Posts filed under ‘social issues’

2011 Victoria civic election wrap-up

I’ve been neglecting this blog but wanted to post some post-election thoughts regarding the surprising outcome and what we can look forward to.

Dean Fortin M 10080 YES
Paul Brown M 4229
Steve Filipovic M 2206
David Shebib M 161

Councillor Candidate(s)
First Name Last Name Initial Gender Acclaimed Votes Elected
Geoff Young M 8940 YES
Charlayne Thornton-Joe F 8803 YES
Lisa Helps F 8523 YES
Ben Isitt M 8419 YES
Marianne Alto F 7493 YES
Pam Madoff F 7321 YES
Shellie Gudgeon F 6904 YES
Christopher Coleman M M 6793 YES

John Luton M 6343
Lynn Hunter F 6101
Philippe Lucas M 5719
Rose Henry F 4866
Sukhi Lalli M 3993
Linda McGrew F 3923
Aaron Hall M 2777
John Turner C M 2014
Robin Kimpton M 1519
Saul Andersen M 1055
Sean Murray M 757
Jon Valentine M 682

First, the bottom

20 council candidates this time compared to 35 in 2008. There were also fewer fringe candidates and really no outright loonies or joke candidates. The two bottom men, Valentine and Turner doubled their vote tally over 2008. Cabbie Saul Anderson ran for Council instead of mayor this time going from 172 to 1055.


Three incumbents tossed (Hunter, Luton, Lucas) is rare, I don’t think it’s happened in recent history, if at all.

Three new rookies with no real hands-on political experience rarer still. I think the closest experience Isitt has is his stint on the City’s old Environment and Shoreline Committee. The rest is academic.

Pam Madoff loses nearly 1700 votes since the last full election in 2008. Formerly always the top vote getter, this time she is third from last.

I predicted a close race for the final positions and this proved true. In 2008 there were nearly 3,000 votes separating ninth place loser me from last place winner John Luton.

My first-among-losers placing of 3737 in ’08 would have gotten me seventh place among the losers in ’11.

Geoff Young consistently placed in the centre of the pack in past elections. His leap to the top, ousting Thornton-Joe from the no. 1 postion may be unprecedented.

I’m surprised Paul Brown did so poorly. Clearly his message did not resonate as much as I thoght it would. I don’t know if he has the appetite to run again. Like Geoff Young, his wife might forbid it. I went from being a Brown supporter, to being ambivalent, to disappointed the more I read his platform. His views on homelessness, as reported on his web page are naive and incoherent. Talking with the other levels of government? Is this really a new, dynamic action plan?

The losers

I’m inclined to say people didn’t vote against Luton as much as they voted for the newcomers and Luton was pushed out. They voted against Lucas, however. Occupy Victoria likely had a negative impact. Perhaps unfair, as he was trying to defuse confrontation. Lynn Hunter appears to have fallen victim to the identical scenario that made her a one-term MP in Ottawa years ago. A sincere, behind-the-scenes policy wonk, in the ’93 Federal election she was wiped out by voter impatience and demand for change.


Even though so many complain about signs, they work. Shellie Gudgeon came out with a second batch of signs that were more legible than the first hard-to-read ones. Helps also had a lot of well-designed signs and that worked for her.

Filopovic had a motley assortment of leftover signs mostly attached to City lamposts and signs. This worked against him as it looked unprofessional for someone running for the top job. Steve loses because he runs for mayor using a councillor’s campaign.

Signs don’t bother me. I think of them as another temporary colourful artifact of a season, like piles of leaves in November, little flags on Canada day and crocuses in the Spring.

Ben’s triumph

Ben Isitt is wise to know he lost the mayor’s race twice already and couldn’t rally the numbers to topple Dean as that would involve splitting the NDP vote. If Brown had won yesterday, Isitt would likely run for mayor in 2014. Getting 2000+ more votes than either incumbents Hunter, Lucas and Luton was a stunner.

Outlook for the short and long term

The three newbies will soon be off to government boot camp, where they will learn the basics of how the City is run. The intent is to have them hit the ground running at their first Council meeting knowing the various departments, protocol and running formal meetings. I can see Gudgeon and Helps in the front row eagerly taking notes and Isitt in the back chewing gum thinking he could teach this course.

It is going to be a very interesting term.

