Prominent magazines and surveys assessing the most livable cities in the world frequently cite Vancouver as the best place to live. It’s certainly true that Vancouver is proudly one of the most tolerant communities in the world, a city largely made up of immigrants who came to Vancouver from elsewhere to actualize their dreams of personal freedom, personal autonomy, and shared cultural communities.
The most important feature of any representative of the people of Vancouver is a respect for the individual liberty of the citizens who make our community so diverse and tolerant. The first mandate of any Vancouver Mayor then is tolerance for all the various cultures within Vancouver. The second requirement for legitimate representation is competence. The third requirement is a philosophical grounding in what government’s legitimate role for the people is and not to exceed those boundaries. The legitimate representative offers forth restraint in dealing with the people’s money, freedom, constitutional rights and property.
In the matters of competence, Vancouver had 3 1/2 weeks on 2 occasions in the last electoral period where residents couldn’t shower or drink the water. Vancouver had an appalling 4-month garbage strike. There was recently a 4-day power failure downtown. The 1.6 billion dollar elevated rapid transit to the airport is a colossal scam; the average resident of Vancouver goes the airport less than once every two years and a round-trip taxi ride is $56; and, the Convention Center is too late to stop but taxpayers are being exploited terribly by these massive welfare programs for business (the RAV line, the Olympics, etc.). All these projects have open-ended spending where the deficits fall hard on the taxpayer, and all of these projects are behind schedule and way over budget, as they always are!
The current contenders are Greg Robertson of Vision Vancouver, and Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). Gregor Robertson is touted as a successful businessman, but prior to his election in 2005 as MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, Happy Planet was not a particularly well-run company. It became successful only when the day-to-day operation was put in the hands of an experienced distribution company. In politics, Robertson has very few achievements. Though he belongs to some admirable public interest groups, his experience and accomplishments in business and politics are inadequate to make responsible for an $822-million budget. To put it in perspective, that’s larger than the annual budget of four Canadian provinces!
Competence and experience aside, Mr. Robertson knows the marijuana community intimately; yet this is what appeared in a recent article in the Globe & Mail: “Mr. Robertson also said he would like to see the federal government legalize and tax marijuana. However until the law is changed, Vancouver police should have more resources to ‘go after the grow-ops,’ he said. ‘There does need to be a real crackdown on grow ops and organized crime,’ Mr. Robertson said, ‘and police need resources and better co-ordination to do that.'”
Mr. Robertson has been around pot people for much of his life; he knows the vast majority of pot people growing in their home are fine people who pose no threat to the community. A hypocrite will make a disappointing leader of this city. Mr. Robertson seems like a nice fellow but, if he is selling out the marijuana people to pander to the law-and-order conservative voter, then I have an obligation to run on our culture’s behalf.
NPA Mayoralty candidate Peter Ladner says on his web site that crime is the top concern of Vancouver residents. Yet prohibition, which Ladner has no election plans to endorse the repeal of, is the primary cause of crime in Vancouver, from gang shootings to street disorder to drug addiction to escalating police costs. Ending prohibition unilaterally at the city level is the only way that will successfully address the problems of “drug use”. Candidate Ladner has been a councilor of the majority NPA for three years yet his resume lists not one single substantial initiative or accomplishment of the last 3 years on City Council. Ladner’s short-of-inspiring vision for the city – ending public urination, graffiti, overflowing dumpsters – is a testament to how little he has achieved at City Hall. If as councilor the man and his party couldn’t even solve as simple as “problem” of overflowing dumpsters (in fact, Ladner and his party let the city garbage pile up for 4 months during a confrontational city workers strike, making the downtown filthy the entire time), then maybe being Mayor of a city of 600,000 people with a $822 million budget is beyond Mr. Ladner’s capabilities.
Both Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson and NPA candidate Peter Ladner say the police need more money, manpower, and “resources”, yet all crime in Vancouver except prohibition-related offenses has gone down for 5 years in a row, and is at a 30-year low. Police are the leading advocates for prohibition, and the police are the primary beneficiaries of prohibition – along with drug lords. The Vancouver Police now have a battle-tank type vehicle for local use, militarizing our police force. I believe that ending prohibition through municipal and provincial assumption of responsibility will stop this relentless escalation of policing costs.
I believe Vancouver citizens’ top concern is the cost of living. Property taxes are rising faster than income, particularly those on fixed pensions whose homes are continually reassessed upwards for a larger tax bite. Gasoline costs, rent increases, tax increases, and inflation on all major consumer goods is a greater concern for ordinary people in Vancouver. It’s important that City Hall promote policies that continue economic growth while eschewing projects that burden Vancouver citizens with unsustainable tax increases (property, business, Carbon, etc.). The municipal election is also an excellent time to point out that the police and licensing division are behaving in a corrupted and prejudicial manner in regards licensing towards the cannabis culture and myself. I had the police directly interfere in a proposed Commercial Drive location for a Cannabis Culture store even though all products are mainstream and legal, and the city licensing division is refusing a license for the 420 Convenience Store my company opened at 316 West Hastings, across from the BC Marijuana Party headquarters.
I am also running in the provincial BC by-election of Vancouver-Fairview as leader of the BC Marijuana Party, and combined with Green Party leader Jane Sterk also running in the riding, we hope to defeat the NDP in Van-Fairview because they have been a shockingly bad opposition party. The Liberal government of BC has been horrible in allowing the police appalling latitude in Taser use. Bureaucrats invade hundreds of homeowners’ residences in the lower mainland every month performing what are called “safety inspections”. The BC Liberals have committed spectacular amounts of money to convention centers, Olympics, bridges, RAV lines, all these projects are grotesquely over budget and saddle taxpayers with these long-term debt burdens. And the NDP in its impotence goes along with it all! As NDP leader, Carole James never says a peep about prohibition, our civil liberties, the police state or runaway spending. The NDP opposition to the Liberals’ bad policy on the Carbon Tax is cheap opportunism. The real solution is to end the provincial income tax and shift the burden (after massive spending reductions) to consumption taxes.
