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October 30, 2017

BC Government: David Eby's 'Rockin' October 2017 Newsletter

British Columbia Cabinet of the John Horgan progressive & activist BC NDP governmentThe British Columbia Cabinet of NDP Premier John Horgan, sworn in on July 18, 2017

When Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby was sworn into government on July 18, 2017 as British Columbia's 36th Attorney General, members of the recently de-throned B.C. Liberal party government (and their supporters) targeted David Eby with a vicious take down campaign, in one of the biggest political blunders ever conducted by an 'out of government' political party. Vancouver City Councillor / B.C. Liberal farm team activist Melissa De Genova was assigned the role of conducting the 'take down David Eby' social media campaign, focusing on a 9-year-old letter from the Vancouver Police Union President, Tom Stamatakis, in which he declared that Mr. Eby "never let the facts or context" interfere with a "smear campaign" of Vancouver Police. The issue, at the time, was the August 13th 2007 police shooting of 39-year-old Paul Boyd, who had been shot eight times.

In a July 19th article in the Globe and Mail, newly-elected Liberal MLA Jas Johal elaborated in a statement: "David Eby has a long history of criticizing law-enforcement officials and making misleading statements about women and men in uniform.

David Eby wrote a book on how to sue the police, criticized police activities at the 2010 Olympics, and his anti-police activism has drawn sharp rebuke from the head of the Vancouver Police Union.

Now [Premier] John Horgan has put someone with a long track record of fighting the police in charge of upholding the law."

Mr. Eby, who was just turning 40 when the B.C. Liberal / NPA-generated brouhaha began had stated in an April interview with The Globe and Mail that he welcomed the combative approach Mr. Horgan brought to politics.

Tch, tch, Mr. Johal and Ms. De Genova — you know not what you do.

For, you see, over the course of the past four years — since first being elected to government — David Eby has emerged as one of the most trusted and beloved political figures to ever grace the hallways of the B.C. Legislature. As such, he has proven to be all but immune from the politics of personal destruction as played by a louche political opposition party. The phony mid-July "David Eby controversy" generated by the B.C. Liberals died almost as quickly as any notion that Donald Trump is somehow "presidential" — no one bought the B.C. Liberals' grievous line of malarkey.

David Eby & his lovely bride, with inauguration attendees in Victoria, on July 18th, 2017David Eby & his lovely bride, with inauguration attendees in Victoria, July 18th, 2017

So what has the indefatigable David Eby been up to since being sworn into cabinet on Tuesday, July 18th — aside from introducing electoral finance & lobbyist reform legislation, vetting all government legislation that makes its way onto the floor of the British Columbia Legislature, and doing yeoman's work as the Minister Responsible for ICBC — he'll wrestle those premiums down, in keeping with the mantra of the John Horgan government to keep life affordable for all British Columbians — and Minister Responsible for gaming policy and enforcement, and liquor control and licensing, announcing plans for an autumn 2018 referendum on proportional representation, working with stakeholders to reform B.C.'s justice system, and seeking (and achieving) intervener status in the current court case against Kinder Morgan, among a myriad of other successful endeavours?

For those of us fortunate enough to reside in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey, we know — cuz David, and his able constituent support team posted a newsletter to us this past weekend.

Which is great for us, but not-so-great for those of you who do not live in the most westerly part of our wonderful city of Vancouver (and, no, not all of us who reside in Kitsilano / Point Grey are zillionaires — there are a great many students who live in the riding, as well as longtime renters who reside in affordable accommodation, and seniors, just like VanRamblings, who live on a small fixed income in a toasty warm housing co-operative).

Do you want to read David Eby's October newsletter? Yep — we thought you did. All you have to do to read the newsletter is click on the 'Read More' link just below, and VanRamblings will present to you the October 2017 David Eby Constituent Newsletter. Read it — you'll be glad you did!


Read More...
Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:57 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

October 26, 2017

2017 Vancouver By-Election Wrap-Up | School Board

Vancouver School Board 2017 New Trustees to Be Sworn in on October 30, 2017

At 7pm this upcoming Monday, October 30th in the main Board room of the Vancouver School Board — located at West Broadway and Fir Streets (your attendance is encouraged) — nine newly-elected Board of Education trustees with be sworn in to sit as our elected VSB representatives through until the next Vancouver civic election, set for less than a year from now, on Saturday, October 20th, 2018. The following nine novice and experienced trustees were elected by a bitterly small turnout of the voting electorate, with only 10.99 per cent of eligible Vancouver voters turning up at the polls on by-election voting day, held on Saturday, October 14th.

2017 Vancouver civic by-election School Board vote

The Vancouver School Board by-election was necessitated arising from the decision of the previous B.C. Liberal Minister of Education, Mike Bernier, and then Premier Christy Clark's administration to fire the Board for failing to pass a budget (which they were going to do on the evening they were fired by the Minister — but that's politics for ya as practiced by the previous, now ousted anti-public-education B.C. Con-Liberal government), and the campaign commitment by Premier John Horgan's newly-elected provincial administration to hold a Vancouver School Board trustee by-election at the earliest possible opportunity in his new administration.

PART THREE: THE VANCOUVER SCHOOL BOARD

2017 Vancouver Civic By-election VanRamblings Wrap-Up, Part 3: School Board

In today's column, the final by-election wrap-up column (be forwarned, it'll be lengthy, indeed) — sure to please no one, least of all the Green Party of Vancouver — where today we will attempt to provide insight into the exigencies of the by-election, and what the VSB by-election results will mean for all of us over the course of the next year, and into the future.

2017 Vancouver School Board Green Party by-election candidatesGreen School Board trustees Janet Fraser, Dr. Judy Zaichkowski & Estrellita Gonzalez

The Green Party, municipal, provincial or federal, is less a "party" than it is an amalgam of opportunists possessed of no overriding philosophy, other than supposedly being the "environmental party" — and, let's face it, they even have a hard time living up to that claim, given that the Greens believe in moral suasion over legislative inducement for corporations to "do better". Although most of the folks affiliated with the Green Party mean well, given that the Greens don't stand for anything in particular, what you have with the Greens is a rugged group of generally non-political neoliberal (for the record, VanRamblings hates that epithet), almost libertarian, iconoclasts.

Somehow, though — because Vancouver voters generally like federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr — the Green Party manages to secure the votes of a goodly portion of the electorate at the polls: members of the naïve left who believe the Greens are progressive (they're not), and right-of-centre folks who see the Greens as some form of Liberal / Red Tory alliance (which is closer to the mark).

All of which explains why Green Party candidates, including recently fired and even more recently re-elected Vancouver School Board trustee Janet Fraser, emerged as the top vote-getters in the recent by-election.

Incoming Vancouver School Board Chair Janet Fraser

Janet Fraser. The unassuming person in the picture above may, or may not be the incoming Chair of the Vancouver School Board, who up until mere hours before publishing today's column VanRamblings believed would be acclaimed in that position by all nine of the new Board of Education trustees, at the first meeting of the new Board next Monday, October 30th. We are no longer quite so certain — politics at the Board, as would seem to be the case at present, so thick and morbid as to fell a horse in mid-stride.

At no point during the recent Vancouver School Board by-election did VanRamblings endorse Dr. Fraser, nor for that matter any of her Green Party colleagues. We do not believe Dr. Fraser to be a particularly vocal proponent of public education — unlike the five Vision Vancouver by-election candidates, the two One City candidates, or COPE's Diana Day.

