Attending Tappie awards may translate into "crappy" relations

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

13 comments

tappieawards.jpg
Several municipal officials chose to support an event that ridiculed senior politicians

As many municipal leaders will tell you, when it comes to collecting tax dollars, they are the lowest on the totem poll. Cities collect only 8 cents of every dollar and these funds have to pay for roads, sewers, and a myriad of other services. It's perhaps for this reason that most civic officials are extremely careful to openly attack senior levels of government for whom they rely upon to help fund major infrastructure projects and programs.

With that in mind, a few weeks ago three prominent civic politicians in Metro Vancouver decided they were going to participate in the "Tappie and Crappie" Awards. The awards ceremony was held in a local park Vancouver and was hosted by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in BC (CUPE BC). On stage were Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and New Westminster School Trustee Lori Watt. It also appears that Vision Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal was in attendance.

You would think Councillor Reimer of all people would understand the political jeopardy of supporting an event which mocks her provincial and federal counterparts. If you recall, she landed herself in a lot of hot water when she tweeted about the weight of BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman. She had to publicly apologize for that goof up.

If you watch the video of the ceremony, you will see organizers mock both BC Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. As the civic leaders watched on and the crowd booed and hissed, one man jumped on stage with a Gordon Campbell mask complete with horns and shouted:

Profits first. Let's hear it. Profits first.

Then it was the Prime Minister's turn. More hissing and boos, then a woman appeared on stage with a mask of Stephen Harper (with horns) and said:

Nothing that is essential to human life should be for free. We think there is too much free air around and we're working on packaging that.

School Trustee Lori Watt's appearance on stage has been garnering quite a bit of attention in her home community of New Westminster. You see, Ms. Watt is not only a school trustee, she also happens to work for CUPE BC. In addition, the school district she represents is currently in a very delicate negotiation with the Province of BC to build a brand new (and very expensive) high school.

tappy winners

Needless to say, there are more than a few folks back home who didn't think it was politically wise of Ms. Watt to accept the Tappie and attend a CUPE BC event aimed at embarrassing both the Premier and Prime Minister. However, given CUPE is her employer and she was the one who brought forward a motion to ban bottled water in New Westminster, it is doubtful she had much choice in the matter.

A local columnist in the New Westminster News Leader took Watt to task for her participation in the Tappie awards ceremony. Here is what Chris Bryan had to say in today's edition of the paper:

Winners of the “Crappys” included Prime Minister Stephen Harper (“He’s like 90 per cent evil,” event MC Charlie Demers said) and Premier Gordon Campbell. Both awards were accepted by people in masks of the two, with devils’ horns. The other Crappy winner was “Corporate Bullies” (said Demers)—Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestlé.

The question begs: Why was our school trustee at this event, ostensibly representing our school board? Is our school board on a political campaign against bottled water? Is it fighting private interests in the private sphere? I don’t think so. And I hope not. Not because I agree or disagree with the cause, but because that’s simply not the school board’s job.

Bryan makes some additional observations:

This school district is in the process of sorting out its high school capital project, worth about $130 million. And where’s that coming from?

Victoria. Or rather: Gordon Campbell & friends.

There’s a time for politics and a time for doing your job. Is Watt’s job to represent CUPE and aggravate the BC Liberals? Or is it to help expedite a solution for a new high school?

This capital project involves cooperation with at least one senior government, possibly both.

If Watt wants to campaign against them, she should do it after she’s finished her career as a trustee. And if she was actually at the Tappies “representing” the school board, as CUPE said in its press release, then the problem extends beyond Watt herself.

Although it may have been fun for Reimer, Watt and Corrigan to participate in an event which attacked senior levels of government, it seems like a "crappy" short-term strategy which will yield few long-term results.

13 Comments

Shame on all of these three for attending this sham. Corrigan has long fought anything that would jeopardize CUPE influence and control of jobs in the public sector. His wife, for years worked for CUPE.
Watt. also a CUPE employee, received a Tappy, apparently without her board's knowledge, and apparently for something that the board has not even done.
This whole issue is a sham. It is not about landfills,plastic etc. etc., it is about fighting privatization of water and protecting CUPE jobs. Watt should not even be in the room for the discussion.
I was shocked to read that Watt was the secretary to O'Neill. So she accepted an award from her boss? For something she did on the School Board? What a little in-house sham.
Shame, shame, shame.

So you espouse the cap in hand methodology.
Good for them in giving it back to a provincial government that has run roughshod over the municipalities, and as of April 1st has downloaded a plethora of flat-tax initiatives on the electorate of this province, not to mention the outright lie's involved with the HST.
Gee, I wonder what will come to light with the BC Rail scandal. That's a lot of money that could have gone to schools and kids sports programs, or support for children with autism.
Lets see and well they also just pillage ICBC and Hydro yet we will have to pay fro increases in those services.
Maybe if in the past more municipal and community politicians had the gumption to stand up to the province and not pander then those respective communities wouldn't be in such dire shape.

Derek C is a party pooper. During the Olympics every city around Vancouver threw great parties in celebration - Richmond, Surrey, West Van, North Van, Poco, New West and Abbotsford.

