Shameful: Abandoning the Ethical Purchasing Plan

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An open letter to the Vancouver Parks Board:

Abandoning the Vancouver Parks Board’s commitment to ethical purchasing is a shameful decision. In choosing the “best value” for Parks Board purchases allows you to not spend too much money for needed or desired supplies. But the cost of this decision is enormous.

You have chosen to contribute to perpetuating sweatshops, forced labour, environmentally unsustainable production and the increased impoverishment of millions in countries you may not even be able to name.

You have chosen to neglect the opportunity to encourage Parks Board suppliers to embrace fair trade purchasing policies that can have a multiplier effect through our local economy and ameliorate the social ills unethical purchasing perpetuates [see above].

You have pledged our city to maintain a globally destructive form of capitalism in the race to the bottom that impoverishes billions so that taxpayers in one of the richest cities in the world can save marginal costs that could be used to create living wages for thousands, thereby showing that capitalism could meaningfully improve people’s lives. You have chosen to perpetuate the oppressive hammer of capitalism that crushes souls worldwide.

I applaud those of you who opposed this anti-human motion. Those of you who voted to ignore ethical purchasing have announced to the world your decision to keep Vancouver’s civic bodies complicit in unethical purchasing. Thank you very much for staining the image of our city for a short-sighted, ignorant agenda of local penny-pinching.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website,

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2 thoughts on “Shameful: Abandoning the Ethical Purchasing Plan”

  1. [the first reply]

    Dear Stephen,

    The Park Board remains committed to ethical purchasing and it will continue to be part of our overall purchasing practice. The Park Board passed an amendment to the policy recently that will provide greater flexibility in implementing the EPP, which over the long term should help make it a success.

    While we wholly support the goals of the ethical purchasing program, the results from the first year made it clear that the public wanted access to a greater variety of products and that we had to be careful to include a range of products that are affordable for people from all income levels.

    With the amendment, the EPP will no longer be the overwhelming factor in awarding of contracts, but will be considered in all applicable contracts. The change is being made to improve customer service, help manage impacts on revenues and costs, and continue the implementation of ethical purchasing. Staff will report back to the Board in early 2007 on the impact the amendment has had on the EPP.

    As a result of the amendment, we now have some flexibility as to how the EPP is implemented and over time we believe this is in the best interests of the policy and the most responsible use of taxpayers’ money.


    Heather Holden
    Dr. Heather Holden
    Chair, Vancouver Park Board

  2. [the second reply]

    Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion and concerns. I see from an e-mail that I was copied on that our Chair, Heather Holden has responded to your e-mail.

    I supported the motion that amended the policy to provide greater flexibility in implementing an EPP and giving the residents of Vancouver a choice in their purchase decisions.

    I do appreciate and welcome your expression of opinion.


    Ian Robertson
    Commissioner and Vice-Chair
    Vancouver Park Board

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