Tweet lands Deal in more hot water than a Nova Scotia lobster

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


heather deal carnage
Councillor Deal's tweet shows taxpayers what's left after FCM dinner in Halifax

If you’re a civic politician, the challenges of social media can be quite daunting. Once you start, there is no going back as your supporters expect you’ll keep them abreast of your every move. However, all that access to your daily life can also prove politically troublesome.

Last year Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer was forced to apologize to B.C. Cabinet Minister Rich Coleman after she sent out a nasty tweet commenting on his weight. Now it appears Reimer's colleague Heather Deal is in more hot water than a cooked Nova Scotia lobster after a series of tweets she sent out during a trip to Halifax.

Last week she and her Vision colleagues attended the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention. The trip is funded by taxpayers and elected officials are expected to go there and debate important topics such as homelessness and the infrastructure deficit.

However, it would appear Deal also found the time to chow down on some fine Nova Scotia seafood and other delicacies while in attendance.

The Twitter post she sent out regarding the "carnage" left behind from one of her dinners is now making headlines over at 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper this evening. One of the tweets included "a photo of a ravaged dinner table, complete with empty wine glasses, raided lobster tails, crumpled napkins and a stained tablecloth."

swag The tweet is not impressing local activists who think Deal's remark was in poor taste (excuse the pun). Here is what Jean Swanson from the Carnegie Community Action Project had to say:

It would be nice if public officials didn’t eat higher on the hog than the rest of us. You know, 26.6 per cent of people in Vancouver live under the poverty line. It would be a kind of a concrete solidarity with other people if you didn’t eat like that.

Heather Deal has never been shy when it comes to seeking out the media to blast away at her opponents or promote her latest concept. However, she refused a request to do an interview with 24 Hours for this story. They state:

That same day, Deal – whose Nova Scotia trip was funded by taxpayers – also tweeted about shopping at the Halifax market and the “swag” conference delegates received.

According to 24 Hours, taxpayers footed the bill for sending a number of Deal's Vision colleagues to Halifax:

Vancouver’s policy allows any council member to attend. The city spent $2,000 to $4,000 per member for last year’s conference in Toronto. Deal’s bill was more than $3,000 to attend that event, according to public expense records.

This year, five councillors went with Mayor Gregor Robertson, the new chair of the Big City Mayors Caucus, including Geoff Meggs, Raymond Louie, George Chow, Tim Stevenson and Deal.

Registration for each member was $829. Travel costs were likely higher because of the greater distance. Councillors can also request a $60 per diem for meals. The event ended Monday and total expenses will be made public at a later date.

lining up It should be noted that despite announcing he'll be retiring from politics in a few months, Vision councillor George Chow chose to make his way to Nova Scotia as well.

Deal also sent out another interesting Twitter post whereby she snapped a photo of a very lengthy lineup of elected officials. Are these councillors and mayors waiting to get into another serious policy debate? Nope. Deal says "FCM delegates lined up for some local food and entertainment!"

In addition to the elected officials, at least one of the Mayor's office staff was also in Halifax. I know that because I happened to catch the same flight as Chief of Staff Mike Magee as he headed to the East Coast via Toronto.

Needless to say, Deal is probably very lucky that most of her constituents are fixated on Canucks hockey of late. Otherwise, her experiment in providing us with an insight into the daily life of civic officials at FCM might not be going over so well.

- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus


Vision usually has air tight PR. Surprising to see them flobbing it so bad. True colours shining through the marketing machine.

The Lobster Thought of The Sea

'Strange. They say, you are what you eat. In Dale's case, I thought she would be eating...Pork. I was wrong.'

Apparently she ordered three servings of Lobster, or so they thought that's what she meant. One of the waiters there confided in me that she was heard shouting repeatedly 'Democracy, cubed!'

Screaming Lobsters.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I have always said the social networking twitter, Facebook etc, would be Vision's downfall...

Thank you for once again reenforcing that fact for me Councilor Deal..

Shame on George more time at the trough, for old times sake..old chap!!

And yet some people still live in doorways...

yes, that picture would likely qualify as poor twitter practice from a politician - however, anyone who has attended any sort of conference recognizes the scene very well. Second night of the event... a dinner that is included in your registration fee. Host city determines the menu. The tables are crowded, people have stupid things like hats handed to them and inevitably the cash bar gets over used. Line ups for events when there are several hundred delegates is not uncommon. If it was a 2-3 day event, the registration was not excessive. Is it common for such conferences to have a little down time for the delegates... I have never attended a conference that hasn't had some time to let loose a little.

