The gloves are off Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang.
Slapped with a court petition seeking to remove him and fellow Vision councillor Geoff Meggs from office, the UBC psychiatry professor has come out swinging.
For Jang, the court action is no more than a “political smear job”.
“They’re all wanna-be-in-office or trying to help a particular party get in office,” Jang told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview on June 20. “They seem to be doing this as a cheap and easy way of getting their names in the paper.”
Jang was referring to 11 petitioners who've alleged that he and Meggs violated rules on conflict of interest in connection with the rezoning of Heather Place, a mixed-income public housing development.
Heather Place is owned and operated by the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC). Meggs is the vice president of the regional housing agency, while Jang is a member of the board of directors.
“They are members of the NPA [Non-Partisan Association] and COPE [Coalition of Progressive Electors], and people who’ve ran against us in the past,” Jang also said of the petitioners.
Isabel Minty is one of the petitioners, whom Jang dismissed as someone who is “critical of everything”.
Now in her mid-80s, the community activist was aghast at the councillor’s reaction to the suit filed on June 17.
“If that’s their response, I would suggest their arrogance should be brought down by ordinary citizens in the coming election,” Minty told the Straight in a phone interview.
Petitioner Erik Whiteway ran for park board twice under the NPA and the now defunct Vancouver Civic Action Team. According to him, he’s not currently affiliated with a civic party.
“He broke the law, and we’re trying to remove him for it,” Whiteway told the Straight by phone when informed of Jang’s reaction.
According to the court petition, Jang recused himself from a portion of a March 14, 2014, meeting of the MVHC board when the regional housing agency took up its proposed redevelopment of Heather Place.
It cites minutes stating that Jang “declared a conflict of interest” and left. Meggs was absent during that meeting.
On April 29, 2014, Jang voted in Vancouver council in favour of the redevelopment plan. Meggs was absent from this meeting but he participated in the public hearing that was held previously.
Jak King is one of the petitioners, who Jang said was “kicked out” of the Grandview Woodland Area Council for his “extreme views”.
King denied he was booted out of the neighbourhood council that he led as president. Amused by the councillor’s comment, King told the Straight by phone: “If someone is doing something wrong, well I guess the way to throw people off the chase is to claim that it’s some sort of a political smear.”
Rider Cooey and Nathan Crompton are among the petitioners. According to Jang, both belong to COPE.
Crompton is also an organizer with the Vancouver Renters’ Union. There is no love lost between him and Meggs on development issues in general and Heather Place in particular.
On October 26, 2012, Meggs wrote on his blog that Crompton had accused him of “corruption and organizing kickbacks”.
“These statements are libelous. I urge him to withdraw them and apologize,” Meggs demanded.
Crompton didn’t apologize, and in a subsequent post on The Mainlander, he and other editors of the online publication explained what they meant by the term “corruption”. According to them, it’s “an exchange of favors between elected and unelected municipal elites”.
Meggs declined to comment on the suit because it is before the courts.
Crompton told the Straight by phone that while he signed on to the petition, he wants to focus on the bigger issue of the loss of affordable housing in Vancouver.
According to Jang, petitioner Grant Munro Fraser doesn’t live in Vancouver. He doesn’t know the other petitioners, namely, William Abraham Fook Wah Lim, Trevor John McEachan, Hendrikus Marinus Beune, James Gerrard McLean, and Dean William Mattatall.
Jang and Meggs have 21 days within service of the petition to file a response before the B.C. Supreme Court.