Councillors who work for lobbyists should have to disclose their clients, says Vision

Vision Vancouver has introduced a motion calling for new measures that require municipal elected officials to disclose potential conflicts due to being employed as lobbyists or at government relations firms.

“Under the current Financial Disclosure Act, if an elected official has a second job working as a lobbyist, consultant or for a government relations firm, they do not have to disclose their corporate clients,” said Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer. “The public has no way of knowing if a councillor who works for a government relations firm is doing work with companies who then will come to him or her for a council decision." 

“This has never been an issue in the past, but given that several members of Council either work for a government relations firm or for private companies that take on clients, the public deserves to know,” added Vision Councillor Heather Deal. “Even if a City Councillor is not working directly with the corporate client of their lobbying firm, the optics are bad and it harms the public trust in elected office. The Financial Disclosure Act should be amended to end this loophole and require full transparency and disclosure.”

A previous motion calling for councillors to disclose potential conflicts from public relations firms, government relations firms, and consultancies came to Council on November 14, 2017. NPA Councillors Affleck, Ball, Bremner and De Genova all declared they were in a conflict of interest on the motion, and left Council chambers. The motion coming forward to council next week on May 1st calls for amendments to the Financial Disclosure Act to ensure that all potential conflicts and financial interests of municipally elected officials are disclosed per the stated intent of the Act.

In the past week, media have reported that NPA Councillor Hector Bremner, who also maintains a job as a VP at the Pace Group, has received not one but two conflict of interest complaints from members of the public. The complaints are now subject to an independent third-party investigator.

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For media interviews: Councillor Heather Deal: 604-375-9413 Councillor Andrea Reimer: 604-719-3920
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Vision calls on NPA to support end of corporate donation loophole

Vision Vancouver will be introducing a motion at the next city council meeting calling on all members of City Council to go on record supporting the closure of a loophole that is allowing the NPA to accept unlimited corporate donations, after the BC Government brought in campaign finance legislation intended to end corporate influence in municipal politics.

“The BC Government was very clear last fall: they introduced legislation to ban big money from municipal politics,” said Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer. “Recent admissions from the NPA that they are flouting this intention and actively seeking corporate cash not only goes against the spirit of the legislation, but goes against their own support of a ban on corporate donations in municipal politics. We are calling on the four NPA councillors to renounce their party’s corporate fundraising and join us in urging the BC government to tighten the legislation.”

To date, the four NPA councillors have remained silent on the admission from the NPA president that their party is actively seeking and accepting unlimited corporate donations. 

Questions the NPA councillors need to answer:

  • How much corporate money has the NPA fundraised? Who donated it?
  • How big were the donations? Has the NPA accepted any donations larger than the $1200 limit?
  • Will you disclose an itemized account of what you spent the corporate money on?

The motion will come to the Council meeting on Tuesday, May 1st.

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Media contact: Andrea Reimer (604) 719-3920
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Vision Vancouver asks BC Government to close fundraising loophole

Vision Vancouver sent a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs today, seeking action to close the loophole in the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act and enforce the spirit of the legislation to remove big money from municipal politics.
 
In a letter to Minister Selina Robinson, Vision Co-Chair Michael Haack said, “Like you, we are now dismayed to discover that the NPA continues to solicit corporate contributions, despite a very clear direction from your government and an abundantly clear public expectation that corporate/union money should never again flow into the coffers of municipal political parties.”
 
Vision is calling for the BC Government to take additional steps to retroactively rectify this matter and ensure Elections BC is given all necessary tools to appropriately enforce legislation.
 
“Vision Vancouver and our elected officials on City Council have fought to change campaign finance rules for over a decade,” said Haack. “The spirit of the legislation introduced last fall is clear: there is no scenario where municipal parties can accept corporate donations. This needs to be enforced now.”
 
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For media: Michael Haack || michael.haack [at] votevision.ca

 

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NPA needs to come clean on accepting corporate cash

Elections BC needs to immediately investigate the NPA for potential violations of the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, following the admission in today’s Globe and Mail by the NPA President that the party is still accepting corporate donations despite provincial legislation specifically banning them.

On October 30th, 2017, the BC Government introduced legislation that would immediately ban union and corporate donations to municipal political parties. The intent of the legislation was clear: there was no scenario where municipal political parties could legally accept corporate or union donations.

“The NPA needs to come clean on how much corporate cash they have accepted,” said Michael Haack, Co-Chair of Vision Vancouver. “Elections BC needs to put a stop to the NPA raising corporate donations through the backdoor. The spirit of the legislation is clear: there is no scenario where municipal parties can accept corporate donations.”

Vision Vancouver will be lodging a formal complaint with the BC Chief Electoral Officer to investigate the NPA’s fundraising activities given the admission in today’s Globe and Mail.