The incumbents will be sniffing around the newcomers, looking for possible alliances. Madoff and Alto will likely take Helps under their wing. Gudgeon is a natural ally of the centre moderates. Still, Madoff will likely attempt to school Gudgeon in the field of culture and heritage as she is the self-appointed empress of that domain.

Isitt, I don’t know–he may go “mainstream” and build alliances or remain a lone wolf lefty.

I think they will all be disappointed that their individual pet project will get little air time at the Council table, instead their day is going to be filled out with slogging through mundane Staff reports on why an application to put a bedroom over a detached garage should be rejected.

Madoff must regain her profile so as not to be toppled by the newcomers of 2014.

2014 will be triumph or tragedy for incumbents depending on City finances and the bridge.

November 21, 2011 at 1:25 am 1 comment

My predictions in the 2010 civic byelection

Using my patented formula for accurately predicting elections, I give you the following:

Winner: Barry Hobbis – 10,800 votes
Runner up: Marianne Alto – 9,200
Third: Steve Filipovic – 9,000
Fourth: Sue Woods – 4,300
Fifth: Rose Henry – 4,200
Seventh: Paul Brown – 1,300
Sixth: Hugh Kruzel – 1,200
Eighth: George Sirk – 1,100
Ninth: Saul Anderson – 650
Tenth: Pedro Mora – 350
Eleventh: Rimas Tumasonis – 250

Barry Hobbis becomes our newest Councillor and the one with the shortest term in recent history–one year.

The three front runners are tightly bunched. A drop until we reach Sue Woods. Rose Henry is close behind. Rose doesn’t poll as high as she might as homelessness is eclipsed this time around by the bridge and the marina. Another drop to the three other moderates, Brown, Kruzel and Sirk. In my opinion, any of the above would have made sensible additions to the Council table.

Saul Anderson seems like a cool guy and I would like him to contribute to the community in other ways than fighting half-hearted campaigns. He has good insight into the late night economy.

Pedro, well, I think his democracy by consensus voting idea is non-sensical.

Rimas is tiresome. He comes from a generation that embraced the clown and the iconoclast: the Abbie Hoffmans and Frank Zappas. The problem is the current generation looks upon these geriatric jokesters as boring, self-indulgent narcissists. Today’s generation is both more cynical and more earnest. They read Catcher in the Rye and declare Holden Caufield to be whiny and immature, thinking he should get a life. They look at the antics of Tumasonis (or David Shebib in 2008) and are bored. I saw that on an old clip on YouTube they say.

Wildcards: Kruzel could galvanize Downtown voters and place as high as fifth. Some say Filipovic is running strong and could place second. The other candidates are relatively late entering the game and they frittered away valuable campaign time merely getting up to speed.

November 19, 2010 at 11:25 pm 3 comments

Why I’m supporting Barry Hobbis for Victoria City Council

I’m endorsing Barry Hobbis for City Council. If you live in the City of Victoria you should check out what he has to say.

Continue Reading November 13, 2010 at 12:53 am 4 comments

CBC’s “As It Happens” on boulevard camping

CBC’s national current affairs show As It Happens talks with me about Victoria’s proposed prohibition on boulevard camping.

As I Happens Part II: Windows Media File

Segment begins at 7:50.

Or listen to the podcast:

September 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm Leave a comment

TC: City might ban boulevard camping

City might ban boulevard camping, end Pandora Avenue tent city

By BILL CLEVERLEY, August 30, 2010 7:27 PM

The days could be numbered for the makeshift tent city outside the Our Place drop-in centre on Pandora Avenue.

Citing public safety concerns, city staff are recommending city council amend its streets and traffic bylaw to prohibit camping on city road allowances — in particular on boulevards and medians. In addition, the amendment would prohibit occupation of medians between sunset and sunrise the next day.

However, a certain amount of displacement is exactly what’s needed on Pandora right now, argued Robert Randall, chairman of the Downtown Residents Association.

“It will scatter some of the elements that are using that median,” Randall said. “We were talking this morning that it’s getting to be more than just campers. It’s turned into the drug supermarket of the region and all sorts of things that are just not compatible with social calm and order.”