Not for no reason did Dr. Janet Fraser support 2014 NPA-elected school board trustee (and the lowest vote-getter) Christopher Richardson as the new Chair of the Vancouver School Board, and six months later when Dr. Fraser demanded that the very same Mr. Richardson step down, chose to vote for his NPA colleague, right-of-centre trustee Fraser Ballantyne (who, even as you read this, is doing his level best to stab Dr. Fraser in both the front and back) as the new Chair, her vote putting the "not at all advocates for public education" NPA in charge at the Vancouver School Board.

Still and all, Dr. Janet Fraser may become the new Chair of the Vancouver School Board. What would that mean for parents with children enrolled in the Vancouver school system, the children / students themselves, and for all those who consider themselves to be advocates of public education?

VanRamblings believes that with Janet Fraser at the helm, public education advocates would find they have a bloody-minded, take no guff, even-handed, largely non-political, dedicated and incredibly hard-working (let's repeat that: incredibly hard-working) Chair of the Vancouver School Board.

Rob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Education, and Mable Elmore, MLA and Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Poverty ReductionRob Fleming, B.C. Minister of Education, and Mable Elmore, MLA, Poverty Reduction

With Janet Fraser at the helm, there'd be no politicking when it comes to negotiating with Rob Fleming, British Columbia BC NDP Minister of Education, and Vancouver-Kensington MLA Mable Elmore, who has been put in charge of the important poverty reduction file by Premier John Horgan. Negotiations for a speeded-up seismic upgrading / school replacement programme would be straightforward and uncomplicated, with Chairperson Janet Fraser making no untoward demands of the Minister. The same would be true with MLA Mable Elmore when it comes to funding of breakfast programmes in Vancouver's inner-city schools: the negotiations between Chairperson Fraser and MLA Elmore would be straightforward and in the best interests of children enrolled in the Vancouver school system.

Janet Fraser is no flaming radical, nor is she a desk thumper. Rather, Dr. Fraser is even-keeled and thoughtful, with a strong tendency towards evidence-based decision-making. Clearly, Vancouver voters got things right when they cast their ballot for Dr. Janet Fraser as both a balm, and the glue who will hold a somewhat tattered Vancouver School Board together.

Still, as you read this, the NPA is seriously considering supporting second term Vision Vancouver trustee Joy Alexander as the new Board of Education Chair of the Vancouver School Board, Fraser Ballantyne's ignoble hatred and disdain for Janet Fraser so acute and abiding as to perhaps cause him to do the unthinkable: support a Vision Vancouver trustee as Board Chair.

With Dr. Joy Alexander at the helm of the Vancouver School Board, trustees would find they have a calm, reasoned, reassuring and generally non-partisan (or non-political, if you will) trustee at the helm, a calming presence who would listen to all voices at the table and in the community, and who would be a staunch advocate for public education — which would satisfy incoming OneCity Vancouver trustee Carrie Bercic's demand that whoever is chosen as Chair be both a progressive and a vocal public education advocate — and a Chairperson that all trustees, Board administrative staff and the provincial government could both respect and work with in support of a thriving public education system in Vancouver.

Dr. Judy-Zaichkowsky, newly-elected Vancouver Green Party School Board trustee

Dr. Judy Zaichkowski (pictured above): Newly-elected Green Party of Vancouver Board of Education trustee. Experienced. University professor of marketing in the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University, five year member of SFU's Board of Governors and Associate Dean of SFU's Dean Beedie School of Business. Possesses a Bachelor's degree in home economics. Educator who taught at Vancouver's Point Grey and Templeton Secondary schools. Suffers from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.

When VanRamblings attended the Vancouver Green Party by-election campaign kickoff, we heard Dr. Judy Zaichkowski give one of the most bizarro, intemperate speeches we'd ever heard a political figure make to a crowd of supposed sympathizers (and, no, we're not going to report what she said). Say senior Green Party officials, "Yes, we heard what Judy had to say at the campaign kickoff, and we spoke with her immediately after she gave her speech, strongly expressing our concerns to her. During the by-election campaign period, we worked with Judy to be more thoughtful in her remarks in a public setting and give thought to how the audience might receive her words, encouraging her to be more temperate in her remarks."

Now, we realize how odd it is that VanRamblings might be seen to express a concern about foot-in-mouth disease, given that VanRamblings has a well-known penchant for intemperance — several times in the course of a day, and more often than not requiring surgical intervention. Still. Chances that Dr. Zaichkowsky will make an off-putting, concerning and intemperate remark at the School Board table, causing her fellow trustees to look upon her aghast? VanRamblings would suggest that it's only a matter of time.

Says the Green Party, "We can only hope her professorial nature kicks in."

Estrellita Gonzalez. Founder / Director / President / small business person in charge at Vancouver's seemingly lauded westside Derma Bright Clinic (no mean feat, that). Self-styled "Queen of Living Clean." Has a son enrolled at Eric Hamber Secondary School. Graduate, Distance Education Programme, Thompson Rivers University, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management. And the newly-elected Vancouver School Board trustee VanRamblings feels most sorry for.

Does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea what she's gotten herself into by being elected to the Vancouver School Board as a Board of Education trustee?

Where Vision Vancouver school board candidate Theodora Lamb brought vast community organizing experience to her candidacy, not to mention years of Board experience with the VanCity Credit Union, an organization where Ms. Lamb is Chair of the Governance Committee, and a member of the Audit and Digital Strategy Committees (not to mention her involvement with the BC Co-operative Association), and whose husband is Kurt Heinrich, a former Public Relations Manager with the Vancouver School Board (who knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak), we can find no such community involvement or Board, Council or Committee work in Ms. Gonzalez' résumé. Don't even get us started on newly-elected NPA School Board trustee, Lisa Dominato: mother of a daughter in Grade One at a Vancouver elementary school, Chairperson of the The Kettle Society Board of Directors, an educator with 10 years experience teaching in Vancouver, and most recently the Director, Integrated Services and Safe & Healthy Schools, British Columbia Ministry of Education. In other words, qualified.

Does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea what she's gotten herself into? Says an official with the party Ms. Gonzalez ran as a candidate with ...

"We in the Green Party believe that elected office should not be the personal preserve of those who have dedicated their lives to achieving elected office. As can be seen in the recent elections in Barcelona — which unseated a municipal government that had been in power for 30 years — the Green party is a Commons-based coalition of ordinary citizens, the Green Party — as is the case with Ms. Gonzalez' candidacy, and election to the Vancouver School Board — represents an authentic departure from business as usual in the political sphere. It isn't enough just to win elections; we have to change the rules of the game."

Still, we ask again: does Ms. Gonzalez have any idea of what to expect when she finds herself seated as a Board of Education trustee next Monday at the offices of the Vancouver School Board? We have no doubt about Ms. Gonzalez' capacity to learn, nor her work ethic — given that, as representatives from the Green Party were wont to point out to us, that Ms. Gonzalez made a huge contribution of time and energy to her run for office: there wasn't an activist 'meet the voter' street campaign she wasn't involved in, an all-candidates meeting that she didn't assiduously prepare for, nor a commitment to her party or the voter she didn't meet. But ...

Ms. Gonzalez should know that most trustees, on average (for the $20,031 she'll earn as a trustee) will put in 35 - 40 hours a week meeting the demands of her new job, according to a broad cross-section of current and former trustees with whom we've spoken, a trustee's duty including ...

  • Attendance at the bi-weekly Vancouver School Board meetings, which involves not only attendance at the Board meetings, but participation in the in-camera preparatory meeting that takes place in the two hours prior to the start of the public meeting, and the two hours afterwards. Not to mention, Ms. Gonzalez will be gifted with a thick binder of background information on all the issues to come before the Board, information (taking hours to read and digest) she will be expected to know.

