Category Archives: Vision Vancouver

Campaign Stops Corporate Voting in BC Municipalities, Probably

As it turns out, corporations have been able to vote in BC municipal elections for most of our constituted history. That this appalled me is a testament to a new regime of rights and entitlements of humans over corporations that makes me smile.

That I was disgusted that the BC neoLiberal government was fishing around for bringing it back further entrenched my concern with the lengths they would go to disenfranchise human beings further.

So I was very happy to see that a modicum of democracy was able to steer a BC legislative committee stacked with provincial neoliberals–a modicum, supported by intense organizing efforts. Though I wouldn’t put it past this government to implement the municipal corporate vote despite the committee report. Remember the impending HST?

In looking at the details of the committee’s report [Report of the Local Government Elections Task Force (PDF 638KB)], I was thrilled to see a few things.

  • 6,039 petition signatures for the corporate vote submitted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

I can’t be surprised they built a petition. I am happy to see they could only find 6,039 future corporate voters and their lackeys in the whole province of 4.2 million people to sign it.

  • 2,354 member Facebook page against the corporate vote

Sure, it’s easy to build a Facebook group to push for something. But really it’s a huge effort to build a group and promote it to get this many people signing up in a short period of time. Not every movement can have the nation-wide hatred of abused prorogation behind it.

  • 71% of the 920 written submissions commented on the corporate vote, with campaign finance being the topic of next greatest interest.  Many submissions touched on a wide range of other election‐related topics – from alternative voting systems to the date of the vote to elected officials’ accountability. The following identifies the general trends in those 920 written submissions:
  1. Corporate vote – total: 223 for; 428 against
  2. Local governments:  8 for; 23 against
  3. Organizations:  11 for; 29 against
  4. Individuals:  204 for; 376 against

    I was especially thrilled to see an almost 2:1 ratio of submissions opposing the corporate vote to supporting it, with almost 3/4 of all submissions addressing it.

    The following highlight a number of positive recommendations. Not to say that they aren’t controversial in themselves, but the fact that the elements and structure of our democracy are on the table is encouraging. I wonder if whichever of these changes come into force before the next municipal election will have an effect on what the public tolerates in other levels of government.

    The report makes 31 recommendations for improvements to local elections to: ensure accountability; enhance transparency; strengthen compliance and enforcement; increase accessibility; and expand education and advice.

    Key recommendations include:

    * Establish expense limits for all campaign participants (e.g. electors, elector organizations and third party advertisers)

    * Regulate third party advertisers, requiring them to register and disclose expenses and contributions

    * Ban anonymous contributions

    * Require sponsorship information on all election advertising

    * Shorten the time for filing campaign finance disclosure statements to 90 days post election

    * Establish a central role for Elections BC in enforcement of campaign finance rules and in making campaign finance disclosure statements electronically accessible

    * Establish a separate Act for campaign finance rules in local elections

    The Task Force recommends a four-year term of office to provide local governments more time to plan and implement their vision, and to reduce the potential for voter fatigue over time. It also recommends no general contribution limits, given proposed expense limits and the need to ensure that all affected by local government decisions can participate in local elections discourse

    While it also recommends no corporate vote, the Task Force does recommend that UBCM, the Province and business groups work together to recognize the concerns expressed to the Task Force and to encourage effective local ways to engage with business, further strong relationships and foster a competitive business climate.

    via Local Government Elections Task Force – Terms of Reference.

    Minority Governments in Ottawa and Victoria

    Politicians who only seek power are easier to spot in an era of minority parliaments.

    Working from the reasonably solid premise that majority governments are inherently tyrannical, I prefer as merely a marginal improvement: minority governments. They’re no ProRep, but at the very least, they force more cooperation, though I use the term loosely. We’re seeing an evolution of expectations in and about Ottawa and now I think we’re going to see it in BC in 2013.

    Let’s start with BC Conservative MP James Moore who tweeted this out last week: “All Conservative/Bloc/NDP MPs (& leaders) here for final budget votes. Only half of Lib MPs here, Ignatieff missing. Seems fitting.4:37 PM Jun 17th via UberTwitter

    I found this quite interesting for him to remark on this. His government exists because of the strategic absence of dozens of Liberals on key votes. The Liberals are in a de facto coalition with the Conservatives. Didn’t he get the memo/text/tweet/VM?