In Burnaby, nada. God forbid that the citizens of Burnaby actually may enjoy themselves during the 2010 Games.

Hopefully the citizens of that great city will send the old grump packing next time.

In addition to Watt being a CUPE employee, she took in excess of $6 Grand from CUPE in campaign contributions.
She said in the one article that her employer has never spoken to her on how to vote. It appears they don't have to.
She goes the party line on every issue.
Her employer doesn't need to talk to her.Can anyone find the relevant conflict legislation?

So a small group of people got together to hold a small demonstration voicing their political views, and a few councillor-- those with first-hand experience with the errs of the province & Feds-- joined in. no one attacked the politicians' personhood- they focused on their policies. There's a reason the Supreme Court of Canada has held that this type of political discourse ought to have the highest protection under s. 7 of the Charter-- because it aids in the search for truth. The search for truth requires a rich marketplace of ideas full of a variety of views. It seems to me this rally focused on policy, and used humour to get one viewpoint accross. Agree or disagree with their policy views, CUPE and the councellors had a right to engage in that discourse, and the Feds and province should expect to encounter it-- it's politics, and people will always disagree with one another on the policy front.
So good for the councellors for holding true to the values and beliefs that got them elected. Good for them for not buying into the false rhetoric in articles like this that suggest that the Feds and province would actually halt working with municipalities when they disagree on policy fronts. News Flash- the province is particular is legally OBLIGED to continue working with the municipalities. Good for the coucellors for speaking up about what they've experienced and drawing attention to government defects. Good for them for attending this rally, celebrating their achievments, and helping each of us to discover the truth-- that if we disagree with their actions, we have the right to speak up and demand that our politicians do better. And we have that right no matter who we are or what we do for a living.

the whole event sounds very childish - was there anyone there over 5 years old? Totally ineffective as a form of 'protest' and yet another reason why Canadians living east of New Westminster are perfectly justified in thinking we are a bunch of fruit cakes. Grow up Vancouver!

CUPE gets away with murder in the Royal City.

If Lori Watt worked for a property developer and sat on city council, and then started bringing forward motions that promoted the interests of her property developer employer she would be quickly ushered out of the council chambers and declared to be in a serious conflict of interest.

But that's exactly what Watt is doing as a school trustee. She works for CUPE (who paid big bucks to put her on the New Westminster school board) and she's bring forward motions that promote the interests of her employer.

Why is no one doing anything about this and taking steps to usher her out the door. Surely there is a serious and very flagrant conflict of interest going on here?

Shockey asked about conflict of interest legislation. Here is the relevant partfrom the School Act:

Indirect pecuniary interest
56 For the purposes of this Part, a trustee has an indirect pecuniary interest in any matter in which the board is concerned if

(a) the trustee or the trustee's nominee

(i) is a shareholder in or a director or senior officer of a corporation that does not offer its securities to the public, or

(ii) has a controlling interest in or is a director or senior officer of a corporation that offers its securities to the public,

and the corporation has a pecuniary interest in the matter, or

(b) the trustee is a partner of a person, is a member of a firm or is in the employment of a person or firm that has a pecuniary interest in the matter.

There you have it folks. Check the CUPE website. The water issue is plastered all over the site. It is clear that this fight is all about fighting privatization of water, and all that this means for CUPE employees.

In Surrey the Superintendant and the Secretary-Treasurer police this very closely. They would never allow this to happen. If they know about the situation it is their responsibility to enforce the school act.I don't understand why the same thing is not happening in New Westminster.

Why is everyone not talking about the elephant in the room. All four politicians that attended are die hard socialists, so why does it seem so strange for them to be bashing provincial and federal levels of government.

Corrigan never misses a chance to sling mud at anyone that doesn't adhere to his ideology. Burnaby had a chance to have the Olympic Oval built in that city, but because of a grumpy old mayor and short sightedness it got built in Richmond. Good for them.

Of course Corrigan would toe his party line and not support anything to do with the Olympics. While the world celebrated in our province, Burnaby was the wallflower that didn't get invited to the dance.

The school act seems clear on pecuniary interests and conflicts, and it sounds like the people down there in New West have an excellent case against this Watts person on their board.

So the remedy seems simple - Someone or a group of someones need to scrape together a mountain of cash, hire a lawyer and take the matter to court.

Even if it bankrupts them they can rest easy knowing they did their civic duty and stood up to the deep, deep pockets of a public sector union like CUPE.

But then again, the facts seem so clear in this case maybe the government officials responsible for things like this should take action themselves and spare the good citizens of New West the stress and financial burden.

Now, just why does the new West School District expect the Province to quickly pony up $130,000,000 (that is a ton of money for a school)just after one of its members tried to ridicule the Premier? if all Board members expect an immediate positive response, they must be smoking something strong. If I were the Premier I would tell them to come back in a year or two after the next school board election.

After seeing this video, I would tell Gordon Campbell to keep his money out of New Westminster. There are a lot of other communities where he could invest the money and it will be much more appreciated. Namely the one I live in. Watt should be ashamed of herself for putting into jeopardy the funding for those kids.

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