The Vancouver & District Labour Council's efforts to cobble together its slate of endorsed municipal candidates into a cohesive political force will inch closer to success this morning.
That's because OneCity Vancouver is scheduled to announce at 10 o'clock that it's endorsing independent Kennedy Stewart for mayor.
Stewart, OneCity council candidates Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan, and OneCity school board candidates Carrie Bercic, Erica Jaaf, and Jennifer Reddy have all been endorsed by the VDLC coalition of more than 100 affiliated unions.
OneCity was created in 2014 in response to growing inequality in Vancouver. It includes a fair number of millennials who were frustrated with the ruling Vision Vancouver's reliance on market solutions to the housing crisis, but who are also not attracted by the strident militancy of the Coalition of Progressive Electors.
With just over a month before election day, Stewart still hasn't been endorsed by the Vision Vancouver, Green, and COPE council candidates backed by the VDLC.
Council candidates with VDLC endorsements are Diego Cardona (Vision), Adriane Carr (Green), Heather Deal (Vision), Pete Fry (Green), Derrick O'Keefe (COPE), Tanya Paz (Vision), Jean Swanson (COPE), and Wei Qiao Zhang (Vision).
For school board, the VDLC has endorsed three Vision candidates (Erin Arnold, Aaron Leung, and Allan Wong), two Greens (Janet Fraser and Estrellita Gonzalez), and one COPE candidate (Barb Parrot).
For park board, the VDLC is backing three Greens (Dave Demers, Camil Dumont, and Stuart Mackinnon), two COPE candidates (Gwen Giesbrecht and John Irwin), and two Vision candidates (Shamim Shivji and Cameron Zubko).
Stewart unveils accountability platform
Stewart recently resigned his seat as the NDP for Burnaby South, clearing the way for party leader Jagmeet Singh to run in a federal by-election.
Yesterday, Stewart announced that if he's elected mayor, he will introduce several measures to enhance transparency and accountability at city hall.
They include subjecting all local elected officials and parties to provincial campaign-finance rules between elections, including disclosing donations each year, and requiring third-party advertisers to provide regular disclosures during election years.
Stewart's news release didn't clarify whether that would require an amendment to provincial legislation or if it could be accomplished through a motion approved by city council.
He's also promised to require elected officials to proactively disclose assets and prohibit them from working outside city hall if their private, income-generating activities are in conflict with their public duties.
Currently, elected officials are required to declare a conflict if they have a pecuniary interest in an issue, and they must absent themselves from debating or voting on the matter.
In addition, Stewart intends to force lobbyists to disclose their activities in an online registry that's available to the public, free of charge. The former MP wants to introduce fines for those who don't comply.
Electoral reform included in platform
Stewart specialized in municipal governance as an SFU professor of public policy. And in his seven years as an MP, he was a vocal advocate of electoral reform.
In his municipal platform, he's promising to conduct future local elections under proportional representation if city residents vote in favour of proportional representation in the upcoming provincial referendum.
Some have suggested that council doesn't have the power to do this under the Vancouver Charter.
However, Proudly Surrey council candidate Stuart Parker, a long-time advocate of proportional representation, has argued that the Vancouver Charter would permit three such approaches: cumulative vote, limited vote, and single non-transferable vote. (For more on this, read this article by Devon Rowcliffe on Straight.com.)
If city residents reject proportional representation in the provincial referendum, Stewart will push for a full ward system in which councillors are elected in neighbourhood constituencies.
Stewart has been a long-time advocate for a municipal ward system dating back to his university days.
All major cities in Canada outside of B.C. rely on this system, which reduces the need for candidates to raise huge amounts of money to get their message across to voters on a citywide basis. Stewart has often argued in the past that large multi-member electoral districts are racist in that they make it more difficult for some minorities to get elected. It's a view that has been upheld by U.S. court rulings.
Stewart's primary progressive opponent in the mayoral race, independent Shauna Sylvester, is advocating a mixed system with half of council elected in constituencies in a ranked ballot, and the other half elected at-large in a ranked ballot.
According Rowcliffe, this would require an amendment to the Vancouver Charter.
Another of Stewart's measures to increase transparency and accountability is an online petition system. "Depending on the number of signatures gathered, the petitioner will receive a direct response from the mayor's office or be invited to take part in a special petition hearing chaired by the mayor," the news release states.
In addition, Stewart has pledged to fully fund and implement the city's women's-equality strategy. He also plans to apply an "intersectional lens" to the decision-making process to enhance the quality of life for marginalized groups.More