Read more:

I’m not sure I agree with Constable Pearce. I suspect enforcement of this bylaw will take up more police resources but I bow to the Constable’s expertise in these matters and hope it will not cost more than the millions of dollars already spent on this block. An unexpected side effect could be the dispersed campers could spend more time dwelling in our doorways and side alleys. Condo dwellers are already having to deal with discarded clothes and sleeping bags and human waste on their doorsteps on a daily basis.

Read my article on the bylaw on Vibrant Victoria:

August 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Globe: Victoria’s ‘tent city’ on verge of becoming public health hazard

Lack of hygienic facilities, group of injection-drug users pose potential risk, says B.C.’s chief medical health officer

Brennan Clarke

Victoria — From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Friday, Aug. 27, 2010 8:46PM EDT

Two years ago, a landmark court ruling gave homeless people the right to pitch their tents in Victoria city parks. Now the province’s chief medical health officer says a bustling “tent city” made possible by that decision is on the verge of becoming a public health hazard.

“Any time you have a number of people camped together without hygienic facilities for a period of time there’s a potential for a health risk to those individuals,” Dr. Perry Kendall said.

Robert Randall, chairman of the Victoria Downtown Residents Association, said most nights this summer anywhere from 30 to 60 people have set up tents, tarps and makeshift shelters on the site, including a core group who have either refused shelter or been banned from Our Place.

The result has been an increase in violent crime, drug use, prostitution, used needles and discarded condoms.

“It’s become a drug-buying destination for the region, there are old blankets and sleeping bags and refuse everywhere and people are increasingly using the area as a toilet,” Mr. Randall said.

Similar problems occurred outside the former AIDS Vancouver Island needle exchange on Cormorant Street, less than three blocks from Our Place, Mr. Randall said.

The City is supposed to announce some sort of new initiative soon.

One thing no-one ever mentions is the welfare of the Our Place residents. Don’t they deserve a home where the front door is free from drug pushers? Do the most vulnerable members of our society have to push their way through a gauntlet of drugs just to get home?

August 28, 2010 at 12:04 am 2 comments

Advocate: economy-size discounted mouthwash can kill

A version of this story appears on VibrantVictoria.
By Robert Randall

A local advocate working with Victoria’s Downtown street community is upset at a local retailer’s potentially fatal promotion.

Margaret O’Donnell, Executive Director of The Oasis Society for the Spiritual Health of Victoria says that prominently displayed sale-priced mouthwash at the new Saanich WalMart is proving to be too tempting for local hard-core alcoholics.

O’Donnell contacted Uptown’s WalMart manager to let him know that two homeless individuals cashed their government cheque and walked to the box store’s pharmacy last Tuesday afternoon and bought four $4.95 bottles of Listerine mouthwash. The two walked back into town and proceeded to ingest all four bottles over the course of the rest of the afternoon. By 7:00 p.m. they were rushed to hospital with alcohol poisoning.

One litre bottles of Listerine on display near the entrance of the Uptown WalMart. The $5.79 price displayed this week is well below the regular price offered at many Downtown pharmacies. Photo by Robert Randall ©

O’Donnell says that mouthwashes, which can contain up to 27 percent alcohol, should be stocked behind the pharmacy counter and should only be dispensed upon request and at the pharmacist’s discretion.

O’Donnell is also concerned about the easy availability of one-litre jugs of 99 percent isopropyl alcohol on sale for less than five dollars, noting that while restricting the sale large bottles of non-beverage alcohol will not stop binge drinking, it may reduce instances of its abuse.

Many Victoria-area alcoholics are banned from Downtown pharmacies for reasons related to alcohol abuse. Pharmacy policies regarding mouthwash vary although most have their mouthwash stocked over the counter. Downtown’s View Street Pharmacy offers one-litre bottles of Listerine on store shelves at $8.95.

Recent research has shown that British Columbia’s per capita alcohol consumption is rising at a faster rate than in the rest of Canada. The BC Coalition for Action on Alcohol Reform says the annual cost of alcohol abuse in BC is $2.2 billion, or $536 per person. Many harm reduction experts favour “wet shelters” as a way of stabilizing hard-core alcoholics who are unable to quit drinking. Residents living in a wet shelter are given small servings of alcohol on a regular basis by health professionals. This greatly reduces incidences of excessive drinking and allows alcoholics to live healthier, more productive lives.

Copyright © 2010 by All rights reserved.

August 14, 2010 at 1:07 am 1 comment

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