Why is Chair of Vancouver Police Board using cops as props?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


A screen shot of two uniformed officers posing for Vision Vancouver campaign website

Yesterday Mayor Gregor and a few glum looking candidates appeared in front of a children’s park to reveal another component of their platform. They were probably hoping for better press than their initial commitment to place a moratorium on gambling expansion received in the media. Check out Mike Howell’s well-researched story in the Vancouver Courier to see what I mean.

When I went to Vision Vancouver’s website to read more about their “livable neighbourhoods” platform which commits to hiring more police, I couldn’t believe what I found. There were still images/video of Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Police Board, alongside uniformed officers posing for a campaign photo.

Excuse me? Since when are neutral public servants, especially Vancouver police officers, allowed to pose for partisan photographs in a campaign brochure? As far as I’m concerned it’s highly inappropriate and deserves some answers. Here are a few questions I'll be posing to the VPD:

  1. Did the officers know they were posing for a campaign brochure? If not, why not? If they did know, did they make the Chief of Police aware of this information?
  2. Was the Chief aware these photos were being used in a partisan brochure?
  3. Did members of the Police Board receive any prior knowledge that uniformed officers were going to be used as props in a campaign brochure?
  4. Does the VPD believe the pictures are inappropriate and will they request they be removed?

Mayor Robertson and his crew have worked tirelessly over the last three years to politicize the upper ranks of Vancouver’s civil service. But never would I have imagined the Mayor would go so far as to use images of sworn officers in his promotional material.

This truly takes partisanship at Vancouver City Hall to a whole new level. What next, will City Manager Penny Ballem be in a video too? Will Deputy City Manager Sadhu Johnson hand out Vision brochures outside the front entrance at 12th and Cambie?

Vision Vancouver should provide the public with some answers as to why the Chair of the Police Board felt it was appropriate to use his officers in this way. If the cops didn’t know they were posing for a campaign photograph…well that’s a whole other story.

I spoke to the Vancouver Police earlier today and they are looking into whether the department or the individual police officers authorized the use of those images. Stay tuned...something tells me this story isn't going away anytime soon.

PS Mr. Mayor, in Canada it's spelled neighbourhoods, not "neighborhoods" (see image above)

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on on Twitter @CityCaucus or you can "like" us on Facebook at facebook.com/citycaucus.


Hmmmm Neighborhood Neighbourhood.... I wonder if Gregor is outsourcing his writing to an American firm.

(It's been fixed now, clearly they're watching.)

Unfortunately Daniel, like everything Gregor and co. do, this will probably slide off of them. Apparently rules only apply to the 53%... The 47% are welcome to ignore them all they want.

Just a matter of weeks now, Robertson is not getting my Vote, the only vote he will get is clown of the year award.

Good catch. Now watch the Vision adoring mainstream media ignore this. They are too dazzled by Robertson's good looks to ask any tough questions.

This looks like an un-posed picture that could have been shot at any event where the VPD has officers on bikes in attendance.

An unusual conclusion to reach (posing for electioneering materials) to level at the VPD rank and file without any real evidence to support the contention. Looking forward to the follow-up once you've identified the photographer as well as heard back from the police department.

Would also like to know if the dozens of people pictured in the banner atop Ms. Anton's campaign website were properly notified that they would be used in campaign materials, not to mention the group of people in this picture from the NPA's website.


I'd be shocked, shocked I say, to find out there's a double standard at work here. :-)

Thank you Chris for you valiant attempt at justifying the Chair of the Police Board using some of his sworn officers in a campaign photo.

Perhaps in your latest attempt to prop up Vision Vancouver, you may have too quickly skimmed through my post.

I was referring specifically to the Chair of the Police board photographing some of his employees...then using them in a partisan brochure. The last time I checked, Anton wasn't chairing Police Board meetings.

It goes without saying all politicians take photographs throughout the community then use them in campaign brochures.