Questions that the NPA needs to answer:

  • How much corporate cash have they accepted since October 31st 2017, when the ban began?
  • Which companies donated to the NPA, despite the ban being in place?
  • How soon will the improper corporate donations be returned?

Under Section 86 of the Local Elections Financing Act, an individual who commits an offence related to campaign contributions can face fines or up to a year in jail. 

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For media: Michael Haack ||  Michael.haack [at] votevision.ca

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Re-Fresh, Re-New, Re-enVISION: Packed house delivers new energy and new ideas

A diverse and energetic crowd of Vision Vancouver members came together Sunday afternoon to build on the successes of the past 10 years, and to work together on a set of bold new ideas for an even better, more sustainable and more affordable Vancouver.

“Vision Vancouver has accomplished so much to make life better for people, but we must keep moving forward with new ideas and new solutions to the challenges that are still ahead,” said Sheena Sargeant, Co-Chair of Vision. “Today, we saw a new generation of community leaders sharing their ideas for a vibrant Vancouver.”

Re-Fresh, Re-New, Re-enVISION was a half-day community dialogue for Vision Vancouver members to discuss, debate and listen to the creative solutions our community has to offer. The ideas emerging from the afternoon session included housing affordability, increasing rental housing, expanding transit, how to grow childcare services, and many more. 

“Voters sidelined the NPA because their priorities were wrong for Vancouver,” said Sargeant. “And ten years later, we still see the same-old NPA looking for ways to make our city less fair, less fun, less sustainable, and less affordable.

“The threat that the NPA presents should not be underestimated.”

Vision Vancouver is looking forward to a dynamic nomination race, and will be hosting a series of community dialogues, like Sunday’s forum, that will shape a progressive and forward-looking agenda for the campaign.

“Our ultimate goal is to make life better for the people of Vancouver by electing outstanding candidates that reflect the unique neighbourhoods and diverse communities that make this city great.”

Vision Vancouver’s nomination process is now open for Council, Park Board and School Board. Anyone interested in seeking a nomination should contact the party. Candidates, Vision or independent, interested in the mayoral race should express their interest to the party by April 16.

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For media: Michael Haack || michael.haack [at] votevision.ca

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Vision Vancouver opens nominations for Council, Park Board and School Board

In advance of the 2018 municipal election this fall, Vision Vancouver has officially opened nominations for candidates seeking to join the Vision team.

“Our goal is to nominate outstanding candidates that reflect the unique neighbourhoods and diverse communities that make this city great,” said Sheena Sargeant, Vision Vancouver Co-Chair. “We have a lot of work ahead – and it starts with a vibrant nomination race that brings new ideas and passion to the forefront of our vision and our city.”

Nominations will close in June, when members will vote to select the candidates who will run as the Vision Vancouver team going into the fall campaign. The number of candidates Vision will run for Council, Park Board and School Board has yet to be determined.

At this time, Vision is not formally opening a nomination process for the mayoral race.

“There has been a lot of talk about the need for Vancouver’s progressive parties to work together to keep the NPA out of office. With this in mind, we’re creating an opportunity to collaborate with other parties for an independent or partisan mayoral candidate to seek the support of our members,” said Sargeant.

As a first step, Vision has invited all expressions of interest in the mayoral race by April 16.

“Vancouver is at a critical moment - whether we’re talking about housing, transit, jobs, education, recreation, or our local environment and green spaces - and we all know how important it is to have progressive government in City Hall, School Board and Park Board that represents our progressive values and priorities,” said Sargeant.  ‘The threat that the NPA presents should not be underestimated. The NPA has already made it clear they intend to reverse many of the progressive policies Vision has implemented over the past 10 years.”

Anyone interested in seeking the Vision Vancouver endorsement should contact the party for a nomination packages.

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For media: Michael Haack || michael.haack [at] votevision.ca

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Homelessness and Modular Housing:

Kerry Jang

 

Dear friends —

I want to share with you the latest on what your Vision team is doing on homelessness.

You may have read in the media about how we’re partnering with the new BC Government to deliver 600 modular homes — spread across the city — to help house people who are homeless. It’s a great example of the effective partnership we have with the provincial government that’s delivering real results for Vancouver.

There has been some neighbourhood pushback. I went to a community open house for one of the modular buildings last night. Some residents are claiming that the modular housing will bring drugs or crime to their neighbourhood, or put children at risk.

It’s disappointing to see that type of stigma about the homeless. The fact is, we have homeless people throughout Vancouver, in every neighbourhood. And they are people’s kids, their brothers and sisters, their friends.

We have a choice: we can leave people on the street, or get them into a home, with the support they need to rebuild their lives. And Vision Vancouver will continue to be willing to make the difficult choices to get this housing built, because it is the right thing to do.

Mayor Robertson held a special press conference yesterday to reiterate our commitment to getting people off the street.

Modular housing works. We set up the first city-led project at Main and Terminal earlier this year. There have been zero complaints. It’s a successful model that saves money and delivers housing quickly — which is why we’re building them across the city.