    The Liberals show up to vote against the budget and other noxious legislation and they feel good about it. But they only send enough so that with the Bloc and NDP votes, they won’t have enough to defeat the government. And since some of those votes are confidence motions where failure means an election, the Liberals ensure enough MPs are at the spa to miss the vote because they’re afraid of an election now.

    Now’s an odd time for the Liberals to be afraid of an election since the Conservatives are in a sucking place relative to other times since the last election. Except for the fact that the Liberal leader is not universally tolerated, loved, or followed in caucus. And the party on the ground still calls itself Canada’s natural governing party.

    But federal MPs can be forgiven for this lame kind of strategy. All they are thinking about is jockeying for position until the polling shows they are in majority government territory. Not going to happen. Minority governments best reflect the split opinions in regions in the country.

    I’m hoping that the crazy dynamics of minority parliaments will help citizens focus on what kind of cooperation it ought to take to get good things done. It will also show us some things we won’t see in majority governments: politicians who only jockey for power and how the Liberals and the Conservatives have the same anti-human, pro-corporate neoliberal economic agenda. Why? Liberal MP Scott Brison attacked opponents to the Colombia Free Trade Agreement even more than the government did and both parties voted for it.

    Now everyone gets to see that the Liberals are just like Conservatives on fiscal issues. That’s important to know.

    And now we have this United Party of Canada meme/thing/movement/Frankenstein forming, with lots of vague, feel-good, meaningless, substance-free, policy-void babble on the website: “We believe in you!”. Who knows now, but if they get any traction, dig an even deeper hole for majority parliaments.

    And in BC we have new dynamics brewing for the 2013 election, just under 3 years away. Some context:

    1. Last year, someone went rogue and floated the idea of Vision Vancouver going provincial, a mythical third party [try this and this]. That was killed immediately. Effective trial balloon, though.
    2. Last week we heard more about a http://VisionBC.ca domain name. No smoking gun, just more talk, and one crazy reference to the party being centre-left. Isn’t the BC NDP supposed to be centre-left? Sure.
    3. Two weeks ago a Liberal cabinet member quits not because believes the HST to be actually bad, but because he fears the recall campaign that will destroy him starting in November. Then the BC Conservative party first calls him a rat, then says that spokesperson went rogue also, then they suggest a place for him.
    4. The Greens have and will continue to poll in the mid to high single digits, as will the BC Conservatives; more for them if they can get their messaging clear and pull some “real” federal Conservatives lurking in the BC Liberal party.
    5. The right wing coalition in BC for the last thousand years made up of federal Liberals and Conservatives seems increasingly shaky. Some centrist/leftist federal Liberals may not be all that onside with the latest social contract-assassinating government policies.
    6. There are federal Liberals in the BC NDP caucus and orbit.

    If Vision BC formed, it could peel some NDP MLAs, operatives and wonks. It could pull Blair Lekstrom and Vicki Huntington in. It could pull George Abbott and Carole Taylor and a handful of current BC Liberal MLAs. It could make a run for government by playing to the centre [or centre-“left”] by featuring some kinder, gentler characters from the Campbell decade.

    And if it shoots for government in 2013 it would have to start about now. If it misses government, not inconceivable for a new party [except for Vision Vancouver though], we could end up with a minority legislature: one step towards proportional representation.

    With a minority legislature, we’d have up to 4 years for the minor parties to assert themselves, build their bases and impede any further majority governments. We’d also see a redefining of posture for the BC NDP and BC Liberals based on who’s left. That will bloody. There are already a number of MLAs who would not surprise me if they were right now sharpening knives.

    And I reiterate this one thing about trust. Politicians who only seek power are easier to spot in an era of minority parliaments. How? They don’t do anything of substance while waiting for a chance to get more power. Demand that they act on principle and they go on vacation, hit the spa, tour the region on a kissing babies tour, anything to keep up the persona of manufactured leadership.

    We cannot continue to tolerate that kind of nonsense. 308 MPs in Ottawa watching CBC Newsworld on their iPads to see if they’re tweeted about or more hopefully, trying to guide the Commons committee they sit on to do something of substance? 85 BC MLAs laying low in caucus wondering how they can maneuver themselves into something with a bigger office or hopefully something that makes a difference for people?

    All I know is that in minority situations, there isn’t as much space under the radar anymore. And that’s good for all of us.

