Last weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Transparency hit new low during plebiscite

Twenty-three is the number of elected representatives in Metro Vancouver who are members of the Mayors’ Council on Transportation — 21 members are mayors, one represents Electoral area ‘A’, and another is the chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation. Collectively, they are supposed to represent the views and interests of the citizens of the region — you.

The $5.8 million is what the Mayors’ Council spent to promote the Yes vote in the transit plebiscite.

As for 44.7, that is the average percentage of people who took the time to vote. And while the turnout was higher in most cities in this vote than the last civic election, it’s still indicative of how few voters even care.

It’s outrageous — all of it. But that’s not all. Some of the cities in Metro Vancouver spent even more public funds, out of their own city budgets.

It’s been reported that Vancouver spent an additional $292,705 while Surrey coughed up an extra $240,500. New Westminster tossed in another $20,00, but Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said nothing extra was spent — the city simply jotted down a reminder of the ballot in the property tax notice that was already being sent out.

None of these figures even include things like time city staff spent on Yes vote activities.

The Yes side, including the Mayors’ Council, declined to be transparent about their spending during the plebiscite and didn’t release where and how these millions were spent until last week.

And when you consider that the Mayors’ Council is part of the TransLink governance model, it raises even more questions as to their accountability as well.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner both aggressively campaigned, despite Hepner’s own obstacle at having earlier promised LRT running by 2018 even with a no vote.

West Vancouver,Burnaby and Maple Ridge mayors were the only two to oppose the plan — citing lack of TransLink spending oversight — while Jackson chose to ask Delta residents for their feedback rather than taking any position. A wise move.

It’s a sad day when elected officials can ask for, receive and then waste millions of public dollars trying to convince us that TransLink can be trusted to spend even more money wisely.

When this much accountability is lacking, we’ve all lost — regardless of the outcome of this vote.

10 thoughts on “Last weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Transparency hit new low during plebiscite

  1. I kept telling people before the ballots were cast that we were only getting part of the story and there was much more being hidden, including how much was being spent to promote a yes vote. I still believe this is just the tip of the iceberg and behind the scenes much more money was being spent and planned to be spent. Is it any wonder we have lost all faith in the people we elect and the bureaucrats that serve us?


  2. Its a pretty sad commentary when the govt tries to “out lobby” the Translink lobbyists…….
    Can BC politics be any more blatantly partisan than Mayors spending hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money(on top of the 5.8 MILLION dollars urinated against the wall by that paragon of financial virtue….Translink).
    This is absolutely disgusting.
    Are you beginning to even have a single random neuron fire in those myopically focussed simian brains of yours?
    Newsflash overpaid Translink consultants:
    Possibly because they have never, ever balance their budget and they always want more money
    Traffic armageddon. Please. Spare me.
    Only due to the fact that the self same Mayors and Translink donkeys want to “empire build” and dont care who, or what they ruin in the process.
    WHY does it take 4 weeks to get the results of a cheesy, half pint referendum in Greater Vancouver when China can tabulate 1.3 billion people’s votes( that ,ironically, dont count either) in less than a week.
    Possibly because……..
    Translink Spin doctors are working overtime trying to figure out a way to blame everyone BUT themselves for their incompetance.
    Fire them all without severance and start over .
    10,000 Monkeys fornicating with footballs on top of typewriters could produce better results than these self absorbed idiots.

    Rant over.


  3. Here is what you have to remember. Clark the Crook and Todd the Transportation Min. whose portfolio is transportation hide from their responsibilities. They let this play out as if it were from another Province. Why have a referendum here? Well the Libs can’t win if they are tied to this!! Where was the referendum on Sea to Sky Hwy? Is there one on Site C. Was there one on Line to Richmond, What about Campell the Crook on the Smart Meter Scam? Oh the Tunnel!!! The list goes on. These bastards have scammed the morons who believed the lies about the NDP before the last election. What have we got? An education system that is seriously flawed, Health Care as well. and A murder ON THEIR HANDS ABOUT THE Drug scandal. God Help Us???