Rather than scorning Heather for exposing nothing particularly shocking - I think the bigger and more legitimate question should be - was the Vancouver delegation significantly larger than other major cities and was it a reasonable decision to have Clr. Chow attend in light of his decision not to run again.

In my mind the rest is a fishing expedition and when we pick at stuff like this, the real issues that should concern us get lost in the mix.

While it may be good for political hay, the 24 Hours story is incomplete.

They failed to point out how relatively cheap lobster is back east. It would be like criticizing someone for eating BC salmon out here.
In fact, a tale maritimers love to tell, is that back in the day, you could tell the rich kids from the poor by their lunches. Poor kids ate lobster, the rich kids got baloney.

So, while it is good to despise Vision for the many valid reasons they offer, eating lobster in the maritimes is No Big Deal. Adding a quote from Jean Swanson is just cheap journalism. No one would expect her to say Bon Appetite.

Trying to make it an issue is what you'd expect from a publication whose motto ought to be "free litter."

And note 24 Hours does not welcome comments - a useless little rag that give it, but can't take it.

@Julia. I don't take issue with your points. It's just that having her tweeting back and rubbing our noses in it is a bit much. It's what they call in poor taste.

To sit there all day and debate homelessness, then chow down on lobster, then tweet about it. Well, that doesn't sit right with me. A tad hypocritical.

In regards to Chow, he should pay for that conference out of his own money. That's the only right thing to do at this point.

If Deal is so proud of her behaviour in Halifax, then why is she avoiding the media? The longer she avoids talking, the worse it's going to get for her and vision. Why not own up to your actions and be done with it?

As someone who has worked with the homeless, I find the whole story quite disturbing. To watch them all eating lobster and drinking fine wine, while there are people in the downtown eastside living in bed bug infested apartments with no food to eat. I agree with Jean.

I guess that's why they call themselves "progressive" politicians. Shame.

Oh, Heather, you've really pulled a Weiner this time.

Thank you Julia. I am not a fan of our current council and but even I think this is reaching. Also, it's hard to demand transparency/accountability and then trash people when you get some.

Was this George Chow's last 'hurrah'?

I wonder what the homeless advocates in Nova Scotia think of this.

"In my mind the rest is a fishing expedition and when we pick at stuff like this, the real issues that should concern us get lost in the mix."

ding ding we have a winner!

Can anyone answer this question:

How many social housing units are currently sitting empty?

While attending social/work functions, I have heard an "emotional" Deal say, in a self-pitying and plaintive way, that being a councillor is the only job she has--and I know that it is one she is desperate to hang onto. She is certainly cognizant about the unemployment situation in this city--- as it pertains to herself. After all, not many jobs send you to lobster-fests on the taxpayer dime.

However, "need" does not equate to "suitability" or even "desire". There are many in Vancouver who are better qualified, and dare I hope, not as eager to take such pleasure in literally, dining quite so noisily at the public trough.

What is fascinating for those of us forced to sit through her scolding lectures at City Hall, or in committee at Metro, is her almost girlish squeals of delight when exposed to the perks of the job. Public face/private face, indeed.

A little more decorum on these junkets, less attitude in chambers and at least some control while raiding the swag room would be most welcome.

I agree. Focus on the real issues -- Is this conference worthwhile? How many people did Vancouver send? What does the city get out of it?
The fact they had lobster in Halifax is hardly shocking. And the meal was included with the conference.

I can see the headline now: Councillor Deal beats Weiner's massive boner with Lobsterfest faux pas!


It seems a strange contradiction in your character that while very cynical about the political system you are also dismissive of events such as this which would seem to justify that cynicism. Actually, I find that it is often small things that reveal a person's character. Robertson and the Skytrain ticket, Reimer and her rude Tweet, now this and no doubt more if I could be bothered to think about these grotesques for more than ten seconds.

Conferences such as this rarely achieve much. They are too big and too full of people with bloated self regard and limited expertise. I've attended a few and now you couldn't pay me to go; the greed, waste and self indulgence are repulsive to any one not blinded by their own sense of entitlement.

Unfortunately some people, apparently including our own five junketeers, are shamelessly addicted to any freeby on offer.