    Vision Vancouver Are Not Radical Socialists

    Vision Vancouver are not radical socialists, but it plays well for the right-wing NPA to portray them as such. Much of what NPA enthusiast Mike Klassen writes in this article on relations between Vancouver and the BC Liberals is bang on. Except for this:

    Despite their radical socialist leanings and connections to labour, Vision so far has tried to play ball with Campbell’s B.C. Liberals.

    via 24 Hours Vancouver.

    I honestly can’t think of one radical socialist Vision politician.

    And then there’s this:

    VSB Chair Patti Bacchus dismissed an independent review of Vancouver’s board of education that describes them as incompetent and overtly political.

    The entire review was politicized to the teeth. Independent is bunk.

    And how Rich Coleman connects to those other areas of relations between Vancouver and the BC Liberals would only make sense if Coleman were premier.

    Otherwise, this piece is a good example of how the BC Liberals don’t play well with others. And don’t really care.

    Politics, Re-Spun on Coop Radio, 5.31.10: The HST, Federal Coalitions, Some Class War

    Imtiaz Popat on “The Rational” and I, talking about the HST, the Vancouver Parks Board’s dance with class war and gentrification, and federal coalitions in the UK and Canada!

    The video podcast of the conversation lives at Vista Video.

    You can watch it in Miro, the best new open source multimedia viewing software: http://www.miroguide.com/feeds/8832

    or…

    You can watch it in iTunes: itpc://dgivista.org/pod/Vista_Podcasts.xml

    or…

    The podcast file is at http://dgivista.org/pod/COOP.Radio.5.31.10.mov

    Enjoy!

    Which Politicians Think We’re Imbeciles?

    When I try to infer the mental state of some politicians from what they say publicly, I can only conclude that they must think we’re too profoundly stupid that we’d not be able to think for 3 seconds to realize that they are full of shit. Let’s look at Kevin Falcon and Gregor Robertson.

    Health Minister Kevin Falcon: “when we are making changes in health care delivery, it doesn’t mean it’s just a cut.” The provincial government decided to “change” the funding to the 6 health authorities in BC by negative $360 million. It’s certainly a change. To stress that it isn’t a cut means Falcon thinks the air coming out of his lungs is worth forming into these words because there is some value to it all, that enough people will believe he has achieved plausible deniability of cuts occurring.

    Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson: “The core traditions of the Olympics are very powerful, and we lose sight of that with all the corporate sponsorship, Olympic bylaws and the gigantic scale of the event.” What a nuisance, hey, so let’s get over our criticism of the following and just get that lovin’ feeling!

    1. VANOC has bought ALL the outdoor advertising for Olympic corporate sponsors.
    2. Corporations are going to wrap ads as mammoth building condoms around the tall buildings all over the place, with video ads broadcast on buildings–think Blade Runner.
    3. BC neoLiberal MLAs and cabinet ministers get to use swanky private boxes in stadiums to watch events…paid for with our tax dollars.
    4. VANOC has set aside $30 million for bonuses to ostensibly keep their employees WHO ARE ACTUALLY PLANNING THE OLYMPICS from quitting before the big show–hard to imagine; $30 million works out to around $23,000 for each of the 1,300 employees, though I doubt it will all be distributed equally.
    5. The IOC business model requires communities to sanitize society of the ugly: homelessness, poverty, dissent; so, we have broad, sweeping legislation that threatens our civil libertiies.
    6. The IOC will not allow women’s ski jumping regardless of domestic courts ruling the action unconstitutional.
    7. Provincial legislation will allow law enforcement to come into my home to seize anti-Olympics signs, under penalty of up to 6 months in jail and $10,000/day fines, while neoLiberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett says that’s a reasonable thing to do when the Olympics are in town.
    8. Officials can now round up the homeless and forcibly house/confine them during the games; this, in the context of massively neglecting effective social housing for the whole decade.
    9. $1 billion to be spent on security with 5,000 imported rent-a-cops and military, not to mention the black helicopters that were buzzing the downtown east side this morning, with much more of that to come.

    So what core traditions is Gregor Robertson waxing on about as he gets on a plane to go to Greece for the flame lighting? Nobility, competition, purity of athletic competition? Is that what the Olympics mean now? Or is it special rights for global corporations using the Olympics for a marketing bonanza at the expense of democracy, domestic constitutions and court rulings, and civil liberties?

