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

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      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.


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      May 11, 2013 at 11:46am

      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.


      May 11, 2013 at 2:24pm

      “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.

      Community Observer

      May 11, 2013 at 6:27pm

      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"


      May 11, 2013 at 9:34pm

      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!


      May 11, 2013 at 11:27pm

      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.

      Distance Question

      May 12, 2013 at 9:03am

      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?


      May 12, 2013 at 1:15pm

      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.


      May 12, 2013 at 1:15pm

      @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.

      Kevin C

      May 12, 2013 at 1:20pm

      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.


      May 12, 2013 at 1:23pm

      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.