
Outdoor pool advocates: Sharpen your pencils and get out to vote between Wednesday November 12th and Saturday November 15th."
With a Green Party of Vancouver platform that advocates for community-driven planning — that regards community centre associations as partners, not adversaries — replacement of outdoor pools, zero waste, local food systems and access to nature, and a revitalization of Park Board facilities and our parks' infrastructure, the Greens' Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, are two absolute must-elects for Vancouver Park Board.
Erin Shum, running with the Non-Partisan Association, is — far and away — VanRamblings' favourite new candidate seeking office for Park Board.
For the past year, Erin has regularly attended the bi-weekly Park Board meetings, and on several occasions has spoken at the Park Board table advocating for the community interest on a range of issues of concern to residents living in neighbourhoods across our city. Erin's is a strong, reasoned and clarion voice, a welcome advocate for the public interest.
Having spoken, and worked, with Erin for the past year, VanRamblings can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the woman you see pictured above is one tough cookie, a candidate who possesses a clear, informed understanding of the issues at play before Park Board; it was John Coupar and Erin who argued for the inclusion of a plank in the NPA platform calling for the restoration of our outdoor pools system; it is Erin Shum — working with John Coupar and fellow NPA candidate for Park Board, Casey Crawford — who have vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding for the redevelopment of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, monies that were approved in the 2011 City of Vancouver capital plan, but never spent.
In respect of the NPA's outdoors pools initiative, at the announcement of the NPA's Park Board platform, it was Erin Shum who told the media that were gathered, "Vancouver is dramatically underserved when it comes to outdoor pools. Going forward, we make this commitment to the people of Vancouver that we will consult with the community on where the new outdoor facilities should be located, and in our first term of office, we will commit to the construction of three new, or replacement, outdoor pools."
Make no mistake, Erin Shum is a person of sage wisdom well beyond her years, an advocate for the Gen-Y voters of her generation and for all of us, and for the burgeoning community of citizens of Chinese descent who have come to regard Erin Shum as a champion of the community interest.
VanRamblings is in complete accord with the belief that Erin Shum is a voice for the people, an activist and an advocate of the first order for the public interest, one of the brightest and strongest political figures to emerge out of Vancouver's increasingly buoyant municipal political scene in years.
In a world where too often those in elected political office simply dedicate themselves to serving the interests of the political parties that got them elected, while remaining mute on the issues of the day, Erin Shum has emerged as a vocal champion of the public interest, a partner for fellow Non-Partisan Association candidates John Coupar and Casey Crawford — and a candidate for Park Board who has vowed to restore $10.2 million in funding allocated in the failed Vision Vancouver 2011 capital plan for the necessary re-development of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre.
Erin Shum, along with her NPA running mates John Coupar and Casey Crawford, Green Party of Vancouver Park Board candidates Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe, and COPE's Anita Romaniuk — should voters place their confidence in them — are the candidates for Park Board who, commencing on December 1st, 2014, when the newly-elected Park Board Commissioners will be sworn into office, will transform governance at Park Board, and restore our desecrated parks to their former, natural beauty, and end once and for all the hostile, Dr. Penny Ballem-driven — endorsed by the Vision Vancouver caucus — heartbreakingly contentious Vancouver City Hall relationship with our beleaguered community centre associations.
Make no mistake, VanRamblings' loves John Coupar, Stuart Mackinnon and Erin Shum, but as complementary must-elects to Vancouver Park Board, I am just as over the moon about COPE's Anita Romaniuk, the NPA's Casey Crawford, and the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe.
Vancouver's School Board and Vancouver City Council candidate endorsement lists cost me sleepless nights, and hours on the phone, responding to e-mails and online explaining myself — it's been a tough slog, let me tell you. The VanRamblings' Park Board endorsements — well, they were a no-brainer, the choices so obvious, the quality of the candidates so high, there was no other direction VanRamblings could go.
Anita Romaniuk, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board in 2004 and Chair of the Park Board Finance Committee from 2003 to 2005, Anita has ...
- Served six years on the Board of the Douglas Park Community Association;
- Six more years as a member of the Douglas Park Arts Committee and the Park Improvement and Heather Park Committees;
- Since 2006, Anita has worked with Margery Duda, and others, as a member of the Mount Pleasant Community Association's Pool Committee, where she's still advocating for the replacement of their outdoor pool;
- In 2009, Anita became a founding member of the Vancouver Society for Preservation of Outdoor Pools;
- In 2008, Anita joined the Board of Directors for the Save Our Parklands Association, and has served as its President since November 2011.
As VanRamblings has written elsewhere, Anita and I served on COPE's Parks & Recreation Committee, and together with Jamie Lee Hamilton drafted much of COPE's Park Board platform.
John Coupar, VanRamblings' very favourite candidate for Park Board, has said that he hopes Vancouver voters elect Anita to Park Board, that her institutional Park Board memory, and the likelihood that she'd hold his feet to the fire — John is nothing, if not a humble man — were he to become the next Chairperson of the Park Board
For the purposes of reference, all Park Board Commissioners vote on who the Chair will be, each year of their term in office.
In 2014, there is general consensus among all the serious candidates VanRamblings has endorsed that, given all of his good work this past three years and his commitment to our parks and recreation system, John has earned the right to become the next Park Board Chairperson, and thus they will vote that way when the time comes.
For VanRamblings, a vote for the candidates on VanRamblings' endorsement list is mandatory for anyone who cares about the welfare of our parks, our recreation system, restoration of our outdoor pools system, a return of Hastings Park to Park Board jurisdiction, implementation of the gender-variant policy, and all of the myriad issues — some known, some not yet known — that Park Board will face over the next four years.
VanRamblings urges you to save a vote for Anita Romaniuk for Park Board.
Casey Crawford is the unsung hero of the 2014 Vancouver civic election, the under-the-radar candidate for Park Board who has more knowledge in his little finger about the state of our playing fields across Vancouver — in a word, dreadful — and how that impacts on the boys and girls who play soccer, rugby, baseball or field hockey, and the jeopardy into which the children have been placed by a politicized, out-of-touch Vision Vancouver majority Park Board, than all of the other Park Board candidates combined.
VanRamblings looks at the NPA's campaign website for Casey Crawford, and believes most who would surf to the site would say, "What? Who's this Casey Crawford fella, and what kind of Park Board Commissioner would he make?" Without wishing to become profane, VanRamblings would suggest the answer to that question is, "Casey Crawford would be a damn fine Park Board Commissioner, an advocate for our children, an advocate for children's sports, and during his term of office, there is little doubt in my mind that the media would identify Casey Crawford as the go-to guy on amateur sport in our city, and on any issue related to our playing fields."
Vote for Casey Crawford? Your darn tootin' you should - you MUST!
Last, but certainly not least, there's the Green Party of Vancouver's Michael Wiebe, the new kid on the block, so to speak, business owner and community leader who, when he was 16 became a Park Board lifeguard (and later co-founded the Vancouver Lifeguard Association), who earned his Bachelor's in Business Administration, worked for the B.C. government administering public board appointments — and is, to boot, a charter member of the Mount Pleasant Implementation Committee.
Michael says that as a Park Board Commissioner he's committed to ...
Building more natural parks — under Vision Vancouver there's been only one new park built in the past six years, the neglected pocket poodle park and 18th and Main — working towards the creations of a healthier, sustainable food system, fostering grassroots community initiatives in every neighbourhood across our city; and working to create a sustainable waste management programme that meets the needs of all of the citizens of Vancouver.
Truth-to-tell, it'll probably take Michael a few months to get up to speed — which is the case for every new member of Park Board — but according to my friend Gena Kolson, Michael's Grade 12 teacher ...
"Michael is extremely bright and a hard worker, picks things up faster than any student I ever worked with, is dedicated, passionate, a democrat to his core, someone people turn to, and a natural born leader. There's no question about whether I'll cast a vote for Michael; of course, I would. Michael will be a real asset on Park Board — voters won't be sorry they voted for Michael."
Well, there you go, VanRamblings' top six candidates for Vancouver Park Board, each one of whom we endorse enthusiastically.
November 11, 2014
[The following post constitutes the first part of a two-part series to be published today and tomorrow, on the rationale for VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements, the issues with which our incoming 2014 Park Board Commissioners will be confronted, and how the platforms of the three civic parties who have received a VanRamblings endorsement will impact on the resolution of the issues that will come before Park Board. In Part 2 of the Vancouver Park Board series, readers will find an apology to independent Park Board candidates, Jamie Lee Hamilton and James Buckshon — who we know to be persons of passion & integrity & immense caring for our parks — for having left them off our endorsements list.]
As the Vancouver Park Board watchdog (so named by The Courier's Sandra Thomas), VanRamblings is in a unique position to identify the issues that Park Board will confront in the next term, 2014 through 2018, and of all the candidates who are running for the position of Park Board Commissioner — and, who are likely to garner favour with the voters — we believe will best serve the interests of the citizens of Vancouver during the next four year term at Vancouver's cherished, 128-year-young, Vancouver Park Board.
First and foremost is John Coupar, already a sitting Non-Partisan Association (NPA) Park Board Commissioner. Over the course of the past three years, I have come to know John very well, as a man of uncommon intelligence and compassion, articulate and achingly bright and principled, whose love (and knowledge) of our parks and recreation system is unparalleled among any of my acquaintances — and I know and am close to COPE's Anita Romaniuk, long my mentor and teacher on all things Park Board. Yet I am still able to designate John Coupar as the most passionate and knowledgeable on all things Park Board among all of my acquaintances who possess a love for our city's parks and recreation system.
Married to the love of his life, Heather, for some 35 years now, John — a native of Vancouver — raised his 2 children in the Dunbar neighbourhood. As his children grew and left the family nest, a few years back, John and Heather downsized, moving into the Village on False Creek, considered by many to be one of the greenest communities on the continent.
A past president of the Friends of the Bloedel Association, and past governor of the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, John has long been a passionate advocate for horticultural excellence in parks and green spaces, his passion arising as a result of the times spent in his youth with his father Charles, a renowned horticulturalist who served the Vancouver Park Board with distinction for 42 years.
John Coupar is perhaps most well known for his successful effort to save Vancouver's Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, his work on that project catapulting him into elected office as Park Board Commissioner, in November 2011's Vancouver civic election.
In his initial term of office at Park Board, John was the first to identify Vision Vancouver's egregious, inchoate decision to pave over a significant portion of Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, as he went on to play a key role in defeating Vision Vancouver's proposal of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through two of Vancouver's most venerated west side parks, a well-used recreational resource for citizens across the Metro Vancouver region.
If there is one wish that I could have fulfilled in this election, it would be that John Coupar become our next Park Board Chairperson, leading an activist group of parks and recreation advocate Park Board Commissioners, who together would work toward restoring the beauty of Vancouver's parks, long untended to and desecrated by a Vision Vancouver-led Park Board, who have proven more interested in scoring political brownie points with Vancouver City Manager Dr. Penny Ballem and their "betters" at City Hall, the Vision Vancouver councillors who sit around the Council table.
Three anecdotes about John that will provide insight into the man ...
- The most common sentiment you'll hear expressed by members of the public in attendance at Park Board meetings who, after listening to the deliberations of the Commissioners on the issue of contention that has brought them to the Park Board offices, are most often wont to say, "John Coupar, he's the green advocate at the Park Board table, he's the advocate for the public, not the Vision commissioners. I voted for Vision last time because I wanted to leave a green legacy for my children and grandchildren. Never again. In 2014, I will vote for John Coupar, and anyone on the team he is running with!"
- Last spring, when the gender-variant policy was presented to Park Board, the most moving address to those gathered in a crowded Park Board conference meeting room was that given by John Coupar, who thanked all of those who had presented to Park Board on an issue of importance to each person in attendance, and to him, saying in part, "Sitting on Park Board for the past almost three years has proven to be the most enlightening and moving experience of my life, and never more so than was the case this evening. I want you to know that you have an advocate in me, and in my fellow Park Board Commissioner, Melissa De Genova, that we will fight for you, we will fight for inclusivity in our parks and in our community centres. Working together with all of the Commissioners around the table, I commit to you today that our parks and community centres will become welcoming and safe havens for you, where you will be respected always. I look forward to working together with you, and with Park Board staff, on the early implementation of all facets of the gender-variant policy on which you have worked so hard, and has proved of such service to our community. Throughout my life, I have made a commitment to inclusivity, fairness and equity — let us work together, go forward and write a new chapter in our social and political history, as we work toward a community of comfort, respect and acceptance that serves the interests of all of our citizens."
