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ARCHIVE: Jodie's 2009 Election Blog

April 29th

On Thursday, April 23rd, I started my day at a BC Green Party press conference outside City Hall, where candidates gathered with BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk to support “livable cities”. Our transportation expert candidate, Stephen Rees, spoke about transit and making communities more welcoming.

During the press conference, I received a phone call from a woman representing the student advocacy group at BCIT; one of their International Trades students had been pulled over for not wearing his seatbelt, and the cop saw a bag of marijuana in the glove compartment. Four police officers were called to deal with this student who posed no threat to anyone at all, and was not driving while impaired. The woman was very concerned, as the student’s career in International Trades was surely going to be negatively impacted by this situation (there are travel restrictions for people with criminal records). I gave her our lawyer’s phone number and listened as she expressed her disgust with these unjust marijuana laws and how the laws do more harm to people than the marijuana itself. I couldn’t agree more!

That afternoon I filmed a brief segment for two BCIT journalism students about getting young people involved in politics. One of the students was the twin brother of the NDP’s MLA for Vancouver-West End, Spencer Herbert. I mentioned the earlier phone call about the BCIT student’s arrest, and they agreed that it was unnecessary and the laws need to be changed.

On Friday April 24th at 1:00pm, I was on the Christy Clark show on CKNW radio with my Vancouver-Fraserview riding opponents, Kash Heed of the Liberals and Gabriel Yiu of the NDP. I thought the debate was only going to be for 15 minutes or so, but it went for the full hour! The topic of prohibition came up right away, and Kash Heed tried to play both sides of the coin – going on the defensive when Gabriel Yiu brought up Heed’s previous statements over the last decade advocating a rethink on our drug laws including decriminalization, and then Heed would water down his beliefs saying we need more police, jails, longer sentences and asset forfeiture. Yiu himself is very prohibitionist even though the NDP, in 2006, passed a policy resolution making the NDP position on drug-law reform a non-punitive, non-criminal regime. Kash and Gabriel argued and yelled over each other constantly, while I did my best to sound calm, collected, and rational with solid ideas and solutions to problems. You can listen to the debate with commercials removed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spX6DI04T58

The next day, April 25th, I went to a Chinese church in my riding for a “Canadians For Reconciliation” meeting. The purpose was to explain and address the terrible racist treatment and abuses of early Chinese immigrants to BC. A panel consisting of five Chinese media and community representatives, along with Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith, spoke about the need for reconciliation and the Chinese community’s desire to be better represented in Canadian history and culture.

Candidates from all parties were welcome to attend and sign a pledge to support better funding for education about Chinese sacrifices for BC, but the provincial Liberals had no one attend, and the provincial NDP sent MLA Jenny Kwan to represent all candidates. The BC Greens had me (it was my riding, after all), and fellow candidates Doug Warkentin, Rev Warkentin, Helen Chang, Grant Fraser, and Stephen Kronstein. The Liberal Member of Parliament (federal) for the riding, Ujjal Dosanjh, was there, too. I learned a lot from the power point presentation and panel discussion, and concluded the event by thanking the panel and host, Mr. Bill Chu.

That evening, BC Green candidate Laura-Leah Shaw and I were invited to the home of a student named Gabe and his girlfriend Nicki. They hold events for all political parties to make their pitch to the younger voting crowd. Gabe wants to get his friends involved in politics and educated about BC-STV (voting reform) and had wine, beer, delicious samosas and other foods to feed about twenty of their friends who came by. We started by letting everyone introduce themselves and the issues they are most concerned about. The discussions went well, and many topics were addressed with positive responses from the attendees. As I left, Gabe told me that his uncle was at the Fraserview Rotary Club meeting I had attended (as covered in my previous blog entry) and hopefully I made a good impression! Gabe also said that I was very skilled at speaking. It was a lovely night overall, and a great way to break the ice with twenty-plus “strangers” with questions about various policies.

On Monday the 27th, an old friend from high school who’s taking broadcast journalism at BCIT met me in my riding to film me knocking doors, mainstreeting, and talking about gang violence. We walked from 49th Avenue at Fraser Street down to 53rd Ave where a shooting death had actually taken place, and I spoke about prohibition. People on the street took my information handouts and one gentleman knew me from the Rotary Club meeting. Others expressed their support for me and took buttons, then talked about the NDP and Liberals’ disappointing campaigns. I think that with all of the great people and conversations, the segment went well. It’s set to air Friday, May 1st on Shaw Television.