  • Committee work. There are five standing committees — Management Co-ordinating, Planning and Facilities, Education and Student Services, Personnel and Staff Services, Finance and Legal — one of which she'll likely Chair, and another committee on which she'll be expected to sit, those committees comprised of Board administrative staff, members of the Parent Advisory and District Students' Councils, the two teachers' associations, the professional administrative staff association, CUPE union locals 15 and 407 and representatives of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 963, and both the Vancouver Elementary Principals' and Vice Principals' Associations and the Vancouver Association of Secondary School Administrators. As you might well imagine, these meetings take awhile, tend to be contentious (with a great many competing agendas), and require of the Board trustees a vast knowledge of the issues. There are those strange folks who love meetings (of which VanRamblings is one, as long as those meetings are run respectfully and democratically, and each participant is provided an open and welcoming opportunity for input). Ms. Gonzalez is in for quite an education over the next year.

  • Liaison. With 55,500 students enrolled in kindergarten to Grade 12, and over 3,000 adult students in adult education centres, with 18 secondary schools and 91 elementary schools in the Vancouver School District, each trustee is assigned as a liaison to at least ten elementary schools and two secondary schools, where they're expected to participate as the Board liaison to the Parent Advisory Committees, not to mention which attendance at the occasional teacher meeting is always a good idea. On top of that, trustees are the liaison between not only the teachers but the administrators at the schools to the Board — which means that trustees must develop an abiding relationship of respect and advocacy for student, parent, teacher and administrator concerns.

    And let us not forget, either, that the Board assigns a liaison to the Vancouver Library Board, and any number of the citizen advisory committees at Vancouver City Hall. Tired yet?

Make no mistake, sitting as a Board of Education trustee on the Vancouver School Board is nothing less than a full-time job.

A meeting of the Vancouver School Board, with trustees and administrative staff around the table

For all those citizens in the community who whine about our elected officials, believe us when we say: there is no higher calling than elected office, and no matter the party or political affiliation, all dedicated elected officials (VanRamblings knows not one who doesn't throw themselves into the work, whether at Park Board, School Board, City Council, provincially or federally) give their lives over to public service, and the public interest.

In terms of time commitment, making matters even worse for Ms. Gonzalez and her fellow elected trustees: from the moment each trustee takes their seat around the Board table, they're going to be in election mode. With the 2018 Vancouver municipal election set for next October 20th, all of the trustees will find themselves spending an inordinate amount of time on the hustings, attending party functions, raising money, working closely with school trustees in other Metro Vancouver school districts (and around the province) — so as to further raise their public profile — writing opinion pieces for The Straight, the Vancouver Sun and other mainstream media, and making regular appearances on our local radio and TV stations, speaking to educational (and other) issues at the Vancouver School Board.

The next Board year will prove to be an exemplary model of vox populi.

(Click on Read More for much more School Board by-election coverage)


Read More...
Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:44 PM | Permalink | 2017 By-Election

October 18, 2017

2017 Vancouver By-Election Wrap-Up: Judy Graves

2017 Vancouver Civic By-Election VanRamblings Wrap-Up, Part 2

Last Sunday over brunch two of VanRamblings' friends (yes, we have friends ... sheesh) indicated their strong desire and inclination to put their names forward as candidates in the October 20th, 2018 general municipal election in Vancouver. VanRamblings was none-too-enthusiastic about the prospect of either of our friends running for political office (causing no little consternation on the part of our friends). What is the basis for our lack of encouragement of our good-hearted, socially conscious, very bright friends to put their names forward for office, which when you get right down to it is the single most civically-minded activity one could possibly consider?

The answer is simple: hurt. Politics in this latter age has become an ugly and vicious business, entirely oriented to toxic identity politics and the politics of personal destruction. The electorate is bitter, disillusioned, cynical and spitting mad angry at our elected officials, no matter their party or political orientation. Even Justin Trudeau's "sunny ways" and entirely open and forthright style of governance meets daily with vicious pointed commentary from persons comprising the spectrum of political thought.

Whereas Donald Trump is entirely deserving of the social and mainstream media opprobrium to which he is subjected daily, such should not — and we would suggest — must not be the case with the hard-working and dedicated persons of conscience who are associated with and put their names forward for office under the banners, locally, of Vision Vancouver, the Non-Partisan Association, the Green Party of Vancouver, OneCity Vancouver, or for that matter any of the independents who choose to run for office — such as the entirely tremendous Jean Swanson, or Adi Pick.

VanRamblings is concerned with the state and nature of politics in Vancouver, and across British Columbia. When did the vast majority of the population become so cynical, alienated, apolitical and generally turned off to the decision-making that affects the quality of their lives on this planet?

In the coming year(s), VanRamblings will seek to address the issue of anomie in the political sphere, both as an academic consideration, but more importantly through action to ensure respectful democratic engagement.

Judy Graves, OneCity Vancouver Council candidate in the 2017 Vancouver By-Election

PART TWO: THE MISGUIDED CANDIDACY OF JUDY GRAVES

Judy Graves (pictured above) was the affable, socially-conscious OneCity Vancouver candidate nominated to fill the Vancouver City Council seat left vacant when Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs resigned his seat on Council to take on the position of Chief of Staff to Premier John Horgan.

From 2002 on, Ms. Graves was the homelessness advocate at Vancouver City Hall, a humanizing force of nature bent on service to Metro Vancouver's indigent population, and a strong advocate for social housing and services to the most vulnerable among us. Little wonder, then, that the nascent OneCity Vancouver civic party (largely an amalgam of principled, younger New Democratic Party-oriented persons of conscience) chose Judy Graves as their progressive values candidate for Vancouver City Council.

Too bad, then, that Judy Graves' OneCity Vancouver candidacy turned out to be a misguided candidacy, that effectively denied the progressive voice of Jean Swanson a very-much-needed place on Vancouver City Council.

On October 14th by-election night, Judy Graves secured a paltry 13.71% of the vote, while Jean Swanson — with whom Judy Graves had worked closely over the years — who ran as an independent candidate for Council, and whose election team had moved the sun, the moon, the earth, the stars to secure the endorsement of OneCity for Jean Swanson, garnered 21.36% of the vote, and a near-win, second place showing in the polls.

From the outset Ms. Graves had no chance of securing the vacant Council seat, and OneCity knew it, well before the campaign got underway.

From day one of the 2017 by-election campaign for Council, Ms. Graves was the subject of a take down campaign the likes of which Vancouver has never previously experienced — Vision Vancouver's Mike Lombardi, running for a third term at School Board, and to a somewhat lesser degree, COPE School Board candidate Diana Day, suffered a similar 'take down campaign', ensuring their loss at the polls, but nothing quite so vicious as was experienced by the otherwise recommendable Ms. Graves.

"Judy Graves, bought-and-paid-for: don't waste your vote" was the clarion message voters on the left and the right heard throughout the campaign.

COPE was upset with Judy Graves' candidacy (COPE endorsed Jean Swanson: VanRamblings seconded Alicia Barsallo's motion that COPE not run a candidate, and instead endorse Jean Swanson). Vision Vancouver was none-too-pleased, either, when the Vancouver & District Labour Council endorsed Ms. Graves over Vision candidate, Diego Cardona. And Jean Swanson's campaign team? They were apoplectic at Graves' candidacy! The NPA weren't happy with Ms. Graves' candidacy ("Vision. Boo, hiss."), but took succour from the probability her candidacy would "split the left", and thus secure a seat on Council for their candidate, Hector Bremner.

As the campaign for Council got underway in early September, word lit up social media and spread like wildfire that "Judy Graves is Vision Vancouver light, so developer-friendly that she puts Vision to shame, her consistently strong, entirely wrong-headed and vocal advocacy of any development that comes before Council containing even a bare component of social housing sure to garner her unthinking and fulsome support."

