Property Tax Hike Yes! Police Budget Increase No!
Vancouver City Council hikes property taxes, increases police budget
On December 7, Vancouver City Council approved the City of Vancouver 2022 operating budget. The budget includes a 6.3% increase to property taxes, a portion of which is a climate action levy intended to fund items in the city’s Climate Action Plan, such as electric vehicle charging stations in private rental buildings and green retrofits for community centres and other city buildings. Unfortunately, the police budget was also significantly increased from $316 million in the 2021 budget to $341.5 million in the 2022 budget. $15.7 million of this was an automatic increase as a result of an arbitrated increase to salaries for VPD officers. Mayor Kennedy Stewart voted with the NPA, ex-NPA and Green city councillors to approve the remainder of the VPD’s budget increase. Council also approved a $3.1 million increase to the Vancouver Fire Rescue Service budget.
While the 6.3% property tax increase is welcome, it is disappointing that over half of this new money will be spent on increased policing.
VPD chief Adam Palmer justified an increase in the police budget by claiming that the cost of policing protests, in particular the climate protests that made up 51% of all protests in Vancouver in 2021, have gone up significantly. He failed to mention that sending 25 police officers to police a peaceful climate march of 300 people in November was a political choice that is not justified by the minimal threat to public safety posed by this and similar protests.
It should be noted that after the VPD failed to get its requested budget increase for 2021, the Vancouver Police Board, which oversees spending the VPD’s budget, ran a deficit for the first time in 16 years, and appealed to the provincial police commissioner to grant its 2021 budget increase, as the provincial Police Act allows. A ruling on the appeal is due in January 2022. Vancouver and its citizens would be better off if the city devoted less money to the police and instead increased funding for community services to marginalized people and city services such as libraries. Better yet would be decoupling police from mental health and wellness checks and eliminating the policing of homelessness, drug possession and peaceful protests.
The next municipal election is October 15, 2022. It’s time that Vancouver elected a mayor and council who will stand up to this rogue department.
BC Young New Democrat candidates denied ballot
“I am excited to announce that I will be running for YND co-chair at the upcoming provincial NDP convention alongside Khalid B(ee) and our slate of climate + environment forward candidates. The BCNDP needs to be held accountable for its record (and impact) on the environment + climate change, and this convention will provide an opportunity to elect leaders who will do just that.”
With these words, Yvonne Hanson announced her candidacy as co-chair of the BCYND on Nov 5. However, she and her running mate never appeared on the ballot.
“You may have noticed that neither of us appeared on the ballot,” Hanson notes on Twitter, Dec 2. “I fully believe that we were actively prevented from appearing on the ballot. This may have started as an administrative error, but their unwillingness to correct the error and accept our nominations shows that we were unwelcome on the ballot in the first place.”
Many supporters of Yvonne Hanson, a known climate activist and federal NDP Candidate for Vancouver Granville 2019, believe she was deliberately prevented from running in the BCYND elections due to her radical climate action focus and socialist politics.
Hanson used Twitter to describe the events that led up to her not being allowed on the ballot and concluded, “I have no love left for the BCNDP. I hope that someday we will elect a leader who cares as deeply about this province as their voters do. Until then I have nothing but resentment for what this party has become, and regret for what an NDP government COULD have accomplished in BC.”
Force of Nature encourages municipalities to sign the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a global initiative to phase out fossil fuels and propel a just energy transition. The treaty is designed to complement the Paris Agreement - which doesn't mention coal, oil or gas - and fill a fundamental gap. According to a recent Force of Nature newsletter, several municipalities in Metro Vancouver have already endorsed the call by signing the FFNP Treaty including West Vancouver, North Vancouver, and New Westminster.
Canada Bans “Conversion Therapy”
Bill C-4, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code banning ‘conversion therapy’ for all ages across the country, was passed December 7, 2021 after three previous failed attempts. It is a milestone in Canadian LGBTQ history, joining Canada’s decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969, the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 (and its subsequent 1995 inclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ as a prohibited basis of descrimination), and the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005.
The new Act reads as follows:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things, create the following offences:
(a) causing another person to undergo conversion therapy;
(b) doing anything for the purpose of removing a child from Canada with the intention that the child undergo conversion therapy outside Canada;
(c) promoting or advertising conversion therapy; and
(d) receiving a financial or other material benefit from the provision of conversion therapy.