- One morning, in the spring of this year, I received a call from John, asking if I might meet with him near his home in the Olympic Village. I hopped on my bike, and about half an hour later, the two of us met at Terra Breads, and following a late morning repaste, John and I set out on a walk from the village to Yaletown, adjacent to the waters of south False Creek, along the winding path past Science World, Concord Pacific's contentious sales centre, through until we reached Yaletown.
Along the way, John pointed out the invasive species that had choked out the trees and shubbery that had been planted at the time of the construction the Olympic village. The path on which we walked was overgrown with untended to, 6-foot high weeds along the centre median, and on the north side of the Science Centre, on the fenced off area between the path and early spring blue waters of False Creek were strewn a motley assortment of shopping carts, blankets and water-soaked and torn mattresses, and every kind of garbage imaginable, most of which had clearly found a home of some long duration, ignored by the city and by Park Board — not because Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley, and Vancouver's first-rate (and lovers of our parks) Park Board staff, had failed in their duties to the citizens of Vancouver in keeping the paths and lands adjacent to the waters of False Creek free of unwelcome detritus, but rather because a Vision Vancouver Park Board led by Aaron Jasper, and before that Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes, had allowed the lands around False Creek to fall into a state of abandon, as they pursued the "higher" political goals of attempting to rename our parks after Vision Vancouver financial supporters, plan a foreshore destroying seawall 'seaside greenway' bike path from Kitsilano Beach to Jericho Beach, or to hive off half of the well-utilized and much-loved by the community, Langara Golf Course — green space of value to all members in the Langara community in an under-parked neighbourhood, we learned on the night 150 angry Langara residents turned up at Park Board to oppose the destruction of the golf course in favour of "low cost", Gregor Robertson-endorsed $1.8 million dollar affordable condominiums, while the other half of the golf course would become a "new" park.
Langara residents weren't buying it, as pandemonium broke out at the Park Board office that night, as so often has proved the case before a discredited Vision Vancouver-led Park Board.
That overcast, still chilly, now spring afternoon, John turned to me as we headed back toward the village from Yaletown, and with an audible sigh said to me, "You know, Ray, if I am given the opportunity to become the next Chairperson of the Park Board, all that we have seen today on our walk will be remedied and repaired, invasive species that destroy the beauty of our parks will be a thing of the past. Sometimes, I reflect on what the reaction of my father might be to the disregard of our parks and recreation system under a Vision-led administration at Park Board — I know he wouldn't be happy to see his service and his legacy to our city so abused, our parks and all the trees in our parks so mistreated. Our staff at Park Board are world class, as caring and committed a cadre of park preservationists as I've ever had the privilege to work with. But with millions of dollars of cuts to our Park Board budget, with the priorities of Park Board placed on everything but the maintenance of our parks, Park Board staff are overwhelmed with all that needs doing, and chairperson after Vision chairperson has prioritized political initiatives that have little or nothing to do with maintaining our parks, and everything to do with promoting an agenda they think will serve their political supporters.
Please forgive me, but I have to say that I am more than a little disquieted with what we've seen today. I hope the people of Vancouver might see their way clear someday to electing a Park Board who will become true stewards of our parks and recreation system, and not political apparatchiks whose duty is not to the citizens of Vancouver, but to their political masters from whom they take instruction."
Please vote for John Coupar when you mark your ballot at the polling station. And please give consideration, as well, to voting for the candidates whose names appear at the top of today's VanRamblings' post — for those identified persons of conscience will work with John to restore the lush beauty of our parks and resolve, once and for all, the years-long Vision Vancouver-led dispute between Park Board and our community centres.
Part 2 of VanRamblings' Vancouver Park Board Endorsements List Rationale will appear Wednesday morning.
November 10, 2014
A neighbour of mine was saying to me last week when referring to the political parties, and the candidates, currently seeking elected office — on all three civically-elected bodies in the Vancouver municipal election — "They're all the same, they're all in it only for themselves. They could give a damn about us, they care only about what they can get out of it for themselves."
With all due respect to my neighbour, the cynical, simplistic, wrong-headed, uninformed and disempowering notion voiced above, with the advance polls open this week, and with election day this upcoming Saturday, there are simply too many voters out there — such as my neighbour — who will stay home and risk the possibility for all of us that the most developer-friendly, most dismissive of the concerns of folks like you and me civic party will be elected to office for four more years, so that they might once again roll over our collective interests, and over you & me.
Change does not come about by cynically sitting at home on your hands — change comes by becoming informed and engaged, by giving a damn, and by fighting to make a difference. As Robert Kennedy said when running for the Democratic party presidential nomination in 1968 ...
"The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence.
And so it is. This week, vote for a change in government in the city of Vancouver. I promise you — I guarantee — that you'll be glad you did.
In 2014, should Vision Vancouver find themselves elected to a third majority term and a four year term of office, Vision Vancouver will work towards the completion of a programme that will lead to the destruction of neighbourhoods across our city, and a parks and recreation system that has well-served the interests of all of us who live in communities across Vancouver, such that our city will be transformed for ever more, no longer a human-scale city of livable neighbourhoods, but a city of towers and cement and a below-ground subway (really — in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet?), a city for the monied interests of the foreign national wealthy, and no longer a city for you and me, for our neighbours and friends and colleagues, and our families, for whom we care so very much.
By 2018, if Vision Vancouver is elected to a third consecutive term at Vancouver City Hall, given all the untrammeled development Vision Vancouver will have put in place, our city — our west coast paradise — will be unrecognizable and, even more, unlivable — unless we intervene at the polls this week and on election day to take our city back from the economic interests of the haute couture crowd of speculators who would seek to create yet another playground for themselves and their rich, amoral friends.
All of which means, of course, that you must not consider, and must not vote for Vision Vancouver, or any Vision Vancouver candidate running for office on Vancouver City Council, or on our beleaguered Park Board.
The social and political differences between the two major political parties seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver Civic Election could not be more stark: on the one hand, there is Vision Vancouver — secretive, vicious, Orwellian, dismissive of the community interest, and wholly given over to bettering the interests of their corporate and union bosses, and utterly dismissive of the interests of the vast majority of Vancouver's voting electorate; and on the other hand, there is a renewed Non-Partisan Association, a party of servants of the public interest who will return open and transparent, community responsive and fiscally responsible civic government to the city of Vancouver — a party that represents your needs and that of your family.
At the outset of today's VanRamblings post, you will find VanRamblings' well-considered 2014 Vancouver Civic Election Candidate Endorsement List, offering a list of the names of those candidates for elected office on all three civic bodies — and the parties they are running with — who we believe represent Vancouver voters' best opportunity to defeat an arrogant and out-of-touch (the very best thing that might be said about the current ...) Vision Vancouver municipal administration.
Now, we know that the surfeit of the names of representatives of the Non-Partisan Association — particularly given that the list was composed by a left activist of some forty years — will cause distress to some of our more progressive friends, and most particularly to our colleagues in the Coalition of Progressive Electors — in 2014, there is so much on the line that it has become necessary to vote strategically, to vote for a majority candidate slate of representatives of the Non-Partisan Association, in order that we might, at the very least, give a time out to Vision Vancouver, and provide the NPA (and the members of the Green Party of Vancouver, who we believe will be elected to Council and Park Board) the opportunity to open the books, slow development in our neighbourhoods, and restore our — what once was, but is no longer — world-class parks & recreation system.
Throughout the remainder of the week, VanRamblings will provide the rationale behind the composition of the 2014 Vancouver Civic Election Candidate Endorsement List you see above, the very important issues that are at play at Vancouver City Council, at Park Board and at School Board, and what the re-election of a majority Vision Vancouver civic administration would mean for our city going forward, if in the blinkered wisdom of the electorate, Vision Vancouver were to be elected to a third majority term.
Tuesday is Remembrance Day, a day when we reflect on the sacrifices of those who came before, who fought valiantly for the preservation of our, sometimes flawed, but absolutely necessary democratic form of government, so many among us take for granted. On Saturday, November 15th, voters across Vancouver will be given the opportunity to return good government to our city — please get out and vote to make a difference.
November 8, 2014
If you've arrived on this page of the VanRamblings blog, and haven't read Part 1 of A Primer on Civic Politics in Vancouver, you may want to read it first, as the initial post contains elements which may be of interest to you.
Today, we present a cursory insight into the history, the platforms, the principles and the raison d'être of the remaining six Vancouver municipal political parties (we covered COPE - The Coalition of Progressive Electors, in Part 1), and the candidates for these parties who are seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election. As per usual, today's post will be given over to some of VanRamblings' patented, some would say florid — and, we hope entertaining and informative — and always idiosyncratic commentary.
As we've said repeatedly over the past near five months now, the 2014 Vancouver civic election is the most crucial election in our city in the past 42 years, since Tom 'Terrifying' Campbell was ousted as Mayor of our west coast paradise, and good government — under the auspices of The Electors' Action Movement (TEAM), a progressive and truly visionary centre-left municipal government — was installed at Vancouver City Hall, for multiple successive pioneering and innovational terms of civic government.
From the 1970s, we have Mayor Art Phillips and his eight TEAM Councillors of the day — UBC professors Walter Hardwick, Fritz Bowers, Setty Pendakur and William Gibson, who made up the Council's sagacious academic quartet; respected urban planner and landscape architect, Art Cowie; future Vancouver mayor and British Columbia premier Mike Harcourt; activist, feminist and future provincial NDP cabinet minister Darlene Marzari, who fought like hell against the proposed freeway both the federal and provincial governments wanted to impose on Vancouver; as well as lawyer, & future (and eventually discredited) Vancouver mayor, lawyer Jack Volrich — to thank for the livability of the Vancouver we know and love today.
As reported by Rod Mickleburgh in his April 23, 2013 obituary, covering the life and many accomplishments of Art Phillips' term as Mayor, he writes ...
For years, the city had sold off property it owned and used the proceeds to keep taxes low. That was wrong, Phillips said. Several years ahead of Alberta's famous Heritage Fund, he established a property endowment fund, where all revenue from the city's extensive holdings would be deposited, invested and used, when needed, for the benefit of the city.
The list of accomplishments included an end to the city's prevailing secrecy, holding public hearings at night so working people could attend, killing off all freeway plans, saving the storied Orpheum Theatre, improving accommodation in the benighted Downtown Eastside, the introduction of mixed-income housing, and altered zoning to allow apartment living downtown. Mr. Phillips was big on that.
"Instead of being dead at night, we wanted the downtown core to be more European, a place to live and enjoy," he said, in his 2005 interview. "The changes we made then are taken for granted today."
The startling decision to convert the industrial, waterside flats of False Creek just west of downtown into mixed housing was also a landmark."
In 2014, Vancouver faces many of the same challenges that the TEAM Council of the day addressed, as they both set about to undo the harm done by overly-developer-friendly mayors, in the case of TEAM, Mayor Tom Campbell, and in the case of the Non-Partisan Association, the Vision Vancouver civic administration that has held office at City Hall since 2008.
Non-Partisan Association (NPA), founded 1937
In 1937, when Vancouver's oldest and most established municipal political party, the Non-Partisan Association, was formed to counteract the rise and burgeoning popularity of the democratic socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (which transformed into the New Democratic Party, in 1961), as revolutionary fervor and the presumed success of a workers' government in Russia swept the western world, and as the demand for a radical shift in the dynamics of the worker-employer relationship predominated, the Non-Partisan Association emerged as Vancouver's centre-right alternative to the radicalism of the left, promising always good government, and maintenance of a comforting status quo.
Since its inception, the Non-Partisan Association has emerged as Vancouver's natural governing party, holding the reins of power at City Hall, and at Park Board and School Board, as well, for all but four short terms of municipal government since the founding of the civic political party.
Drawing its strongest support from the business community and Vancouver neighbourhoods on the wealthier west side of the city, the Non-Partisan Association has remained the civic political party that has dedicated itself to the maintenance of city services, almost a serene form of government where decisions are made in the public view, and election after election the voting electorate of the city have given their consent to another salutary term of government to the always ethical and principled NPA.