What I'd like to know is whether the uniformed police officers shown in these images are okay with their mugshot being part of a partisan campaign website? Would you be okay with City Manager Penny Ballem appearing in a campaign brochure too? As you can see, comparing photos of the "general public" vs. non-partisan public servants is apples and oranges.

Really, that is the best you have? That the Mayor is in a photo with a couple of cops!?!


Great reply to Chris Keam... To emphasize the point. Joe Carangi, seen in the picture mentioned by CK, is an unelected candidate in the upcoming municipal election. He has no position of authority over the people he was photographed with.

Mayor Robertson, as the chair of the police board and MAYOR of the city, clearly is in a position of authority over the police officers in that photo. Vision can't cherry-pick rules that they like and don't like. It's entirely inappropriate for their campaign team to use such a photo. Even if the officers gave their consent, it's highly inappropriate to even ask for permission.

This is yet another example (and we have a few wheel barrels full of them) of Vision abusing their authority. Voters will not forget this on November 19th.


Everybody is fair game for photogs at a public event. As a 'respected media outlet' you will already know this.

The place and time of this picture is important. You have established neither, nor have you examined whether or not it fits within fair use rules, whether or not model releases would have been required, etc, etc.

Not trying to prop up any party. Attempting to align a private citizen with a political party simply because they ask pointed questions about your seeming double standard re: the use of pictures comes across as divisive and a cheap shot. As I say, looking forward to the follow.



You cite fair use, as in your keying on copyright laws and a persons right to their likeness being protected.

You're either knowingly deflecting or you fail to get the point. The point is not about any personal protection of likeness. This is about the mayor using a photo of police officers in his campaign literature. It's highly inappropriate. The chair of the Police Board can not ask police for permission to use them in his re-election campaign literature.

The Police must rise above partisan politics. Having them photographed with the mayor and showing up in partisan literature is inappropriate and an abuse of his position of authority.

In any case, the picture itself seems to be removed... However a video still exists with a couple images in it.

The picture is still here Paul:


Until Daniel gets damning answers to his four questions or provides some context that says people can't use pictures taken in a public place for campaign purposes then I fail to see a controversy, esp. as Robertson doesn't have hire/fire responsibilities w/r/t the VPD officers AFAIK. It's just another silly tempest in a tea cup when the candidates and their backers should be tackling more substantive issues IMO.

About mayor moonbeam. Both titles in lower case for a reason. That is because he is. And this comes from a guy that has voted NDP all his life. And as a retired employee (almost 38 years) of the City of Vancouver, the best thing I can tell you is, thank God, they (the mayors)are only there for a good time, not a long time. Other than what they screw up with their own agendas (silly things like bike lanes) they are usually gone in a short period of time. Lets hope this is a very short time. They don't actually contribute much to the runing of the day to day things that have to happen to run a city although they sure like the photo ops on the odd thing they do that actually turns out some what right.

Considering Gregor's response after the aptly named Robertson's Riot, it is odd that he would be posing with two police officers. This is the man who claimed not to know any of the operational details of Stanley Cup playoffs policing despite being briefed on the matter twice as chair of the police board and whose submission to the independent riot review was simply that he should not be chair of the VPB because he sees potential conflicts. I guess its convenient now to associate with the cops. Note as well the one picture in the VV brochure of the two gay dudes walking down what looks like either Denman or Davie. Nice stereotype. But considering, according to stats Canada, hate crimes in Vancouver were 3.2 per 100K residents in 2006 but more than doubled to 7 per 100K residents in 2009 and in 2009 Vancouver was the gay bashing capital of Canada with 44 incidents reported ( Toronto was second with 42 but triple the population), Gregor should find another issue.

Just got a confirmation email from a photographer who had a copyrighted image used on the NPA website without permission. Since I haven't asked him/her to use their name, I won't divulge it here (I know the CC editors and their audience respect aliases and the like, so one assumes this omission won't raise eyebrows).


If you'd like to include this info in your follow to the original story once you've heard back from the VPD, please get in touch and I can point you to the web page in question.



