Category Archives: Politics

Time to Vote

The election is 10 days away. Advance voting starts today. You know what you need to do. Get out and vote.

After much deliberation, I’ll be voting NDP. I considered voting Green to really reinforce the idea that climate change is the most important issue facing Canada right now. Both the Greens and NDP have great platforms and are aligned on a lot of issues.

The biggest difference is the leader. I’ve been really impressed with Jagmeet Singh. He puts up with a lot of racist crap, but he’s still filled with optimism. I haven’t seen a federal leader with so much personality, conviction, and compassion since Jack Layton. Elizabeth May is a great environmental champion, but I don’t see her having the energy and charisma to bring people onside to tackle the problems we’re facing. Jagmeet Singh can.

Jagmeet and Me
And I got a Singh selfie before he became super popular

Looking beyond the party leaders, I’ve also considered policy and my local candidate. On the policy side, CBC, Macleans, and Gen Squeeze have good summaries of the party platforms. Personally, my top 3 priorities are climate change, housing affordability, and health care.

Climate Change and the Environment

The Greens have the most ambitious plan, the Liberals the most achievable. The NDP is in between on both measures. All three parties have commited to banning single use plastics. Check out CBC for a comprehensive comparison of each parties climate commitments.

Liberal Party
😇 Introduced a federal price on carbon
😡 Bought a pipeline for $4.5 billion
🌲 Plan to plant 2 billion trees

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😀 Expanding the carbon tax to industrial emitters
😍 Ending fossil fuel subsidies
😁 $15 billion for retrofitting buildings

Green Party
😍 Most ambitious carbon targets (60% reduction by 2030)
😁 Halt all new fossil fuel development projects
🌲 Plan to plant 10 billion trees

Conservative Party
🤢 Plan to scrap the carbon tax

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
🤮Think climate change is a hoax

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability is a hot topic, especially with millennials in Vancouver and Toronto. The federal government has a role to play in building affordable housing and purpose built rental, and ensuring speculation from foreign wealth isn’t distorting our housing markets.

Liberal Party
🙂 1% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 100,000 affordable housing units
😒 Useless First-time Home Buyer Incentive (at least in Vancouver)

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😄 15% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 500,000 affordable housing units
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Green Party
😐 25,000 affordable housing units
😀 Tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing
🤔 Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant

Conservative Party
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Health Care

Last election, health care wasn’t that important to me. But now I have an adventurous, asthmatic child and work for a health software company.

Liberal Party
😴 Will continue to study pharmacare

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😍 Universal pharmacare
😀 Basic dental for families earning < $90,000 (first step toward universal dentalcare)

Green Party
😍 Universal pharmacare
🙂 Dental care for families earning < $30,000

Conservative Party
🤥 Promises not to cut any health spending

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
😲 Give provinces full responsibility for health care
🤪 Cut all federal funding

Local Candidates

In my riding of Vancouver Centre, the NDP candidate Breen Ouellette was endorsed as one of the 35 environmental champions in Canada committed to bringing in a Green New Deal. I highly recommend checkout out this list (and LeadNow’s battleground champions) to see if anyone in your riding has been nominated. It’s a stellar crew.

The NDP has some great candidates in this election, and they reflect the diversity of Canada. 49% are women, 25% are from racialized communities, and 12% are from the LGBTQ community. You can really see the NDP’s commitment to fight inequality and racism comes from the top. Jagmeet Singh has been tremendous this campaign dealing with racist hecklers, responding the the Trudeau blackface incidents, and standing up for first nations access to clean drinking water.

By comparison, the Green Party is unfortunately still very white. Their candidates are 42% women but only 5% are visible minorities.

Strategic Voting

In a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, you may feel tempted to vote strategically. Don’t. For two reasons.

