Perma pressed election season grins slip and crowd grows hostile at Creekside candidates' debate

 Frayed tempers and a tough audience at the edge of False Creek.

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Johle said, "We are playing with fire" by extending our moorages and heightening our buildings, without giving the Fire Department the ability to actually reach these new built spaces. He said the Fire Department would have "a serious issue fighting a fire more than ten stories in height."

He said that Vancouver 1st would fund the Fire Department "and not [make] excuses."

LaPointe lowered the Fire Department's notional operating ceiling, calling it seven stories: "There's no question we've outgrown the firefighters... Guess what, I've met the firefighters. They've yet to be consulted on the trucks they will run in the years ahead."

Nicholas Chernen said, "Elect a mixed-slate, non-majority government" to re-align City priorities.

Murdered and missing women

The next question was to Louie: will the City initiate a Violence Against Women and Girls Action Plan?

Louie replied that the City's position is to advocate for everyone, regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation, "to support all peoples in our city, not just women or ethnic minorities." Louie brought back around to the Fire Department, citing the low number of women on the force. A few in the audience reminded Louie that the question was about violence against women, and not the Fire Department. Louie continued that "It's within our jurisdiction to give women [the] same opportunity as men."

Carr said that the Greens were the only party in the race that included nonviolence in its platform. She said, "We in Vancouver live with shame of murdered and missing women in the Downtown Eastside, and I think we need to do everything in our possible capacity to ensure, 'never again'. Never again one more murdered or missing woman."

Put that in your pipe(line)

The next question was to COPE: do you support or oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline?

Jennifer O'Keefe began answering the question, saying that COPE is opposed to increased tanker traffic in the city. After a long pause, Wong took over,

Meena Wong, Jennifer O'Keefe, Elena Mergoci
Meena Wong, Jennifer O'Keefe, Elena Mergoci

Wong tok over the mic and pivoted toward describing COPE's majority-women slate, and to jab at Vision's relationship with developers.

Yes, no, maybe, I don't know, could you repeat the question?

The next question, directed toward the Mayoral candidates, was, "Do you commit to creating an equity intersectionality lens-based framework for policy development and evaluation?" (Intersectionality refers to recognizing different individuals' income-, class-, gender-, sexual orientation-, immigrations status, and ethnicity-based needs.)

After a tablewide pause, Bob Kasting took the mic and said, "... Sure."

Bob Kasting
Bob Kasting, Independent

He said that diversity was "a very common and positive trait in our city."

Shandler also expressed support for such a framework: "My doors are open for everyone."

LaPointe touted his becoming the first diversity head at the CBC and said, "We'll make sure there are large amounts of advocacy" to make sure Vancouver provides an inclusive society.

A roof over one's head

The next question was to Louie: "Will you please explain how Vision Vancouver justifies market rental as social housing?"

Louie replied, "Our Council put the most money in this Capital Plan [for housing] than ever before."

The mic then went to Carr, despite Wong's protest that the Greens were getting more mic time than COPE. Carr said that social housing should be at the Housing Income Limits (HILs) or shelter rate in order to be called social housing.

Wong questioned how the government could count on private developers, who seek profit by definition, could be trusted to provide low-cost housing: "They're in this business to make money." She said that the City should build and own affordable housing.

State of the union

Finally came the question about CUPE Local 1004, and whether or not it was appropriate for Vision Vancouver to accept the union's $100,000 campaign contribution.

Louie said, "We want to ban union and corporate donations," which prompted jeers from the crowd; the guy to my left yelled, "Just don't cash the cheque!" as Louie tried to explain his party's push for campaign finance reform. Louie added that CUPE 1004 "provides good value for money."

LaPointe pondered what the "deal with Ten-Oh-Four would cost the City... the deal was very clear." He described it as a trade.To Louie's interjections, he said, "Mr. Louie, are you incapable of keeping your mouth shut for a few seconds?" That's the sort of claws-out interaction we crave.

Wong was once more admonished by Jeffries for not following the debate's procedures; she'd later say that the CUPE 1004/Vision situation reminded her of government behaviour in China, where she grew up.

Check yourself

Closing statements gave the candidates an opportunity to attack Vision on its established weak points: development relationships and the CUPE 1004 situation. For his part, Louie implored the crowd to do its own fact-checking.

So learn as much as you can. Go down those wonky little policy rabbit-holes if the mood takes you.

Remember to vote.

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