The NPA, then, has generally been given to the provision of what we would all acknowledge as 'good government', focusing on services to meet the needs of Vancouver residents — clean and safe streets, a thriving parks and recreation system, fiscally responsible decision-making that has kept property taxes low, and a form of government where elected officials believe, to their core, in the concept of service to the public interest. No communists or radicals these, but rather humble, good-hearted, well-intentioned folks whose simple purpose is to listen to, and act upon, the wishes of the electorate, in every neighbourhood across our city.
Over the years, of course, the Non-Partisan Association has moved to change with the times, as circumstances dictated.
When the centre-left Art Phillips-led TEAM administration formed civic government in Vancouver 1972, and radical and boisterous Premier Dave Barrett formed a majority New Democratic Party provincial government in Victoria, the NPA could sense the shifting winds of change, and moderated the more conservative elements of its platform and approach to municipal governance. After the brief, but salutary, TEAM interregnum the NPA incorporated the more democratic and neighbourhood-oriented elements of TEAM's approach to municipal governance, as the NPA once again became Vancouver's natural governing party of responsible and good government.
In 2014, Non-Partisan Association mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe has dubbed the NPA, the Naturally Progressive Association, with a plethora of both small and big-L federal Liberals running with the party in the current civic election, under Mr. LaPointe — who is wont to say, "This is my party now. It is not the party of your fathers and mothers" — the NPA of 2014 has re-dedicated itself to serving the interests of a broad cross-section of the community in every part of the city, addressing social issues like child hunger, focusing on the economy and the promotion of resource sector jobs to strengthen Vancouver's economy, and the restoration of good government that is based on openness, transparency and intent of purpose, which is to say, listening to the concerns of residents in every neighbourhood across the city, consulting with the public and acting on the developed community consensus, which in 2014 — after six years of Vancouver's secretive, non-consultative, neighbourhood-and-park-destroying Vision Vancouver administration is, when you get right down to it, quite a radical — and dare we say, welcome — change, indeed.
In many ways, Kirk LaPointe and those running with him to form municipal government in the city of Vancouver are a mirror reflection of and not dissimilar to the TEAM party of Art Phillips — for the NPA of 2014 are a forward-thinking, well-educated, balanced and progressive team of candidates who will seek to undo the harm done by the Vision Vancouver administration of Gregor Robertson, while restoring open government and transparency of decision-making, as well as an opening of the books, while ensuring that no child goes to school hungry, and restoring a respectful relationship with residents across every neighbourhood in our city.
Whereas the current Vision Vancouver municipal government, and the Coalition of Progressive Electors — both of which parties employ and have a long history of a Marxist-oriented, top down, "we are the vanguard of revolutionary change, we know what's good for you, and we're going to give it to you whether you want it or not" — approach to governance that is given to an unrepentant arrogance, the Non-Partisan Association's plea to the voting electorate in 2014 offers a a simple and clear message: we know the Vancouver you want, and given the confidence and the support of the voters, those of us who are elected to serve you will set about to reinstate good government on all three civic elected bodies, as we ensure the provision of city services that meet the needs of all Vancouver citizens — from the promotion of pedestrian safe streets and more bike lanes and bike paths, to the acquisition of street sweepers to keep our streets clean, and the maintenance and building of new parks, and recreation centres.
Since 2008, when Vision Vancouver first formed government in the city of Vancouver, the NPA have been out of power but have formed a vibrant and engaged opposition, and in many ways have proved to be the conscience of city government, responsible, consultative, and dedicated to advocacy and responsive government. For many in our city, the messaging of the Non-Partisan Association is resonating like never before — all of which could / might / let's hope it does lead to change in the structure and application of the governance of our city, most particularly at City Hall and Park Board.
Vision Vancouver, founded 2005
Okay, you don't arrive at VanRamblings expecting to find balanced coverage of the entirely despicable and bullying Vision Vancouver civic party. As far as VanRamblings is concerned, the sooner we're rid of Vision and their arrogant Richard Daley-style of city government, the better off we'll all be.
Now, you see Geoff Olson's Vancouver Courier editorial cartoon above. The cartoon's thesis is that Vision Vancouver is in the pockets of big business & the big unions, that the decisions Vision Vancouver takes at City Council and Park Board are to better the interests of their corporate and union bosses — which decision-making is, of course, contrary to your interests and the interests of the vast majority of Vancouver's voting electorate.
As background on one aspect of the allegations, in an October 16th article in The Courier, journalist Bob Mackin details what might be considered a pay-for-play / quid pro quo deal that many in the community — including Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe — have read and interpreted as a form of corrupt governance at City Hall, about which LaPointe wrote in an opinion piece published in The Province newspaper ...
"Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty. It gives away the store."
Corporate donations were written about in The Straight, and reference is made to Vision Vancouver's corporate donation base in an e-mail distributed this morning by COPE, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, that is excerpted below, detailing yet another facet of Vision Vancouver's win-at-all-costs "dirty tricks" campaign style. Principles and ethics in the Vision Vancouver universe? — alien concepts. Little wonder that in the waning days of Campaign 2014 — as voters become aware there's an election going on — support for Vision Vancouver has plummeted.
An excerpt from this morning's e-mail to COPE members ...
You may have received a robocall today from former City Councillor David Cadman, asking you to vote Vision. We're told he makes a plea to COPE members not to split the vote — essentially, to hold their nose and vote Vision. We're not sure how Vision got all these numbers but we're going to find out.
In a sense, this is good news. It means Vision is running scared.
The same day (former COPE city councillor) Cadman endorsed Vision, the public got to see Vision's donations. This year Vision took $1.4 million from corporations. They took $75,000 from Holborn Properties, the company that worked with the BC Liberals to replace Little Mountain public housing with luxury condos.
Yesterday, Vision held a press conference where Gregor Robertson warmly welcomed the endorsement of former NPA president, Michael Davis, a spin doctor for oil tankers.
VanRamblings knows many of the folks in the Vision Vancouver party, and we honestly and truly like them, and will probably work with many of them in future days on various New Democratic party campaigns.
That said, the experience of many of us across Vancouver who are engaged in daily political life in our metropolitan centre have come to believe that, collectively, there is a shocking, appalling and disturbing psychopathy in Vision Vancouver's approach to governance that in Vision's woeful six years in power has meant ill for Vancouver residents across our city, and in every Vancouver neighbourhood in our beloved community of communities.
Jak King and Garth Mullins, activists who have organized in the Grandview-Woodland neighbourhood; Stephen Bohus, and the members of his Residents Association of Mount Pleasant; Randy Helten, and all those who have worked with him in the West End Neighbours Association; Tracey Moir, working with the Oakridge Langara Area Residents; and hundreds more engaged community activists who love our city, love our parks, love our livable and walkable and human-scale neighbourhoods, and our beloved and accessible community-run neighbourhood community centres, have risen up against Vision Vancouver this past three years, and more. You should, too!
In an article published in the Globe and Mail this morning, journalist Frances Bula makes reference to the hostility that the Mayor and his Vision Vancouver colleagues have met with at the all-candidates meetings that have been held across our city this past month. No kidding!
If you have any idea at all about what Vision Vancouver has been up to the past six years (read Decision 2014 coverage on VanRamblings for a bare hint of why engaged citizens across Vancouver have risen up against Vision Vancouver during the course of this election cycle, and in the past three years), you won't even consider casting a vote for a Vision Vancouver candidate running for office for Vancouver City Council, or for Park Board.
For a somewhat more dispassionate take on Vision Vancouver, its formation, and the history of Vision Vancouver and its faux Green liberalism, information may be found in the Wikipedia entry available online.
Green Party of Vancouver, founded 1984
The Green Party of Vancouver is a municipal political party in Vancouver that nominated Green Party of Canada deputy leader Adrianne Carr as their sole nominee for Vancouver City Council in the 2011 Vancouver civic election. Carr subsequently went on to win the seat in that year's November 19th civic election, and is the sole Green member of Vancouver City Council.
As we wrote of Carr in Part 1 of A Primer of Civic Politics in Vancouver ...
Isn't everybody voting Green this time around, given that Green party City Councillor Adriane Carr was, throughout this last term, the conscience of Council, where over the course of those three, very trying years (when Vision Vancouver treated her despicably, and as she maintained her dignity, and her advocacy for the interests of Vancouver citizens), Adriane Carr emerged as not only the most beloved political figure in Vancouver, but across all of western Canada, as well. Make no mistake, the Green Party of Vancouver, in this hard fought municipal election campaign, will garner many, many votes at the polls, from the grateful and appreciative citizens of Vancouver ...
The Green Party of Vancouver was founded in 1984, and has elected representatives to School Board, Park Board & most recently, City Council.
As above, in 2011, Adriane Carr — one of the party's original founders — was elected as Vancouver's first ever Green City Councillor.
Since that time, Adriane has gained the respect and admiration of Vancouver citizens who value her independent voice on Council, her strong democratic principles, and her readiness to listen to what citizens have to say and then to be a voice for them at City Hall.
In 2014, Adriane Carr is seeking re-election to Vancouver Council along with Council running mates Pete Fry and Cleta Brown. Stuart Mackinnon and Michael Wiebe are the Green party candidates for Vancouver Park Board, and Mischa Oak — who many consider to be the hardest-working candidate running for office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election — and Janet Fraser, are the Green Party of Vancouver candidates for School Board.
In some very real sense, the Green Party of Vancouver candidate team is your independent, non-aligned voice in civic politics. Given Adriane Carr's overwhelming & deserved popularity with voters, her political coattails in this election could very well elect all, or almost all, of the Green Party of Vancouver candidates running for Council, Park Board and School Board.
Here's the Green Party of Vancouver's platform, which explicates a programme which will ensure that the public interest will be placed first, that people-centred planning will predominate, where your voice will be heard, and the crisis arising from the lack of affordable housing will be addressed, and our city Vancouver will remain a compassionate, safe and inclusive city.
The Vancouver Cedar Party, founded 2013
Full disclosure: in the 2014 Vancouver civic election, VanRamblings has frequently met with the members and donated monies to the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the Green Party of Vancouver, and the newest political force on the civic block, the Vancouver Cedar Party, headed up by Glen Chernen (on the right above), and his brother, Nicholas Chernen.
As it happens, the Vancouver Cedar Party campaign headquarters is located just three blocks down the way from the housing co-operative where VanRamblings has resided for the past 30+ years (and where we raised our children), the campaign office located directly across from the shuttered Hollywood Theatre on West Broadway. VanRamblings has made a point of dropping by the Cedar Party's offices almost every day — which I'm sure on some days has driven them nuts, but even so, both Nicholas and Glen have proved invariably kind and welcoming, and forthcoming about the campaign.
More than any other party running candidates for office in the current civic election, the Vancouver Cedar Party has held Vision Vancouver's feet to the fire — releasing one devastating press release after another detailing the egregious, secretive, wrong-headed, anti-community (some would say, corrupt) decision-making that has gone on behind closed doors at City Hall, and inside the Mayor's office, as Vision Vancouver has sacrificed the community interest in favour of the interests of their developer friends.
Awhile back, arising from one of the Vancouver Cedar Party's press releases, VanRamblings wrote about the hidden-from-public-view decision taken in the Mayor's office to — without any hint of consultation with the community, never mind the elected members of Council and Park Board, including elected representatives from their own party, and a bewildered, deer-in-the-headlights Park Board General Manager, Malcolm Bromley — sell off 12 parcels of city-owned land at the north-east end of the Granville Street bridge, move the Aquatic Centre from its current location to a land-locked location east of the bridge, tear down the Continental Hotel, and seek to sign a development contract for the newly gathered together, city-owned property with one of their insider developer friends.
The Vancouver Cedar Party offers 7 reasons for entering the political fray as candidates for Council in 2014's Vancouver civic election — and assure voters that a vote for the Cedar Party will mean that elected Council candidates will be unbeholden to anyone but you, and that elected members will work toward the restoration of fiscal responsibility at City Hall, and environmental stewardship at Vancouver Park Board.
Chances are the Vancouver Cedar Party will not elect any candidates the first time out seeking political office — although Nicholas Chernen has garnered the endorsements of community groups and political activist Jak King, as will be the case with VanRamblings when we announce our slate of candidates for endorsement in the coming week — but it's worth your while to take a gander at their 'Rooted in Democracy' website, and / or drop by their campaign office for an unenlightening chat about Campaign 2014.
