#VoteMob sees Vancouver's tech industry take over the Roundhouse polling station

In a dramatic display of numbers Friday (May 10), some 300 members of Vancouver’s video game and digital creative industries gathered at an advance polling station to cast their votes in the 2013 provincial election.


DigiBC head Howard Donaldson said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. He told the Straight that about 75 companies registered to send employees to the gathering at the Roundhouse, and that the happening was promoted on Twitter using the hashtag “#votemob”. Donaldson said the Roundhouse was selected for the event because so many of studios are located in Vancouver’s downtown core.

The NDP’s Matt Toner, candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, helped organize the event. A digital media entrepreneur himself, Toner told the Straight he entered politics to champion the causes of B.C.’s creative industries. “These are the jobs of the future,” he said, claiming that the Liberals have “actively de-invested” in the industry by excluding tech and digital companies from programs.

In the past few years, the video game industry in Vancouver has been on the decline, Toner continued, claiming that in his riding alone, 300 jobs have been lost in the last year, with those positions going to places like Ontario and Quebec, where video game developers enjoy lucrative tax credits. “We’re exporting our future,” Toner said. “We need to invest in the industry.”

Matt Toner, NDP candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, addresses a crowd of some 300 people at the Roundhouse polling station.
Blaine Kyllo

Ian Verchere, a veteran of the video game industry in B.C. and the chief creative officer at Roadhouse Interactive, said that the technical creative industries in B.C. employ about 80,000 people, compared to forestry, which he said employs around 17,000. Verchere wants the creative industries, including animation, film, and video games, recognized as being as important as the traditional provincial economic pillars: forestry, mining, and tourism. “We belong at the table,” he emphasized.

Asked whether the NDP were the answer to the problems, Donaldson said that he likes what the party is saying about the digital industries. “They value digital media and technology,” he said.

Verchere said he holds “no love” for NDP leader Adrian Dix, but that when he’s had conversations with Christy Clark and Colin Hansen in the past, they’ve looked at him like he was “Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still”. What was important about the vote mob was the turnout. “Whoever gets in is going to see this group,” said Verchere.

Donaldson agreed, saying that his association was ready to work with whatever party forms the provincial government.

Comments (14) Add New Comment
I work in the tech sector, and let me just say: A lot of these people would not be voting for NDP in other circumstances. However, the other parties have no strategy, position, or even and understanding on the issues troubling Vancouver's tech and creative industries.

Liberals are completely out to lunch, which is very, very, very troubling. They need to be ousted.
Rating: +25
“We’re exporting our future,” Toner said. “We need to invest in the industry.”

Dear Mr. Toner,
The reason why companies have invested here in BC as well as other places in Canada is because it's has a high standard of living, an advanced universal medical system, safe streets, clean water, an improved infrastructure, etc etc.

This country was among one of the first to embrace same-sex marriage because it is a country that developed a strong egalitarian tradition which the NDP at one time supported.

But Mr. Toner -- that all costs money. Money paid by the all the OTHER people pay income taxes to simply subsidize jobs in a boom and bust cycle of YOUR industry. Continuing to transfer public money for private gain has cause untold damage to western economies. No more subsidies -- particularly no more subsidies being advocated by a party that outrageously uses the medical, social and educational system as cheap props to mask simple minded cronyism.
You don't do yourself any favours sounding a like a some 'kickstart' come-on blue skying the same garbage scripts from the dot.com 90s. Esp for someone who claims to know about this industry.
I would much prefer that someone like Dix or yourself went to Hollywood to not pitch tax breaks for short-term political gains, but explain to so-called liberal Hollywood producers that BC has many things many many Progressive Americans wish they had in their country and that DOES cost money generated through an equitable tax system.

He should have explained to them that they are PERFECTLY free to invest in places like 'Hollywood of the South' instead of paying a little more to invest in Hollywood North. But investing in places like Louisiana will simply give scum like Bobby Jindal talking points about the economic miracle he produced as fodder for his possible future Presidential campaign. So he can possibly get elected and make live even worst for Americans -- particularly progressives, by doing the same shitty thing you are proposing. Tax breaks for a greedy industry that is unwilling to pay it's fair share.
Rating: -14
Community Observer
So, you would vote for a leader whoes ethics are so questionable? Like back dating a memo during a police investigation? How pathetic that these people are so ill informed. Sorry, but Dix and his cohorts are just like Stevie Harper, complete sense of entitlement and no integrity and " i know what is best for you so don't bother to critize me"
Rating: -24
The point of the #votemob is to let people know how big this industry actually is - getting 300 of any industry to show up to a political rally is no small feat, and the folks who were there are just the tip of the iceberg.

With more coverage like this, perhaps people will start to understand that the BC economy isn't just (or doesn't have to be just) resource-based. We can build a sustainable, new knowledge-based economic pillar to help carry the load for the Province... if there is the political will.