@CK - I don't think the main point of the article was copyright infringement. I don’t think anyone has to look very hard on the internet to find copyrighted photos being used incorrectly.

I think the main question is whether a political party should be able to use staff, in person or in image, for political purposes. For example, would you be okay if CoV garbage men distributed VV flyers during their route? Obviously that is an extreme example however, it points to a spectrum of what do we think is okay and what crosses the line.

CK, again you're deflecting. You're arguing a point that Daniel isn't saying is an issue. It's not about protection of privacy. It's about abusing his position of authority. It's inappropriate and needs to stop.


The biggest issue is the use of the word 'posed' in the article. There's no indication that the picture is anything other than a candid shot taken at a public event, which anyone could use for pretty much any purpose. No indication Robertson ordered the picture to be used. No testimonial or explicit/implicit approval of the mayor from the VPD. No reference that forbids a public figure from being photographed with in public with public servants, and using that image to their own end.

The long and short of it is that it's no different from the pictures on the NPA site of candidates at public events clearly 'posing' with members of the public. If it's an issue, then it's an issue for both sides and I want to see the model releases all those people signed that shows they knew and consented to having their image used in campaign materials.

You're grasping at straws while the party you support is in clear violation of Canadian copyright laws.

Man, I feel bad for the NPA candidates and the terrible communications campaign being run in this election. Free advice to all candidates. Just be honest, spell out what you stand for, and listen. The petty backbiting demeans the candidates and the voters.

"For example, would you be okay if CoV garbage men distributed VV flyers during their route?"

That's a red herring and not applicable to my contention or yours.

The Facts:

No provenance or proof of wrongdoing with the Robertson/VPD image.

Clear example of copyright violation on NPA website.

I see Alice B. Tsunami claims some NPA campaign workers are getting $10k a month. I'll give you better results at half the cost! :-)

Then it comes down to an issue of what YOU Mr. Keam expect from your elected officials. I expect them to operate at a high level of respect of their position of authority. Using police as props is unacceptable. The picture needs to be removed from all material not just hiding it from the main page.

Nope. It's not an issue of what I expect. It's an issue of truthiness in journalism and respecting the rights of creators to determine the appropriate uses of their work.

The word 'posed' is used repeatedly without evidence. Even the most junior copy editor of a newspaper would flag that.

If Daniel offered up some proof that the image was used without permission of the shooter, I'd be the first to criticize. As it stands it looks like a candid shot taken at a public event. Choice of usage rests with the photographer, not the subject(s) AFAIK.

Robertson and his cronies have done a lot worse. Such as a lack of foreword vision for what Vancouver should be. And totally screwing up the sale prospects for the athletes village. There are many more examples of this man's lack of thought and foresight. But I wonder if the voters will see it that way. The election campaign has been remarkably quiet with little voter excitement. That usually means the incumbents win.


I don't think it is a red hearing at all. As I said it was an extreme example of a political party using public servants for political purposes. My intent was to indicate there is a wide spectrum of how a political party may use public servants which may or may not rankle voters/tax payers. That, to me, is the essence of Daniel’s question. He is choosing to take issue with an image which may or may not cross your line.


Daniel not only takes issue, he claims the photo was 'posed'. His entire argument rests upon a supposition he hasn't proven. Robertson can't hire or fire those officers, he's only one vote on the Police Board, and if they follow the usual s.o.p. he may not even vote unless there's a tie (I don't know if this is the case or not).

In short, you may not like it, but if Vision owns or acquired the rights to use that photo in that way, then it's a non-issue. The other party's disregard for a basic principle of content ownership is far more worrisome to me.


I guess we view the issue from different points of view. I'm not going to dispute Daniel's choice of words or argue you are incorrect with you assertions on copyright infringement or use of approved photos.

I guess in simple terms, I took from the post – “Should civic staff be part of the political process” and to that I’m not really in favor. Does the photo in particular bother me – not really. More I am concerned it is the tip of the iceberg.