    People are coming around to the reality that the Olympics stink, that they aren’t worth the social, political and economic costs and that with the overwhelming majority of Canadians unable to acquire or afford tickets to the actual events…people are starting to feel duped. A recent survey shows only 9% are very excited about the show, while 71% or not very excited or not excited at all.

    This is showing up in not enough people volunteering, signing up to rent out extra bedrooms to rich Olympic tourists, or applying for the scut jobs needed to make the whole thing function.

    Well. I told you so.

    As did the entire No Olympics campaign years ago. And now we all get to eat it…with the black helicopters flying overhead as I test out my remaining civil liberties as I wear my “I am a free speech zone” t-shirt wherever I can. I also have a “Democracy is Nice” sign I carry on the end of my hockey stick. I wonder which of those will be a security threat.

    Fixing Vancouver’s Homelessness: A Survey With Teeth

    Welcome to our Community Consultation Survey on Homeless Solutions and the Howe Shelter

    via City of Vancouver Homelessness Solutions Survey.

    In a time where Vancouver city council may or  may not have the will to oppose a provincial government they seem to be cozying up with, they issue a survey to see what the citizens think of addressing homelessness and the Howe Shelter.

    Even if they do the wrong thing with this, asking for our input is better than an NPA council will do.

    Even if the province ignores it all, this is a survey to take part in, especially if you live downtown!

    “I Am A Free Speech Zone”: A T-Shirt for the Olympics

    “I Am A Free Speech Zone”

    Let’s put it on t-shirts to let VANOC know that citizens are in charge in a democracy!

    What if we all wore them all around town during the Olympics as a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card? Would it be like when I used to hand out copies of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to my grade 9 students upon their arrival in high school, and watch them stroll through life calling bullshit?

    Maybe it’s more like an inoculation against the emerging police state.

    Read some of the nonsense here: http://tinyurl.com/2010Daphne then go make your t-shirt!

    Olympic Ad Pollution with Building Condoms and Commercials: Vision Vancouver’s Vision

    Honestly, it’s bad enough that every billboard will be literally monopolized by VANOC for its corporate johns during the Olympics, but now we are going to get dozens of buildings wrapped in ad condoms and “celebratory images …including video imaging and projections on walls” to Blade Runner proportions for about 5 months. That’s almost as long as Expo ’86 lasted!

    So much for the Olympics being a mere 16-day inconvenience and distraction. But the stink of this horrible decision will land squarely on Vision Vancouver.

    Huge Olympic-themed building wraps will pop up in Vancouver three months earlier than expected under a new deal involving the City of Vancouver, Vanoc and 3M Canada.

    The city originally planned to restrict the installation of 2010 building murals and graphic designs until Jan. 1, 2010, but has relaxed the rules to allow them any time after Oct. 1 this year.

    3M was concerned the Jan. 1 restriction didn’t give it enough time to properly transform buildings into Games-themed displays, especially if bad weather delayed the application of clings, wraps and films to building exteriors.

    via Olympic signs of the times – three months earlier than planned .

    The rising and now falling tide of excitement tracking Vision Vancouver is astonishing. A party with no firm policy or governing experience signed up thousands of new members a year ago. Bandwagon city.

    Now that they are in charge, we get to watch how their visionary talk doesn’t match their governing walk.

    We’ve already seen how Vision Vancouver believes in the sanctity of billboards, but we now see that a weak and flimsy excuse of possible bad weather 5 weeks before the Olympics debacle starts is good enough to extend for 3 months the length of time the corporate sponsors of the Olympics can pollute our eyes with ubiquitous ads and projected commercials on our skyline.

    Add these new ad condoms and building commercials to the CCTV arriving “for the event only” and we’ll have an Olympic legacy that will set new standards of intrusion and erosion of all things public.

    Thanks, Vision Vancouver, for polluting our vision with advertising ubiquity! All we need now is to hear loudspeakers throughout Olympic zones blaring, “A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

    We’ll remember all that when we cast our ballots on November 19, 2011.

    Why the BC NDP Lost the Election

    The BC NDP hasn’t joined the 21st century. Because of that, we missed a chance to pivot British Columbia into a healthy social, economic and political future.

    The BC NDP entered an existential crisis 6 days ago. This election loss, a voter turnout shamefully below 50%, the loss of meaningful electoral reform: all these things were preventable with some vision and observing how the world is broken today and what new ideas are required to fix it.

    The NDP missed all that and we’ll all suffer for it. And while there are a myriad of reasons to explain the loss, here are some key issues.