And if Matt Toner gets in, we'll have that will!
Rating: +2
Community Observer:

We don't vote for party leaders. We vote for local representatives, who in turn form the government. That said, do you really consider the Liberals and their “leadership” to be superior to the NDP? Because I think recent history would show otherwise.
Rating: +10
Distance Question
I thought it was illegal to hold an election campaign event within 100 metres of a voting station? No? The photo above seems to show Mr. Toner violating the election laws?!?!?!? No?
Rating: -8
Distance Question: Matt Toner did not have a say in the organization or planning of the votemob, as the votemob was an independent group. Thus, Toner was not disobeying electoral laws as Votemob was not an NDP sanctioned event, nor was Votemob part of a political party. However, Toner's campaign policy throughout was to help grow the creative sector here in BC, which made up the Votemob crowd.
Rating: +7
@Distance Question - This event was organized by DigiBC. Matt was just telling some folk how to cooperate with the line so we could all get through and follow the polling station guidelines. He didn't say Vote NDP, or Vote for me, or anything.
Rating: -9
Kevin C
I voted for the NDP at the Vote Mob. It's funny because I never expected the NDP to be the ones actually thinking about the future. Tech is here to stay, it's our future, and people like Matt Toner get that.

You can only mine and destroy our natural resources for so long before we have an ugly province with nothing to offer that is totally devoid of young people because they were too smart to stick around in a place that doesn't have their futures in mind.
Rating: +15
Votemob was a fantastic chance to put leaders who look out for the creative industries into government, and give us students a voice to help us through the interminable struggle that is finding employment.
Rating: -4
Blaine Kyllo
Distance Question: Toner was well outside the boundary of the actual polling station when he addressed the crowd. Making sure he was outside that limit was something his team and the staff at the polling station were careful about maintaining.
Rating: +24

Ooh 300 people, that might be one quarter of the number employed by the industry in a city of 2.3million.

Kevin C

The majority, or even 10 percent of the population will never work in the tech sector or program cell phone apps or video games, it is totally irelevant to them. Oh and I have some news for you; tech is one of the most destructive industries on earth, is horribly wasteful and is responsible for releasing some of the most dangerous substances on earth en masse.

I wish the NDP would not support the tech and film industries; they bring little if any economic or social benefits after all the subsidies.

Worse, even the article says these people don`t support anything the NDP stands for. Why are they supporting greedy, sociopathic Libertarians, do they want to create a BC Peter Thiel to deal with
Rating: -2
Joel R
The VoteMob was a joint effort by DigiBC and SaveBCFilm to show unity between the VideoGame/tech/animation and film. It was a nonpartisan event. Matt wasn't the only party leader invited to partake in the vote mob, invites were sent to all of the political parties over Twitter. The problem is the few million in tax credits is quadroupled by the industry. The film industry alone brings in over a billion dollars to BC and employs over 25,000 people. Include the collapsing videogames sector, tech sector and music industry and you are losing a huge hunk of the provinces income. Sadly the only politicians who show up at the events to save the industry are NDP and at times Green Party politicians. Liberals often come out secretly or meet with representatives of the film industry behind closed doors. The fact is any politician worth their salt in BC knows that 25,000 jobs and a billion dollars on the chopping block is something that needs to be addressed. The BC Government could be hardly called responsible if they lost a billion dollars a year and left 25,000 citizens without jobs.
Rating: +3
For those complaining about the video game industry receiving "subsidies", the fact is that there are 22 states in the USA who have had tax credits for this industry for more than 15 years. France, soon the UK, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, PEI and others all have them. Just like people, companies will go where they get the best deal. That is what has happened to the video game sector in BC. In the past 6 years, BC has lost over 17,000 video game jobs that have gone elsewhere. Jobs in the video game sector are mostly full time jobs unlike the film/TV industry where jobs are based on projects. The Liberal governments statements on why they won't be more competitive with Ontario and Quebec because it would be a "race to the bottom" is nonsensical and illogical. There has been no "race to the bottom" in the mentioned 22 US states. At some point the rate of tax credit no longer makes sense and no longer increases. Vancouver 7 yeas ago was the number 2 city in North America (after Austin, Texas) with the most people employed in the video game industry per population. Vancouver, in 7 short years, has dropped off the map and is hardly relevant. It's a competitive industry and you either compete or lose good paying jobs to other jurisdictions who make it work. For every tax credit dollar, the provincial government receives many times that back in taxes and spin off benefits to the community. Video games are the only entertainment form that has seen steady growth over the last 30 years and is larger than film, music, books and tv. It is projected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Whichever government gets in next, they either level the playing field or continue to lose well paying, full time jobs to elsewhere.
Rating: +10
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