There seems to be this tug of war where we want interest groups like Unions on the left and Business on the right, to separate from the political process both in terms of direct funding and sponsored endorsement. This may fall into that category.

I find it interesting that the particular photo shows police officers on bikes..Unfortunately it appears to be a photo opportunity to further two messages.

It would be nice to see the entire photo, but at first glance it does appear to show the Mayor and two officers standing on a sidewalk having a conversation while mounted on their bikes.

pedestrians lose again..

Instead of worrying about photos - read Don Cayo's article on page 1 of the Sun.

Houston... we have a problem. BIG problem.

@Chris. Total red herring. You are deflecting attention away from the main issue again.

Would it be okay for Robertson to use a photo of him and city manager Penny Ballem in a campaign brochure without her prior approval? What would you have said if Sullivan, Owen or Campbell did that?I think you know the answer to that.

The same applies to these cops. I bet they didn't even know when they posed for this photo that they were going to end up looking like political hacks in a partisan brochure.

I agree that the chair of the police board should apologize to them for putting them in this uncomfortable position. He should also stop using these photos unless we know the individual police officers in question have told the police board chair he can use it.

All of this stinks and your silly commentary about copyright is beyond the pale.

Vancouver City police department is NOT a legal entity. Damage claims against same must be made against the city. In Ontario, Police Boards are the tort catchers.
I don't refer to our local slugs as "vpd" because they are a subordinate entity, like Waste Management. Only cop-lobby Sedition has coerced special status for cops. That usurpation indulges the standard practice of reference of Criminal Code complaints against cops, to the cops worthless "standards" office for treatment as a minor "police act" offence. (The "office of the police commissioner" - run by Rollie Woods (ex Vancouver slug) - routinely assigns 1 day pay suspensions for conduct that would result in Criminal prosecutions if one of the 99.7% of the public who are not "court officers" committed same.

Criminal conduct is universal among Vancouver slugs. In 100% of arrests that I witnessed, persons were thrown to the ground while attempting to present exculpatory evidence. Cops are prohibited from executing arrest unless "reasonable and probable grounds" are articulable. They do it anyway because nearly 100% of BC's robes parasites - aka: judges - were prosecutors, crown attornies or crown contract lawyers. Criminal proceedings in BC are inculpatory circuses, where Charter protections are Nullified, as are lawful defences.

Of course, Robertson is using cops in his campaign. Will some of the $500,000 wasted in the first few days of the ruly protests at the court house, flow into Vision coffers? If so, the heavy police presence - in face of the fact that nearly 100% of the 1500 OWS US arrests incurred in removal incidents - could be viewed as kick-back fruit, assuming - and this is speculative - that the deployments (at $152 to $320 per hour) were deliberate.

I forsee a human rights catastrophe if Robertson-Chu are allowed to run a parallel cop-politician government, as has occured in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and in Vancouver under Larry Campbell, and Toronto under the Robert Ford atrocity.

Cops are the hired help. At any given time, only 1 slug is available for each 7,000 of their wage-payers. Jim Chu pays himself over $350,000 per year, plus his 25 year pension dip of over $100,000 per. That will rise to over $1,000,000 if he can convince Christy Clark to coerce amalgamation of Vancouver regions. Ontario's cop lobby campaigned for that in Toronto, Kingston and Hamilton with cop-lobby power near absolute. I was in London, Ontario cop-lobby plant, Frank Mazilli - was elected to office. His fellow cops openly celebrated his victory, while on duty. A few years later, Premier Harris resigned office in face of proof that he unlawfully directed police operations. BC media myopia has protected similar cop-lobby planting - viz Rich Coleman (ex RCMP) - in politics. Again, all court-officers form 0.3% of the population. Hitler's SS were court-officers; 100% of Nazi officer participants at the Wansee Conference, where the extermination of Jews was dicided, were lawyers. This politicization - aided and abetted by Vancouver cop apologist (and former employee, Jenny Kwan, NDP) - must be halted ASAP.