Also on Monday, the “Province” newspaper’s notorious curmudgeon columnist Jon Ferry wrote about me for his column. He had heard me on the CKNW radio interview, and was shocked by – but agreed with – my statement that everyone needs to sacrifice in the worsening economic situation, including unions. The caller was a paramedic who was upset about the bargaining situation and explained paramedics were on strike (but still providing essential services). I simply said everyone needs to tighten their belts and make better use of what they’ve got, because “there isn’t an unlimited bucket of government money”. Jon Ferry’s column was called “A dose of common sense from the Green Party: Brave young candidate urges economic belt-tightening”. He said that I was right, and that always feels good to hear!

Tuesday the 28th was exciting because my lawn signs were ready! Marc went to Surrey and picked up my 100 double-sided coroplast signs, which are great to finally have on hand as the election date draws nearer. That night, I was invited to meet with respected members of the Indo-Canadian community to talk about the BC Green Party. I had met Ross Street Temple member Rajinder Bhela at the Vaisakhi parade on April 11th (as covered in my April 13th election blog), and he had set up a meeting for me to meet his friends and business associates. We went to his office where ten gentlemen joined me to discuss the BC Green Party policies. They explained that most people in their community, and in India, are “green” in the ways they live and work, from organic foods to respect for the earth – and said that even though they were Liberal supporters and knew my opponent Kash Heed, they were interested in the BC Green Party and my personal campaign.

I was very pleased to meet these respected, successful men and valued the informative conversations we had. A few of them pledged their support to me and were happy to help my campaign regardless of their previous political allegiances. In fact, Rajinder got a phone call from Kash Heed today (Wednesday the 29th) to attend a fundraiser, but told Kash Heed that he was supporting me instead! What a great endorsement and sign of support. Rajinder came by later to pick up lawn signs, promising to get them out in my riding over the weekend while I’m in Ontario for the Toronto Freedom Festival and Global Marijuana March on Saturday, which my husband speaks at every year.

Sunday, May 3rd is the BC Leaders’ TV debate from 5:00 to 6:00pm. BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk invited me to be one of the two candidates in the media “spin room” during the debate, so you might hear me on radio or television news commenting on the performances. Each of the three party leaders chooses two party members to be in the media room and I’m honoured to be there live for this pivotal (and only) television debate.

I think I’m doing well so far, but come Monday, May 4th I need to get out in full force, knocking on doors and meeting people throughout my riding! The election is closer than it seems and will be over before I know it, and I hope to win at least 1,000 votes – please help me get my message out there by contributing to my campaign. Today I paid Canada Post $2,670 to deliver my brochures to every household, business and apartment in Vancouver-Fraserview beginning on Monday, May 5th and it cost $2,450 to print the 25,000 pamphlets, so that’s my biggest expense so far – over $5,120 to deliver my BC Green Party pamphlet to everyone in the whole riding! Please go to http://www.JodieForMLA.ca/Donate and contribute $10, $20 or $50 to my campaign to help cover these election costs.

April 22nd

I am exhausted! But I’m also having a wonderful time meeting people, and learning a lot from various groups and individuals. Who knew campaigning could be so educational?

On Tuesday, April 14th I was on CBC Radio’s “Early Edition” with Liberal candidate Kash Heed and NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu. It went very well for me, as I got my message across without resorting to attacking the other parties. Later that evening I attended the Vancouver School Board meeting at Mount Pleasant Elementary School, and listened to the concerns that teachers and parents have about cutbacks in education programs and the elimination of Vice Principal positions. I learned quite a bit about the way the VSB works and what the concerns are amongst the schooling community.

Wednesday the 15th started with a press conference at City Hall with BC Green Party candidates from the Metro Vancouver area. The focus was on BC-STV, the voting reform referendum, and we got a lot of press coverage from it (read and watch the CBC French TV coverage by clicking here). Afterward, I went to the Vancouver Police Board meeting. I attended to hear about policing reports, initiatives, and residents’ questions about the Vancouver Police’s handling of the Paul Frank death over a decade ago (which was the issue being discussed at that particular meeting).

The Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, is also the Chair of the Police Board and it was a good opportunity for me to speak to him again since my first introduction to His Worship at the Vaisakhi parade. Police Chief Jim Chu was also there, and after the meeting I talked to him about how I hope to help police regain confidence and respect from the community by ending prohibition! A handsome young man named Jason McLean introduced himself after the meeting; he is a member of the Police Board, and once worked for Prime Minister Jean Chretien. I let him know that I was interested in being more engaged in politics and appreciated the opportunity to attend the meeting (though the meetings are always open to the public – I just felt it was polite to thank him for helping to educate me about policing issues.)

On Thursday the 16th, my husband Marc and I went to the riding next to mine and helped collect signatures for the BC Green candidate Doug Warkentin. We got 18 in two hours, and met a number of people from my riding as well.

