deciding our future
• This upcoming civic election will decide Vancouver’s future even beyond the next four years. After endless controversies over the last two election terms totalling six years, the results of the election will determine whether Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson will get a third term in office or if there will be a regime change.
The civic election period runs October to November 15, 2014. Recent provincial changes to election legislation have extended the BC municipal election cycle from three years to four years for the first time in history, while postponing the promised reforms or limits to campaign funding.
Some additional provincial changes also cover third party sponsor registration and financial reporting. Although the stated intent is to make campaign financing more transparent, the true effect is a limitation on democratic organizing of coalition-type campaigns.
Parties and candidates are now limited or prohibited in the ability to endorse candidates from other parties. Third parties are also limited as to whom they may endorse. Breaches of this poorly thought out legislation include large financial penalties of up to $20,000 and even jail time of up to two years.
The City of Vancouver is using a completely new electronic voting system this time and has issued contracts to outside companies for an electronic voters list, computer hardware and software. Aware of numerous unreported glitches in the system in 2011, CityHallWatch Media Foundation made numerous inquiries to the City this year, seeking to confirm the integrity of the election counting and reporting process. The burden of proof is on the City to prove that the systems can be trusted, but the City has failed to provide any response and may have even failed to conduct the privacy impact assessment required in BC.
CityHallWatch is concerned about the potential for strategic political interception of electronic data transmitted online, vote counting errors, election fraud and the thin wall between the City’s data management system and Vision’s political machine.
Meanwhile, public discontent has led to an unprecedented 13 community led lawsuits against the City this term. We will need a regime change if we hope to remove the problematic practices currently entrenched at City Hall.
We have, unfortunately, a record number of new parties and independent candidates splitting the opposition vote. Coordination and consolidation is urgently required if this election is not going to be handed once more to Vision’s development machine.
In the last election, only 34% of eligible voters voted and of those votes, only 34% were for Vision – thus, Vision was elected by only 12% of eligible voters. Despite this, Vision got 70% of the seats on council and 100% of the power with an absolute majority on Council. They have wielded this power ruthlessly, causing an unprecedented loss of democracy. As Geoff Meggs said over the controversial approval of a policy imposed without consultation, “The election was the consultation and this is the delivery.” Of the 12% of eligible voters Vision was supported by, no one but their insiders would have known how their platform would be implemented.
Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver (NSV) is not running candidates this election because there are too many new parties and independents splitting the opposition vote. In addition, the new BC legislation for third party sponsorship prohibits endorsement of a mixed slate of other candidates as NSV did in 2011.
This election Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver will endorse a mixed slate as a third party sponsor based on strategy and consistency with their principles and policies. To learn more about the options, follow the website www.nsvancouver.ca as the election progresses for updates on their recommended slate.
Elizabeth Murphy is a private sector project manager and a former Property Development Officer for the City of Vancouver’s Housing & Properties Department and for BC Housing.