I would add to your point by saying I don't think Penny should be able to give permission. She is a public servant that should be non-partisan representing the Citizen’s best interests with direction from elected officials of the day. If she can't remain unbaised, then she shouldnt be the City Manager.


I'm not comfortable extending the privilege of choosing whether or not one is used in campaign materials to police officers... if it isn't also available to the general public. I would totally support a blanket prohibition on individuals' images being used in campaign materials without their permission.


It can't be true - after all, Robertson and Vision have been banging the drum about all the 'NEW' business they have brought to the city.....all those 'green' jobs....

"What would you have said if Sullivan, Owen or Campbell did that?I think you know the answer to that."

You're under a false impression Tim. Namely that I support one political party over another. I support policies that resonate with me, not parties, or individuals.

Blind support (or criticism) is for people who can't think for themselves.

Who cares. This is of zero importance. Let's get back to some real issues - transit policy (including pedestrians and bikes), zoning, basic stance towards mega developments, casinos and gambling, how to radically reduce redtape ... I am sure CityCaucus can get us talking about somethings that actually matter.

Nothing is stopping you from starting your own blog Steven, where you can dictate the bounds of the conversation.



Oh Chris, fact of the matter is I've never seen you post anything favourable towards anything NPA related. I think you're being disingenuous by trying to claim you're non-partisan. Elections are a few weeks away, if you're actually in favour of any of the people on the NPA slate come forward now....


That's what I thought.

I can't wait (no, really, I can't wait) for the first picture of a local politician holding a baby up in the air.

Well Paul, I'm flattered that you take such careful note of my comments.

You've probably noticed that I don't offer endorsements of any individual or party, but mostly confine my remarks to the good or bad aspects of individual decisions or initiatives, with the occasional nit-pick when I feel its warranted.

When the NPA puts forth programs and policies that make sense to me I will support them. I would have happily advocated on behalf of Peter Ladner's proposals for better cycling facilities in Point Grey. Ms Anton's identification of the False Creek Flats area as being in need of better bike infrastructure is another idea I would have supported.

Philip Owen's spearheading of the Four Pillars approach to harm reduction is probably the NPA's finest moment and something for which the party doesn't get enough credit.

Sadly, however, the NPA appears to have chosen to define themselves by what they are not (Vision) in this election cycle. Too bad. I am acquainted with one of the NPA candidates who I think would be a great asset at City Hall, but I won't tarnish the good fellow's reputation with my endorsement! :-)

Overall, I prefer the nuanced results that stem from consensus-based decision making because I've seen it work extremely well. As such, there's very little appeal to me to be involved in supporting the party politics system we currently use.

I trust you have noticed that Vision campaigners have attached two large 'Re-elect Gregor" posters to the York Theatre on Commercial Drive.

They are quite large, and meant to be noticed.

The York Theatre is now owned by... the City.

They also continue to put their signs all over city owned land between sidewalks and streets. It's bloody annoying.

Sure, along the lines of rules, it's really not that important. No one will die because they put their sign there, but it's just another example of Vision respect (or lack there of) of rules that keep things fair.

"Vision Vancouver, we follow the rules, when they suit our needs."

Well since the good folks of VV campaign on the issue of safe neighbourhoods how about some facts. According to the VPD website crime statistics, and based on some quick work on excel, the average number of assaults in Vancouver from 2002 to 2008 was 4,704. In 2009 there were 4986, an increase of 282 or about 6%. In 2010 there were 4923 or an increase of 219 or about 5%. In 2011, YTD, ( up to September) there were 3824 assaults in the COV and if the current rate per month continues, that would equate to 5098 assaults in 2011. That would be far above the average for the 7 years pre Gregor and in fact, again according to VPD stats, the highest annual number of assaults in the COV from 2002 to 2011. See also my previous post on COV as the gay bashing capital of Canada in 2009. That was the latest report from stats Canada on hate crimes. So, safer neighbourhoods ??? Try again VV.

Check out BCWineLover.com!

Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement