Dean Murdock is running for reelection as a Saanich Councillor. He has proposed that Saanich require all new developments to sell or rent 10% of their units below the market value. This will have two side-effects:
- More development will happen in other municipalities, which don’t have affordable or sustainable transportation options.
- The price of new units in Saanich will rise.
Some of the rise in prices will come out of developer profits, but some of the increase will also be passed on to purchasers. Since new developments tend to be condos, townhouses and infill housing, they are mostly purchased by members of the middle-middle class. This is taking from the middle to give to the poor while the rich stay rich.
A better solution is to subsidize the creation of affordable housing units in both new and renovated development (like adding a non-market basement suite) using property tax refunds. The City of Victoria has been quite successful using property tax refunds to encourage restoration of heritage buildings.
The refunds should be paid for by raising the property tax rate for the municipality as a whole. Property tax is just about the only major policy level that local governments have, but it’s a good one because it’s progressive: mansions pay more than condos. The current owners’ houses have increased in value because of the scarcity of housing, so it’s time that they pay back the benefits of old policies.
Of course Murdoch can’t propose raising property tax to help the poor, because land owners are the only people who bother to vote in municipal elections. I’m not saying you shouldn’t vote for Murdoch, because this is better than Saanich’s current policy, fuck the poor. But is it not just to ask the middle to suffer for the good of the poor while taking nothing from the rich.
The Occupations of Vancouver and Victoria could be evicted any day now, as the previously supportive municipal governments are changing their tune. Although legally the mayor throughout the election period, the mayors have no moral authority to make decisions like this right before an election. But the mayors do have responsibility. Every public servant at every level of government is told to maintain the status quo until a new government is sworn in (November 28) – and the status quo is Occupied.
But I’m amazed that the two centre-left mayors would come down against a progressive movement right before an election. I suppose this signals that their more serious electoral threats are from the right (Paul Brown in Victoria and Suzanne Anton in Vancouver), but both mayoral seats are considered quite safe. It just goes to show that the centre-left in BC is more centre than left. (Gregor Robertson is an ex-NDP MLA; Dean Fortin is associated with the NDP.)
In Victoria the mayor has gone so far as to say that the Occupation needs to be evicted to make space for Christian-consumerist activities in Centennial Square. I guess democracy only gets one month of the year?
The Occupations are requiring larger amounts of police and other emergency responder time, but it is far from an emergency situation. The authorities should work with the Occupation General Assemblies to establish collaborative solutions. If the Occupation requires a continual police presence, so be it: the government has no right to constrain freedoms because they’re inconvenient or expensive.
The incumbent mayors are part of the problem, not part of the solution. Based on this, I am endorsing Steve Filipovic for Mayor of Victoria and Randy Helten for Mayor of Vancouver.
I often vote strategically. For example, if only two candidates in an election have a chance of winning, I’ll vote for which of the two I prefer rather than making some principled choice for the candidate I wish would win. I believe I am a relatively sophisticated voter.
I generally support electoral reform because most proposed electoral systems would give me an opportunity to express a more complex preference. For example, with single transferrable vote I could explicitly say “I like Carol most of all, but I like Alice better than Bob”.
The City of Victoria is currently holding a referendum to borrow money to replace the Johnson Street Bridge simultaneously with a by-election to fill a vacant council seat. Given that the Bridge is the major municipal issue, most candidates are making their position a key plank in their campaign. However, only Councillor Geoff Young voted against replacing the bridge, so one more Refurbisher on council won’t make a difference. The only thing that matters for the Bridge is the referendum vote.
It’s assumed that ever voter who votes Yes on the referendum will also vote for a Replacer candidate (quadrant IV on the chart below) and every voter who votes No will also vote for a Refurbisher candidate (quadrant II). I wonder what it means to vote for either of the other combinations (I or III):
|Referendum \ By-election
I think there’s a certain percentage of the electorate who have a message they want to send to council but it’s not clear how to send it with these two ballots.
One of the key volunteers for the pro-BC-STV has written a detailed postmortem of their failed campaign. My summary and analysis:
Electoral systems are always claimed to produce particular political outcomes, for example FPTP increases party discipline and proportional representation produces cooperative coalition governments. These are emergent properties; in fact no one knows exactly what the outcome is going to be. The pro and anti-BC-STV campaigns agreed on the outcomes and limited the debate to whether things like minority governments were a good thing. Instead, the pro camp should have said “we don’t know exactly what BC-STV will do, but it’s gotta be better than this!”
If they did accept the outcomes, the pro camp should have been able to tell a story of what provincial politics would look like under BC-STV. For example, if the Liberal party is essentially a coalition, as is often claimed, then a proportional system would allow the coalition to continue to govern even if there is a leadership schism in the future. Or the NDP and the Greens could govern as a red-green alliance, allowing the NDP to avoid the internal dissonance of supporting both resource extraction and conservation.
BC-STV could be implemented incrementally instead of revolutionarily: instant runoff voting in single-member districts that are gradually combined over the course of many elections. The path of least resistance is to implement BC-STV first at the schoolboard and municipal level to give voters a chance to try it with (as voters believe) lower stakes.
As the report goes on, the author suggests that BC-STV supporters regroup and push for other aspects of democratic reform. Eventually this gets into crank territory with initiatives-for-all and elected judges, but it’s still worth reading all the way through.