Neighbourhood opposition to the proposed Beedie and Boffo developmens in Vancouver

Many Vancouver citizens resident on the eastside, and particularly those in Grandview-Woodland and Chinatown, worked assiduously against Ms. Graves' candidacy. Grandview-Woodland residents who have long opposed the controversial Boffo Development at Venables and Commercial Drive — and have consistently derided Graves' support for the out-of-character, neighbourhood destroying, thin-edge-of-the-wedge market condominium tower development — worked overtime to ensure Graves' defeat. Same thing was true of the organizing team opposing the long controversial Beedie Development at 105 Keefer — which Graves initially supported, and only changed her mind on when she became a candidate for office, and thought better of her support for a development so widely opposed. For the folks working with the Chinatown Concern Group, Graves' conversion to opposing the Beedie Project was viewed as a matter of too little, too late. One only has to take a look at how Graves polled in Chinatown — or Grandview-Woodland, for that matter — to know just how much opposition there was to her candidacy in these two Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Vote Bike in the 2017 Vancouver City By-Election for Council

The 'active transportation' / bike folks were none-too-thrilled with Graves' insistence on the campaign trail that Vision Vancouver's 'bike lane advocacy' was just as wrong-headed as wrong-headed could be, and that the tens of millions Vision has spent constructing bike lanes would have been better spent building social housing for the thousands of our most vulnerable citizens who are in need of safe, secure and low-cost housing.

The icing-on-the-cake (or the shiv in the back, as the case may be) that ensured a no better than distant fourth place finish for Ms. Graves was the absolutely devastating Mainlander article titled, Rethinking Judy Graves: On Charity, Xenophobia, and Class Collaboration, as withering a take down piece as you'd never want to read.

"Judy Graves' candidacy seems to reflect OneCity's policy of silent support for the governing party and non-criticism of Vision policies, and longtime Vision luminaries have likewise supported the Graves campaign. Where Jean Swanson has directly challenged the 'common sense' tax-cutting agenda, Graves combines a charity approach and a class collaboration approach that has long been popular with developers and the wealthy.

In establishment circles, Judy Graves has been touted as Vancouver's Mother Teresa. Over the decades, Graves has emerged as an establishment figure, who has worked to individualize the fight for housing, and deny the larger forces that create homelessness and evictions on unceded Coast Salish territories. Phrases such as "hard to house," and related concepts that pin homelessness on homeless individuals — including the dominant framing of mental health and addictions — are indelibly associated with the Graves name and legacy.

Graves has been a mainstay on the side of government efforts to close down shelters and disperse tent cities, playing a continuous role in the City's yearly spring closure of homeless shelters, while standing by the intolerable evictions "relocating" people into substandard, unsafe, or non-existent housing.

We don't feel that Judy Graves represents the kind of transformative politics Vancouver needs. The current housing crisis provides an opportunity to radically re-think the foundations of the system — but instead Graves wants to bring back a discredited 'dream' that has consistently failed our most vulnerable citizens. Graves' candidacy pushes for the status quo. We believe it's time for something radically different."

David Chudnovsky, who has a long history of radical politics dating back to the 1970s — VanRamblings remembers when David, as President of the Surrey Teachers' Association, was considered 'too radical' by even the most left-wing folks in the BCTF; it is this very same David Chudnovsky who worked to create the principled, left-of-centre OneCity Vancouver.

Left-wing community activist Charles Demers, who is very much involved with OneCity and is just about as radical as they come (VanRamblings wants to live in a realized society imagined by the humanist Mr. Demers) worked closely, and is best friends, with Derrick O'Keefe, one of the key organizers of Jean Swanson's campaign for office. How is it that Derrick was unable to influence his friend sufficiently to ensure his bff's unadulterated and enthusiastic support for Jean Swanson's candidacy?

Surely Mr. Chudnovsky and Mr. Demers could have foreseen from the outset what the outcome of the 2017 Vancouver City Council by-election would be if OneCity refused the entreaties of the Jean Swanson campaign team to support their candidate: the election of right-of-centre NPA candidate Hector Bremner to Vancouver City Council. We know that neither one of them wanted Bremner to ascend to Council, but that's exactly what happened — and more's the pity for that deleterious election outcome.

OneCity Vancouver, the newest civic party on Canada's west coast

No doubt the good folks at OneCity felt it necessary to run a candidate for Council, in order to raise the profile of their nascent civic party and give their very fine candidates for School Board — Carrie Bercic (who, in fact, secured a seat at the School Board table) and her running mate, Erica Jaaf — a better opportunity at the polls on election night, October 14th.

VanRamblings believes that should OneCity have supported Jean Swanson's energized, near-winning candidacy — in the process requiring the Jean Swanson campaign team work to ensure their full support for the two OneCity candidates for School Board — the outcome on by-election night might very well have seen Jean Swanson elected to Vancouver City Council, and both Erica Jaaf and Carrie Bercic seated at the School Board table at the inaugural meeting of the new Board this upcoming October 30th, 2017.

VanRamblings' Part 3 By-Election Wrap-up Coverage, the Vancouver School Board, On Its Way

One more column to go on VanRamblings' wrap-up coverage of the 2017 Vancouver civic by-election: the new Vancouver School Board, from the political novices to the experienced politicos. We believe, for the most part, our newly-elected Vancouver Board of Education trustees are comprised of a thoughtful, and overall not-too-partisan group of folks who mean well, and will work in the best interests of our children, and grandchildren.

Part One of VanRamblings 'by-election wrap-up' may be found here.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:56 PM | Permalink | 2017 By-Election

October 16, 2017

2017 Vancouver By-Election: Bitterly Low Electorate Turnout

2017 Vancouver civic by-election final Councillor vote

2017 Vancouver civic by-election School Board vote

PART ONE: THE NPA, JEAN SWANSON and CARRIE BERCIC

In this 2017 Vancouver by-election wrap-up, VanRamblings will address the elephant in the room. Why did the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) not poll as well as VanRamblings had predicted in our Friday post?

Hector Bremner, Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) candidate wins Vancouver City Council seat

The NPA: Saturday morning at 1:28am, VanRamblings received the following brief note from a senior official in the NPA campaign ...

"Read your VanRamblings column calling for an NPA victory later today. Me? I think either the left split guarantees Hector's win, or we finally see the lack of a machine within the NPA laid bare."

In conversations throughout Saturday's voting day with members of a surprisingly none-too-happy NPA crowd, there were several messages received by VanRamblings, the key points that were being made including the fact that ...

  • Mark Marissen (Christy Clark's ex, a mover and shaker in the B.C. Liberal party, and de facto NPA by-election campaign manager) — despite everything VanRamblings had been told throughout the by-election campaign — ran a disorganized, untargeted, underfunded and generally confusing / losing campaign for Council / School Board. Most NPA folks who weighed in would rather have had Greg Wilson and his Purple Mafia — the political racounteur par excellence who ran Vision Vancouver's successful 2005, 2008 and 2011 campaigns, before he saw the light, pulling a reverse Bob Ransford and joining the NPA — who were the more experienced winning team, with better political instincts and a track record that many NPAers looked upon favourably. So, what happened?

  • A philosophical split within the ranks. Half of the members of the NPA fashion the party as the New Progressive Association, this group made up of younger, non-partisan, nominally right-of-centre folks (think: former Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung): bright, educated, driven, democrats to their core, folks who want power for the public good that can be done. Many of these folks are populist, Trudeau-style Liberals.

    The other half of the NPA membership: Stephen Harper acolytes, decidedly right-of-centre, traditionalist Conservative / Reform party supporters, who believe less government is better government, folks who think God broke the mold after former provincial Finance Minister Mike de Jong and current B.C. Liberal party interim leader Rich Coleman were born. Never the twain shall meet, it would appear (there's the same push-pull going on in the B.C. Liberal leadership race, with Todd Stone targeted as a 'liberal' ... a nasty thing many B.C. Liberals believe).