It also amends the Criminal Code to authorize courts to order that advertisements for conversion therapy be disposed of or deleted.
Read more: Canada Bans “Conversion Therapy” (Finally) – The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir
Canada, UK, EU blocking efforts to waive COVID vaccine patents Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires vaccinating the populations of all countries on earth. As the rapid spread of the recently discovered Omicron variant shows, there is no way to end the COVID pandemic in one country on a permanent basis. At the same time, access to vaccines varies widely by country, based on countries' ability to pay. As of November 15, high-income nations, which represent only 14% of the global population, have purchased 51% of all pre-sold COVID vaccines. Meanwhile, in much of the global south, vaccination rates remain below 10% due to the lack of availability of vaccines. In October, 2020, India and South Africa proposed that WTO-enforced intellectual property rights related to vaccine patents, copyrights, industrial designs, and clinical data be waived for the remainder of the pandemic. Over 100 governments, including the United States, have agreed to the waiver, which requires unanimous support in order to be implemented. Meanwhile, Canada, the UK and the EU have been blocking global efforts to temporarily waive patents for COVID-19 vaccines. Read More: The TRIPS COVID-19 Waiver – Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Countries worldwide lift African Travel Bans as Covid-19 variant of concern spreads rapidly
Omicron, a new variant of concern, was first identified by southern Africa scientists and ethically reported to the global community. International response was to immediately instate travel bans and quarantine measures for travellers from multiple African countries. Ultimately these bans had little to no impact on the rapid spread of the variant. Indeed, the variant was later discovered to have existed in European countries weeks before the African announcement. It is still unknown where the variant originated.
Travel bans such as those levied on African countries do little to prevent the spread of the virus, and instead punish countries for reporting the detection of new variants.
Health experts insist the most successful way to prevent transmission of Omicron and any future variants of concern would be through rapid testing at the airport. Better yet, because large populations of unvaccinated people make it easier for the virus to mutate, increasing the pace of vaccination and availability of the vaccine is the surest way out of this pandemic. While Canada is furiously attempting to vaccinate its population for the third time in an effort to protect us all from variants of the virus, only 11% of the population of Africa has received their first dose. More broadly, Our World in Data reports that only 7.5% of ‘low income’ countries have received their first dose.
Although countries around the world are lifting the travel bans, Canada’s own knee-jerk restrictions to travel from Africa remain in place. Why specifically restrict travellers from Africa when countries such as the UK are reporting high rates of Omicron transmission? According to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, the ban is “a policy that needs to be revisited.”
On Wednesday Dec 15, Canada issued atravel advisoryas follows: The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising travellers, regardless of their vaccination status, to avoid non-essential travel internationally.
December 20 International Week of Action: Defund Coastal GasLink
Banner drop, hold a Rally/March at the RBC headquarters/building, have a sit-in, jam up phone lines, spread awareness! See this Google Doc for the week of action toolkit and to join in mobilizing a call to take action.
Organizer Training Workshop - How to engage volunteers
Saturday, January 8, 2022 1-3 pm
Facilitated by organizers from Force of Nature. This workshop will cover the organizing methods that have helped us win campaigns like convincing city governments to adopt United Nations IPCC climate targets. Learn how to combine the power of petitions, volunteer engagement, lobbying, and engaging the public to run successful people-powered campaigns.
The Socialist Unity Assembly
Sunday, January 9, 2022 7:00 pm
The SUA seeks to unify and bring together various socialist groups for coalition building and related work. Join members of socialist and climate action groups from across the Lower Mainland at this monthly assembly. January hosts: Vancouver Ecosocialists.
Vancouver climate levy will raise $100 million in support of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan - Amir Ali / Daily Hive, Urbanized
Antarctic Ice Shelf Could Collapse Within Five Years, Causing Dangerous Sea Level Rise – Cristen Hemmingway Jaybes / EcoWatch Calls For Boycott Grow After Kellog’s Says It’s Permanently Replacing Strikers – Sharon Zhang / Truthout Starbucks Workers WIN Union Vote – David Doel / The Rational National ‘TIME’ Names Tax-Dodging Union Buster ‘Person of the Year’ – David Doel / The Rational National
Petition: Stop him. Let’s end crimes against nature – Avaaz