Honestly, Glen and Nicholas Chernen — and fellow Council candidates Charlene Sayo and Jeremy Gustafson — are worthy candidates in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election, and deserving of your attention.
One City Vancouver, founded 2014
Formed by an activist group of citizens once affiliated with the The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), One City Vancouver is running only one candidate in this election, RJ Aquino, an individual who ran as a candidate for COPE in Vancouver's 2011 municipal election and who, in 2014, is running as a candidate for the nascent One City Vancouver civic party. RJ has acquitted himself well on the campaign trail, emerging as a thoughtful and informed candidate for Vancouver City Council, who would well serve the interests of the citizens of Vancouver were he elected to Council.
Still, there's this niggling thought in the back of my mind that, forever however much VanRamblings likes and respects RJ (and we do!), that if push came to shove, and he was the deciding, swing vote on Council, that he'd line up with Vision Vancouver when it came down to the crunch.
VanRamblings knows well, and has worked with, many folks who are behind the creation of One City Vancouver, and I know them all to be honourable citizens of conscience who have always had the interests of the broader community at heart, have organized to ensure democratic decision-making and citizen engagement in neighbourhoods across our city, and worked throughout their lives to work towards a fairer, more just Vancouver, and a more just world, for all — political activists who made a difference.
With the above in mind, a vote for RJ Aquino would not be a wasted vote.
As blogger and freelance civic affairs journalist Frances Bula wrote earlier today, it's difficult to figure out why Vancouver 1st has candidates running for office in this election, what they stand for, and why voters would give even a passing thought to voting for any of their candidates?
Awhile back, Vancouver 1st announced that right-wingers Ken Denike and Sophia Woo — current members of Vancouver School Board — who were unceremoniously kicked out of the Non-Partisan Association, would run as School Board candidates for the party. Really?
At the same time, the party announced the candidacy of Olympic bronze medallist Brent Hayden for Park Board, not that he's been seen anywhere on the campaign trail. Former President of the Thunderbird Neighbourhood Association, Massimo Rossetti, has acquitted himself well in the campaign, as has Vancouver 1st's Jesse Johl (who's running for Council) — but at the end of the day, unless you're a rabid right-winger (and how many of those are there in Vancouver?), why would anyone give even a passing thought to casting a vote for any Vancouver 1st candidate? Just sayin'.
November 6, 2014
Voter participation in Vancouver civic elections is abysmal.
In 2008, when Vision Vancouver was elected to its first majority term, the voter turnout rate was 30.79%. Of the 403,663 registered Vancouver voters, the office of the Chief Elections Officer at City Hall reported only 124,285 Vancouver residents filled out a ballot, a decrease of 1.66% from the 32.45% turnout for the 2005 municipal election.
In 2011, after Vision Vancouver spent $657,000 in a massive television ad buy the final five days of the campaign (bringing out an extra 10,000 votes for the party, according to tracking results released internally by Strategic Communications, Vision's pollster of record), voter turnout registered at 34.57%, mainly as a consequence of that Vision ad blitz, which alerted a sleepy Vancouver populace to the pending civic election polling day.
Recently, at an all-candidates meeting, current Non-Partisan Association city councillor George Affleck — who, in 2014, is seeking voter support for a second term at City Hall — expressed wonderment at the low turnout rate.
"We're the level of government that is closest to you. Unlike the senior levels of government, you can actually reach out and touch us, you can put your hand on my shoulder. As a city councillor I am more available to you as an elected representative than would ever be the case with your federal or provincial representative. What Council, or Park Board, does day-in, day-out affects the quality of your life. You have a stake in the outcome of the election, you can determine the kind of city that you want going forward, and play a role in helping determine what civic priorities will be in the next term of your local government."
Yet, nine days out from election day — Saturday, November 15th — insider polling for Vancouver's two major political parties indicates a woeful level of citizen engagement, and a probable 28% voter participation rate this year.
Earlier in the week, I was speaking with a doctor friend of mine — one of the brightest, most accomplished people I know — about the current civic election, and who I would be supporting as candidates in the election. During the course of the conversation, my friend revealed to me that he didn't know the names of any of the political parties in Vancouver, nor was he aware of the names of any of the current members of Council, or possess the foggiest notion of what any of the parties stood for, what they'd accomplished, what the issues are in this election, and why he — or his lovely bride of some 30 years — should vote one way or the other.
Another friend of mine, someone I often attend movie previews with, although he has some vague notion that Gregor Robertson is our Mayor, doesn't know what party Mr. Robertson is a member of, is unaware of not just the platforms but the names of the opposition parties, who their candidates are, and why there's this big hue and cry — among some, including me — to oust Gregor Robertson from municipal government.
At the request of not just the two friends mentioned above, but many, many others in the community, in today and Saturday's posts on VanRamblings, I'll publish a primer on civic politics in Vancouver, where I will seek to provide insight into the six political parties that are vying for office, on all three civic bodies — Council, Park Board and School Board — write a bit about the history of these parties, what they stand for, and the primary issues of concern that have been identified by engaged voters.
Given that for most of my political history, dating back to the 1970s, I was (and remain) a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the section on COPE will run longer and in more depth than is the case with the remaining parties seeking office in the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.
Not to mention, to this point in time, VanRamblings has not given COPE it's rightful due — for the Coalition of Progressive Electors has run a first-rate campaign, setting the agenda for the issues of importance in our city (affordable housing, the economy, openness and transparency at City Hall).
COPE mayoralty candidate, Meena Wong, has in particular acquitted herself passionately and well on the campaign trail, as have all of the candidates COPE has presented to Vancouver voters in Campaign 2014.
In Part 1 of A Primer on Civic Politics in Vancouver, COPE's history, from the party's inception til now. On Saturday, readers can expect to find an idiosyncratic take on the Non-Partisan Association, Vision Vancouver, the illustrious Green Party of Vancouver, about which I have written elsewhere:
Isn't everybody voting Green this time around, given that Green party City Councillor Adriane Carr was, throughout this last term, the conscience of Council, where over the course of those three, very trying years (when Vision Vancouver treated her despicably, and as she maintained her dignity, and her advocacy for the interests of Vancouver citizens), Adriane Carr emerged as not only the most beloved political figure in Vancouver, but across all of western Canada, as well. Make no mistake, the Green Party of Vancouver, in this hard fought municipal election campaign, will garner many, many votes at the polls, from the grateful and appreciative citizens of Vancouver ...
... and will write about, as well, the near-independent civic election party, IDEA, and the nascent Vancouver First political party.
Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), founded 1968
The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), formed in 1968 — then known as the Committee of Progressive Electors — was mainly a creature of the activist Vancouver chapter of the Communist Party, and the Vancouver & District Labour Council. The VDLC's Frank Kennedy and gruff, outspoken lawyer Harry Rankin were key figures in shaping the coalition, along with activists from the provincial New Democratic Party, social justice organizations, and an amalgam of left-wing, activist community groups.
These were the days when many of us believed that the contradictions of a corrupt, unjust capitalist economic system were so great that it would lead to the imminent collapse of western society as we knew it (as Marx had long ago predicted), leading to a socialist revolution that was, we were all certain, just around the corner. If I remember correctly, it was current Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs — among many, many others — who would be my comrade-in-arms, as we set about to man the barricades.
Even given all of the above, and given our heartfelt belief in the imminent, forthcoming socialist revolution, COPE was formed espousing somewhat more modest goals, which is to say, as a Vancouver municipal party that would effectively organize against the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) — a centre-right political party that had dominated civic politics in Vancouver for nearly three decades. The formation of COPE, and its importance as a voice for working class people, and the most vulnerable in our city, came about in response, as well, to the extreme right-of-centre (some would say, corrupt) leadership of independent Mayor, Tom Campbell.
For most of its history, COPE has had an uneasy relationship with centre-left parties at the municipal level. From 1972 to 1986, COPE competed with The Electors' Action Movement, which in the 1970s governed the city under prominent federal Liberal, Mayor Art Phillips.
By the late 1970s, a breakaway faction of TEAM, comprised mainly of supporters of the provincial NDP and led by, now former, TEAM city councillor, and future NDP premier, Mike Harcourt formed an electoral alliance with COPE, from which both parties benefited. Led by Harcourt, the coalition governed from the centre and, although it ran a unified slate with COPE with the co-operation and support of the VDLC, Harcourt's three-person Civic Independents party quite often voted with the NPA, and the remaining TEAM councillors, and against COPE's more socialist policies.
COPE'S Harry Rankin ran for office more than a dozen times before finally being elected to Vancouver city council in 1966, as the sole independent alderman — and champion of working class people — on a Council dominated by the NPA, where he served for 20 consecutive years, often topping the polls, with great support from across the city, including the west side neighbourhoods of Kerrisdale, Dunbar and West Point Grey, who continually re-elected him to Council to hold the NPA's feet to the fire.
The Council debates between the NPA's George Puil and Harry Rankin became legendary — although the perception was that the two were bitter enemies and rivals who hated one another, in fact the two remained friends throughout their long and celebrated political careers, and were always respectful of one another. Ah, for the bygone days of Vancouver politics.
Rankin was so popular that voters not only supported him, but consistently elected a COPE opposition consisting of downtown eastside activist Bruce Eriksen, housing activist Bruce Yorke, and current Vancouver East federal Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the federal NDP, Libbi Davies. When Rankin lost his bid for Mayor in 1986, the provincial NDP and members of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation staged a coup and ousted Rankin, as the party went on to fallow years on Vancouver's municipal political scene, electing only Jenny Kwan to Council in the 90s, and COPE stalwart Tim Louis, and Donna Morgan, to Park Board.
All that changed, however, in 2002 when the Non-Partisan Association became riven with division, as a bitter battle between a right-wing faction led by Jennifer Clarke and a moderate faction led by then NPA Mayor Philip Owen all but destroyed the party, creating the conditions for what became a long-awaited COPE victory at the polls, when every candidate running under COPE's banner was elected, on all three of Vancouver's civic bodies.
Following the 2002 election, COPE itself became riven with internal conflict.
Going into the 2002 election, COPE had sought a high-profile mayoral candidate, and they found one in Larry Campbell — a former RCMP officer, and coroner in the Vancouver District Coroner's office from 1981 through 1996, much of Campbell's eventual success with voters attributed to his charismatic personality, colourful background, and the belief that his life inspired a popular CBC television drama of the day, Da Vinci's Inquest.
From the outset, following his election to the Mayor's office, Campbell — a self-described moderate centrist (so moderate, in fact, that the opposition NPA approached him to run as their mayoralty candidate in 2005) — and not previously a member of COPE — refused to caucus with the party he'd run with as mayoral candidate, which as you might well imagine wreaked havoc within COPE, making it nearly impossible to develop a governance programme that might, or might not, find favour with the maverick mayor.
Infighting and internal strife within COPE reached such a fevered pitch that three COPE councillors (dubbed "COPE Lite" or "Diet COPE" by the media) separated and formed a new party, Vision Vancouver, which ran for office for the first time in the 2005 municipal election, choosing former COPE Councillor Jim Green as their mayoralty candidate.
Green lost by a hair's breadth when dirty politics attributed to winning NPA mayoralty candidate, Sam Sullivan, was accused of / thought to have colluded with an individual by the name of James Green, who placed his name on the mayoral ballot — confusing voters — and ushering in the Sam Sullivan mean-spirited regime at City Hall. COPE, however, won only one seat at the Council table, electing David Cadman to a second term in office.
COPE did not run a mayoralty candidate in 2005, nor in 2008 or 2011, as an uneasy "co-operative agreement" was struck between the nascent Vision Vancouver civic party and a weakened, and disheartened, COPE. In 2011, COPE elected only one candidate to a civic body, Allan Wong at School Board (Wong has since left COPE, & is now running with Vision Vancouver).
Arising from COPE's near wipeout at the polls, in April 2012, at a sometimes rancourous COPE annual general meeting, a coalition of left activists — led by former two-term city councillor, Tim Louis; former Green Party leader Stuart Parker, and left activists affliliated with online The Mainlander journal — succeeded in taking over all but four positions (out of 12) on the COPE Executive, the remaining "appeasing four" resigning from COPE in the fall of 2013. Since that time, left coalition activist / COPE exec member Stuart Parker — and many of his ardent supporters — also left COPE.