    Internal political warfare within the NPA cost them votes, as did their lack of a get-out-the-vote machine on voting day, October 14th — all of which saw Hector Bremner eke out a bare victory for the vacant Council seat, and saw two outstanding candidates in Christopher Richardson and Rob McDowell go down to defeat at School Board, as the last returns were reported to the Chief Electoral Officer at Vancouver City Hall.

    The one bright light on the NPA campaign, and a person everyone in the NPA was enthused about: Mike Wilson, Hector Bremner's longtime friend and political associate and Bremner's 2017 Vancouver by-election campaign manager, about whom freelance journalist Bob Mackin has written, "Bremner is vice-president at veteran BC Liberal backroomer Norman Stowe's Pace Group and has Mark Marissen and Mike Wilson in his backroom. Marissen is the ex-husband of ex-Premier Christy Clark and was on the inner-circle of the party's disastrous 2017 campaign. Wilson is the former business partner of veteran BC Liberal and Vision message maker Don Millar at the FD Element advertising agency, which scored several no-bid contracts from Robertson's office and set-up a pro-Vision blog called Civic Scene." All said, Mike Wilson emerged as an NPA star-on-the-rise during the course of the 2017 by-election, and is a person whose career B.C. politicos will be sure to follow going forward.

A bitterly low voter turnout of 10.99% didn't help matters for the NPA, either. Once a poll-by-poll breakdown is completed by Vancouver City Clerk Janice MacKenzie (who was also the Chief By-Election Officer), results will likely show a depressed voter turnout in the traditional NPA strongholds of Arbutus Ridge, Yaletown, Dunbar, Kerrisdale, Shaughnessy and Point Grey.

Independent 2017 by-election Council candidate Jean Swanson almost emerges as victor

There were several good (and a few not-so-good) results and stories in the 2017 Vancouver City Council and Vancouver School by-election.

Let's start with the two most important outcomes of the by-election ...

Jean Swanson, independent 2017 by-election candidate for Vancouver City Council

Jean Swanson, the socialist, housing activist, revolutionary candidate running for a seat on Vancouver City Council, the only non-neoliberal candidate who put their name forward for the vacant Vancouver City Council seat, the candidate who ran on a platform of free transit, a rent freeze and a mansion tax that would raise $200 million annually to build housing for the most vulnerable among our citizens nearly took the prize on Saturday night, or the whole mcgillicuddy (as VanRamblings' mother used to say), reliant on a message of real, palpable change for the most vulnerable among us (renters, seniors, habitués of the DTES, the working poor, single parents), with the single most energized, organized, vibrantly alive, directed, enthusiastic, broad cross-section of activists election team — constituting everyone from humanist intellectual and community activist Daniel Tseghay, the heart-filled 'gets things done and always remains positive, directed and action-oriented' DTES activist Wendy Pedersen, to the good folks long involved on Vancouver's 'left front', as principled a group of folks as you'd ever want to meet and work with (Tristan Markle, Maria Wallstam and Nathan Crompton, just to name three key activists), former rabble.ca editor and current editor with the non-sectarian, progressive Canadian journal, Richochet, the co-founder of the late, lamented, Vancouver-based Seven Oaks magazine (with his best friend, the entirely tremendous writer, author, comedian, University of British Columbia writing instructor, and incredibly articulate and heart-filled, clear-minded political activist, Charles "Charlie" Demers), father and husband and means-to-make-a-difference Derrick O'Keefe, as well as Riaz Behra — longtime Vancouver political activist and VanRamblings friend and political associate, a co-founder of The Left Front Collective, and another person who means-to-get-things-done, who worked night-and-day on Jean Swanson's campaign, organizing marches, raising funds, assiduously working the line-ups outside the Vancouver International Film Festival venues, and everything and anything that needed to get done to ensure a victory for Jean Swanson, on October 14th, by-election voting day.

Jean Swanson might very well have won on Saturday night were it not for the misguided candidacy of OneCity Vancouver's Judy Graves, subject matter we'll explore in Part Two of VanRamblings' 2017 Vancouver civic by-election wrap-up coverage.

Part Three of our by-election wrap up will offer insight into the incoming Board of Education trustee contingent at the Vancouver School Board.

Carrie Bercic, OneCity Vancouver's first elected Board of Education trusteeVancouver School Board trustee Carrie Bercic with her daughter, Sarah and son, Jordan

On an otherwise disappointing Saturday evening, Vancouver's election day bright light is the woman you see pictured above with her children, the incredibly wonderful, bright, heart-filled, tough and tough-minded, informed, community activist, involved, humane, kind, generous, loved by everyone who has ever had the privilege of meeting or working with her, who just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary to her just as incredible husband, John, a public education activist extraordinaire, and the first elected public official for Vancouver's nascent OneCity Vancouver civic party, your voice around the Vancouver School Board table — the incredibly lovely (c'mon now, everyone knows it to be the truth) Carrie Bercic.

If you haven't read Ms. Bercic's commentary in The Straight, you oughta do so now. Ms. Bercic and her came-so-close-to-being-elected OneCity Vancouver running mate, Erica Jaaf — who, together, were the dynamic duo among the 19 candidates for Vancouver School Board — ran on an activist platform of neighbourhood school preservation (where the NPA wanted to close 11 Vancouver schools this past term, as per a recommendation from VSB staff, which thankfully didn't pass given last November's Supreme Court of Canada ruling re-instating the 2001 BCTF collective agreement torn up by ex-Premier and former B.C. Liberal [mis]-Education Minister Christy Clark) — because neighbourhood schools are the heart of a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, healthy & well-educated community.

Carrie Bercic: working with provincial Minister for Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Shane Simpson, and his absolutely outstanding 'can do' Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction, Mable Elmore, to ensure that no child goes to school hungry. Check. Working with provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming to ensure that Vancouver schools requiring seismic upgrading or replacement occurs (much) sooner than later. Check.

Restoration of the all-important VSB band & strings programmes. Check.

Working collaboratively with her fellow Board of Education trustees to ensure that the Vancouver School Board integrates community input and representation in decisions taken by the Board, ensuring that the voices of LGBTQ2S folks, cultural communities, urban Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities, women, people living in poverty, and other marginalized communities are heard loud and clear, while working to end social, political, and economic injustice, and ensuring that when new School Board initiatives are in their nascent planning phase the communities most affected by decisions taken at the Board table will be heard, while ensuring that parents and students and the community-at-large have the power to impact on how those decisions are made, and finally implemented. Check.

Vancouver voters got one thing very right on October 14th: 10.99% of Vancouver's most engaged political citizenry heard Carrie Bercic's clarion message of inclusivity, public education advocacy, reconciliation with our First Nations peoples (and our students enrolled in the Vancouver school system) to ensure the academic and social success of our indigenous students, and her commitment to ensuring the safety and preservation of our neighbourhood schools loud and clear, and on Saturday, October 14th cast their ballot for their advocate at the School Board table.

Congratulations to all those engaged citizens of conscience who cast a ballot for Carrie Bercic, and congratulations to Carrie Bercic herself for a hard-fought, well-deserved victory at the polls this past Saturday night.

