Signing the anti-HST petition has become a popular thing to do this summer
Since the Vancouver Park Board voted to approve HST canvassers to conduct political protests in our park community centres, we've seen even more zealous canvassers out to save BC and save Canada from the dreaded consumption tax. As you can imagine this brilliant idea by Vision Vancouver's Raj Hundal and with the support of his fellow Vision/COPE counterparts is causing a few headaches for frontline Park Board staff. Now they are left in the position of having to police canvassers who appear to be not just parking quietly in one spot as proposed, but they're heading out to playing fields during childrens' sport events to get signatures.
CityCaucus.com has received copies of two emails that we'll paste below from HST canvassers who are ratting out Park Board community centre staff who are getting in their way. And they're running to their elected park commissioners who appear happy to help.
The first email is from Joseph Lin (photo inset below), a community activist and champion of the Fight HST campaign. The second email posted after that is from a jilted-sounding Mr. Otto Chu, an anti-tax canvasser who explains how he was confronted by a Park Board staff person. Chu responded in detail about the event in response to a request by Comm. Constance Barnes to Lin's email.
From: "Green Club Joseph Lin"
Date: June 11, 2010 11:10:57 PM PDT
Subject: Our Canvasser was chased out of Douglas Community Centre
To Vancouver Park Commissioners,
One of our Fairview Canvassers, Mr. Otto Chu, went to his neighbourhood Douglas Community Centre around 11:10 am-12 pm today. After several people signed at the lobby, one Community Centre lady staff came to ask Otto to leave. She said this is political. Otto said it is permitted by commissioners this Monday.
She asked her supervisor to come out to chase Otto away. The supervisor said here is a children event. You need to leave immediately. Otto said he didn't bother anyone. There was no sign about the event. There was a parent saying it is fine.
When Otto left the lobby outside the centre standing on the nearby lawn. One parent came to talk to him. That supervisor came out and insisted to escort Otto to leave the area, otherwise, she will call a police. The supervisor kept saying there is a children event. Otto said there is no circled boundary or sign on the lawn.
The supervisor said Otto doesn't live on that lawn and doesn't have a right to stand over there. Otto said he just lives a nearby house for years. He has a right to stand over there on a public land. He also reminded there were several other people standing over there. But the supervisor kept bothering him. Otto left that area with frustration and anger finally.
I know Otto is a nice gentleman. We were invited by a community people to collect signatures door to door in the Marpole area tonight. We even haven't our dinner yet!
I heard the story and feel angry too! I urge you to look into this incident!
Canvasser of Langara
President of Green Club
Here is the email from Otto Chu and Constance Barnes request for information below.
From: otto chu
Date: June 12, 2010 1:36:56 PM PDT
Subject: RE: Information
Dear Commissioner Constance Barnes,
Thank you for your kind considerations.
Sorry! This explanation maybe late because I haven't had the chance to read my email last night.
I am a Fairview canvasser and the whole Fairview began this campaign late. We started on May 4th at Riley Park Community Center, and the staff there allowed us to canvas inside the community center. The following week, May 11th, we were only allowed to canvas outside the community center. There after, I campaigned at various chinese and western restaurants, going table-to-table, every saturday and sunday, sometimes on weekday nights too! I got between 100-200 signatures within 2-3 hour's work in each restaurants. Out of every 100-200 signatures, only 20-30 are from the Fairview riding; the rest are from various ridings from Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby. After 5 weeks, our riding is still 600 signatures short of reach the 15% goal, therefore, this past week I tried to focus on getting Fairview signatures.
