Meena Wong: City of Vancouver can’t sit idly while people suffer

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      COPE mayoral nomination candidate Meena Wong delivered the following speech today (September 5) at the launch of her campaign:

      I’d like to recognize that we are on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish peoples.

      I’m here today to announce that I will be seeking COPE’s nomination for Mayor of the City of Vancouver.

      I am running for COPE because COPE has helped to shape the Vancouver that we love today. Since 1968, COPE has fought for a just city that is based on compassion, respect, and duty to all. 

      COPE helped to create much of the affordable housing across the city. Our city’s bike lanes and community garden programs owe their existence to COPE.

      And no party has taken a stand to protect public schools like COPE. Thirty years ago, COPE’s school board was fired for refusing to implement the cuts, and that’s the principled spirit we need today more than ever.

      As Mayor, I want to work with you all to make Vancouver the most compassionate city. Compassion means that if your family member is sick, you’re going to care for them. That goes beyond our families to our neighbourhoods, to the city as a whole. 

      I see everyday that people in poverty suffer the most. Everyone should have a decent place to live, and no one should be forced to sleep on the streets.

      Compassion also means that we are welcoming. Vancouver is a city of immigrants. Everyone should have access to city services without fear of being troubled about their citizenship status. That’s how we make Vancouver a Sanctuary City.

      I believe that every single resident of Vancouver also deserves respect. To build a healthy community, respect is a fundamental ingredient, no matter who you are - whether you’re a millionaire or living on the street. Respect means that everyone’s voice is heard.

      If a community gives input about condo development, like in Marpole or Grandview-Woodland, it will be my job as mayor to ensure that their input and wishes are respected. 

      The same goes for transportation development, like rapid transit along Broadway. I will make sure that everyone’s voices are heard and respected, from small businesses to transit riders to budget-conscious tax-payers to environmentalists. 

      As always COPE will maintain our neutrality because we do not accept money from property developers.

      In addition to compassion and respect, the third ingredient of a just city is duty. We have a duty toward each other, and toward this city, to right what is wrong. 

      We have a duty to our children who cannot afford to raise a family in this city. We have a duty to seniors who cannot afford to age with dignity. We have a duty to all working people who can’t afford to live in our city.

      All of these things are political and it is up to us to change them. As German playwrite Bertolt Brecht wrote: “the cost of life, the price of beans, of fish, of flour, of rent, of shoes and of medicine, all depends on political decisions.”

      I believe that we can and must take action: 
      • to bring in a living wage where the city has power 
      • to keep rents down
      • to make childcare more affordable and available
      • to improve bus service and reduce transit fares.

      There has been much talk about affordable housing and homelessness. But the number of people sleeping on the streets has only increased since 2008. It’s time to move from words to action, to end homelessness now. That means banning renovictions, protecting rental housing, and building public housing.

      We can’t sit idly by while people suffer. Government is like a boat, and people are like water, water can support the boat, or sink it.

      Please join me to build a just Vancouver, that is rooted in compassion, respect and duty. I ask everyone, even those who are not yet COPE supporters, to come out to vote, to hear, to speak, to participate in public events. To create a politics that reflects the diversity of this beautiful city, to create a Vancouver that everyone can afford.



      Arthur Vandelay

      Sep 5, 2014 at 3:58pm

      Dear Meena

      You've just promised to ripple Vancouver's budget and at the same time said we will receive no further CAC fees from rezonings. Please outline where you will be receiving funding for your initiatives. I assume it will be from property taxes or usage fees, so please outline the increases that you foresee necessary in both of these revenue sources.

      Further, I assume that budget will include the City's portion of some sort of rental fee for the use of the "unceded lands". I also currently have title to a portion of these unceded lands so please estimate my additional rental usage fee as well.



      Sep 5, 2014 at 4:06pm

      Hey Arthur, COPE's platform includes increasing the amount of development levies dedicated toward (real) affordable housing. Right now, Vision lets developers off the hook (massive tax-breaks for expensive rental), and doesn't target enough levies toward (real) affordable housing.