Part Two of VanRamblings' 'by-election wrap-up' may be found here.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:19 PM | Permalink | 2017 By-Election

October 13, 2017

2017 Vancouver By-Election: Christy Clark's Revenge

Vancouver's Worst Nightmare: NPA Sweeps to Massive Victory

PART ONE: VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL

For the very, very few of you out there who give a tinker's damn about the outcome of Vancouver's 2017 City Council / School Board by-election, the results of which will be broadcast late on Saturday evening, October 14th: the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) will sweep to a massive victory, both at Council — where Hector Bremner will ascend to Vancouver City Council — and at the Vancouver School Board, where NPA candidates Fraser Ballantyne, Lisa Dominato, Julian Prieto, Christopher Richardson and Rob McDowell will find themselves celebrating long, long, long into the wee and early morning hours of Sunday, October 15th.

Why is that, you ask? Well, dear and cherished VanRamblings reader ...

  • The NPA were the only functioning political entity in the 2017 Vancouver by-election with a well-organized political machine. Which is to say, the NPA campaign was well-funded (much better funded than any other campaign), conducted daily burmashaves — you know, where candidates stand along the street or at the entrance or exit to bridges or viaducts madly waving signs for their candidature, employed an effective door knocking campaign in the polling areas where they secured more than 50% of the vote in the 2014 municipal election (read: Arbutus Ridge, Yaletown, Dunbar, West Point Grey, Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale — the only neighbourhoods where the NPA did at all well, and where voters got out in droves to protect their class interests and cast a ballot for NPA candidates), and drove a well-funded social media and expensive advertising campaign to help ensure their victory on October 14th.

  • Most of the by-election candidates / campaigns were downright verklempt at the probability of an overwhelming NPA victory come Saturday evening, but none more so than the woebegone folks associated with the Vision Vancouver campaign, who found at the door that the 2017 Vancouver city by-election (and this tragically applies to School Board, as well) has emerged as a referendum on the administration of Gregor Robertson. Turns out the right and the left have proven effective at the demonization of the Mayor and his Vision Vancouver party — reasonably, on Saturday night, voters can expect 7% to 10% support for sacrificial lamb Vision Vancouver candidate, Diego Cardona. Anger. There's nothing like it as a motivating force.

  • Underfunded, untargeted campaigns by Vision Vancouver, OneCity, COPE and the Greens. The good folks at One City Vancouver have a great candidate for Council in homeless advocate Judy Graves, and two of the strongest candidates for School Board in the spectacularly grounded and bright (not to mention, informed) Carrie Bercic and Erica Jaaf — but who among the electorate knows who they are? Not many. OneCity has a tough road to hoe in electing candidates given that they have no elected presence at the municipal level. The Greens are in somewhat better shape, but apart from former VSB trustee Janet Fraser — who will secure support at the polls from both the right and the left, and could very well emerge as the top vote-getter for School Board come Saturday night — the prospects for the Greens are dire.

  • A dastardly, disreputable bullying campaign of disinformation by the NPA would seem to have played right into the "throw the bums out" mood of the electorate, and as such will ensure their victory on Saturday night. And let's not forget, either, the red hot anger of the provincial Liberals for both Vision Vancouver and the Vancouver electorate in leading the charge against the Christy Clark government. Not for no reason has Hector Bremner — longtime executive assistant to current BC Liberal party interim leader, Rich Coleman — emerged as the NPA candidate. If you harbour any illusion whatsoever that the NPA is not the BC Liberal farm team, Mr. Bremner's candidacy ought to give paid to that notion.

    Make no mistake, this is a payback election, Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal party's revenge on the Vancouver electorate for turfing them from power in Victoria, a feeling that is only exacerbated by John Horgan choosing Geoff Meggs as his Chief of Staff. Why it is that Vancouverites — who overwhelmingly voted for the progressive forces of the NDP in May's provincial election — would allow the B.C. Liberal farm team to assume power at School Board, and elect a B.C. Liberal apparatchik at City Council beggars belief, but it's going to happen. C'est la vie.

All of the above said, the 2017 Vancouver City Council by-election result carries little weight politically, given that whoever is elected to Council on Saturday night to fill the vacancy created when Vision Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs resigned his seat to take on the job as Chief of Staff to Premier John Horgan will not affect the majority that Vision Vancouver will continue to hold municipally — Vision Vancouver, whatever the outcome, will continue as the majority party at City Hall, with six of eleven decisive votes (including that of the Mayor) at Vancouver City Council.

August 31, 2017 Justason Research poll on Vancouver City Council by-election

The success of the respective campaigns in the 2017 Vancouver by-election (this applies both to Council and School Board) will occur as a function of voter turnout. The Justason Research poll above — even if it is a month and a half out of date — could in fact be right ... if, and only if, voters supporting the Greens' entirely tremendous Pete Fry, or OneCity's Judy Graves, or Jean Swanson's invigorating, well-organized grassroots and near revolutionary community-based campaign for Council turn out in droves.

Sad to say, in this era of Trumpian dysfunction, and an 'enemy of their own class interests' anomie among the voting populace that almost beggars belief (honestly, it's as if we're living in some perverse, latter day version of Orwell's 1984) voter suppression would seem to be the order of the day. Former Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus posited in her column in The Straight last week that we're likely to witness a 10% turnout at the polls once the votes are counted on Saturday night, while Vancouver Courier columnist Mike Klassen was telling anyone who would listen the very same thing. When the left & right agree, you know we're in trouble.

VanRamblings continues to believe that we're likely to see a 15% voter turnout — as we've suggested previously, a 7% turnout on Vancouver's eastside, with a 10% turnout in the West End and Kitsilano neighbourhood, and a 30% or better turnout in the neighbourhoods where the NPA has traditionally done very well. We, of course, hope we're wrong, and that the 20% - 25% voter turnout posited by Vancouver's City Clerk proves to be the case. But we don't think so.

VanRamblings has made our support of Jean Swanson well known, and we're pretty darned enthusiastic about Pete Fry's candidacy, as well.

The tale will be told on Saturday night.

2017 Vancouver city by-election voting day, October 14th

Make sure that you get out to vote on Saturday, if you haven't already cast your ballot at the Advance Polls that were held on October 4th and 10th at Vancouver City Hall. Wondering where to cast your ballot? Just click on this link to be taken to the Vancouver.ca webpage, which will afford you the opportunity to place your address in a box made available to you. After clicking Submit, the locations where you may cast your ballot will come up, in this most crucial of elections (aren't they all?), particularly the School Board election, where the key issue is democratic and engaged advocacy for student interests vs partisan stasis. Remember: it ain't over til it's over.

PART TWO: VANCOUVER SCHOOL BOARD

On October 14th, get out to vote in the crucial Vancouver School Board by-election

If you believe that Vision Vancouver at City Council and Vision Vancouver at School Board are one and the same thing: give your head a shake. If you believe the malarkey that it is the Vision Vancouver trustees that were the bullies at School Board, and therefore you will not cast a ballot for the Vision Vancouver candidates for School Board: give your head a shake.

There are only 8 candidates who have placed their names forward in the 2017 Vancouver School Board by-election, who have a well-rounded and informed appreciation of the advocacy role that trustees must perform while sitting as elected Board of Education trustees on the Vancouver School Board, and these persons of conscience (for whom you must vote on Saturday, if you give a good galldarn about public education) are ...

Adi Pick, running for Vancouver School Board in the 2017 Vancouver by-election

Adi Pick. 20 years of age, a graduate of Magee Secondary (where she was the valedictorian in her graduating year), currently enrolled at UBC in her fourth year of studies as an international relations student, Adi Pick emerged as the star in the Vancouver School Board by-election: incredibly bright, articulate, down-to-earth, with an informed and fundamental understanding of all of the issues on which Vancouver school trustees must adjudicate, Ms. Pick gained support across the political spectrum during the course of her candidacy, and simply outshone all other candidates at the two Vancouver School Board all-candidates meetings, with her good humour, her pointed commentary, her reasoned passion, and her unrivaled advocacy for the interests of students.

