An innocuous tape led to the Gregor Robertson and Geoff Meggs libel suit against Kirk LaPointe

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      It's become fashionable to hate Vision Vancouver in some circles. And that might account for the hysteria over a five-minute presentation by four Vision Vancouver politicians to CUPE Local 1004, which represents the city's outside workers.

      I just listened again to the tape-recorded presentation by councillors Geoff Meggs and Raymond Louie, council candidate Niki Sharma, and park commissioner Trevor Loke.

      I can't understand how NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe could take something so innocuous and claim that it's the biggest issue in this election campaign (as he suggested in a Shaw TV debate).

      Below, you can read the quote from Meggs to the union local that has riled LaPointe. 

      "We feel a strong partnership with the members of 1004 because we know that without your contribution, the city would function very poorly, if at all. 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 1004 will be there delivering those services in your areas of jurisdiction, fighting to keep things to continue functioning well, dealing with free collective bargaining, and we’re very pleased that the labour council has endorsed every one of the candidates that we’ve put forward this time.”

      Meggs, who has deep roots in organized labour, added that Vision Vancouver is committed to its relationship with the trade-union movement. He then mentioned his party's support for affordable housing, investments in transit, and child care and then asked for the union's backing on election day.

      I didn't hear anything on the tape about Meggs asking for money. The word "contribution", as I interpreted it, referred to the workers' efforts on behalf of the public, and not any baksheesh to the party.

      The union local ended up giving Vision Vancouver $34,000, which is less than two percent of the civic party's overall campaign contributions this year. The union threw significantly less amounts of money to the Coalition of Progressive Electors and OneCity, which has only one council candidate, RJ Aquino.

      LaPointe subsequently wrote an over-the-top commentary in the Province newspaper on October 21 under the headline "Vision's cash-for-jobs deal with union is suspect".

      The NPA mayoral candidate claimed that Vision Vancouver cannot be trusted to conduct negotiations in good faith on behalf of taspayers. He even alleged that Vision Vancouver had "sold out the city's interests".

      And that was cited in a defamation suit filed yesterday by Robertson and Meggs against LaPointe and the NPA.

      In the meantime, LaPointe plans to release his party's list of campaign contributors today.

      I'm curious to see if it includes any companies that benefit from the privatization of public services.

      Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this turns out to be true.

      Would the Province open up its editorial page for Meggs to write an opinion piece under the provocative headline "NPA's cash-for-contracts deal with company is suspect"? Would the editors allow Meggs to include the word "corruption" in this article?

      My guess is probably not. So why was this luxury afforded to LaPointe?



      A one time believer in Vision

      Nov 7, 2014 at 11:06am

      This is a stretch of a piece Charlie. A Vision councillor appears to offer up to a union a point that should properly be part of a negotiation in which he plays a fiduciary role on behalf of the city and its citizens, cash follows immediately, and your defence is to create an entirely fictional scenario in which another party does the same. When we have a tape, when we have contracting out, when we see the donor, then we'll talk. Until then fiction and innuendo are just that.


      Nov 7, 2014 at 11:36am

      Why bother wasting time going to the Province when you can get Charlie Smith to write an editorial for you?

      John S

      Nov 7, 2014 at 11:53am

      Agree with above. Very unseemly to be making these kind of commitments knowing full well cash is to follow. Make a policy announcement but keep away from these potential bad optics of quid pro quo exchanges. by deserves all it gets with respect to corruption charges. How many developers have received similar accommodations. I'm assuming alot considering they're the majority of VV donors


      Nov 7, 2014 at 12:42pm

      The union local may have only given $34,000 but according to your own colleague's article there seems to be a lot more tied in with that:

      "...The B.C. division of CUPE gave the largest donation to Vision, at $152,000, while other labour contributions include $40,000 from CUPE Local 15, $34,000 from CUPE Local 1004, and $30,000 from the Canadian Labour Congress..."

      Re: John S

      Nov 7, 2014 at 12:50pm

      Did you look at Vision's list of donors? There are some developers on it, but they're nowhere close to being the majority.

      out at night

      Nov 7, 2014 at 1:31pm

      The precise wording of the quote is important, as Charlie Smith indicates. It happens to come from a source that has indeed proven a strong ally of organized labour in general and CUPE 1004 in particular. So, the Vision folks get up and remind the union that they've treated them well and with repect, and the union says yes, thank you and we agree.

      All this is still not enough to get me to vote Vision (going with COPE across the board) but I'm also thinking the libel suit has legs and that Lapointe was out of line, as was The Province. Charlie's hypothetical is quite valid in my books.

      Adrian B

      Nov 7, 2014 at 1:43pm

      This wholly manufactured "scandal" is disgusting and an absolutely shocking and cynical attack on democracy by the mainstream media. Sorry to see the Straight somewhat complicit in this too. Can't really blame Lapointe and the NPA for exploiting this opportunity.

      Should go down in the annals alongside other sickening paroxysms over the years by this disgraceful corporatist. Councillor Meggs would be familiar with some of the others, like the time the media through fabrication and hysteria whipped up a province into a complete frenzy because the Premier was caught red-handed, aghast!, having: a neighbour (can you fathom such evil?).

      Critics are shocked, shocked, that unions are participating in an election and supporting candidates who advance the interests of their members and their communities. Like this is the first time they have heard about a union being involved in an election. I mean what is our democracy coming to where we allow ordinary individuals to form democratic organizations and pool limited resources together in order to support candidates who advance their interests and that of the community. No, sorry, only big business, special interests and their lobbies like the CTF, etc.. who don't represent actual people are allowed to participate in elections.

      So I hear Vision's next criminal "quid-pro-quo" is that in exchange for support from voters they will promise to enact policies that materially benefit residents. Sounds like another corrupt pay-off to me.


      Nov 7, 2014 at 1:44pm

      LOL! Oh, John S...

      'There are some developers on it, but they're nowhere close to being the majority.'

      Of total number of donors? Of course not.

      Of total amount money given? ...Oh, YEAH! CHA-CHING!


      Nov 7, 2014 at 3:26pm

      Adrian B said it well. Too much conversation around this issue paints union donations as if they were equally as problematic as corporate or private donations. Let's get our heads out of our butts.


      Nov 7, 2014 at 5:17pm

      as a former cbc ombudsman, kirk la pointe's 'below the belt' delivery of insults to Vancouverites appears to have been inspired by the worst complaints he'd ever dealt with. As an ombudsman, he should know better - or perhaps his short tenure at cbc was covering up jian's attitude? All I've heard from the guy is 'he'll check with his party'; even on questions regarding the NPA position on the 'environment' 'legals': this is a guy looking over his shoulder, and appears extremely discomforted that he has to take part at all.