Over the past couple weeks we’ve been helping solicit responses from mayoral and council candidates to a survey on equity issues. Housing has taken up a lot of oxygen in this election and we’re hopeful that this will help provide some space to hear where candidates stand on other issues.
Outreach and responses
Megan and I reached out to each of the candidates for mayor and city council by email and some were followed up with by direct messages or mentions on Twitter.
At the time of publication, we haven’t received responses from any Coalition Vancouver or NPA candidates. Vision is still in the process of finishing their answers and Vancouver 1st’s mayoral candidate Fred Harding hit submit without giving any other answers.
You can see all answers in raw format here. Apologies if it’s difficult to view (particularly on a mobile device). You can download it to Excel if that’s easier to work with.
Most of the responses came from progressive candidates but Megan says “the responses to the questions vary wildly in depth of understanding of the issue and commitment to equity in their approaches.”
Megan was unfortunately too busy to schedule an interview for the podcast so I asked her to share some thoughts with me for this blog post.
She told me that she found council candidates to generally provide “more considered and serious answers” than mayoral candidates who often opted to provide “overarching statements about supporting inclusion.” She also noted that most candidates were adopting (or co-opting) the language used by feminist/anti-racist/reconciliation movements “without naming the systems of privilege and power that will continue to marginalize and oppress the communities represented in this survey.”
This is a good reminder that the the hyper-polarization of politics has obscured the complexity of our lived realities. While a candidate might present sophisticated insights about how racism shows up in environmental and housing policies, they also felt that permanent residents should not have the right to vote.Megan Lau
Megan was encouraged that a majority of candidates who responded:
- Support a basic income project
- Support the establishment of an Office of Equity + Inclusion at City Hall
- Are in favour of granting permanent residents the right to vote
- Support making Vancouver a Sanctuary City
On specific candidates, Megan found Kennedy Stewart’s answers to be unsatisfactory. Similar to his performance at the housing debate I moderated, he seemed to try to use questions to get back to his broader platform promises, rather than tackling the issues. The other main progressive mayoral candidate, Shauna Sylvester, unfortunately didn’t complete the survey citing time constraints.
Megan was most impressed by Taqdir Kaur Bhandal’s answers, both for her quick reply (she was one of the first) and her “thorough and well-researched answers with specific interventions, policy solutions, and examples.” Honestly, this shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve met Taq (full disclosure, Taq was a patron of the show) and she’s a PhD student at the Social Justice Institute at UBC. This survey is squarely in her wheelhouse.
For example, when asked what she would do to make Vancouver feel safe and welcoming for Muslim communities, Taq writes in specific terms:
– Support the work of the Cultural Communities Advisory Committee. For example, they are going to be hosting the first Islamic History Month in October 2018 at the Vancouver Public LibraryTaqdir Kaur Bhandal
– Increase signage in diverse languages including Arabic
– Increase access to city services in diverse languages
– Public education campaigns to promote intra and inter cultural dialogue and community building
Finally, Megan highlighted as well COPE and OneCity’s responses as “the most interesting and complex.”
If I have more time later this week, I’ll try to reformat the answers in a more usable format. Or if someone wants to take that work on for me, feel free to email me at [email protected]
Thanks to all the candidates who took the time to share their views on these issues.