  1. The Liberals lied about proportional representation last time. They don’t deserve another strategic vote.
  2. If we end up in a minority government situation (highly likely), we need as many NDP and Green MPs as possible to push the Liberals to act on important issues like climate change, pharmacare, and electoral reform.
  3. If you’re debating between the NDP and Greens, I’d recommend choosing the party with the platform that speaks to you or the local candidate you like the best. If you still can’t decide, you can look at polling data and riding level predictions form sites like 338canada.com but beware that riding level predictions are often garbage.

Vancouver Addendum

In Vancouver Centre, it’s an easy choice for me to vote NDP. In some of the other Vancouver ridings there are candidates from other parties that I might vote for.

In Vancouver East it’s a toss-up between Jenny Kwan (NDP), the incumbent MP who’s been a vocal environmental advocate and Bridget Burns (Green), who runs the Vegan Night Market.

In Vancouver Granville, it’s an easy choice to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) – former Liberal Justice minister who was kicked out by Justin Trudeau for standing up for judicial independence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

In Vancouver Kingsway, it’s a toss-up between the incumbent MP Don Davies (NDP), who’s been a tireless advocate for pharmacare and dental care and Tamara Taggart (Liberal), who has really involved in local politics since retiring from broadcasting, advocating for rental housing and removing lead from school drinking water.

In Vancouver South, I’d be tempted to vote for Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal incumbent. He’s been a good Defence Minister and he’s running against Wai Young (Conservative) who used to represent the riding and is a toxic, anti-cyclist troll.

PR Referendum Guide

BC is having a referendum on how we choose our elected MLAs. This is a big deal. If the referendum passes and we move to a proportional representation voting system, it will fundamentally reshape voter engagement and politics in this province. So vote wisely. Your ballot should arrive by mail in the next few days, if you haven’t already received it.

The Ballot

There are two questions on the ballot.

  1. Which system should British Columbia use for provincial elections?
    1. The current First Past the Post voting system
    2. A proportional representation voting system
  2. If British Columbia adopts a proportional representation voting system, which of the following systems do you prefer? (Rank in order of preference.)
    1. Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
    2. Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
    3. Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

You need to fill out your ballot and mail it back to Elections BC so that it arrives before November 30.

If voters choose proportional representation, the next 2 elections will be conducted under the most popular system from question 2. After that, there will be a second referendum to asking if British Columbians like the new voting system or we should go back to the old voting system.

The Options

The options might be overwhelming at first, but in less than 10 minutes you can learn the basics.

Here’s a 3 minute summary of what is wrong with our current system, from National Post columnist Andrew Coyne.

And a fun, easy-to-understand 4 minute video summarizing the options you’ll be voting for. If you only have 4 minutes to figure out how to vote, watch this video.

How I’m voting

Question 1 is easy. I’m voting for proportional representation. Our voting system is broken and needs to change. Too many people vote strategically for a party that isn’t their favourite. More people don’t even bother voting because their vote doesn’t seem to matter. Proportional representation should fix these problems, but if it doesn’t we can always go back to First Past the Post after 2 elections. So there is little risk of trying.

Question 2 is harder. Any of the options will be better than the system that we have right now, but they each have their pros and cons. As the video above points out, Dual Member is the simplest, Mixed Member is the most common around the world, and Rural-Urban gives voters the most power with ranked ballots.  I used the survey at referendumguide.ca to explore the characteristics of each of the proportional systems and this is what it suggested.

BallotRD

  1. Rural-Urban
  2. Dual Member
  3. Mixed Member

Rural-Urban is clearly my preferred system. I like having a ranked ballot and power as a voter to pick candidates from a bunch of political parties. As an example of how this might play out for me in Vancouver, my ballot would probably rank a bunch of Green and NDP candidates with the best ones at the top. That level of choice might not appeal to everyone, so I’m glad there are other options like Dual Member and Mixed Member being proposed that offer simpler ballots.

More Details

If you want more details on the voting systems and how the mechanics work, this 24 minute summary goes into all the details:

If you’re curious what the results of the last election (2017) hypothetically would have been under the 3 proportional representation systems, checkout bcvoteoptions.ca.