    Why the NDP was a viable party for government

    I read the policy book. There was solid work in there. And I know most citizens would never read it, but many of its highlights made it into the campaign, though without the earned media the Liberals knew they’d enjoy.

    I’ve watched Carole James grow as an effective speaker, debater and government critic in question period for over 5 years, particularly in the leaders debate. The knives haven’t come out yet and they may not.

    We laid out sound arguments as to why Gordon Campbell is destroying the social, economic and political fabric of the province, its most vulnerable, its reasonably vulnerable and–let’s face it–the poorest 95% of the province.

    The public had the opportunity to toss the government out in favour of a hopeful replacement.

    Where the NDP failed

    The economy

    The NDP, though, while marginally mentioning the lousy economy in the last 2 quarters did not want to pin anything on the Liberals because talking about the economy meant letting the Liberals punch the notion that the NDP can’t manage the economy. The NDP didn’t go into how Gordon Campbell’s neoliberalism has caused the global recession we are in. The NDP didn’t spend the last 8 years trotting out the data of both a marginal and significant budget surplus in its last 2 budgets before Campbell took over.

    The party may not actually have solid economic advice, though at times I see signs of it. There is no shortage of capable economists and political economists in the party and the country who are progressive. Does the party hear them? Do their suggestions carry weight? If so, why won’t/can’t the party promote this vision of an economy that serves people and not global capital? Is the party really economically progressive or just blandly centrist? Members who aren’t bland centrists are tired of a party that isn’t at the forefront of re-framing a local, provincial and global economy.

    Policy opportunism

    The Liberals’ carbon tax was awful. It was designed to be matched with income tax cuts, which is sound green economics, but only at the start. Thus, it will become a regressive tax. That made the carbon tax part of Campbell’s cynical, greenwashing PR stunting designed to let him shake hands with Al Gore and the Terminator. It inadequately deals with rural British Columbians without access to the transportation alternatives I have in Vancouver. And it is woefully inadequate to stop the threat of climate change.

    The NDP opposed it because it polled well to oppose it. While some of the above arguments had some play, their profile was never high enough.

    Policy opportunism is all about committing to something that will wedge you above the government. It isn’t about doing what is right. Right would be to look at the massive interventions in our society we need to do to remove carbon from our energy paradigm. Or else. Even Al Gore is calling for the USA to be off carbon in just over 9 years, not just a little down on carbon.

    The right approach for the NDP would be to take the lead in starting a dialogue in creating a 21st century green economy. That didn’t happen. I fear that would be too radical. When the Arctic ice melts a few summers from now, all notions of “too radical” will be moot.

    It also didn’t happen because the party chose to support doing anything to the Port Mann Bridge for no reason except to keep or gain seats in Surrey with people who want to commute by car into Vancouver. There appeared to be no other reasons.

    It also didn’t happen because the party chose to support the Gateway project for some reason. Trying to make global capital like the NDP? Maybe. Pandering to construction unions? Perhaps, but there are greener infrastructure projects than that. And global capital will never support the NDP, no matter how much they leap towards some “middle.” As it is, global capital is struggling with its own problems: the perfect storm of a neoliberal recession, and imminent peak oil and massive climate crises since we aren’t doing everything we can in the last 5-10 years we have left to stop our rapacious economic model from irrevocably maiming our ecosystem.

    The NDP’s relationship with media

    The NDP paid only token attention to non-traditional media, let alone engaging with citizens. Leaking its platform to CanWest/Global–as if they would ever not endorse Campbell after being his PR department for 8 years, and sinking reams of cash into TV ad buys sadly reflect 20th century large-campaign style sub-contracted politicking. Sub-contracted politicking is all about using mass media to get the message out.

    It’s dead. Get on with it. Politics must be about actual people.

    Vision Vancouver signed up thousands of new members 12 months ago when the party didn’t even have an identity, solid policy or governing experience because they engaged with people at Skytrain stations and all over with the offer of something new in city politics and a posture of being responsive to people, actual human beings. This was them embracing the Obama bump.

    Obama as president has a database of 3 million people he can mobilize on 12 hours notice–all from his human-centred mobilization efforts.

    The BC NDP bought 30 second TV ads and expected the party vibe to trickle down to the masses. It didn’t put cash, people and resources into helping members meet citizens who are almost all suffering from Campbell, listen to what they need, then let them know we care about them. The party ignored the citizens of BC on their doorsteps perhaps as much as right wing parties do. Why should they turnout to vote for us?

