January 14, 2019

Price Talks Ep15: Campaign Finance Reform & Our Little Dark Money Problem — with John Whistler of VanGreens

In recent years, critics have accused both Liberal and NDP cabinets of rushing through inadequate electoral reforms via BC’s Local Election Campaign Financing Act, or LECFA. The most recent round of changes took effect last April, impacting the 2018 municipal elections across the province.

What were they all about? Are BC municipalities in-line with campaign financing limits and disclosure requirements at the provincial and federal levels? What is “the dark money”, and why is that still a thing in local politics?

John Whistler, financial agent for the Green Party of Vancouver, joins Gord in the studio to dig into the details of the recent changes — how they impacted candidates and voters last fall, and additional changes he’d like to see in how election campaigns are conducted in British Columbia.

Want more? In October, Gord published John’s 5-part series on “Failure and Reform: BC’s Local Elections Campaign Financing Act” — simply search for ‘LECFA’ on the blog.

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If you’ve kept up with regional news on BC’s south coast over the past 35 years, chances are you’re familiar with Daphne Bramham’s work, and its impact.

Starting out at the Regina Post-Leader, Bramham moved to the west coast as political reporter for The Canadian Press, until eventually joining the Vancouver Sun. From beat and investigative reporter, to associate editor and columnist, Bramham has helped BC readers understand more about power and politics at all levels of government, and difficult stories about immigration and citizenship, polygamy and abuse, drug addiction and tragedy on our streets.

In this deep-dive discussion, Bramham talks about being a woman in politics and media, some of her favourite stories over the years, and the prospects for news and journalism in Canada going forward.

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From A to F, where would you grade Vancouver City Council?  This was the question posed by Gordon Price to two of “The Independents” — podcast guests and past Council candidates Adrian Crook and Rob McDowell.

In this end-of-year wrap up, and summation of standout moments in council chambers over their first two months in office, Gord, Adrian and Rob talk about all manner of hot topics, many of which will be back on the agenda (and in the Comments section and your news feed) in the new year.

Spatial justice. Consultation, the city-wide plan, and ‘clean slates’. Uncomfortable council seating arrangements, and creative alliances (ie. the “GreeNPA”). Our new mayor, and electoral reform.

Oh yes, and which outlaw was ‘most wanted’ for unspeakable crimes in the District of North Vancouver….and what’s in store for development and densification on the north shore?

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That’s “Downtown Eastside” — a tragic shorthand, an acronym that’s deserving (at the very least) of a full explanation. What’s happening? How did we get to the current situation? And why can’t we find our way out?

Karen Ward is a member of the “we”. She’s an ardent and eloquent activist who lives in the neighbourhood and provides emotional support to her vast personal network — a community which spans from Woodwards to Oppenheimer Park, from the foot of Main Street to City Hall. Karen is a former Board member of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), and former collective member of Gallery Gachet. Most notably, today she contributes to policy strategy as a volunteer advocate to both the BC Centre for Disease Control and as a spokesperson for her community to Vancouver city council and local media. Karen is unquestionably an urbanist, in thought and in action.

Give this episode — just 30 minutes of your life — a listen this holiday season. It’s a small opening into the life led by your neighbours, in a place that was once the beating heart of mainstream, middle-class Vancouver…and which today constitutes “7 or 8 blocks of chaos.”

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Ian Bushfield is one-third of Vancouver politics podcast Cambie Report, one-half of its older, BC-focused cousin PolitiCoast, and executive director of BC Humanist Association.

He’s also co-creator of a new classification method — a simple but compelling matrix — for visualizing the political and urbanist ideologies of the people and parties that ran for, and now occupy, City Hall.

Gord spoke to Bushfield at length about the urbanist-conservationist axis and what it means in the current political environment, his view on housing and the implications of the emerging push for ‘spatial justice’, and what we can expect from Cambie Report in 2019.

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“The price of exclusivity in Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and West Point Grey is gentrification everywhere else.”

Much has been said about Vancouver’s housing crisis, and much has been promised. But now things are about to get real — and advocacy groups are ready. Particularly at Abundant Housing Vancouver.

AHV is a voice for more — policy reform (renter protections, land value capture, zoning laws), non-market housing, and purpose-built rental units. For this, not to mention the specious claims they’re in the pockets of wealthy developers, they’re also the target of vitriol from the anti-supply side crowd, status quo preservationists, and a grab-bag of Twitter trolls.

AHV directors Jennifer Bradshaw and Stuart Smith joined PT Managing Editor Colin Stein for a chat about what pulled them into housing advocacy, what they’re pushing for, and how they deal with the endless antagonism. And of course, to help define ‘spatial justice’…the implications of which may change the city, and the region, forever.

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“We came within an eyelash of running the table.”

And he’s not wrong. Ken Sim, founder and CEO of homecare provider Nurse Next Door and bagel chain Rosemary Rocksalt, is just two months removed from having come within 957 votes of being the mayor of Vancouver. With five NPA Vancouver councillors, Sim would have led a majority, and thus the face of municipal (and perhaps regional) politics might look very different than it does today.

Having returned to regular family and business life, he goes deep with Gord in this revealing conversation. They discuss the day he got the call from NPA leadership, the big names he spoke to as he mulled his decision (and who finally convinced him to run), his experiences on the campaign trail, his thoughts about the downtown eastside, and what he believes are the major policy priorities for the city.

And more importantly — what does the future hold for Ken Sim?

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Gord visited District of North Vancouver Municipal Hall this week, to chat with Councillor Mathew Bond about about the failed Delbrook motion to allow a parking lot at 600 W Queens Road to become the site of an 80-unit affordable residential building, with a seniors respite care and below-market rentals.  It was rejected 5-2 by the new council — following two years of planning and community consultation, the result of a complex partnership and collaboration.

What does the vote say about the next four years of housing debate and action in the District of North Vancouver? Some big questions, and pregnant pauses, in today’s episode.

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A fixture in Port Coquitlam politics for the past 16 years — two terms as councillor, three as mayor — Greg Moore has also been a figurehead and ardent champion for the entire region.

As chair of the Metro Vancouver board for seven years, and chair of the Mayors Ten Year Vision Committee in the midst of his decade-long tenure on the TransLink Mayors Council, Moore rolled up his sleeves and left indelible marks of leadership and organizational effectiveness on both organizations, while helping steer his community through a time of change.

In this episode, Gordon Price and the newly-retired-from-politics (***so he says***) ex-mayor talk about the new culture of incivility in civic affairs, the concentric circles of influence that ebb out of Vancouver to the suburbs, what makes for a mayoral mandate, and why planners could perhaps be considered ideal political leaders.

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In the opening op-ed, Gord blends some historical context into the current debate over renovictions and the state of Vancouver’s mid-rise rental stock, in a profile of West End icon The Berkeley.

Then, a deep-dive interview with former diplomat — and independent council candidate in Vancouver’s recent election — Rob McDowell.  A professional adjudicator and mediator, Rob talks about his entry into the political world over three decades ago, his decision to run for council for a third time, first as an independent, and the challenges to come for the city’s divided leadership.

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