"Is this conference worthwhile? How many people did Vancouver send? What does the city get out of it?"

This is a very good point Sheila K, now I would like to play devil's advocate here, and would like to hear your thoughts... oddly enough I was following Councilor Deals tweets during her trip...

I relished in the joy of her father's 80th birthday in Michigan, and I sat worrying about her as she sat on the tarmac during the thunderstorm. Lucky she had snacks as they turned off the lights while Heather and fellow passengers sat on the plane waiting out the storm...

Now this tweet. As Julia points out this is standard conference fare.. especially on the coast... and it probably was included in the cost of the registration ticket.

My questions.. what did we get out of it... what does Halifax have to offer us in the area of homelessness.

My second question is this. It is obvious that Deal piggybacked a trip home to celebrate her Dad's birthday, then continued on to the conference..

Two for the price of one so to speak... so, did we the taxpayer pay for the portion of the airfare to Michigan? or did Councilor Deal pay that herself... if I remember correctly Deal's portion on the expense report recently published had a very high amount listed for transportation and education...

As I said I'm just paying devil's advocate here... but a cynic would question did the devil make me do it...or am I really wrong on this one?

I don't mind being wrong.. in this case I really hope I am, for many reasons...I would be greatly offended if she went HOME on our dime,then to a conference to discuss homelessness.

While I know someone personally, that is sleeping in a doorway..

correction should have read
"devil made her do it"

Heather Deal
Time to change from #dads80th to #FCMhfx as I wait to board plane for Halifax.
June 1 at 3:53pm via Twitter · Like · · @VanRealDeal on Twitter
Heather Deal

Good point George.

I worked with a exec that did that exact thing.

We had a sales conference to attend and he piggbacked a vacay onto return flight.

The result, our 'big boss' paying him a visit, restitution and a good slap on the hand.

let's have a look at the conference program.

homelessness is one of many topics which is actually a relief- there is more to running a city than shelters.

If I look at WestJet, Vancouver to Halifax has a pit stop. I suspect there is an acceptable price range for the ticket that the city would cover. If Heather was able to coordinate her pit stop with a visit with her dad - should we shoot her? I have done similar in my job and my employer was pleased that I could make it work.

The conference was 5 days. I don't know how many of you have attended 5 days of meetings with a 4 hour time change - it is not all that fun.

How do we feel about the UBCM conference?

I can better that one Max,

Restitution...or as I like to call it restorative justice..

Perhaps she can help my friend find a home? Everything she learned about homelessness at the conference she could now put her new skills into good practice.

I can respect the fact that you have respect for Councilor Deal and what she does... but I will agree to disagree with you on this one...

To me the Mayor is NOT your average employer, he is spending taxpayers money not his own.

This I did find funny though, this is one of the things they did discuss on the conference agenda.

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I actually have some sympathy for her in all of this... she has been highly addicted to twitter for some time. It frustrates me no end when watching her during council or at public hearings when she is paid to listen... and one of her stupid unrelated tweets or Facebook posts pop up... very inappropriate, and I think that is the discussion for me.

The interference/addiction of social media with the business at hand!

Sad and embarrassing for her but then again "Democracy Cubed"...

I read this story over at 24 Hours but i can't comment there. So here we go.

Deal has revealed herself in these tweets as wanting nothing more than being at the trough. Shopping, getting free gifts and eating lobster is not what I expect her to do on my dime. Stick to the policy workshops my dear.

I am intrigued about her heading back east for her father's birthday. Didn't know about that. Was that portion of the trip paid for by taxpayers or by her personally? We deserve to know. Will she speak to the media about this?

George Chow should apologize for attending this shindig and pay us back for his portion of the delegation.

All in all, this is very embarrassing for Vision once again. When you couple this with Reimer's tweets, it's not looking good. Voters will remember all of this in November.

This discussion is rather ludicrous. When you go the East Coast, you eat lobster. It's cheaper than steak, and is the local custom. Are you saying they should have refused the dinner provided for them, have it thrown out, and went to McDonalds instead? Should visitors to Vancouver eat McD's instead of a salmon feast that we, as hosts, would want to share with them?

Re: the conference itself, it's the top networking event for municipal leaders in this country. If our leaders did not leave town to make connections with peers, learn new ideas, and get advice and share stories of what we're doing here, you'd probably accuse them of being inward looking and parochial.

