Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘election

ProVancouver party proposes flat fare and other transit discounts across Lower Mainland

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Faregates at King Edward

The title is that of an article in the Georgia Straight

The ProVancouver Party is one of several new entities that have popped up due to the upcoming city election all of which claim to be non-partisan (just like the flailing NPA) and different from the status quo.

The main difference is simply in the level of understanding of how local government in Vancouver works (or is supposed to) between those who have some experience and those with none at all. Many of the new candidates seriously think that their naivete is a qualification rather than a liability.

I am not going to bother with analysing any of these half baked proposals. I am simply going to point out that getting elected to Vancouver City council does not enable anyone to introduce any of these ideas. As the Straight points out these are regional measures, which means that they have to appeal to most of the other municipalities outside of the City of Vancouver. The only commonality among these municipalities is their utter contempt for Vancouver and all it stands for. For one thing they are all convinced that Vancouver benefits far more from transit than they do. Even when Burnaby has far more SkyTrain service than any other municipality. And if your identifier is ProVancouver, you are already setting yourself up for an argument. West Vancouver still thinks it would be better off if it left Translink altogether – though even they have to concede that it is really difficult to find any acceptable piece of land within West Vancouver that could be used as a bus storage and maintenance facility.  Places like Anmore and Belcarra even think that people from other municipalities should not be allowed park or even drive on their roads.   Especially in summer.

The key word that ProVancouver has latched onto is “affordable”.  Which you might think would translate into some kind of means tested subsidy for transit fares. But as usual in all such woolly thinking, the term itself is not defined – but has something to do with “families” even though most people now live in rather different households than the traditional Mum, Dad and 2.4 kids. What we do know from our experience with the referendum is people in general believe a lot of nonsense about Translink and think they pay quite enough in taxes to provide much better service than they currently get. And that second belief is equally strongly held everywhere – even in the best served parts of the region. If you are not going to collect enough at the farebox, then it has to come from somewhere else, and any proposal is always going to be met with the angry riposte “How are you going to pay for that?” (without waiting for the answer before stamping off).

One of the great weaknesses of the upcoming ballot is that it is going to be filled with a lot of names: most of them will be unfamiliar. And whoever gets elected is going to have spend a lot of time and effort getting up to speed on procedures, rules and regulations. To some extent that does mean the potential for more influence from the professionals who have mostly been doing this stuff as a full time career for many years. But sadly they will be fully occupied trying to persuade the newly elected councillors that they have to both listen and read attentively. There is no evidence at all that ProVancouver has the slightest intention of doing that before insisting that they are now in charge: heaven help us all if that is the case.


Written by Stephen Rees

August 15, 2018 at 4:25 pm

The loan story just keeps on going and going …

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You might recall that this story started with Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail. He now has some more reaction to some of the shennigans over the last few days.

Basically he is saying that neither side has covered themselves in glory – and indeed he is remarkably even handed in his criticisms of both sides. Of course he is also the only one who knows who leaked the story – and of course he is not saying. Good journalists protect their sources. But he does seem to cast some doubt over the presumption that he has seen the copy of the report that Peter Lander says he left on the table in the meeting room and that later turned up on the desk of B C Lee. Or does he?

Anyway, he now has a series of Very Good Questions – but somehow I doubt that either side will be in a hurry to answer any of them.

The politicians haven’t been nearly as forthright with the public as they should have been either before or after details of the loan came out.

And on that front, Vision Vancouver has just as much to answer for as the NPA.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 12, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Posted in politics

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It takes a village to raise a panic

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Pete McMartin did a really good job for the NPA yesterday in deflating the rhetoric around the proposed loan for the Olympic Village. Because, of course, all that is really going on is an election and Vision needed a story to deflect attention from the shock and  horror of Gregor Robertson’s SkyTrain ticket. Which was also not the end of civilisation as we know it, but a rather tawdry stunt by NPA supporters.

So in terms of election coverage I think both parties came out even, but I imagine the only impact any of this made is to increase (if that is possible) the level of cynicism about local politics. Neither story will have changed the minds of committed voters, and the turn out I expect will be as dismal as usual – or maybe worse.

COPE’s effort to get noticed – the free bus service I told you about on Friday – seems to have been ignored so far. At least by the Asper conglomerate. Dave Fields tells me that people yesterday using the service received it quite well.  I expect a lot of them already had transfers and passes in their pockets but “free” does get noticed.