If you have an hour to hear more about why we should keep our voting system or change it, you can listen to a debate between the Yes and No sides from the Politicoast podcast, featuring Suzanne Anton and Seth Klein.

If you want to read more, there are descriptions of the three PR voting systems proposed here:

If you want to have a celebrity explain it to you, here’s Dan Mangan.

Lastly, there seems to be a lot of fear mongering coming from the No PR side (especially with Facebook ads) so to counter it I suggest you checkout Fair Vote Canada’s mythbusters series (which tackles questions like will proportional representation remove local representation or lead to unstable governments) and this spoof ad below for a chuckle.

Bonus Videos

Vancouver 2018 Election Retrospective

I have to say I’m happy the election is over. Now I can get some sleep. But first some analysis.

The key takeaway for me is that the next four years will be very interesting. A progressive slate won a majority yesterday but it is split between 3 parties and an independent mayor who have fairly different ideas in how to fix the housing crisis in Vancouver. The five NPA councillors will likely form a unified opposition, although there is a chance of some collaboration with the other councillors.

General Thoughts

  • There were 5000 fewer votes cast in 2018. That’s disappointing.
  • The city needs to invest in more scantron machines. Even with less people voting on election day this year, almost every polling station had lineups throughout the day and there were several reports of people abandoning their ballots because they couldn’t wait an hour to have it scanned. Double the number of machines and the problem disappears.
  • Even though we didn’t elect our first female mayor, women did extremely well yesterday (8/10 councillors, 2/7 park, 6/9 school), but visible minorities struggled. School board is the only place where there is any diversity. The rest is very, very white, which is not reflective of Vancouver’s cultural diversity.
  • If you add Kennedy Stewart and Shauna Sylvester’s votes together and compare that to Ken Sim, Hector Bremner, and Wai Young you get remarkably similar results to the last election, at least for mayor.vancouver-mayoral-2005_2018
  • The results for every race other than mayor were roughly:
    • Tier 1: Greens – thousands of votes ahead of everyone else
    • Tier 2: NPA, COPE, and OneCity –  fought for the remaining spots and each elected multiple candidates.
    • Tier 3: Vision – elected 1 person, but was otherwise wiped out.
    • Tier 4: Everyone else – took lots of votes from the major parties but didn’t come close to winning.
  • The high number of qualified candidates running for council this year created wider distribution of votes than in 2014. The tail is much longer and fatter this election.council distribution
  • 38% of the votes this year were for someone who wasn’t even in the top 20 (compared to 22% in 2014).
  • Vote splitting affected all the races and lead to some winners having very low vote percentages. We definitely need some form of electoral reform.
    • Mayor Kennedy Stewart won with 28% of all votes.
    • Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung won with 25%.
    • Park Commissioner John Irwin won with 26%.
    • School Trustee Allan Wong won with 27%.

Big Winners and Losers

Green Party (9 elected/10 candidates)

The night’s only big winner was the Green Party. They came within 3000 votes of having 4 city councillors elected. Adrian Carr, Pete Fry, and Michael Wiebe now form the bulk of the progressive slate on council and it will be interesting to see how they use their new power. Adrian Carr has spent the past 7 years opposing a lot of Vision’s actions, especially around housing. Now she has the challenging role of making policy.

NPA (10/20)

They almost did it. After trailing badly in the polls, Ken Sim almost sneaked out a victory for the mayor’s chair, which would have given the NPA a majority. Instead they have the biggest block of councillors (5) and will see if they can swing someone to their side to get their agenda through or just oppose everything for the next four years. They did ok on school board and park board picking up a few seats but are outnumbered by the left-wing parties.

COPE (4/7)

I’m sure COPE is happy to have broken onto council after a long absence but disappointed that their good polling numbers and Jean Swanson’s popularity didn’t translate into more success. Swanson will be another influential vote and it will be interesting to see how she applies her years of protesting to governing.