It’s one of several measures we’re rolling out to help our most vulnerable. We’re opening 300 winter shelter beds, again in partnership with the BC Government — almost double what we had last year. They’re already full. We’re opening community centres up overnight when the temperature drops, and we have 1,000 new permanent social housing units opening between now and the end of next year — affordable homes we secured as part of new development in Vancouver.

Yes, there’s much more to do, but we’re on the right track. If you support our work to get new modular housing to help the homeless, I’m asking if you’ll speak up. Write a letter to the editor. Tweet your support. Post about it on Facebook. Talk to your neighbours.

Every voice makes a difference.

Thanks for your support,
Kerry

 

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Dr. Kerry Jang
Vision Vancouver City Councillor

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Unbelievable

 Andrea Reimer

 

Friends,

Yesterday, City Council approved Vancouver’s first Renewable City Action Plan.

It’s a detailed, achievable plan to make life more affordable by requiring energy efficient buildings and green transportation alternatives, improving health outcomes with cleaner air, and supporting local businesses as we strive to meet our greenest city targets. It’s an important plan, and it’s going to help us fight climate change together.

Guess who voted against it?

All four NPA councillors — including their newest councillor — former oil and gas lobbyist Hector Bremner.

Here’s what the NPA said ‘No’ to:

  • Reducing your household energy bills by making new buildings more energy efficient.
  • Increasing electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Expanding low-emission transit options and getting the Broadway Subway built.

Vancouver is now a global leader on combatting climate change. But if the NPA has their way, they’ll try to undo our hard work. They call it “deregulation”. I call it moving backwards on affordability, clean air, and a greener city.

Yesterday’s vote was a clear reminder that on affordability and climate change, there is a big, big difference between Vision Vancouver and the NPA. And it’s why our party is working hard to prepare for next year’s election.

Our team won’t stop fighting to build an affordable, sustainable city. I hope you’ll continue to stand with us.

Take care,
Andrea

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Andrea Reimer
City Councillor, Vision Vancouver


PS: If you’re with us, please click here to make a contribution to our campaign fund. Any amount — whether it’s $10, $20, or even $100 — helps us prepare to take on the NPA in 2018.

 

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Campaign finance reform is finally here.

It’s a big day. Today, the new provincial government introduced legislation to eliminate corporate money in municipal politics.

Vision Vancouver has been pushing for these reforms for years. Mayor Robertson and your Vision city councillors have introduced motion after motion calling on the province to ban big money in politics. We even filed a submission with the Special Committee on Local Expense Limits. Councillor Andrea Reimer in particular has been an outspoken advocate for campaign finance reform, and deserves our thanks for her work.

Vancouver’s municipal elections are now among the most expensive in the country. In 2011, a single developer wrote a $900,000 cheque to our opponents at the NPA — the largest political donation in Canadian history. It’s not sustainable, and we’re grateful to the province for stepping up with today’s changes.

Local election campaign finance reform is good for Vancouver, and good for our democracy.

Vision Vancouver has always been powered by people and ideas. Today’s announcement lets us focus on what we’re good at — delivering progressive policies, building a green economy, and working to make life more affordable in Vancouver.

The hard work of funding our 2018 election campaign begins now. If you’d like to show your support, please stand with us and make a donation today. Donations from our community of supporters like you will help fuel this movement.

We are pleased with today’s announcement, and are preparing to fight the 2018 election under the new rules; it’s now a level playing field for all parties — and we’re up to the challenge.

Onward,
Your Vision Vancouver team

PS: Monthly donations help us plan our finances into the future. If you’d like to sign up for an ongoing monthly contribution, please click here and leave your name and email.

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A message from Mayor Gregor Robertson

I want to congratulate Hector Bremner on his election to City Council, and for running a campaign focussed on ideas about affordable housing, the biggest challenge we face as a city.

We knew this by-election would be difficult, and last night's results were not what we hoped for.

Our city faces real challenges. Vancouverites are frustrated — particularly around housing affordability — and they expect more from us. We’re working hard to deliver solutions, but tonight’s results show us there’s much more work to do.

I heard that message loud and clear, and our party heard that message loud and clear.

Diego Cardona is an impressive individual, and we were honoured to have him as a candidate. He embodies the values of Vancouverites: progressive, forward-looking, and committed to building a city for everyone. Diego’s candidacy also represents where Vision Vancouver is headed. He worked tirelessly on this campaign, and he’s got a bright future ahead.

Our School Board team ran an exceptional and principled campaign, and I want to congratulate Joy Alexander, Ken Clement, and Allan Wong, along with the other newly-elected trustees. While the results were not what we hoped for, it appears that we now have a progressive majority on the Vancouver School Board, and we look forward to working with our newly-elected trustees to stand up for public education in Vancouver.

 

Gregor Robertson

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