Still and all, returning to its roots as an activist social justice party, in 2014 the Coalition of Progressive Electors is running longtime COPE member Meena Wong as the party's first mayoralty candidate in 12 years, and COPE members have selected a first-rate slate of dedicated social justice advocates who, although the party will likely not form government following the current civic election (nor, it is probable, elect many candidates to civic office) has set the political agenda in Vancouver's Campaign 2014.
What does COPE stand for, what are their goals? According to COPE's constitution, Vancouver's second oldest municipal party has three aims:
- To unite individuals and groups behind a programme of progressive civic reform;
- To involve Vancouver residents and community organizations in public action in furtherance of their interests and the collective interests of Vancouver; and
- To nominate and endorse candidates for election to civic office in order to promote these purposes, and to provide direction and guidance to such candidates, both before and after they have been elected.
For the first time in a generation, COPE is living up to its constitutional goals, and in 2014 is running on a social justice platform of addressing the affordable housing crisis, as the party's candidates have set about to advocate for the construction of a City-built and City-owned affordable housing stock. The Coalition of Progressive Electors is the only municipal political party that has placed before the voting public a realistic plan for ensuring the construction and provision of affordable housing.
In addition, in the current civic election COPE has campaigned on ...
- The adoption of a $15-an-hour minimum wage, already a successful initiative in the city of Seattle, and a referendum item that met with success in five states and numerous cities and counties across the United States in Tuesday's U.S. election;
- A U-Pass, a $30-a-month universal transit pass programme for all residents of Vancouver, not dissimilar to the universal (U-Pass) programme that has proved a massive success at colleges and universities, which served to increase ridership while reducing fares, congestion, and carbon emissions;
- Transparency and local democracy, including long overdue campaign finance reform, enhanced and respectful neighbourhood consultation and local democratic governance, as well as electoral reform that will allow Vancouver residents to choose between the current at-large voting system, or replace it with a more democratic and neighbourhood-based ward system (as is the case in every municipality, outside of British Columbia, across the great expanse of Canada), among other democratic propositions that have much resonance with the voting electorate of Vancouver;
- Ending renovictions, implementation of a vacant property tax, and the development of guidelines for the retention and creation of affordable live music venues and art spaces, among many other salutary initiatives that would have much appeal to the broadest cross-section of Vancouver's beleaguered voting public.
COPE is the party of principle, it is the only Vancouver civic party that exists that has as its primary goal working towards a Vancouver based on fairness, equity, and social justice — in other words, a Vancouver for all.
There are some folks who believe that COPE, in being a party of the left, has set unrealistic goals, that it is a party of ideologues with its head in the clouds, out of touch with the concerns of Vancouver's voting public.
Such a cynical and hopeless notion couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, the goals that many of us set back in the 1960s are the goals that COPE continues to fight for today. Perhaps, as a reminder of the principles of what we as citizens once stood for, and the principles that we might once again embrace as we make our journey through the 21st century, let us recall the words of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and 1968 candidate for President of the United States — hardly an individual and public figure who anyone would consider to be a radical or a revolutionary, yet who believed, as do the members of COPE, that ...
"The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence.
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation. A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not.
There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
Make no mistake, COPE is the future. Perhaps the future is not now — but if you look for it, you can see it; it is just off on the horizon.
Voters will want to save a vote for COPE, or two, or three or four.
For Vancouver City Council, voters may want to consider such outstanding candidates as Tim Louis, Gayle Gavin, Lisa Barrett, Sid Chow Tan, Keith Higgins and Audrey Seigl. I can tell you, as well, that young, passionate and articulate (also a wonderful writer) social justice advocate Jennifer O'Keeffe has garnered the support of many people of conscience in Campaign 2014, and that my good friend and social justice advocate, Wilson Munoz, will also garner many, many votes at the ballot box.
Read the candidate profiles of the very fine folks who are running with COPE — and for you — in the 2014 Vancouver civic election.
And, please, take the time to look at COPE's platform, the issues COPE has identified in this vigorous and hard-fought campaign for elected office, and the campaign for change COPE has dedicated itself to in Campaign 2014.
November 5, 2014
With only 10 days to go til the 2014 Vancouver civic election wraps, and we learn the final outcome of the voting decision take by Vancouver's voting electorate, two influential community activist interests have come out with their — some would say, surprising — list of endorsements.
Surprise or not, there's no question that our city's political class will insist that no thinking voter of conscience should consider casting a vote for any Vision Vancouver candidate running for re / election to either Vancouver City Council, or to Vancouver's beleaguered-under-Vision Park Board.
Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) ran four candidates for Council in the 2011 Vancouver civic election; in 2014, the nascent grassroots political party has chosen to sit things out, while engaging with candidates from the diverse parties who are seeking elected office this year.
NSV's recommended candidate list is informed, but not one with which VanRamblings is necessarily whole-heartedly in accord.
NSV offers a thoughtful rationale for their choices that is well worth reading. Also worth reading, Carlito Pablo's Georgia Straight NSV story — as well as some of the commentary, below the article, by The Straight's readers.
VanRamblings is debating with several of our readers on the efficacy of publishing a specific candidate endorsement list (although we've provided one privately to several of our friends and associates) — whatever the case, we will be endorsing candidates for all three of Vancouver's civically-elected bodies and may, in fact, publish a specific endorsement list.
Those endorsements will be published next week on VanRamblings.
Respected Grandview-Woodland community activist, and inveterate blogger, Jak King, has this week endorsed a diverse slate of candidates for Vancouver City Council, and a surprising, yet principled, choice for Mayor.
VanRamblings is thrilled with the inclusion of the NPA's Ian Robertson and Rob McDowell — who are our two favourite NPA candidates, and must-elects as far as we're concerned — and we're over-the-moon with the inclusion of longtime friend and political associate, Tim Louis, one of the hardest-working, most principled men we've ever met.
In 2014, how could any thinking voter not cast their ballot for the Green Party of Vancouver candidates running for office? And, brothers Glen and Nicholas Chernen would make great members of Vancouver City Council. Nice to see COPE's incredibly well-informed Lisa Barrett on the list, as well as RJ Aquino, who has often outperformed almost every other Council candidate running for office, at the all-candidates meetings he's attended.
For Mayor, after much thought and consideration and choosing to endorse strategically, Jak King today endorsed Kirk LaPointe, the articulate, accomplished and thoughtful Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor.
Click here for insight into the reasoning behind what we're sure was a very difficult decision — but VanRamblings believes an absolutely necessary one — that caused Jak to make a choice we feel assured will be the imperative voter conclusion that will be reached by a plurality of Vancouver residents.
November 4, 2014
A couple of weeks back when arriving home from an afternoon all-candidates meeting, an old associate, decades-long City of Vancouver planner, and neighbour — knowing of my time on Vancouver's Board of Variance, and my consuming interest in all things community planning — asked if he could speak with me for a few minutes about a concern he had respecting a recent community planning process gone awry.
The crux of the concern raised was this: the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan on which he and his City Hall colleagues had spent considerable time in consultation with residents on drafting and submitting to City Council, bore no relation to the finalized plan presented to Council.
Interference from the Mayor's office, he suggested, as well as highly suspect and unilateral changes to the community plan had been made subsequent to the submission of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan to the office of Vancouver's recently-appointed General Manager of Planning and Development, Brian Jackson — including the addition of a mass of 26 - 40 storey towers at both Clark and Commercial Drives, along East Broadway, and mid-rise 8-storey multiple-unit residential buildings along the expanse of Nanaimo and Hastings Streets, neither of which was included in the original plan submitted to Jackson.
As per standard journalistic practice, VanRamblings set about to second-source the information provided to us above, when what should land in our e-mail inbox but a 1410-word Open Letter, titled Inside Story of a Botched Community Plan, written by housing, development and community activist Ned Jacobs, subtitled "How the Robertson administration has betrayed the public trust and is destroying community planning in Vancouver."
The information contained in Jacobs' letter, virtually word-for-word reflects the information that had been provided to me two weeks ago. Speaking with Jacobs on Monday afternoon, we discovered that his source was not the same senior city planning staffer who had earlier spoken to me.
Jacobs' letter makes repeated reference to a Mayor Gregor Robertson / Dr. Penny Ballem (Vancouver City Manager) / Brian J. Jackson triumvirate who were involved in the drafting of, and inclusion in, a revised and substantively changed Grandview-Woodland Community Plan. In fact, according to the city planning official with whom VanRamblings spoke, Mike Magee, the Mayor's Chief of Staff, as well as several Vision Vancouver City Councillors, played a pivotal role in the redrafting of the community plan that would finally be presented to Vancouver City Council.
Note should be made that at the Grandview-Woodland all-candidates meeting last week, incumbent City Councillor Andrea Reimer told the crowd in attendance that neither she, nor her Vision Vancouver Council colleagues were aware of the contents of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan prior to its initial presentation to Council.
The response of the crowd to Reimer's statement was jeers, while the response of her fellow all-candidate panelists was, at best, querulous.
Councillor Reimer also set about to assure the citizens who had gathered at Britannia Secondary School, that she felt quite certain the Citizens' Assembly created as a "new tool in the city's public-engagement toolbox," when it reported out, would not recommend, nor agree to, the mass of towers along East Broadway, between Clark and Commercial Drives, that had caused so much consternation among Grandview-Woodland residents.
Again the audience jeered.
Clearly, the residents of Grandview-Woodland — as is the case in neighbouhoods across the city, ranging from Mount Pleasant on the eastside to Dunbar on the westside, through to the West End, Yaletown and False Creek North in the downtown core, not to mention, Marpole — are unbelieving of a Vision Vancouver civic administration where honest, thorough, citizen-engaged consultation has been in short supply.
Time and time again, under Vision Vancouver, the city has failed to adhere to best practices in neighbourhood planning, most often defined as ...
- An opportunity to involve citizens in considering their future that provides effective tools for examining their community;
- Collaborative citizen involvement in neighbourhood planning and development, and ...
- Neighbourhood planning that brings together multiple city departments, community organizations, citizens, business improvement associations and related community stakeholders, and social service providers, who working together would seek to co-ordinate their collective efforts to ensure the delivery of a wide range of quality services at the neighbourhood level, so as to provide a more responsive, interactive environment for residents to express their concerns and needs.
Generally, best practices neighbourhood planning involves a years-long process that encourages citizens, through workshops and task group meetings, to become involved in neighbourhood planning — not unlike Vancouver's successful Gordon Campbell-Ann McAfee-inspired City Plan process of days gone by, a planning process that engaged all sectors of the community in what was most often a years-long effort that encouraged a broad range of citizens to become involved in their neighbourhood planning, a truly democratic and citizen-engaged community visioning process.
During the course of the present Vancouver civic election campaign, NPA mayoralty candidate Kirk LaPointe has talked about reinstating City Plan.
Vancouverites are well aware that with a Vision Vancouver administration at City Hall, and a development on speed ethos driving development across the city, that citizen-engaged neighbourhood planning processes in our city have become nothing more than a nostalgic, warily abused & hoary fiction.
Update: For further insight into the botched Grandview-Woodland Community Plan, it's worth reading the commentary of Scot Hein — the City of Vancouver's Senior Urban Designer at the time the Grandview-Woodland process was tabling built form — his team "... absolutely did not support towers outside the focused "Safeway Precinct," he writes.
Here is Ned Jacobs' Open Letter, posted to VanRamblings, and others ...
November 3, 2014
We live in a complex, too often cruel world.
On the evening news, we listen to reports about the ongoing negotiations to free the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped six months ago by Boko Haram, followed by a report interviewing a young Kurdish father who, despite not being paid for six months by a corrupt Iraqi government continues his fight against the extremist ISIL forces in order that he might "protect my family from harm, my wife and my young daughters."
We blink, our eyes water, we know we are powerless to do anything to change the cruelest of circumstances occurring across our globe.
Where and when do we possess the agency to help make this a better, a kinder and more just world, where children will awake each morning and know that this will not be a day of hunger, where shelter will consist of more than a blanket and a mat within a bedbug-infested hostel, where the needs of our families will be prioritized over the pecuniary demands of developers dedicated to ensuring the re-election of a government whose sole grievous purpose is to line their own pockets at the public expense?