Carrie Bercic's daughter Sarah suggests you save a vote for her momSarah Bercic asks you to save a vote for her mom, Carrie, for VSB trustee

Carrie Bercic. The other shining star in the Vancouver School Board candidate firmament, Carrie Bercic is the must, must, must vote in the current VSB by-election. Carrie Bercic has attended every meeting of the Vancouver School Board since 2014. Ms. Bercic has worked with her OneCity colleague Erica Jaaf (another must, must, must vote for in the current VSB by-election) on the Parent Advocacy Network (PAN) Board (they're both on leave at the moment), has sat as Parent Advisory Chair at both General Wolfe elementary school where her daughter was enrolled, and Parent Advisory Chair at Eric Hamber, where her son Jordan was enrolled. Quite simply, there is no more down-to-earth, better informed, more articulate public education advocate who has put their name forward for a position of trustee at the Vancouver School Board than is the case with Carrie Bercic. You would be doing yourself, and the students enrolled in the Vancouver school system a big, big favour by saving a vote for Carrie Bercic when you go to the polls on Saturday, October 14th.

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Make no mistake: VanRamblings wishes for you to cast a ballot for Adi Pick, Carrie Bercic and her OneCity running mate, Erica Jaaf, COPE's Diana Day, and every cotton pickin' one of the incredibly talented, humane, community advocate, Vision Vancouver defenders of public education who have put their names forward to sit as Board of Education trustees on the Vancouver School Board. If you've not already, please read VanRamblings' initial column on the 2017 Vancouver School Board by-election.

Vision Vancouver 2017 by-election team School Board candidate team

From l - r, the entirely tremendous Vision Vancouver school board candidate 'public education advocacy' team: newcomer to electoral politics Theodora Lamb, former VSB Chair Mike Lombardi, Ken Clement, Joy Alexander and Allan Wong, each one of whom deserve your vote October 14th.

One City Vancouver and COPE Vancouver's 2017 School Board by-election candidatesFrom l - r, OneCity Vancouver's Carrie Bercic and Erica Jaaf, and COPE Vancouver's Diana Day

The eight candidates for Vancouver School Board whose photos you see above — and let's not forget Adi Pick either, who is most deserving of your vote at the polls on Saturday — are heartily endorsed by VanRamblings and constitute for any caring person who is at all concerned for Vancouver's and British Columbia's public education system, the only candidates for Vancouver School Board you should consider when casting your ballot.

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You may read Part One of the actual election results column here.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 3:20 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

October 11, 2017

VIFF 2017: Wends To a Close for Another Year

2017 Vancouver International Film Festival Wends To a Close

Well, that's it — almost. The 36th edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival wraps late on Friday evening, October 13th with the "gory as f*ck" screening of Turkish director Can Evrenol's Housewife, at The Rio.

VIFF Repeats 2014

VIFF Repeats

Of course, as has been the case for many, many years the fine folks at VIFF have planned, and now released information on, their VIFF Repeats programme, which kicks off on Saturday, October 14th with Bosch: The Garden of Dreams at 11:45am, followed by Meet Beau Dick: Maker of Monsters at 1:45pm, The Farthest at 4:15pm, and two more festival favourites, Loving Vincent at 6:45pm, and the final screening of the first VIFF Repeats day, Indian Horse, at 8:45pm. All screenings will occur at the 175-seat Vancity Theatre. Tickets must be purchased, either online or at the door, for each screening (VIFF passes do not apply to the VIFF Repeats programme). VIFF Repeats run through until Thursday, October 19th.

Still and all, during the course of the final two days of VIFF 2017 there are some very fine films that will screen for a final time, films VIFF patrons and critics alike have simply raved about, and are certainly worthy of your time and consideration — as is the case with Janus Metz's Borg vs McEnroe, perhaps the finest sports-related drama since Bennett Miller's entirely tremendous Moneyball. Borg vs McEnroe screens for a final time at VIFF at 3:30pm at the Vancouver Playhouse on VIFF's last day, Friday, Oct. 13th.

On VIFF 2017's second-to-last day (Thursday, October 12th), you might want to turn your attention to the following VIFF patron favourites ...

  • Sami Blood (Grade: A). Knocked our socks off. Little wonder that Lene Cecilia Sparrok won a raft of Best Actress awards, and Danish director Amanda Kernell an equal number of Best First Feature and Best Director awards. A compelling and heart-wrenching watch from beginning to end. A must-see. Screens at 11:15am, Tinseltown, Cinema 10.

  • Call Me by Your Name, (Grade: A). A friend wrote to us at 2am, "If you haven't already, please go see Call Me by Your Name. It was exceptional. I watered up 3 times in that movie, each one more soul crushing than the last. Left the theatre with a heavy but full heart." Yep, yep, yep. Couldn't agree more. Screens for a final time at 3:15pm at The Centre.

  • Close Knit. According to Screen Daily's Wendy Ide, Close Knit is "gentle, empathetic and deliberately non-confrontational, taking a mild-mannered approach to transgender issues. Having lived in the U.S., director Naoko Ogigami upon returning to Japan found herself struck by the invisibility of the trans community in her home country. Close Knit's narrative revolves around 11-year-old Tomo (Rinka Kakihara) who finds herself adopted by her Uncle Makio (Kenta Kiritani) when her mother abandons her. Makio cautions that he is now living with someone. Someone unusual. Rinko (Toma Ikuta) is a transgender woman. Tomo's initial reserve is soon won over by Rinko's warm and nurturing nature, and the fact that Rinko keeps a spotless home, and creates cute bento boxes full of rice pandas and sausages sculpted into various sea creatures, which Tomo loves. A nuanced, softly lit family portrait, with compassion and conflict held carefully in balance, Close Knit screens for a final time at 4:15pm, Cineplex International Village, Cinema 10.

  • The King's Choice. Dramatizing a celebrated moment in the Norway's constitutional monarchy, when King Haakon VII (Jesper Christensen) refused to surrender to the Nazis' invasion, director Erik Poppe's filming of the blistering climactic encounter between the King and the German envoy makes for one of the most compelling cinematic scenes of the year. Screens for a final time tonight, 9:30pm, at Cineplex International Village, Cinema 10.

And now onto the final day of VIFF 2017 ...

Friday, October 13th


  • Borg vs McEnroe, (Grade: A). Janus Metz's powerful, nuanced biopic while telling the story of one of the great tennis rivalries of all time creates a compelling and oft-times thrilling piece of entertainment. A must-see. Screens at 3:30pm, at the Vancouver Playhouse.

  • The Party. With a dream ensemble cast (at least to those of us that love indie filmmaking) and one of the big hits at VIFF this year, a film about which absolutely no one has anything negative to say (no mean feat, that), the new movie from director Sally Potter had Variety critic Guy Lodge writing in his review from Berlin, "Gleefully nasty, zinger-packed this deliciously heightened, caviar-black comedy sets up its brittle, bourgeois characters like bowling pins and gleefully knocks them down in 71 minutes flat, Potter's dark drawing-room comedy her zestiest work in ages." Screens for a final time at 5pm at The Centre.

  • Wonderstruck, the Closing Gala film, 7:30pm at The Centre, and 9:15pm at The Playhouse. Todd Haynes new film that took Cannes by storm. Stars Julianne Moore (who's been brilliant in every film she's ever starred in), about which critic Wendy Ide wrote in Screen Daily, "With first rate work from cinematographer Edward Lachman, costume designer / executive producer Sandy Powell, production designer Mark Friedberg and — particularly — composer Carter Burwell will ensure Wonderstruck, with its gradual swell of emotion that builds to a belter of a tear jerking climax, will emerge as a significant awards season contender."

And that will wrap the Vancouver International Film Festival for 2017.