Yesterday (Friday, June 11th) morning at about 10, I unexpectedly saw a group of parents and children at the Douglas Park grass field on the east side. There seemed to be an event going on, and I took the opportunity to obtain more signatures. I immediately dressed up and prepared petition forms. At about 11:15, I went over to the field form the east side and approached a game stall. A parent at the stall, approached me and said she was interested in signing our petition (perhaps she noticed my ''Fight HST'' badge). After this, I approached a few more parents and most were enthusiastic in signing, but some have already signed while others were not interested; I did not persist for them to sign, and I just left them to ask other parents. I just stood at a game stall because I noticed that the parents and their children rotate game stalls every 15-30 minutes. After three rotations, I got 10-20 Fairview signatures and 5 signatures from other ridings. At this point, there was a loud horn that summoned all parents and children to gather at the center of the field, and I slowly followed. It was announced that it is now lunch time, and at about 1:30 there will be a performance within the community center, and the event will end at 2:00. Following the announcement, most parents brought their children westward and settled on the grass near a road that went split the field and the playground. There were still 3 or 4 families that remained at the center of the field, and I asked one of those families to sign and I was by the parents that they have already signed. At that moment, a community center staff nearby over heard and told me that my actions are political and is not suited for a children's event, I replied by saying that our campaign can no longer be considered to be political after June 7th, but the lady insisted that our campaign remained political and would allow me on the field, she told me to talk with her supervisor in the community center. She accompanied me to her supervisor and told her supervisor that I tried to persuade those parents into signing our petition; I did not try to persuade anyone, I just asked them if they would like to sign. I explained this to the supervisor and asked why the park board in Richmond and Burnaby allows campaigning to be done in their parks but not in Vancouver, and also why the election campaigns can be carried out at community centers across Vancouver. She replied by saying that the park boards are ran differently and during elections all parties are in attendance, therefore it is ''fair'' politically. I then told her that I am only a volunteer and have no political background, she replied by saying that I was campaigning in a private event and that is not allowed. I understood and accepted the terms that I was not allowed to campaign there not because of politics but it was a private event. I then asked whether I would be allowed to canvas within the building, and she allowed me to do so, as long as I do not disturb any events that is going on. I thanked her and left for home. On my way home, I had to cross the grass field (as I live across the park) and while doing so, a parent asked whether I was kicked out of the park, I told her I was and she thanks me for doing such a tough job, and follows by asking when our campaign ends. I told her it will end July 5th, at this point the supervisor rushed out and told me to leave and that she would escort me home if I was unwilling. The parent told the supervisor that I should have the rights to stand on the field and talk as long as I do not bother the event (which is a distance away). The supervisor ignored the parent's comments and insisted that I leave the park, at this point I was very frustrated, I told her I had the rights to talk with another person at a park, since I am a resident nearby. The supervisor argued that I did not live on the grass field. Then I pointed out that there are other people who were not participants of the event still on the field, why are they allowed and I am not? She told me that I arrived at the park first and that she will drive them off after I leave the park's premise. I replied by saying that the others were there first and that they should be told to leave before I should leave, according to her logic. I asked whether they were prejudice against me because I was, at the time, an HST canvasser? Then a park staff threatened to call the police. I got very mad, and insisted that they do call the police and I will wait on the spot for them to arrive. The supervisor insisted that she would escort me off the park. I felt I was treated unjustly, almost like I was a criminal of a sort, and therefore did not leave. Then the supervisor insisted to escort me off or she will call the ranger. At that point the parent I talked to stood up ad held my arm to comfort me. She said ''[The supervisor is] a bitch'' and told me that what I did was right and I should have had the right to do all of it, but she advises me to leave. I took her advice and left full of frustration and anger. I watched from my house to see whether she would drive off the other non-participants on the field, but she did not.
I feel that the park staff is prejudice to HST canvassers. I am only a volunteer, I have no political background, and I sacrifice my time and energy in an attempt to express my displeasure towards the HST and give other voters a chance to voice their opinions that the Campbell refuses hear: this was my aim all along, nothing else. I do not feel that I am political, and I feel very very frustrated by the treatment of the park staff, just because of my volunteer status. I feel that without my badge, they would have welcomed me, which makes me feel that the park is more political than our campaign ever was.
Please excuse my poor english and long-winded expressions. I tried to write a concise explanation. Thank you for reading this and understanding my feelings!
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 23:37:05 -0700
I am very interested in the incident that Joseph Lin has emailed me about that happened at Douglas Community Centre. Please feel free to email me the particulars if you feel so inclined.
Commissioner Constance Barnes
- post by Mike