Charity, as you have heard throughout your life, begins at home.
Tomorrow, the advance polls in the 2014 Vancouver civic election open, giving us the opportunity to make a difference, to improve the lives of all those who live around us. Advance polls will be open 8 a.m. thru 8 p.m., Tuesday, November 4th thru Monday, November 10th, and again on Wednesday, November 12th, at any one of the following locations:
- Vancouver City Hall, 453 West 12th Avenue, at Cambie
- Kerrisdale Community Centre, 5851 West Boulevard
- Killarney Community Centre, 6260 Killarney Street
- Kitsilano Community Centre, 2690 Larch Street
- Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews
- Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main Street
- Thunderbird Community Centre, 2311 Cassiar Street
- West End Community Centre, 870 Denman Street
Collectively, on election day, Saturday, November 15th, those of us who live in Vancouver have the opportunity to return democratic governance to City Hall and our Vancouver Park Board, where human-scale over highrise development once again becomes a priority for our elected officials, where our community centres will once again receive the funding and supports necessary to meet the needs of our community, and where our parks might once again be transformed into green oases rather than the increasingly desecrated, untended to lands that has become the case under our present shockingly unjust and self-serving Vision Vancouver civic administration.
There's just no other way to say it: in Vancouver, we have a godawful, undemocratic, secretive, oppressive government at City Hall & Park Board, dedicated to meeting the needs of their developer funders over your needs. Vision Vancouver has not earned and does not deserve your vote.
Over the course of the past 6 years of Vision Vancouver's term in power ...
- Our parks have become overrun with invasive species;
- Highrise-driven "town centres" were approved in far too many of our neighbourhoods, and many, many more are on the way in every neighbourhood across our city, if Vision Vancouver is re-elected;
- More homeless than ever sleep on our streets;
- Children go to school hungry because our current Vision Vancouver civic administration refused to fund children's breakfast programmes when a cruel provincial government withdrew funding;
- A war on cars has driven the price of parking and fines (the latter now without benefit of appeal) into the stratosphere, in order to fund bike lanes through parks, along our foreshore & through our green spaces;
- Gentrification takes place in our most livable neighbourhoods, where affordable, market-driven rental accommodation has been replaced by condominiums marketed to offshore buyers;
- One community cinema after another has closed its doors (The Ridge, The Hollywood Theatre), while The Pantages Theatre, The Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Playhouse Theatre are no more.
Whether it's the failure to protect the arts, rampant tower-driven densification in our neighbourhoods (you think it's bad now, just elect a majority Vision Vancouver administration, and I promise you won't recognize the city you love, nearing the end of their next term), children going to school hungry, clogged thoroughfares, pitiless bus service, underfunded community centres, Vision Vancouver has failed us, all of us.
The time has come to give Vancouver's cruelest, most-serving of developer's interests municipal administration the heave-ho, to send a clear message that the enough is enough.
When you head to the polls, no matter for whom you choose to cast your ballot, make sure of one thing: do not cast one vote for a Vision Vancouver City Councillor, and not one Vision Vancouver Park Board candidate deserves a checkmark beside her or his name. We must take our city back.
Do not vote Vision Vancouver.
Preserve what is good about our city, invest in our city and in Vancouver's future as a city of livable neighbourhoods, and love the city we all call home. At the advance polls, or on election day, cast your ballot as you wish — but please, please, do not support Vision Vancouver at the polls.
November 1, 2014
In 2011, in a Vancouver municipal election campaign event organized by the Vancouver Public Space Network and UBC's School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, featuring live indie music between rounds, and an unusual round-robin-meets-applause-meter debate style — hosted by Steve Burgess, the panel of judges including CBC's Theresa Lalonde, VPSN chair Alissa Sadler, UBC professor Matthew Soules, and The Tyee's David Beers — independent candidate for Council and Occupy Vancouver's Lauren Gill won the "sweaty, irreverent" and often raucous event. Said Gill ...
"My power and your power lies in the streets, and it lies in holding the politicians accountable and attending City Council hearings. We are the people who hold the power in this city. You see that at Occupy Vancouver — they haven't moved in yet. Why? Because we hold more power than they do."
Well, here we are in 2014, and the Last Candidate Standing debate is upon us, once again. This is going to be one of the standout events of the current election season, and Sunday afternoon, from 2pm til 5pm, at SFU's Goldcorp Centre (in the Woodward's building, 149 West Hastings, at Abbott), will be the place to be. Come one, come all. See ya there Sunday!
Certain to be the 2014 Park Board all-party candidates debate, all you have to do is take a gander at VanRamblings' Save Kits Beach coverage (read on down), and you'll know what Vision Vancouver is in for Monday evening.
It ain't gonna be pretty.
In preparation for Monday evening's debate, on Saturday afternoon some scalliwags (or should that read community activists of conscience) laid a tarp through Kitsilano Beach, as a reminder of the horrendously wrong-headed decision Vision Vancouver initially took to run a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks.
You think the residents of Kits, or residents anywhere across the city for that matter, have forgotten what Vision almost foisted upon us within one of Vancouver's most beloved parks? Not on your life.
C'mon along to the Billy Bishop Legion on Monday evening.
The beer is cheap, the community space is cozy yet surprisingly spacious, and VanRamblings can all but guarantee that Monday's Park Board debate will be one of the highlights of Campaign 2014. If Vision shows up.
Photos of Saturday afternoon's Kitsilano Beach Tarp Event available here.
October 31, 2014
Wednesday evening, former Vancouver City Councillor and respected civic affairs barrister Jonathan Baker wrote to VanRamblings to apprise us of Schlenker v. Torgrimson, a BC Court of Appeals case heard in 2013, which ruled that Salt Spring Island Councillors were in a conflict of interest arising from a direct or indirect pecuniary interest, in respect of having voted to award two service contracts to societies of which they were directors (see Reason for Judgment in the Schlenker v. Torgrimson link above).
In the written reasons for Judgment in the BC Court of Appeals, the Honourable Mr. Justice Donald — concurred in by The Honourable Madam Justice Newbury, and The Honourable Mr. Justice Hinkson — wrote ...
 Elected officials must avoid conflicts of interest. The question on appeal is whether the respondents were in a conflict when they voted to award two service contracts to societies of which they were directors. In the words of s. 101(1) of the Community Charter, S.B.C. 2003, c. 26, did they have "a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the matter[s]"?
 The penalty for conflict is disqualification until the next election.
 I would allow the appeal and declare that the respondents violated the Community Charter.
Arising from an at-length conversation VanRamblings had with the learned Mr. Baker, a determination was made that it may very well be that Schlenker v. Torgrimson could be the determining case law that, upon adjudication and a ruling on the matter before a Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, could result in an order of the Court that would prevent Vision Vancouver City Councillors who are elected in the next term from seeking a further term of elected office, in 2018.
Mr. Baker offers this précis of Schlenker v. Torgrimson ...
The Court of Appeal said direct or indirect pecuniary interest doesn't just refer to money, that a politician has a fiduciary duty to the Council on which they sit as a member, without built-in bias.
The bias that arises from a member of Council serving two masters is, in Schlenker v. Torgrimson, one, perfectly benign in relation to the environmental group of which he is a member, and his duty to his taxpayers, which loyalties are divided and in conflict.
The Justices held that it was important the Court come down with a decision. Paragraph 34 of the Judgment reads, "to prevent elected officials from having divided loyalties" in deciding how to spend the public's money, one's own financial advantage can be such a powerful motive, that putting the public interest second leads to a conflict. The Court must then rule that the Council member could not run for a succeeding term of office.
The benefit — or direct or indirect pecuniary interest — potentially derived by Mr. Meggs, and Vision Vancouver City Councillors, would be the monies received in compensation for duties performed as an elected official.
A direct conflict link, and a decided conflict of interest by Vision Vancouver, might be made — involving the receipt of monies from CUPE 1004 in exchange for favours or benefit, the commitment made to CUPE 1004 by Geoff Meggs on behalf of Vision Vancouver that there would "no contracting out", this commitment to members of CUPE 1004 made in advance of the bargaining of the upcoming December 2015 collective agreement, and payment in the form of monies paid by taxpayers to elected officials, in this case the Vision Vancouver members of Vancouver City Council.
As per Bob Mackin's article in the Vancouver Courier, the CUPE 1004 local donated $102,000 to the Vision Vancouver re-election campaign, as was made explicit, in exchange for a commitment by Vision Vancouver not to contract out the jobs of city workers.
The Criminal Code of Canada, Section 123, reads ...
Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years who directly or indirectly gives, offers or agrees to give or offer to a municipal official or to anyone for the benefit of a municipal official — or, being a municipal official, directly or indirectly demands, accepts or offers or agrees to accept from any person for themselves or another person — a loan, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind as consideration for the official."
Mr. Baker suggested to VanRamblings that in the case of CUPE 1004's commitment to the payment of monies to Vision Vancouver — the details of which are explicated in an October 16, 2014 Bob Mackin article in the Vancouver Courier — the circumstance is worse, as in ...
"We're going to give you money. There are strings attached. And they respond, 'Yeah, we know.' So, it looks like you have a contract, which is a horrible breach of their fiduciary duty to those citizens who elected them to office, and the populace of the city, in general."
Section 38 of Schlenker v. Torgrimson was, in part, based on the Ontario Divisional Court ruling in Re Moll and Fisher, which reads ...
This enactment, like all conflict-of-interest rules, is based on the moral principle, long embodied in our jurisprudence, that no man can serve two masters. It recognizes the fact that the judgment of even the most well-meaning men and women may be impaired when their personal financial interests are affected. Public office is a trust conferred by public authority for public purpose. And the Act ... enjoins holders of public offices ... from any participation in matters in which their economic self-interest may be in conflict with their public duty. The public's confidence in its elected representatives demands no less.
Given all of the above, VanRamblings has now come to believe that Kirk LaPointe was right when he wrote in his opinion piece in The Province ...
Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs, speaking for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, recently told a meeting of CUPE Local 1004 that the mayor was committing to not contract out any other city jobs. In turn, Vision was given financial and political support. No wonder Vancouverites don't trust city hall under Vision. Corruption corrodes confidence and this commitment smacks of political backroom deals of yesteryear.
It puts Vision's interests ahead of the city's and taxpayers.
Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty.
Once again, as happens on occasion, VanRamblings finds itself in the position of having to offer a mea culpa to an aggrieved party, in this case Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor, Mr. Kirk LaPointe.
We apologize, unreservedly, to you Mr. LaPointe. You were right, you are right. In fact, VanRamblings has now come to believe that the actions of Councillor Meggs represent, as you write, "an irresponsible service to the city", and that the verbal contract agreed to by Councillor Meggs, on behalf of the Vision Vancouver municipal political party of which he is a member, may and perhaps does, in fact, represent a breach of his fiduciary duty to the electorate, such matter yet to be officially determined in a court of law.
October 30, 2014
Allow VanRamblings to remind readers of a fact: there are 11 provincial ridings in the City of Vancouver. Do you know how many of those ridings were won by Liberal party candidates in the 2013 provincial election? Four. That's right, four out of eleven. 37% of the Vancouver electorate voted for the "right wing" party, 63% voted for the left-wing party. As VanRamblings is sure you're aware, all Canadian urban centres tend to vote left-of-centre.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association's main job in 2014 is to convince 10,000 more voters than voted for the NPA in 2011 to vote for them in 2014. Where's that vote going to come from? The 63% of Vancouver voters who voted for the NDP in 2013's provincial election.
At the start of Kirk LaPointe's New Progressive Association campaign to become Vancouver's next mayor, the always affable and thoughtful Mr. LaPointe presented himself to the voting electorate of Vancouver as the fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidate with a heart, who also possessed a very fine mind and a well-developed sense of ethics.
Over the course of the past couple of years, current Non-Partisan Association Council candidate Rob McDowell performed something akin to a feat of magic: he re-branded the Non-Partisan Association as the New Progressive Association (or, as Kirk LaPointe would prefer, the Naturally Progressive Association — which is pretty much what we've as heard as the campaign narrative from the day Kirk LaPointe announced his candidacy for Mayor, in mid-July through until mid-September), as the party of the Purple Revolution, a new and renewed party of progressives well able to put city government back into the hands of the people, where it rightfully belongs.