The following is a short list of my priorities as Mayor and as MLA candidate:
– Abolish the provincial income tax, slash government spending, then use consumption taxes to finance what remains of government’s priorities.
– Legalize marijuana and distribute through provincially licensed outlets. Collect consumption taxes.
– End all the warrant-less inspections by bureaucrats and utilities snoops; instead City Hall will license any indoor growing garden for safety and security of neighbourhoods. The police Growbusters program would be canceled.
– Stop the militarization of Vancouver leading up to the Olympics.
– The current safe injection site INSITE will continue but the project would be advanced to provide the heroin at no charge, and the program extended to clinics across Vancouver (municipal) and British Columbia (provincial).
– A focus on clean water delivery and waste management (including secondary treatments in Vancouver and tertiary treatment in Victoria).
– An end to Taser use by police in British Columbia.
– Ending the RCMP presence in BC with a British Columbia provincial police force.
– Vancouver’s existing Medical Marijuana compassion clubs will be licensed by the city.
– I would halt the current administration’s plan to transfer a portion of the business tax base burden to the residential tax burden.
– BC Place would be demolished and sold to provide high-density housing. BC Place is in use usually fewer than 5 days a month.
– The Whitecaps Soccer Stadium on the railroad lands by Canada Place would get a green light to proceed. This is an outstanding private money project to put a multi-use sports stadium on the waterfront. Currently this project is not happening because of pressure for these same lands by the Port of Vancouver
– The Vancouver Police Dept. is nearing the end of a 4-year operational review and strategic plan. Each year it seems they’ve asked for more resources. The 2007 city of Vancouver budget shows at page 23 that the VPD has increased its staffing levels by a whopping 18.6% since 2005. Police receive about 20% of the city property tax revenues (page 34). In 2006 the police budget was $161 million dollars, about 20% of the overall city expenditures (page 48) but the actual cost was $173 million (page 51). 2007 budget for policing was $179 million. Unless the city unilaterally ends the prohibition, these policing costs will continue to escalate, and violence and crime caused by prohibition will continue – no matter how much taxpayer money the police budget gets.
– Start free distribution (injection in person only by nurses) of heroin or Oxycontin to addicts. Currently, the addict buys the heroin, or whatever iffy product the street dealer has sold him, and injects that with a nurse nearby. If the nurse or doctor injected the user with the heroin, the needle, drug, and delivery are done safely. There will be no more street dealers of heroin. Consequently, the lucrative draw of heroin dealing diminishes almost 100%. Street dealing would evaporate, and few or no overdoses would plague our hospitals from heroin. There would be an instant reduction in social disorder and property crime. Clinics would inject the user so the users are spread out over the lower mainland and not congested in one area. The downtown eastside would be greatly improved in appearance and functionality.
– The cost of gasoline, exacerbated by the BC Liberal Carbon Tax and provincial gasoline taxes, rises while this resource is produced within Canada. You and I pay the same price for gasoline as if it were imported from the Middle East or Venezuela. Yet in Venezuela, the cost of gasoline is 16 cents Canadian a liter vs. $1.35 for a liter of the same gasoline in Vancouver. In both cases the gasoline is domestically produced, but the exorbitant cost to the citizen in Vancouver is due to rapacious taxation. Even Canadian gasoline sold in the United States is $1 a liter, and they import it, of course. Government is screwing us.
– End of prescription requirements for drugs for chronic health conditions or maintenance, including female reproductive health concerns, STD medication, and any other condition that is permanent, long-term, or where the patient already fully understands the implications and indications of the medicine they are using. For pain management, a doctor should be involved, but once a person needs to buy medicines for years or life, there should be no prescription requirements. This will make life for the people better while cutting millions of dollars from health care expenditures fees for these unnecessary prescriptions.
In the above platform, I have over-lapped municipal and provincial jurisdictions since I plan to run for both Mayor in the Saturday, November 15 Vancouver municipal election and MLA in the soon to be called Vancouver-Fairview BC by-election, which would likely be called for September/early October or January/February. Vancouver needs a progressive Mayor who does more than talk. Vancouver needs a Mayor who is going to implement progressive policy. This election will be about who can make it happen and how. I’ve got to hold Ladner & Robertson’s feet to the fire in this upcoming municipal election, and I’m going to remind the candidates there are 50,000-80,000 cannabis users in Vancouver alone. There 300,000 cannabis users in the lower mainland, 8,000-12,000 grows to supply them, and over 5,000 dealers distributing the cannabis. These people can and will vote.
I’m tired of every election’s establishment candidates of the NDP and Liberals or NPA and Vision Vancouver threaten to make more arrests, close more grows and give police “more resources” to harass the cannabis community with impunity. Collectively, the cannabis culture in British Columbia brings billions of dollars to their communities across BC. Seth Rogen, Vancouver’s most famous movie star, is a 100% pothead who smokes pot in every show and hit movie he does. The cannabis culture has been the whipping boy for the law and order card, and I won’t stand for it this election or any other. Support me in my run for Mayor and MLA!
Marc Scott Emery
August 3, 2008
Office: (604) 689-0590 / Home: (604) 685-8260