How you can squeeze a scandal from this is truly beyond me. And the fact that the commenters here are lapping it up without questioning the basic lame assumption shows a strange level of groupthink.

"It seems a strange contradiction in your character that while very cynical about the political system you are also dismissive of events such as this which would seem to justify that cynicism."

Politicians of all stripes attend these conferences. It makes me laugh at all the faux outrage here when politicians have been doing this forever. Are we suddenly angry because we suddenly care or is it just because she tweeted about it? Get over yourselves people. This oh so predictable response is what makes me cynical of party politics.

I don't know how valuable these conferences are. I doubt much gets done other than shmoozing and catching up, but we all know shmoozing is where many deals are started so...I'm not sure.


"Voters will remember all of this in November."

No they won't. They don't even care now.

@Jason Mogus. What do they serve during meals at Hollyhock social change camps then? Salmon washed in by the Tides Foundation? Btw, how's that big donation for Vision's 2011 campaign coming?


I think a lot of people, and you're one, only see what they want to see when they read this blog. This article, for example, is hardly a raging polemic against Heather Deal and many of the following comments are quite supportive of her or at least not highly critical.

My personal ''faux outrage" is neither faux nor actually outrage, rather just exasperated contempt for the juvenile and classless twitterings of this elected representative of our city. Behaviour which unfortunately is not surprising or unusual.


I agree, but this is just one in a long list of frankly meaningless issues. There are so many more important things to talk about--why aren't we talking about them! The Cambie Corridor Plan--the single biggest planning initiative ever in the City and nary a word. The new 2040 Transportation Plan, future development of NEFC and on and on. These things will have lasting impacts on the City for generations. But we're talking about what some councillor ate for lunch one day?? Give me a break.

"rather just exasperated contempt for the juvenile and classless twitterings of this elected representative of our city."

Then let's stop talking about the bloody politicians and these ridiculously petty political barbs and start talking about, and forcing them to talk about the issues!

I think we can talk about them but we should likely put it in context and decide if poor twitter judgment is a criminal offence.

I want to conserve my outrage for something that really matters so that when I start yelling - it is not dismissed as more of the same.

All I can say is I'm glad to be a former vision supporter. I voted for Deal in the last election, but not in this one. She gives politicians a bad name with those kinds of tweets.

I'm either voting green, cope...and maybe even npa in November. But there is absolutely no way I'm voting vision. Simply had enough of their antics.

@boohoo yes, sometimes the little things actually do add up to big things. Open your eyes.

So they eat dinner... and they're bad??

Hell must be frozen over, because I'm in full agreement with boohoo on this one...

You people are losing it if you're calling this an issue. It's so bad, it's almost as if you're trying to make yourselves look stupid.

"So they eat dinner... and they're bad??"

John, it's not that she just ate dinner. She tweeted about all her shopping and free swag (whatever the hell that is) then took photos of the "carnage" at the table. She's tweeting about all the free entertainment and booze too!

That's what people find offensive. It's not so much what she did, but HOW she did it that is irking so many of us. The fact she's too embarrassed to talk with the media also speaks volumes.

I understand the dinners etc - they are typical of any type of conference/convention.

But I don't understand why George Chow attended since he is leaving council. To me that is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

I'd be curious to know how many people from Surrey attended along with Mayor Watts.

As for this tweet, it is just in bad taste. Here one of the items up for discussion is homelessness and Deal posts pics of a table of food with left over lobster etc., and brags about swag, drinking etc.

Hmmm......Daniel, do you think you are able to cast the first stone here???? Really, think about it Daniel.

After watching Global News this evening I was shocked and appalled at your blatant disregard for the taxpayers who have funded your lobster and booze carnage. How disgusting to make light of the exorbitant expenses for which you and other members of city council have undoubtedly stuffed their faces with.

It is apparent that you have been reaping the rewards of your stately position at our expense. As for swag? Well, you’ve got plenty of that. Perhaps if your waistline weren’t bursting out of your finely tailored suit with shoes to match you could use the inflated cost of your regal event to truly help to feed the homeless.

Just when you think there is no justifiable reason for this intemperance, and to have the gall to tweet about it??? I guess the copious amount of booze robbed you momentarily of better judgment. We the lowly taxpayers have footed the bill for your registration to this gala event, plus the cost of your flight, meals and accommodation!! Your stated accomplishments as per your bio have taken a huge step backward after reading of your social hobnobbing.