Of late, though, LaPointe appears to have stepped into the muck of seeming anti-union, even if in fact and in reality that is not — as he assures VanRamblings is the case (and we believe him) — his intention. Kirk LaPointe has told VanRamblings that he is committed to negotiating a fair contract with city workers, when next the city sits down with CUPE at the bargaining table, that there are no plans to contract out city worker jobs, and that a Kirk LaPointe-led civic administration remains committed to the re-engendering of a fair, just and respectful relationship with city workers.
As we're all aware, Campaign 2014 is a campaign of optics. Kirk LaPointe as the leader of a renewed Naturally Progressive Association of humble servants of the public interest works as a strong and abiding narrative — and accurately reflects his intention of working towards a much-improved working relationship with Vancouver city workers — a narrative and a commitment to workers that has much appeal to the citizens of Vancouver.
In the final 16 days of the Vancouver municipal campaign, voters will have to hear a great deal more of that humble servant refrain from the Non-Partisan Association if the renewed party of the Purple Revolution is going to proceed to victory late in the evening of Saturday, November 15th.
What Did Vision's CUPE Deal Mean for Workers Across the Province?
In December 2012, Vision Vancouver settled a 3-year contract with CUPE for 6.87%, and a much-increased and lauded pension and benefits package.
Now, as it happens, and as was the intention of CUPE (and, one would think, lifelong union activist and two-term Vision Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs), the 3-year contract with CUPE for 6.87% became the template for every other Metro Vancouver municipality, as CUPE whip-sawed Councils across the region into adopting Vancouver's union contract template. What's more, the Vision Vancouver contract with CUPE became the template for settlement in every other municipality across the province.
The Vision Vancouver / CUPE contract also caused / forced the provincial government to move off their much-despised '0-0-0' mandate with the public sector, and even went so far as to achieve an impact on wages across the private sector, with many private sector workers seeing the first rise in their take home pay in years.
So, the $1.5 million spent by CUPE on getting Vision Vancouver re-elected in 2011 certainly paid off handsomely for CUPE, and for all working people across the province. Of course, CUPE coffers were filled with the increased pay 2.75% - 3.25% portion of union members' paycheque deduction.
CUPE's narrative to its members across British Columbia: Vision Vancouver as a friend to CUPE, and to all working people across the province. No doubt that is why CUPE purchased two $250-a-person tables at Thursday night's Vision fundraiser at the Westin Bayshore, and soon-to-retire BC Federation of Labour head honcho, Jim Sinclair, could be seen prancing around the hall where the dinner / fundraiser was being held.
In the Non-Partisan Association candidate stump speeches, as was the case with current NPA City Councillor George Affleck at the RAMP Council all-candidates debate last week, NPA candidates have repeatedly referenced the low morale of City of Vancouver employees, talked about the cutbacks in staffing levels, about the mistreatment & politicization of city staff, about the lack of transparency at City Hall, and the utter lack of respect for the independence of the public service in the employ of the City of Vancouver.
And, of late, Non-Partisan Association candidates have even commenced to point out to CUPE workers employed by the city, and to the voting electorate of Vancouver, that — in fact — Vision Vancouver's / Geoff Meggs' much-ballyhooed commitment to not contract out the jobs of city workers is nothing other than another Vision Vancouver lie. The fact is that with a Vision Vancouver administration in charge at City Hall, the waste removal and recycling contract for businesses was awarded to various haulers in the private sector in Vision Vancouver's most recent term of office.
So much for Vision's commitment to not contract out CUPE jobs!
Given the reported upon fact that city workers are dissatisfied with Vision Vancouver as their employer, and given the fact that Vision Vancouver is, contrary to their commitment to city workers, contracting out jobs formerly performed by city staff, it would seem to make sense that the Non-Partisan Association would want to do all in their power to reassure the city's public service that with the election of a majority NPA administration at City Hall, a return to actual and palpable respect for city workers would become a central feature of city governance for the much-beleaguered members of CUPE 15 inside workers, and CUPE 1004 outside workers.
And that the Non-Partisan Association, while not cutting any side deals with the Union — which many in the community believe to be "influence peddling and corruption pure and simple, and one hopes that once the legalities are sorted out that someone will be properly charged and face a judge" — will settle a fair and responsible contract with City workers.
All of the above constitutes a great, and important narrative in Campaign 2014 that will take the voting electorate of Vancouver through the next week, when the advance polls open, til election day, November 15th.
And, finally, awhile back, in an informal, off-the-cuff conversation, CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro told VanRamblings that CUPE BC will spend $2 million in 2014 to secure a victory for Vision Vancouver at the polls.
The Non-Partisan Association, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), the Vancouver Cedar Party, and the Green Party of Vancouver have their work cut out for them in the next 16 days — theirs are under-funded campaigns (including that of the NPA, contrary to what you may have heard), at least compared to the $6-million developer-funded campaign of Vision Vancouver, with fewer dollars and fewer resources to get their clarion message of change into the hearts and minds of Vancouver's voting public.
Vancouver voters will soon see, at least, who the contributors to the NPA campaign are, given that on Thursday afternoon the Non-Partisan Association promised to reveal NPA donors before election day, an announcement that was soon followed up on by the Vision Vancouver campaign team. As a mid-afternoon headline in a story by editor Charlie Smith in The Straight reads, "campaign disclosures mean nothing without dollar figures attached." Those figures will be published early in 2015.
The link to Part I of Politics and Class Warfare may be found here.
October 27, 2014
Under the Non-Partisan Association administration of Mayor Sam Sullivan, a long and divisive civic strike of Vancouver's inside, outside, and library workers began on July 26, 2007, dubbed "Sam's Strike" by the union.
The strike lasted 88 days.
The unions, mustered by CUPE, blamed Sullivan's intransigence at the bargaining table for prolonging the strike, the union citing that the city's failing to table a written counteroffer as evidence of the city's bad faith.
Eventually, a mediator was called in, who recommended 17.5% [21% compounded] in a five-year contract, which was the amount accepted by all the other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. When two of the civic unions rejected the recommendation, public support collapsed; within a week a new vote by the three civic unions, with 1% more added to the contract than was the case across Metro Vancouver, and a deal was accepted.
In fact, the strike was purposefully prolonged by then CUPE 15 President Paul Faoro to create animus for the NPA, such ill-feeling that might lead to a victory for the nascent Vision Vancouver civic party. During the course of the strike, Mike Magee, Geoff Meggs and Paul Faoro struck a deal — with the election of a Vision Vancouver civic government, Vision would guarantee to CUPE that the city would pull out of the regional labour relations bureau.
Daniel Fontaine, writing in CityCaucus, wrote about "the deal", in an October 29, 2009 article titled, "Geoff Meggs hands CUPE a major victory."
In mid-2011, longtime CUPE 15 President Paul Faoro once again sat down with now Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Mike Magee, and first-term Vision Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs.
The deal that was struck this time was this: the City of Vancouver would guarantee to CUPE the City would settle an upcoming 3-year contract at 9%, as they had with the VPD and the firefighters. In fact, CUPE settled for 6.87%, with strict "no contracting out" provisions, an increase in benefits & pension plan provisions, the contract now coming in at 9%, as promised.
Once the deal was done, CUPE committed to spending $1.5 million to get Vision Vancouver re-elected; that's $1.5 million not as a direct, accountable donation, but $1.5 million that would be off-the-books. As elucidated in Bob Mackin's article in the Vancouver Courier, donations to Vision Vancouver from CUPE topped $245,250 — and that figure doesn't include the $63,000 donation from the HEU, a CUPE sister union.
Vision Vancouver turned over to CUPE their 16,000-name membership list. CUPE has a master list of 45,000 Union members who live in the City of Vancouver. CUPE hired 1,600 workers to get the vote out for Vision Vancouver, running a fear campaign against the NPA, "the party that brought you 'Sam's Strike', will contract out jobs at City Hall, put city workers on the bricks, and as the Liberals' farm team will set the tone to allow the Liberals to keep to their '0-0-0' mandate."
We all know how the last election went: in 2011, almost every one on the 45,000-strong Union member list came out to cast a ballot for Vision, as was the case with the 16,000-strong Vision Vancouver membership list.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association's job in 2014 is to steal away 5,000 to 8,000 Union votes from Vision, by assuring these union members that the NPA will negotiate a fair contract with city workers, that an NPA administration does not intend to contract out jobs, and that although an NPA administration will not negotiate side deals with CUPE and other unions, an NPA administration would settle with its workers for no less than the standard union contract agreed to across Metro Vancouver.
With all due respect to Non-Partisan Association campaign manager, Doug Leung, and the affable and very bright Kirk LaPointe, the NPA's number one job between now and election day, if the NPA wants to secure victory on November 15th, is to garner a fair percentage of the Union vote.
In terms of securing a portion of the union vote, Kirk LaPointe had a bad week last week. In a Province newspaper opinion piece response to Bob Mackin's article, titled "Vision Vancouver's cash-for-jobs deal with city union is corrupt", LaPointe wrote ...
Vision Coun. Geoff Meggs, speaking for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, recently told a meeting of CUPE Local 1004 that the mayor was committing to not contract out any other city jobs. In turn, Vision was given financial and political support. No wonder Vancouverites don't trust city hall under Vision. Corruption corrodes confidence and this commitment smacks of political backroom deals of yesteryear.
It puts Vision's interests ahead of the city's and taxpayers.
Being clearly beholden to the city's workers right now is an irresponsible service to the city. The union is approaching contract discussions, and any early definition of the city's bargaining position is a breach of fiduciary duty.
It gives away the store.
Mr. LaPointe, guess how much Union members care about "giving away the store"? About as much as Mike Magee, and the Vision folks, want to see an overwhelming NPA majority victory come late evening November 15th.
Union workers, like all workers, already feel hard done by, that they're not getting their piece of the pie, that the corporate 1% (which is how your opposition Vision Vancouver opponents have defined you) are ever-intent on grinding the interests of workers into the ground.
Kirk LaPointe and the Non-Partisan Association never, ever want to play into that narrative. Rather, if the NPA want to win this election, they must present Kirk LaPointe in much the way Naheed Nenshi, Calgary's mayor, was presented when he won back-to-back terms in the mayor's office.
The Non-Partisan Association, if they're interested in victory at all, would want ensure that their mayoralty candidate is defined as, "Kirk LaPointe, a Mayor For All The People, Union Members, Our Multi-Cultural Population, Teachers, Health Care Workers, The Poor and the Downtrodden, Children Who Go To School Hungry Every Morning, A True Man of the People, The Once and True Leader of the West Coast Progressive Purple Revolution."
In a Globe and Mail article published today, titled "Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson grilled on union at debate", freelance Vancouver civic affairs writer Frances Bula writes, " ... the Vision Vancouver mayor didn't have an answer when he was prodded at the four-candidate debate Sunday about what his party might have promised to a major city union in exchange for $102,000 in campaign donations."
There was a back-and-forth between Gregor Robertson and the NPA mayoralty candidate, Kirk LaPointe, who lambasted the mayor for tying "the hands of the city in the next round of bargaining" with the outside workers, whose contract is due to expire in December of 2015." Yada, yada, yada.
Bula goes on to write that Robertson, "during the debate and in a scrum afterward, would not acknowledge that the party has a long-standing commitment to maintaining the contracting out of city services at current levels, even though Mr. Meggs has said it does." No kidding. It's not as if Mike Magee, Geoff Meggs and Paul Faoro have ever shared the information with the Hollyhock cult king of Vancouver (oh sorry, "Mayor") — why would they, "Mayor" Robertson is only a sorta handsome sock puppet?
Vision Vancouver relies on four distinct voting blocs as its base of support: union members, a rabidly engaged cycling community, voters of Chinese descent, and members of the LGBTQ community, each of which voting group Vision Vancouver pursues with not a small degree of abandon.
The massive vote of union workers who reside in Vancouver, mustered by former CUPE 15 (City Hall inside workers) President, and current CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer, Paul Faoro, represents the largest constituency of voter support for Vision Vancouver — given such, there is virtually no end to which Vision will go, no reasonable promise that Vision is not prepared to make, to secure their largest and most crucial-to-their-re-election vote.
Although not for Mr. Juice Boy / Sock Puppet / Hollyhock cult boy (aka "The Mayor"), Vision Vancouver's raison d'être — well, at least Geoff Meggs' raison d'être — revolves around a rejection of the contemporary economic notion of the race to the bottom, where business and government — think the provincial Liberals or the federal Conservatives — set about to grind workers' economic interests into the ground. In B.C., and in most other North American jurisdictions, we've been down so long it looks like up.