OneCity (2/5)

I’m disappointed OneCity didn’t do better but I think they’re happy to have broken into council with Christine Boyle’s victory. They also won a school board spot (Jennifer Reddy), but incumbent Carrie Bercic lost her spot which is a huge loss. Just like COPE, it was mixed results for them.

Vision Vancouver (1/10*)

Nearly shut out after 10 years of majority rule, Vision Vancouver was the biggest loser last night. Many people don’t think the party will exist in four years.

New parties and Independents (0)

For all the talk about it being the year of the independent, they struggled yesterday. The only independent who won was Mayor Kennedy Stewart. No one else finished even close, despite lots of attention and some really qualified candidates. The top independent was Sarah Blyth who finished 19th and almost 15,000 votes away from a spot on council.

The new parties also struggled. Vancouver 1st, YES Vancouver, Coalition Vancouver, and ProVancouver had a lot of hype and social media presence but it didn’t translate into votes. The closest any came to winning a seat was Kevin Low of Vancouver 1st who finished in 24th.

Beyond the Results

My favourite way to learn about the candidates and issues this year was podcasts. The Cambie Report and This is VANCOLOUR had some great interviews.

It was cool to be part of the conversation this year. I’ve blogged about elections in the past, and had some traction, but this year I had thousands of page views every day, was averaging 10,000+ impressions a day on twitter, and got mentions in the Vancouver Courier, Globe and Mail, and CBC.

More importantly, I got messages from friends and complete strangers thanking me for the election resources. That made all the late nights compiling charts and summaries worth it.

I’m glad that were thousands of people who took the time to educate themselves and read resources like this blog. But it’s clear from the results that most Vancouver voters vote based only on the party name. That’s why the NPA and Greens did so well, and the new parties and independents struggled. It wasn’t because their candidates weren’t as good. A great example of this is Rob McDowell. He ran in 2014 under the NPA banner and got 53,965 votes and finished in 15th place. This year he ran as an independent and only managed 11,839 votes. Same candidate, same experience, same ideas and priorities but 42,000 votes less.

Update: Some interesting exit polling data from Mario Canseco.

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 7 – Slates

Election Day is in 2 days (October 20) and you’re scrambling to figure out who to vote for.

I have 3 options for you:

  1. Vote for the internet consensus picks.
  2. Vote for my recommended candidates.
  3. Or vote for one of these prebuilt slates. The first 3 are from Allen Pike’s excellent election guide.

vancouver-example-ballots

Stop the NPA West-Side Protectors
The best chance to defeat the NPA (minus Carr and Swanson because they should win anyway) Defending the shrinking populations in Shaughnessy, Dunbar, and Point Grey from renters
  • STEWART, Kennedy
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • ROBERTS, Anne (COPE)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • WIEBE, Michael (GREEN)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)
  • SIM, Ken (NPA)
  • TAYLOR, Elizabeth (Vancouver 1st)
  • LOW, Ken (Vancouver 1st)
  • DOMINATO, Lisa (NPA)
  • BLIGH, Rebecca (NPA)
  • MUSSIO, Penny (Coalition)
  • KIRBY-YUNG, Sarah (NPA)
  • GREWAL, David (NPA)
  • CHARKO, Ken (Coalition)
  • JOHL, Jesse (Vancouver 1st)
  • CHERNEN, Glen (Coalition)
I Want to Ride My Bicycle Save a Viaduct, Rip Out a Bike Lane
Cycling infrastructure for ages 8-80 Driving is a right, cycling is a luxury
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • EVANS, Catherine (Vision)
  • COOK, Graham
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • PORTER, Elke
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)
  • YOUNG, Wai (Coalition)
  • DE GENOVA, Melissa (NPA)
  • HARDWICK, Colleen (NPA)
  • PETA, Franco (Coalition)
  • MIRZA, Raza (ProVancouver)
  • XIE, Jason (Coalition)
  • MUSSIO, Penny (Coalition)
  • LIN, James (Coalition)
  • CHARKO, Ken (Coalition)
  • JOHL, Jesse (Vancouver 1st)
  • CHERNEN, Glen (Coalition)
Build, Baby, Build Developers Are Evil
Pro-density Thomas Falcone (Abundant Housing) Anti-development Justin Fung (HALT)
  • BREMNER, Hector (YES)
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • VIRDI, Jaspreet (YES)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • BAINS, Brinder (YES)
  • TANG, Phyllis (YES)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
  • OSTLER, Stephanie (YES)
  • CHAN, Glynnis (YES)
  • CASSIDY, Sean
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • ROBERTS, Anne (COPE)
  • CRELLIN, Breton (ProVancouver)
  • MIRZA, Raza (ProVancouver)
  • SWANSON, Jean (COPE)
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • WONG, David HT (GREEN)
  • CARR, Adriane (GREEN)
  • REZEL, Rohana (ProVancouver)
Independents Day No City for White Men
Full of indie street cred Gender-balanced, diversity slate
  • STEWART, Kennedy
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • COOK, Graham
  • GRANT, Wade
  • SPIKE
  • BHANDAL, Taqdir Kaur
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • MCDOWELL, Rob
  • RAMDEEN, Katherine
  • PORTER, Elke
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • FRY, Pete (GREEN)
  • PAZ, Tanya (Vision)
  • GRANT, Wade
  • SWANSON, Jean (COPE)
  • BHANDAL, Taqdir Kaur
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • CARDONA, Diego (Vision)
  • WONG, David (GREEN)
  • YAN, Brandon (OneCity)
Rainbow Coalition
Full spectrum of collaborative candidates
  • SYLVESTER, Shauna
  • BOYLE, Christine (OneCity)
  • CROOK, Adrian
  • SHUM, Erin
  • GOODRICH, Justin (NPA)
  • GRANT, Wade
  • BLYTH, Sarah
  • MCDOWELL, Rob
  • O’KEEFE, Derrick (COPE)
  • OSTLER, Stephanie (YES)
  • WIEBE, Michael (GREEN)
  • DEAL, Heather (Vision)

It was surprisingly hard to narrow these lists down to 10 candidates, which is a testament to the quality of candidates we have running this year. Some honourable mentions go to:

  • Penny Noble – “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”
  • Abubakar Khan  – “Independents Day”
  • Erin Shum – “No City for White Men”
  • Diego Cardona (Vision) – “Rainbow Coalition”
  • Brandon Yan (OneCity) – “Rainbow Coalition”

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer

vote

Vancouver is about to enter one of the most interesting and uncertain elections in recent history. The mayor and most of the current councillors are not running for re-election, a number of new parties with similar sounding names have formed, and new campaign finance rules are limiting the influence of big moneyed donors like developers.

Here is my collection of resources to help you figure out who to vote for.

vancouver_political_axis

Part 1: The Parties

minor_issues

Part 2: The Minor Issues

VancouverHousingPlatformsV10

Part 3: Housing

my_ballot

Part 4: My Picks

endorsement_leaderboard

Part 5: Endorsements

surveys

Part 6: Survey Says

slates

Part 7: Slates

2018VancouverCandidateMap

Bonus: Candidate Map

Where to Vote – You can vote at any polling station across the city. Polls are open 8am to 8pm.

Other election guides:

Photo credit: City Of Vancouver

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 6 – Survey Says

vote.png

We’re less than a week to go to election day. 18,000 Vancouverites have already voted. If you’re not one of them and are looking for more information, here’s a collection of survey responses that you might find helpful.

Hub’s #VoteToBike Survey on Cycling Issues

  • Need to Know: Shauna Sylvester, Kennedy Stewart, OneCity, Vision, and COPE were the most enthusiastic toward new bike infrastructure. Pete Fry (Green) was positive but more hesitant.
  • Interesting Responses:
    • Adrian Crook (Independent) – “If it weren’t for investments in protected bike lanes in Vancouver, my family’s cycling would be severely curtailed. I support the principles of the 8-80 movement, as well as Vision Zero, both of which support modern cycling infrastructure.
  • Notable Omissions: No response from Hector Bremner, Adriane Carr, or anyone in the NPA.

Vancouver Public Space Network on Parks

  • Need to Know: Greens want new pocket parks to increase green space, NPA wants private partnerships.
  • Interesting Responses:
    • Matthew Kagis (Work Less Party) – “There are some unique opportunities on the horizon. Hastings Race Course, with their lease about to end & there’s IF the viaducts come down. Both are excellent opportunities to expand our park network.
    • Stuart Mackinnon (Green) – “Community Centres can and should be used for emergency shelters when temperatures become unmanageable on the streets. In the past term some Commissioners wanted to close these facilities and leave the most vulnerable to freeze on the streets. Luckily this was defeated.
  • Notable Omissions: No response from Vision Vancouver.

Patti Bacchus on School Board

  • Need to Know: The survey is long and I didn’t read all the answers, but Patti provides a good summary. SOGI is a divisive issue. Instead of reading all the responses, just read Patti Bacchus’s endorsements.
  • Interesting Responses:
    • Patti Bacchus on Janet Fraser (Green) – “It takes a lot of chutzpah to take credit for passing a motion that was never implemented by the board you chair. And not in a good way. At all.”
  • Notable Omissions: NPA

Force of Nature on Environment and Climate Change

  • Need to Know: Everyone that responded is committed to tougher GHG reduction targets and annual reporting.
  • Interesting Responses:
    • Shauna Sylvester (Independent) – “Advance the 100% renewable energy targets, support and enhance integrated active transportation into planning, protect and increase the canopy and green space, increase efforts to achieve zero waste, electrify city fleets and enhance community electric charging.”
    • Connie Fogal (IDEA) – Thinks climate change is caused by chemtrails and 5G wireless. And “the little Japanese scooters that operate on one wheel should be encouraged for use by locals who do not have far to travel.”
  • Notable Omissions: No response from Kennedy Stewart, Adriane Carr, the NPA, or Vision Vancouver.

Vancouver Humane Society on Animal Welfare

  • Need to Know: OneCity and the Green Party support Meatless Mondays. Almost all respondents agree with a ban on exotic pets.
  • Interesting Responses:
    • Pete Fry (Green) – “I would be agreeable to seeing plant based food options incorporated into targets and goals for our Greenest City Strategy”
    • Carrie Bercic (OneCity) – “We support the core values of Meatless Mondays, but aren’t able to mandate what students eat in school.”
  • Notable Omissions: None of the leading mayoral candidates plus Vision Vancouver.

Continue reading Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 6 – Survey Says

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 5 – Endorsements

France Bula asked, so I collected as many endorsement tweets/Facebook posts/blog posts as I could. Point me in the direction of any endorsements / “I voted for …” tweets that I may have missed. I’ll leave it up to the reader to score the posters on ideology.

Full Spreadsheet link

The spreadsheet above includes (but is not limited to):

Cambie Report – Endorsement Episode

Ian Bushfield – Who He’s Voting For

Patrick Meehan – Endorsements

VDLC – Labour Endorsements

Vancouver Fire Fighters – Endorsements

Ken Ohrm (Price Tags) – Endorsements

Colin Stein (Price Tags) – Endorsements

Bicycle Mansplain – Bike Friendly Council

James Wanless – Endorsements

Civic Elxn Watch – Pro-Transit/Pro-Housing

Emily Chan – Endorsements

Todd Smith – Strategic Vote

Ian Mackinnon – Housing-Friendly YVR Voting Guide

For school board, check out Patti Bacchus’s endorsements.