@toowoozie Not sure it was Daniel that cast the first stone? I think that honour goes to 24 Hours newspaper. Kudos to them for their investigative reporting.

Kudos to Global tv tonight for their story on this. Deal sure looked stupid. So did Gregor for that matter.

Deal's response to media this evening was not only disingenuous, but a slap in the face..

Her decision to donate the "rubber hat" to the homeless was nothing short of condescending..

I couldn't agree more George. I saw Global last night and couldn't believe what I was hearing!!!

When the reporter asked her about all the free swag she got at the convention, Deal had the audacity to say she would donate her funny yellow rainhat (see picture of goofy politicians above) to a homeless shelter.

Does she actually listen to herself speak? Does she not know how condescending that sounds? Donate her free swag to a homeless shelter?????

It's just like Vision to wrap themselves in the "homeless" blanket whenever sh!t hits the fan. What a complete hypocrite and embarrassment to the city. The mayor is probably hoping she's one of the 2 or 3 vision councillors that won't get re-elected this fall.


I missed Global last night....

I am just gobsmacked.

What an idiot.

The funny part of Deal's statement is that the shelters are now CLOSED...and the homeless are now back sleeping in doorway's...
I wish Gregor would do his homeless count neighborhood is filled with men sleeping on concrete..and one hat won't do anything to help...

As far as I am concerned, Tweeting is for twits!

Politicians seem to confirm this on a regular basis.

darn, I missed Global last night. Did she REALLY say that? Whoever gave Vision their Media Training must be dying a thousand deaths.

found the video clip -

pretty stupid comment on her part.

But, the reporter and Heather have both misrepresented some facts (and this makes me wonder what else they twist around). Go back and look at the schedule - it was not a closing event, (looks like there was some form of party every night). Halifax did not pick up the tab- the delegates did. It is showing 'sold out'. While I can't identify the cost but I am guessing the evening event was a cool $100 plus a cash bar (is the cash bar an expense too?). Anyone been to a 2,500 person dinner - chances are very good it was not worthy of the $100.

When the conference comes to Vancouver - yes, Vancouver hosts but registrations and sponsorships should make the event revenue neutral or close to it. That is a far cry from Vancouver 'picking up the tab'.

Those of us who go to these sort of functions can drive a truck through the holes in this story.

Heather, shut up already. Everything you say is making it worse. Is a rain hat 'great swag' -probably not but your flippant remarks and less than wise choice of social media behaviour is making you look really bad.

Interesting excerpt from a city report on how much Vancouver spends on FCM related stuff.

Back in '09 city taxpayers provided FCM with at least $70K as an annual membership fee.

They also paid $10K to subsidize small town elected officials to fly to places like Halifax to get their free swag and lobster dinner. Unbelievable!

THAT grants to the following organizations for the 2009-2010 membership fees be approved, the source of funds being the 2009 Operating Budget:

(a) Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) $70,621.00
(b) Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) $46,610.80
(c) Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) $ 2,000.

B. THAT a grant to the FCM be approved in the amount of $10,115.72,
representing an optional contribution to “BC’s Travel Fund”, supporting the
participation of elected officials from small communities in FCM’s NationalBoard of Directors.

This appears to be the last time the city reported on this type of expense. Now Ballem has likely buried it somewhere in another line item!

I find it interesting that neither one of the COPE council members were on this junket.

Sounds like federal equalization payments. Would be interesting to learn what we get in return for that investment. Research? Lobby efforts?

Wonder what Toronto, Kelowna, Calgary etc pays for a),b),c).

"End the gravy train" Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto also gave FCM a pass. Said he was too busy running Canada's biggest city to fly to Halifax for taxpayer funded lobster dinners.

He also said "Toronto is Canada's biggest city, I don't need to fly back east to help raise our profile". Ouch, that must have felt like a zinger when Robertson read that quote.

Excellent research... may I re- post this elswhere?

Sure go ahead and use it George.

You may think they wanted to project themselves as the GOOD VISION...LOL
But no, the BAD VISION were too greedy. All for themselves.

Personally, I think it is outrageous. Its one thing having the nerve to post it on Twitter, but then to rub our noses in it as well, especially when it’s the tax payer’s money.

Check out!

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