In rejecting the neo-liberal notion of the race to the bottom, Vision Vancouver has set about to create the economic conditions where they will ensure their support for, first, the economic interests of their own city workers, and globally, the economic interests of workers' across the province. Here's how Vision Vancouver expresses their contemporary version of the Wobblies' 'workers of the world unite' narrative ...
"We've got your backs, we know you have families to care for, bills to pay, that as the cost of living continues to rise, you deserve a fair wage increase when next you bargain for a new contract, we know how important your job is to you, how important your job is to your family, and we here today commit to you that under a Vision Vancouver civic administration city worker jobs will not be contracted out."
Vision Vancouver, then, has announced a central tenet of their re-election platform, even if this particular aspect of the platform is surreptitious in its application, and held from the view of the voting electorate of the city.
There are a great many aspects of Vision Vancouver's time in power that may be criticized with fulsomeness. A Vision Vancouver civic administration protecting the economic interests of city workers is not one of them.
Geoff Meggs has spent a good deal of his life sitting in Marxist reading rooms, along with his contemporaries.
Kirk LaPointe and his Non-Partisan Association colleagues, naïfs that they are, wouldn't know a Marxist reading group if it smacked them upside the head. And, really, when you get down it, the acceptance of such notion is, well, kind of sweet (in a naive and somewhat becoming, and innocent way).
Still and all, for better or for worse (and much to the chagrin of VanRamblings), the Non-Partisan Association seems to have found a winning election issue — corruption at Vancouver City Hall, the promise to city workers that the public service in the employ of the city will be treated fairly at the bargaining table when the next contract is negotiated.
Somehow, in our contemporary economic climate, and in accord with the accepted economic notion of the race to the bottom, City of Vancouver workers getting a fair shake for themselves and for their families is a terrible thing, an egregious breach of political ethics — as one might imagine, an issue in this election that has found resonance with the electorate — and the one, sustaining election issue that may lead to the ignominious defeat of Vision Vancouver at the polls, come the evening of November 15th.
We live in strange, and perilous, social and economic times, indeed.
October 25, 2014
The following is an October 23rd editorial in The Province newspaper.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision strategists clearly think that pointing out their main opponent's lack of elected experience is a winning strategy. Robertson and other Vision politicians have repeated the point of late, including during Wednesday's mayoral debate at Langara College when Robertson finally deigned to face off against Kirk LaPointe of the NPA. But it demonstrates, as is too often the case with Vision, real arrogance that voters should really think about.
LaPointe may not have been elected to office before but as a senior journalist, CBC ombudsman and adjunct professor at UBC he's been involved in politics and thinking about political issues for a lot longer than Robertson.
What's the mayor saying? That it is ridiculous for LaPointe or other newbies to run for office? That only elected politicians have enough brains or ideas to be elected? If that's true, what expertise did Robertson bring to the mayor's job when he was first elected after short careers as a juice maker and opposition MLA?
LaPointe is raising issues that many Vancouverites are concerned about — the appalling traffic, secrecy at city hall, the lack of real public consultation in city planning and Vision's focus on issues outside the city's mandate. He may not have detailed solutions yet to all those issues, but Robertson either has none, doesn't care or is the source of the problems.
Democracy thrives on new ideas and new people; Robertson sounds like he believes he has some divine right to rule. The mayor should stop attacking LaPointe's résumé and start debating the issues.
The Province newspaper's editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at email@example.com. Letters to the editor, specifically on the editorial above, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 21, 2014
Canadians hold this axiom true: we are our brother's (and sister's) keeper.
In Canada, we live in a compassionate society, where the common good is the responsibility of all. Our socialized medical system is world class, as is our education system. Government fulfills its responsibility to provide a functioning judiciary that ensures public safety, an active and well-
functioning transportation system meets the needs of all sectors of our society, and we strive to care for those among us who are most in need.
In Abraham Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs, we satisfy our needs in a well-defined order. At the pinnacle of Maslow's pyramid? Shelter. With our need for food, shelter, good health, safety and community met, the conditions are present where we might lead a fulfilling, purposeful life.
In post-WWII Canadian society, as was expressed in our earlier post on development, the need for shelter was met, predominantly, through the construction of single-detached family homes. In the 1960s, Canadian society sought to ensure the provision of shelter for those most in need, as federal and provincial governments moved to build non-market housing.
When urban social housing projects like Raycam in Vancouver, and Regent Park in Toronto proved a ghetto-ized failure, at the behest of the federal government, a commission was struck to develop a 'made in Canada' solution to meet the need to house not just the indigent population, but members of the creative class, low-wage workers and single-parent families.
Through amendments to the National Housing Act, in the early 1970s the federal government launched the first programme to develop housing co-operatives, creating more than 60,000 non-market homes in co-ops across our land. Housing co-operatives ("co-ops") provide a place for people to live. In 2014, there are currently more than 2,000 housing co-ops across Canada, housing more than 111,000 community homeowners.
Housing co-operatives come in all sorts of forms and sizes, ranging from collections of townhouses and small, condominium-style buildings with 4 — 20 units, to large apartment-style buildings with hundreds of units. What sets co-ops apart from private rental housing is that they are democratic, community-owned housing developments, where residents take on the full responsibility for making decisions on how the co-op functions, for its finances, its ongoing maintenance, and for its members' responsibilities.
Current T.E.A.M. member / architect, and 1972-74 T.E.A.M. Park Board Commissioner, Bill McCreery, has written to VanRamblings stating that the construction of housing co-operatives "was a joint effort on the part of the City (T.EA.M.), federal Liberal minister of the day, Ron Basford (and his Deputy, Peter Oberlander), and Shirley Schmidt, acting for Dave Barrett's early 1970's provincial NPD government. This era of intergovernmental co-operation is unprecedented, and it highlights what can be accomplished when it happens. Something we should be striving for today." Bill goes on to point out that all Phase1 co-ops were 2 or 3 storey townhouses, while Phase2 co-ops, as above, were mostly mid-rise, 4 to 6 storey structures.
Among the first housing co-operatives built in Vancouver were the co-ops along the south shore of False Creek, between Granville Island and the Cambie Street bridge. With the support of the province, and under municipal by-law, one-third of all large-scale housing development would be housing co-operatives — which is to say, one out of every three buildings along False Creek's south shore is a housing co-op, as was the case when the construction began in the 1970s, and as it remains to this day.
Government does not own the housing co-operative; rather the co-operative is owned collectively by its members. Almost the sole role of the federal government is to provide surety to the financial institutions that lend the monies to the members of the co-operative for the purchase of land and construction of the housing. No housing co-operative in Canada has ever declared bankruptcy — the federal government has never had to assume the financial obligations of housing co-op members, at any time.
No one in a housing co-operative pays more than one-third of their income for their housing, the co-operative model mandating that one-third of the members of the co-op will receive full subsidy out of the operating funds of the co-op, while another third are granted a partial subsidy, the remaining one-third of members required to pay the low-end of market housing rate.
Co-op members pay no more than 30% of their income for housing.
Note should be made that a significant portion of housing units in a co-operative housing complex are set aside for 3-bedroom, affordable family housing — meeting the most pressing need of young families who have been unable to find suitable homes to raise their children in a safe and secure community environment, in Vancouver's woefully underserved housing market for our city's burgeoning population of young families.
Generally, the one-third of members on deep subsidy consist of single parents, pensioners and members of the disability community. The middle third are generally comprised of low-wage income earners, and members of the creative class (writers, artists). The final third, that part of the co-operative membership who pay the low-end-of-market rate are comprised of a broad cross-section of our community, business persons, teachers, and other higher income earners, each one of whom is a person of conscience dedicated to the interests of the community — for being a member of a housing co-op entails work, and a great deal of personal and social responsibility on the part all of the co-operatives' members.
In the 1970s, in Vancouver and across British Columbia, with the election of Dave Barrett's NDP provincial government, and the election of the TEAM civic government of Art Phillips, we moved away from the social barbarism of the years of provincial premier WAC Bennett and Vancouver's misguided mayor, Tom Campbell, into a new, enlightened era of social responsibility.
In the 1980s, with a faltering provincial economy, the social obligation that mandated that one-third of all large-scale housing development consist of housing co-operatives was reduced to one-quarter, or 25%. For instance, when a developer such as BOSA set about to construct the mass of highrises along Main and Quebec avenues between the Georgia Viaduct and Terminal avenue, and as BOSA built 2000 condominium units, the company was required to construct 500 social and housing co-operative units.
In the 1990s, that obligation was reduced to 20%, in the early 2000s to 15%, and under both the NPA administration of Sam Sullivan and during both terms of the Gregor Robertson-led Vision Vancouver civic administration, the obligation of developers to construct social housing units and housing co-operatives was eliminated entirely. Thus, we are left with the affordable housing crisis we face today, and the number one issue on the minds of the electorate in 2014's Vancouver municipal election.
Back to the Future: Electing a New Vancouver Civic Administration
Fortunately, with the prospect of a socially responsible and progressive Non-Partisan Association municipal administration at Vancouver City Hall, supported by members of the Green Party of Vancouver and COPE, the Coalition of Progressive Electors, the potential to once again engage in the construction of housing co-operatives exists not far off on our horizon.
In the 1970s, the TEAM administration of Art Phillips created the Property Endowment Fund (PEF), consisting of the real estate assets of all city-owned property, designated by Mayor Phillips and the Council of the day as a rainy-day fund, a portion of the PEF that might someday be dedicated to the construction of housing for those in need. You've probably noticed that it's not just raining out there, there's a deluge.
At present, there's $3½ billion dollars in the Property Endowment Fund — the time has long since past that Vancouver's civic administration dedicate a portion of the PEF to the construction of housing co-operatives. Why co-operatives, and not COPE's housing authority? A couple of reasons.
COPE's housing authority would require a new and costly level of civic administration at City Hall, when there's already attendant bureaucracies in place that administer housing co-operatives, which are a joint responsibility of the provincial government through its housing agency, B.C. Housing and through its arms-length provincial Agency for Co-operatives, as well as B.C.'s much-heralded and respected Co-operative Housing Federation.
Secondly, housing co-operatives provide a salutary, non-market form of home ownership, where collectively the members of the co-operative assume the day-to-day responsibility for the operation of the co-operative, as we do our own homes. Members of a co-operative are not tenants, we are homeowners, which is to say we are maîtres de notre propre maison.
When the Vision Vancouver civic administration approved Jimmy Pattison's massive development at Drake and Burrard, $42.6 million in community amenity contributions was extracted from the developer, Reliance Holdings. Do you know how much of that $42.6 million was set aside for the construction of social housing, or housing co-operatives? Nada, zero, zilch — Vision Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang and Mayor Gregor Robertson expounding that "there's no shortage of social housing in the West End."
The no-cost to the taxpayer, no cost to a Vancouver municipal administration solution to the affordable housing crisis in our city?
Extract parcels of land from the Property Endowment Fund, lease the land to members of the proposed housing co-operatives (with oversight provided by the provincial government, and the Co-op Housing Federation), and require that no less than 25% of developer Community Amenity Contributions be set aside for the construction of housing co-operatives.
The income derived from the member housing charges is paid to the city, a portion of which is set aside for annual co-op maintenance, for the co-operatives' replacement reserve fund, for any administrative costs that might be incurred by the co-op, and for property tax paid to the city.
A new Vancouver civic administration must tackle the issue of affordable housing in the city of Vancouver, upon assuming office. Vision Vancouver has proven themselves to be not up to the task. A renewed and progressive Non-Partisan Association municipal administration, working with members of the Green Party of Vancouver, COPE, and the Cedar Party will provide responsive and responsible government at the municipal level.
When you fill out your ballot — at the advance polls, or on November 15th — vote for a new Vancouver civic administration: vote Green Party of Vancouver, vote Vancouver Cedar Party, and vote for the candidates running under the Non-Partisan Association banner. For only the NPA, COPE, the Cedar Party candidates, and the Green Party's Adriane Carr, Pete Fry and Cleta Brown have dedicated themselves to a community-led solution to Vancouver's present appalling and dire affordable housing crisis.