    Throwing STV under the bus

    The NDP committed to following the wishes of the electorate in the STV referendum. Many elements of the party, however, were actively and passively trying to destroy electoral reform. Most majority governments in this decade and into the future have not enjoyed and will not enjoy the legitimacy of 50% of the popular vote. If the Green Party supported STV in 2005, they’d likely have seats in the legislature right now.

    Voter turnout dropped below 50% last week. Four days of advanced polling did not signify a resurgence in voting, suggesting that change is rolling, but rather people merely organizing their voting time more efficiently. For voter turnout to roll into the shame zone and for STV not to pass is paradoxical. I would think dissatisfaction would lead to a movement to change the electoral system.

    Instead Gordon Campbell’s carnage has destroyed hope in anything better, in the NDP as a viable alternative, and in the possibility of civil politics in Victoria. So apathy reigns and it always favours the incumbent.

    We now know that electoral reform is a massive, revolutionary act. Its near-success in 2005 can now be explained by people not yet having had a chance to become scared of change.

    The NDP’s lack of support for STV was a choice to risk certain suffering under 4+ more years of Gordon Campbell for the hope of earning a majority government now or in 2013 to rule as all majority governments do: without real opposition. Supporting the STV, even though it isn’t the best proportional representation system, means moving away from our horrible first-past-the-post system. It means recognizing that neither of two parties in BC do not–cannot–represent even 50% of the population.

    The era of legitimate majority governments is over, federally and provincially. Holding out for more is not only illegitimate, it is also so 20th century.

    But there were certainly other factors outside the NDP that helped them lose.

    The lie of attack ads

    The NPA, the Non-Partisan Association party of conservative voters in Vancouver, is all about not being formally linked to other “partisan” political parties, unlike leftist civic parties. From this lie of lacking bias they hope to gain votes from people looking for that mythical beast: the neutral politician. Similarly, the Republicans in the USA and the Liberals in BC have succeeded in convincing people of the lie of attack ads.

    It goes like this: if a party criticizes someone else’s policies or facts of governing, it’s an attack ad. This is garbage, but it has stuck, to the point where people, including Liberal supporters on Facebook, have been calling on the NDP to stop criticizing the Liberals’ policies and results, and offer constructive suggestions for improvement. More garbage. It is irrational to not assess a track record in deciding who to vote for.

    Not that there weren’t attack ads in this campaign. The drunk driving premier and other politicians/operatives with criminal charges and driving problems were fair game. And it seems the attack ad rhetoric has play since a solid minority [at least] of British Columbians are fine with twice re-electing a premier convicted of drunk driving.

    Maybe that’s a very 21st century thing. Maybe NDP Premier Mike Harcourt [who is now a functional shill for the Liberals] shouldn’t have stepped down over Bingogate in the 1990s.

    CanWest/Global

    I was hoping CanWest/Global would go bankrupt 4 months ago. Their stock closed last Friday at 36 cents, down from $15 four years ago. They are going to stop publishing the perennially profit-phobic National Post on Mondays “for a short time” which will likely convert to forever, and now Victoria’s Times-Colonist will lose its existence on Mondays. I still have this gut feeling that the redundant daily CanWest paper in Vancouver [whichever one that is] will close soon, now that the election is over and the Canucks are golfing. People have finally started using the Internet more than newspapers in the USA. Canadian figures are likely similar. Combine that with the global neoliberal recession and we see carnage in print media.

    Sadly for us, and the democracy that a free press is supposed to encourage, CanWest/Global still exists. It is impossible to imagine how Gordon Campbell could have been re-elected in 2005 if real journalism were allowed in BC. So CanWest/Global certainly get some credit for keeping the NDP from winning the election last week.

    The future of the BC NDP

    I joined the NDP 2 years ago. I have been an ardent supporter since Ian Waddell was my MP in Coquitlam 20 years ago. I finally joined because waiting for the party to perfect itself finally seemed futile. So I joined to see if I could help.

    I’m proud of the work I’ve done, but there is a long way to go. And I’m not ready to give up on the party after 2 decades until I know it is beyond hope. I will be, however, much closer to abandoning the party as hopeless if the elements that are keeping it stuck in the 20th century are still around in a while.