      Sep 5, 2014 at 5:45pm

      Anybody that starts of with some silly quote about "unceded lands" has lost my vote already. If she really cares about such things, shouldn't she move and live somewhere where she wouldn't feel so guilty? And I have to agree with Arthur - it's easy to say I'm gonna do this or that without actually saying how you will pay for such plans. How about a little substance?


      Sep 5, 2014 at 11:50pm

      The city should tax the heck out of the foreign investors who are buying our real estate. I was born and raised in Vancouver. I have a good paying job, and I still can't afford to buy a place in the city I was born in. Tax the foreign investors now!!!!!!!


      Sep 6, 2014 at 10:59am

      Great words to hear but has Meena walked the talk? We'll find out more about her as time goes on.

      But in this city, there are more events every year catering to the super-rich and record high priced condominiums popping up like mushrooms around town...again not for the $50K per year wage earner (if you're even lucky enough to even have a reasonable job).

      The ultra-wealthy demographic will take your 'compassion' to mean sharing and they do not want that. Plus money is power and power gives them what they want. You can help slow down the hollowing out of middle class but can't stop the fundamental economic model, of which Vancouver represents the store front display.

      Yeah right

      Sep 6, 2014 at 11:35am

      Agree with Arthur. What's the point of saying we are on unceded land if you aren't going to either leave that land immediately, or financially compensate the alleged owners? By making her opening remark I can see that Wong is just like any other politician, who will pander to whatever flavour of the month the public seems to have an appetite for (in this case alleviating FN guilt). If she's so concerned about justice then she must take care of the unceded land problem first and foremost. Don't forget those non-native poor that she wants to help are just as guilty of occupying unceded land as anyone else, so they also need to compensate the owners.


      Sep 6, 2014 at 11:57am

      If you believe we are on "unceded" lands you should move!! and certainly not be part of a government whose existence depends on these "unceded" lands!


      Sep 6, 2014 at 2:13pm

      Is it really that time again when whiny politicians promise everything up to and including the moon?

      Why is it that every single time a politician opens their mouth, you know that they are just heating space?

      They promise the moon, but only ever deliver dirt?
      Its great that you want to "help" everyone, but EVERYONE has to pay for the things you promise (except for the politicians, of course!) So why don't you break the mould, and actually tell us how you plan to pay for all your promises? That way we know exactly what your "Sanctuary City" idea is going to cost us?


      Sep 6, 2014 at 4:09pm

      Meena, from the amount of attention you've received on this blog from the Vision internet attack dogs it seems that your nomination has given them a scare. Vision may take wining the next election as a given (as did Adrian Dix recently) but there is no disguising that Vision's popularity is dropping like a stone. The progressive smokescreen has been pulled off them, and what everyone sees underneath isn't pretty. Amazing things can and do happen in BC politics, we might well observe something unexpected happen this November.


      Sep 6, 2014 at 5:23pm

      Once again I see no mention of working towards equality for the disabled of this city. The /permanently/ disabled who cannot afford to support themselves, and who in turn cannot afford to have a family. Thanks to the deplorable conditions I am forced to live in, and the obscene disability rate the government forces me to live on; I cannot afford to have a family of my own. I don't have parents, I don't have friends. It would be nice to have someone look at the disabled and realize that we want the same things everyone else has. Well, those making more than 50K a year. How about looking after the poorest of the poor? When tourists from countries like Great Britain and England say that they will never return to Vancouver because of their disgust with the amount of poverty; you have a problem. We are NOTHING to be proud of. I also don't give two sh!ts about "unceded land", I'm first and thanks to the government, last generation Canadian. I don't owe anyone, anything. Least of land. When you make things equal for all, then I can get behind this BS, until then, I'm going to look out for my kind. The permanently disabled, disenfranchised and those my government is hoping will die.