Full VanRamblings coverage of VIFF 2017 is available by clicking here.

The Vancouver International Film Festival Comes to a Close for Another Year


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:17 PM | Permalink | VIFF 2017

October 9, 2017

VIFF 2017: Films To Ensure You See Before VIFF Ends

2017 Vancouver International Film Festival, viff, final week, films to see

Today on VanRamblings, the must-see films screening in the final week of VIFF 2017, those films lauded by VIFF patrons, films with critical acclaim extraordinaire, films which will either provide you with early insight into what movies will be recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 4th, 2018, or provide you with the opportunity to see outstanding cinema for the final time at VIFF 2017, cuz these films ain't a-gonna be making their way back to our shores any time soon, or (in fact) ever again. So, you know what to do ...

Playing once and only once at the 2017 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival, a last-minute addition to the VIFF lineup, the most talked about American début feature of the year, having taken both the Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals by storm, and set for a raft of Oscar nominations come Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 — including a Best Actress nod for Saoirse Ronan, and long overdue Best Supporting Actress recognition for Laurie Metcalf, not to mention Best Screenplay and Best Director nominations for — indie actress Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird ... Screens today, Monday, October 9th at 4pm at The Centre. See ya there!

Don't forget: Aki Kaurismäki's VanRamblings-recommended The Other Side of Hope screens directly after Lady Bird, 6:30pm at The Centre. At 9:15pm, VanRamblings' favourite film of 2017, Andrei Zvyagintsev's magnificent Loveless screens at the Vancouver Playhouse, on Hamilton Street.

On Tuesday, 6:15pm at the Vancouver Playhouse, you simply don't want to miss the single most buzzed about film at VIFF 2017, director Amanda Kernell's powerful multiple award winner, Sami Blood — the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actress (Lene Cecilia Sparrok) winner at last spring's Seattle Film Festival; Special Jury Prize winner and another Best Actress win for Sparrok at Tokyo's 2017 Film Festival, with a Best Director of a Début Film win for Amanda Kernell at this year's prestigious Venice Film Festival.

Nor do you want to miss Alain Gomis' Grand Jury Prize winner at the Berlinale this year, Félicité, a raw, near documentary-style music-infused reverie, an often dreamlike portrait of Félicité, a singer who is just barely scraping by in modern-day Kinshasa, a dirty, hardscrabble, lawless but irrepressibly energetic city. Screens twice at Cineplex International Village, both times in Cinema 10, on Tuesday, October 10th at 9:30pm, and the next day, Wednesday, October 11th at 4:30pm.

On Wednesday, October 11th there's a veritable cornucopia of fine cinema that will screen at VIFF 2017 on its third to last day ...

  • Ismael's Ghosts, VIFF fave Arnaud Desplechin's most daring film yet, a tour-de-force of mise-en-scène and a prismatic portrait of a filmmaker haunted by his past, starring Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel, which screens for the final time at 10:45am at Cineplex, Cinema 9;

  • Or, at 11:30am at Cineplex Cinema 9, you could take in British writer-director Francis Lee's remarkable, award-winning accomplished first feature, God's Own Country, about which VIFF patrons and critics alike have been raving, the story of a troubled, taciturn and volatile young man living on a remote Yorkshire farm that although it didn't court Brokeback Mountain comparisons directly enough with its tale of two young sheep farmers finding love in a hopeless place nonetheless seals the deal. Says VanRamblings critic favourite Guy Lodge in his review in Variety, "By the time the tightly controlled soundscape blooms into the widescreen baroque pop of Patrick Wolf for the closing credits, the resulting heart-swell feels thoroughly earned";

  • And let us take pains to remind you of how much we loved Alexandra Dean's kickass documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, which screens for a final time at 3:45pm at the Vancouver Playhouse.

And then there are entirely remarkable evening screenings on Wednesday, October 11th that are not-to-be-missed ...

  • Sour Apples, VanRamblings' own David House's favourite VIFF film (and a VIFF cineaste favourite, too), writer, director and star Yilmaz Erdogan's boisterous and engaging Turkish epic, which spans decades as it recounts the story of Aziz Özay and his three beautiful daughters, as warm-hearted and inclusively crowd-pleasing a film as you could wish for, a perfect palliative and counterpoint to VIFF's usual Cinema of Despair programming (VanRamblings will find ourselves at 6:15pm at the Vancouver Playhouse to take in the final screening of Sour Apples);

  • Or, how about Phillippa Lowthorpe's Swallows and Amazons, Youth Jury Award and Best Feature winner at the Seattle Film Festival, an absolutely perfect film to take the kids to, incredibly engaging family fare, which will screen for a final time at VIFF, at 6:45pm at Cineplex's Cinema 9;

  • Or, Janus Metz's Borg vs McEnroe, at 6:30pm at The Centre, a compelling drama that has you in its grip from beginning to end, and a film that just knocked our socks off, easily 1000x better than Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' failed Battle of the Sexes, and a must-see if you possess any love at all for remarkable humanistic sports films;

  • Or at 6:15pm at The Rio, the final screening of Mina Shum's love letter to Asian mothers, Meditation Park, a small but significant picture, and a film about quiet, dignified resignation that will resonate with anyone who cherishes their family life.

And, heck, those are just the early evening screenings on Wednesday.

2017 Vancouver International Film Festival débuts Stephen Campanelli's Indian Horse

Indian Horse. A quintessentially Canadian story, adapted from Richard Wagamese's award-winning novel, Stephen Campanelli's moving drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada's residential schools and the resolute spirit of our nation's Indigenous peoples, focusing on the story of Saul Indian Horse of Manitoba's Ojibwe nation who, as a child, is separated from his family by Canada's reprehensible residential school system, where he and fellow Indigenous students suffer routine physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Teachers do their best to destroy the children's identities, in the name of the Christian god and the Canadian state.Then, Saul discovers hockey, where his talent helps him escape the school, on his journey to becoming a professional player. Only through his passion for the game and his rapidly improving skills does he glimpse a path beyond the horrors that have confined him. But is hockey enough to save him, or will his struggles to come to terms with the traumatic experiences of his past continue to haunt him? One of the buzz films at VIFF 2017, Indian Horse screens for a final time at VIFF, 9pm at the Vancouver Playhouse.

A Fantastic Woman, (Grade: A). Chilean director Sebastián Lelio's follow up to VIFF 2014's Gloria offers a sensitive, expressive melodrama about grief and the cost of being authentic in a world that too often fails to acknowledge gender variance and the lived, non-binary experience. A working of searing empathy, A Fantastic Woman traces the emergence from devastating grief of Marina (Daniela Vega), the film's young transgender protagonist, who is treated like a criminal in the wake of her older partner's sudden death from an aneurysm. A certain Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee, there's even talk that Vega — who dominates virtually every mesmerizing frame of the film — will emerge as the first transgender woman to secure a Best Actress Oscar nomination, or as Guy Lodge writes in his review for Variety ...

Vega's tough, expressive, subtly anguished performance deserves so much more than political praise. It's a multi-layered, emotionally polymorphous feat of acting, nurtured with pitch-perfect sensitivity by her director, who maintains complete candor on Marina's condition without pushing her anywhere she wouldn't herself go. At one point in her mortifying police examination, a photographer demands that she drop the towel from her waist. She reluctantly complies, yet the camera respectfully feels no need to lower it gaze: A Fantastic Woman is no less assured than its heroine of her hard-won identity.

There are a great many films that will screen on Thursday and Friday, the final two days of VIFF, that we'll write about later in the week. We are looking forward to VIFF 2017's final screening, Todd Haynes' transcendent:

Full VanRamblings coverage of VIFF 2017 is available by clicking here.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:45 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2017

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