    I spent hours last Tuesday night at the Burnaby Hilton’s NDP party talking to people expressing profound grief and serious irritation at all manner of things. Mostly, people were angry with decisions the party made before and during this campaign. Armchair quarterbacks are legion, but this kind of angst was existential, despite it coming hours after a key election loss.

    People want to roll up their sleeves to make sure our party reflects what we need it to. If it cannot enter the 21st century, it will perish with the Socreds, the federal Progressive Conservatives, and the federal Reform/Conservative Party, whose arc is in decline and at the mercy of the federal Liberals’ fundraising health and internal polling.

    I’m tired of the rhetoric that we are going to hold the government to account as a strong opposition. The carnage coming from Gordon Campbell over the next 4 years will ignore democratic debate as it has for the last 8 years.

    If we cannot remake the party very soon, while it is early in opposition, so that we can show a new face that actually involves citizens and their real and pressing needs, we will have nothing to offer in the next election.

    I’ve watched my new MP Don Davies hold a handful of public meetings since being elected just over 6 months ago. It’s effective, open, a tonic for politically cynical citizens and not brain surgery to organize. It’s one model for what it means to talk to people about what they care about and are afraid of, and to hear where they want to feel hope.

    And since the NDP has to convince people it can manage the economy, we need to do that by telling people how we’ll make it work for them, not by buying ads on CanWest/Global media and hoping people will give us the benefit of the doubt. We have sound economic policy. It can be improved and our ability to let people know it exists must be a high priority. We simply can’t be afraid of the Liberal rhetoric that we’re bad on the economy, or we’ve already lost the next election too.

    In the end, the BC NDP will now take stock of itself, look honestly at the electoral context of 21st century BC and decide it can operate in our actual time. If it can’t do all of that people will leave en masse, especially young people. I guarantee it.

    A Sad “Vision” of Billboards

    Vision Vancouver is going to suffer from billboards for quite some time to come.

    “The Olympics are prime time advertising and the city might be offering it to Vanoc at the regular market rate,” the Richmond mayor said.

    “But all of this has been discussed at closed meetings, so I really can’t go into the details.

    “The details will be released soon, perhaps within the month.”

    via Mayor questions Vanoc ad deal.

    We now have some new insight into the visual ad pollution of billboards in Vancouver, courtesy of Richmond’s mayor Malcolm Brodie.

    Not only has VANOC acquired access to all the billboard space in the Olympics universe for its official sponsors, the deals they’ve made for rates are part of closed municipal meetings.

    This is no surprise since VANOC, much like a vampire, does nothing in broad daylight. Don’t hold your breath on anything related to VANOC being released ever.

    A couple months ago, Vision Vancouver cynically killed municipal plans to take down the billboard pollution around the city that contravenes rules about how far away from homes they are supposed to be. With 2 billboards within 60m of my living room window, I’m eager to see them gone–and their repulsive car and horror movie ads that have caused more than a few neighbourhood children turn away in fear.

    But as Charlie Smith featured weeks ago, Vision Vancouver voted to drift those plans into a bureaucratic purgatory.

    Smith noted how Vision’s Geoff Meggs is connected to Glen Clark who is connected to Jim Pattison whose name is on many of the polluting billboards. Connecting the dots allows us to see a rather transparent motive and example of what Vision Vancouver’s vision actually is.

    But Richmond’s Mayor Brodie has now also reminded us that these are not ordinary times. The Olympics gold rush means we CANNOT risk taking down even one billboard, despite how heinously it may contravene muncipal by-laws.

    We see the VANOC vision again appearing as our masters.

    This is very bad news for Vision Vancouver. As a new party, with little stable ideological roots and now only months of governing history, its identity is still in the fetal stage.

    Its membership swelled with the Obama bump. It had dozens of prospective candidates vying for nominations, many of whom were very progressive, but some were temporarily out of the NPA.

    They’ve had policy meetings, but those mean little until they get a chance to actually enact policy through governing. And now we’re seeing what they are like: Jimmy Pattison, billboards, VANOC.

    And like many new political parties or movements, their membership will dip when renewal time comes. But for Vision, their membership will plunge as people realize that the amorphous hint of progressiveness they robed themselves in ends up lacking anything solid.

    A political party walks its walk. If it talks a different line, people who pay attention to the walk will see the gap and act accordingly.

    Real progressives currently in Vision will have to make a decision very soon about whether their vision of Vision is shared by the ones in charge. If not, they’ll have to move on.