Free Bus

Free Bus

Written by Stephen Rees

November 9, 2008 at 9:52 am

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Climate author goes political

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Scientist endorses Dion to deal with ‘the defining problem for humanity’

Nicholas Read, Canwest News Service

Published: Sunday, October 12, 2008

Keeping Our Cool
By Andrew Weaver
Penguin Canada, $34

It was pure chance that University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver’s new book on global warming came out during a federal election campaign. But since it has, he’s taking an extraordinary step for a scientist and declaring, point-blank how he thinks people should vote. “Vote for (Liberal Party Leader) Stéphane Dion; don’t vote for the Green Party,” Weaver said in an interview promoting Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

“If the Green Party has a strong candidate who’s going to beat out the Liberal and Conservative candidates, then, OK, go ahead and vote Green. But, by and large, a green vote is not a Green vote. A green vote is for a Liberal government and Stéphane Dion. There is no other candidate you can vote for.”

This, you will understand is far from usual. Scientists do not as a rule make public political statements and certianly not during an election when it is  obviously a partisan issue. But then Stephen Harper has targetted sceintists and science itself. Both he and W talk regularly to God so they are absolutely certain they are right.

I have already voted Green, but if you are dithering, take a look at the rest of the article

Written by Stephen Rees

October 12, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Environment, politics

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Public transit a key election issue

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Toronto Star

in Toronto suburbs wooed by Tories

It is a shame about that qualifier. And it is also a shame that the opinion seems to be exclusive to Michael Roschlau, president of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.  There is nothing in the article itself to back up the assertion in the headline. No poll, no vox pops. There is a useful sidebar that has the party platforms on transit.

But again we get the same tale about gas tax or, in the case of the Greens, a point on GST. Now I have made the point here more than once that these taxes are all regressive, and predicated taxes are a hostage to fortune. In the case of the gas tax, as gas sales fall (for example when people drive less due to high gas prices) so do revenues. Which is exactly the reverse of what needs to happen. Yes we need federal funding for transit, but it should be based on the consolidated revenues of the federal government not one tax or another. And it should be available to use for both operating and capital spending.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but the election has ceased to be about anything but how suddenly we all feel less well off than we did a little while ago. And it would appear from the polls that more people are now blaming the Tories for the stock market debacle. Or perhaps also for being nasty to nice Mr Dion. The behaviour of CTV is beneath contempt – but Harper could not resist the chance of a cheap shot and it has hurt him more than Dion.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 11, 2008 at 8:45 am

Posted in politics, transit

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Anyone but Harper

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You have a choice a video worth looking at – and listening to.

If you need guidance on strategic voting the Straight has an article with recommendations of which non conservative stands the best chance of winning. has identified the ridings where strategic voting will be effective — ridings in which the outcome is most uncertain, and the Conservatives either hold the riding by a slim margin, or might just win if their opposition is fragmented among the other parties. Approximately 35 ridings are held by Conservatives who squeaked in, partly because of a fragmented opposition. In these ridings it’s important to unite to defeat the Conservatives. In about 45 other ridings an opposition candidate won by a small margin in the last election. In these cases it’s important to keep the seat.

If it offends your sensibilities to vote for somebody you think is an inferior candidate you can swap your vote with somebody in a different riding. Let’s say you really would prefer a Green candidate to win but the realpolitik of strategic voting has you voting for a Liberal, then you can find somebody who has the opposite problem – i.e., in her riding she would like to vote Liberal but strategic voting has her voting for a Green — and, in a sense swap your votes. Visit Vote Swap Canada , a Facebook group, to set this up. At least then the total popular votes of the two parties is unaffected by your strategic voting, and the federal contribution to their campaigns in the next election remains the same.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 9, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in politics

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Little difference observed between Ladner and Sullivan

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It is understandable that COPE and Vision would take this line. But for the NPA this is a difficult choice. Right now they do not want to appear divided – even though they are. But as Ladner pointed out, if the NPA doesn’t deliver change, then Vision will. The current party line is that there was no difference in policy and it is all about personality. But some of those policies are really difficult to defend – including EcoDensity and the daft plan to widen Burrard Bridge.  I think that the people of Vancouver want to see more than a different face and a more approachable manner. What the NPA seem to be saying is to put style over substance, and I think the small percentage of Vancouver residents who can be bothered to vote will regard that as insulting to their intelligence. I also expect NPA supporters to stay home – just like they did when they had the opportunity to choose a candidate for Mayor and so many didn’t.

But the best quote of the day is from

Al De Genova, a former NPA park board commissioner who is now seeking the Vision Vancouver mayoral nomination, was even more adamant that Ladner is unlikely to depart from the Sullivan policy book.

“I can say it in four words: Nothing has changed,” he said. “Peter has been toeing the party line for the past six years on council.”

In my view a basic qualification for municipal office is the ability to count – even if you have to use the fingers of one hand to do it.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2008 at 7:30 am

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