  4. So, I am a bit stuck on the image of monkeys and footballs and typewriters…………and there is NOTHING wrong with that! But there is clearly something democratically wrong with that referendum. Bureaucrats advertising for their own self interests with taxpayers dollars intended to go to transit infrastructure is a conflict of interest at the very least. It may even be illegal at some level. It is eerily comparable to the accusation that Harper made against non-government organizations getting publicly funded while they were advocating against government policy. He cut their funding if they even hinted political. He sued a few of them, I believe. David Suzuki stepped away from the Suzuki Foundation so that their funding was not jeopardized. NOT a direct comparison but enough to show a double standard. Government can politic with your tax dollars but NGOs cannot. Well, unless it is those NGOs and corporations that are singing from the government’s hymn book. Then they are OK to continue lunching at the trough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One need search no further for a comparison than the STV Referenda. All fluffed up as “The Peoples’ Choice”, the government did its utmost, with public money, to promote the shoe-in pro-rep system (recall that the co-ordinator who shepherded the randomly-selected electoral non-experts was himself a proponent of Single-Transferable-Voting— he’d written a book about it). Indeed, when the proposal was rejected by very thin margin the first Referendum, the BC Liberals held a second one. I’m not sure whether it was recrimination, or association with an increasingly disgraceful government, or the realization that the whole thing was a manipulative set-up ulteriorly motivated, but the proposed STV system was soundly thrashed in the second Referendum, getting little more than half the support of the first, and falling well below even a simple majority (the thresholds for both Referenda were super-majorities of 60%). It looked as though voters rejected STV more decisively after the benefit of longer and closer examination. As a result, nothing more concrete can be said of the whole exercise than it might have been a rejection of pro-rep in general, of STV in particular, of the BC Liberal government, or any combination thereof. Government promotion of it at public expense is, in contrast, a fact.

      The BC Liberal government hasn’t done anything that didn’t provide partisan benefit to furthering its neo-right agenda (beggaring public enterprise and favouring insider cronies with the resulting carrion). So if STV wasn’t altruism, what was it? I say it was, like fixed-election dates, another tactic to weaken government, basically to make it unaffordable (in every sense, political, fiscal, electoral, administratively, etc.) to regulate profiteering: the minority governments pro-rep would most likely provide are by definition weaker than majorities; fixed-election dates for their part make for lazy Oppositions which spend most of their time polishing policy and keeping powder dry for “the big day”—again weakening public oversight of private interests that affect the environment and the public weal.

      Remember: BC Liberals never do anything on the square. At this point they are incapable of public trust because it’s already been broken by them so many times. Their two objectives are to favour privateers whilst in power, and spike the public oversight process so their cronyism can’t easily be undone when they’re not in power. Propaganda never informs balanced decision-making, and sponsored by government—any government—at public expense is always dubious.


    1. Well…… is just an extrapolation from the basics of administrative and natural justice. It is not like I have read the legislation or the contracts and I am not likely to. But people in government are supposed to hold the public purse in trust as it were. They must exhibit fiduciary responsibility. If they don’t, they are possibly in breach of trust. Of course, few are ever charged because the great unwashed have no voice except by way of the ones who are in the position of trust in the first place. So, you don’t see that charge often. But the violations occur all the time. See Duffy. Remember the Basi-Virk pay-off? Was that in the best interests of the public? Many people thought not but it went through. Mis-spending by the self-interested bureaucrats may not be an actually provable offence but would outright politicking for your own job by spending $5M of the public’s money be in their best interests? Conflict f interest to be sure. Can any utility or institution ever act in the public’s best interest when that interest may be best served by terminating the institution? Probably not. Not too many people at the trough recognize their uselessness and quit of their own volition. But ACTIVELY spending other’s money to preserve your place at the lunch buffet may just be a step too far.
      Or, better put: it is a step anyone with basic ethics would never take. Not ever. .


      1. Or, even mo’ better put: it is a step I, with my basic and limited ethics would never take. Not ever. If it smells bad, it is bad when you are in a position of trust.


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