Jordan Bateman: Vision Vancouver sells out taxpayers to please labour unions

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      Imagine for a moment if four members of a governing civic party met secretly with the top developer in their city. And imagine a deal was cut: the politicians would take care of the developer’s desires as part of their special “partnership”—and the developer would cut a six-figure cheque to their re-election campaign to “carry favour.

      Now imagine that a recording of that meeting was secretly made, leaked to a local reporter, and posted to YouTube for all to hear.

      Can you imagine the outrage from everyday taxpayers and from residents impacted by the developer’s future projects?

      Well, Vision Vancouver has been caught cutting precisely this kind of sleazy dealnot with a developer, but with CUPE, the union representing city workers.

      Recordings of a meeting where four Vision Vancouver incumbentsGeoff Meggs, Raymond Louie, Niki Sharma, and Trevor Lokemade some expensive promises to CUPE in return for $119,000 in CUPE donations have hit YouTube, thanks to reporter Bob Mackin. The union donation includes $102,000 cash, $10,000 for CUPE-described “activists” to take time off from their city jobs to work for the Vision campaign, and $7,000 in Vision-friendly advertising.

      Why so much? “We looked at how much money we would have to spend to carry favour with Vision in the next round of negotiations,” a CUPE 1004 speaker put it. “But…our support [for Vision] is not unconditional.”

      In other words: CUPE is investing this hundred grand to make sure they get what they want at the bargaining tableand if Vision ever wants more campaign cash, they’ll have to continue to prove their value to the union during wage negotiations.

      If you’re a Vancouver property taxpayer, a chill should be running down your spine.

      Vision’s four incumbents made clear promises to CUPE. “Gregor Robertson, our mayor, has again recommitted to not expand contracting out, to make sure that wherever we can bring in new processes, that members of ‘Ten-04’ will be there delivering those services,” Meggs promised CUPE 1004. “We are committed to our relationship with the trade union movement.” Louie, Loke, and Sharma are all on tape, readily agreeing with Meggs.

      If CUPE 1004 is getting this deal, what’s CUPE 15 getting? Or the Vancouver Police Department union? Or the firefighters? All of them represent Vancouver workers.

      Labour deals aren’t cheap for taxpayers. A Canadian Taxpayers Federation analysis showed that in 2013, Vancouver collected $66.3 million more in property taxes than it did in 2009. This extra money includes revenue from growth, higher assessments, and council-approved tax increases.

      But during that same period, Vancouver spent $73 million more in wages and benefitsmeaning every nickel of those higher taxes (and more!) went into labour’s pockets. No wonder CUPE was so happy to cut a six-figure campaign cheque.

      This CTF analysis complements other recent work done on municipal labour costs, including this Ernst and Young study showing municipal wages have increased twice as fast as provincial government wages since 2001 and this Fraser Institute study showing 17 Metro Vancouver cities are grossly overspending the combined rates of growth and inflation.

      Labour is the city’s number one cost. As a taxpayer, if it feels like you’re paying more in property taxes in Vancouver but not getting much back in new services, you’re right. But at least Vision will be able to collect its six-figure donation cheque.




      Oct 29, 2014 at 10:56am

      I'd rather the city spent my tax dollars on CUPE labour than numbered company XYZ d.b.a. Fly By Night Lowest Bidders Of Alberta.

      The union isn't going anywhere, won't dissolve its shell company to evade penalties, and in this case is a Vancouver local. Where do you think these workers live? Where do you think they will spend their pay cheques?

      Why *wouldn't* you support unionized labour?

      I'm voting...

      Oct 29, 2014 at 11:16am

      For this guy. What a great thing to do Geoff Meggs. Unions rule!


      Oct 29, 2014 at 11:21am


      I agree with you in this case. Sometimes union labour can provide a better, more consistent service, if you can keep their pay and pension demands in check. Also Bateman is trotted out whenever money is being spent. He has to earn his pay cheque and when not performing oddball weddings he is paid to complain.


      Oct 29, 2014 at 11:22am

      Notwithstanding the recordings, which I view as problematic and lacking transparency (though not really any different than what any other interest group does, including the business community...), this is another fine demonstration of poor quality financial "analysis" from the CTF.

      By not addressing the impact of general inflation (roughly 10%) and population growth of the City of Vancouver (roughly the same, and a standard metric that the CTF uses as a guideline for reasonable growth of property taxes), Bateman and the CTF overstate their case by nearly 20%.

      That is not a rounding error, and this is not an acceptable margin of error given the total dollar amount at hand; that is nothing more than gross incompetence or purposeful manipulation of data.

      Maybe the taxpayers of Vancouver do not get value for their tax dollars, maybe they do, but you cannot answer the question with any degree of certainty if your "analysis" ignores certain material facts (that I presume Bateman disregarded for convenience) .

      Exactly how stupid does the CTF think people are?

      Anyone with any professional training is going to see this for what it is and realize that he/they are padding their argument with selective facts.

      Can you not make your argument accurately and objectively, or are you afraid that by not overstating your case by 20%, your argument will not be as persuasive?

      There is a reason why almost all professionals in finance view the CTF as a hack organization run by amateurs and ideologues, and this is yet another example.

      This is embarrassing to any person with any integrity in the field of professional accounting and financial management, and the reality is that either Bateman does not know any better, and is simply an ideologue with no shame who assumes that being a trained journalist also gives you the equivalent skills of a CPA, or he does know better, and simply does not care.

      If nothing else, I have another good story for my next local chapter meeting...and yes, we do laugh at activists/journalists who try to do our jobs without the requisite level of professional objectivity when they appear to think they can.

      If you want to play in the big leagues, have the decency to go to accounting school and learn to produce quality objective work, and learn to accept the outcomes whether you agree with it philosophically or not.

      Otherwise, thanks for the laughs


      Oct 29, 2014 at 11:25am

      Vision.... BUSTED!!!!!! Hope these 4 and the Mayor can see their way out the door. Don't let it hit you too hard.


      Oct 29, 2014 at 11:39am


      Seriously, you are condoning alleged bribery and fraud?

      James Blatchford

      Oct 29, 2014 at 12:05pm

      Still waiting for Jordan Bateman/ CTF to release their list of supporters and donations....waiting, waiting.

      RUK @SteveP

      Oct 29, 2014 at 1:49pm

      If the payment from an interest group is off the record then it seems more like bribery than this does. I am generally in favour of capping campaign spending and obliging media to provide free advertising to qualifying political spokespeople so that lobbying and campaign financing of all sorts is reduced. I feel it is a great evil, generally. I am not thinking this is a great evil, it just seems like lobbying that is unfortunately quite ordinary.

      Mary Contrary

      Oct 29, 2014 at 2:49pm

      So, what's the point here?
      That the union received some assurances in return for a donation? (Like business doesn't?)
      That a reporter surreptitiously recorded the proceedings? (Is that legal? just asking.)
      That members got a raise since 2009? (And no one else in the world did?)
      Oh, the horror!
      Of course labour is the number one cost for a City. What should it be? Labour provides the services. Pretty much what a City does. In a nutshell.
      Contracting out is not the answer to everything. There is a loss of control that usually gets overlooked, until it becomes a problem. Cheaper is not always better.
      Better paid employees spend more money in local businesses. That is fact.

      Bob Mackin

      Oct 29, 2014 at 3:17pm

      Dear Mary Contrary -- is that your real name? I am the reporter who broke the story. I did not, as you wrote, "surreptitiously" record the proceedings. Please promptly correct your statement. Thank-you.