Friday the 17th started with an interview on News 1130, a radio station in Vancouver, about my election campaign. At noon I attended the “Women for BC-STV” event at the downtown YMCA. It was a great intimate event with engaged and concerned women, and the panel included a politician from Scotland, where the MMP system (Mixed Member Proportional representation) is used. I met Shoni Fields again, one of the leading proponents for STV and a member of the Citizens’ Assembly that recommended the STV voting system for British Columbia. Also on the panel was Judy Rebick, a CBC Newsworld commentator, author, and past President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Jennifer Sweeney, the President of the Canadian Women Voters Congress, congratulated me for getting involved in politics as a young woman.

I took a break on the weekend to clean my apartment, do errands, and prepare for the next week ahead. But on Monday the 20th I was back on the campaign trail, starting with a filmed interview by Fairchild TV. I set up my sign in my riding, handed out pamphlets, and answered questions from the reporter about why I am running in Vancouver-Fraserview and what I can do for the community (watch the interview by clicking here). It went very well, but then I had to rush off to the Vancouver Art Gallery for one of the biggest rallies held in Canada: “420”, April 20th, the worldwide day for celebration of the cannabis culture. I attend every year’s event, so this year would be no different, but I also had my signs, pamphlets, and 420-specific “Vote Green!” handouts available, and got hundreds of people to take my election buttons. I used my speaking time to encourage everyone to vote for the BC Green Party to help end prohibition. BC Green candidate for Vancouver-West End, Drina Read, joined me and gave out hundreds of Vote Green hand outs. The crowd of 5,000-8,000 people made for an enormous audience receptive to political messaging; it was a beautiful (and packed!) day downtown. BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk was at an Education in BC forum across town and at 10 pm I met up with her and other BC green candidates for a late dinner at Earl’s in Yaletown.

On Tuesday the 21st I went to Kingsford-Smith Elementary School to meet with the teachers there during lunch break, as all candidates in the riding were invited to do – but I was the only one who showed up! However, I was grateful for the focused attention, and was happy to listen to their opinions about the education system. They loved the BC Green Party’s answers to the questionnaire they had sent out to all parties, and asked me more about what I would do for schooling if elected. I let them know that, as a young candidate, I was still learning a lot and appreciated their thoughts and concerns, which helped me build some knowledge about the problems educators face today. I then went to visit two classrooms once lunch break was over, and enjoyed meeting the grade 6 and 7 students who truly are the future of BC. That evening I went to the Fraserview Library for a BC-STV meeting, which was very intimate with only four local residents in attendance, but they were all very interested about voting reform and even expressed hope that the BC Greens would get to win some seats in the Legislature. One of my most enthusiastic supporters thus far, Raj, also attended and was kind enough to drive me back to work afterwards.

Finally, today on Wednesday the 22nd, I began by doing a video interview with Dana Gee of “The Province” newspaper for her new video segment (DGTV) on the Province website. She met me at the Vancouver Art Gallery after 11am, and we did a casual but informative interview about various topics such as why I’m running for the BC Greens, and how ending prohibition would benefit society and end a lot of the problems associated with drugs. After that interview I stayed at the Art Gallery because at noon the BC Green Party was holding a press conference for Earth Day! Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May was there, as was Adrianne Carr (the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada and former leader of the BC Green Party) and current BC Green leader Jane Sterk. Most of the Vancouver-area candidates also took part, and every media outlet was there to film, photograph and record the event. The microphone and speakers were powered by two electricity-generating bicycles that people rode to keep the sound system working, and a band played music for the many people who showed up to celebrate Earth Day with the BC Greens. It was an excellent event of solidarity and enthusiasm for helping keep our planet healthy and safe!

But the final event of the day for me was the weekly meeting of the Vancouver Fraserview Rotary Club. I had contacted them to ask if I could attend one of their meetings, and they let me know I would be allowed to sit in on the meeting but could not speak, as Rotary Clubs don’t want to be captive audiences for every political candidate to come preach to during election campaigns. I said I understood and would still like to attend just to get a feeling for the local issues, and they welcomed my presence. When I showed up, the group of twelve gentlemen was intrigued by my willingness to listen and not use the event for political advantage, so they let me have a few words regardless of the rules. I spoke shortly about gang violence (as it impacts the area and the Punjabi youth moreso than other areas or cultures) and how ending prohibition would help stop the violence.

They were all nodding in agreement as I spoke, all but one gentleman – but then his son Kam Brar came in, the NDP candidate for Richmond Centre! His father wanted him to attend once he heard I would be there, so they also let him speak, but it was so strongly political, complete with attacks against the Liberals and speech-like references to what the Liberals have done wrong and what the NDP would do right. I had spoken to the issues, but he was speaking politically, and I’m not sure it went over as well. However, it was interesting to hear from another party, and I’m grateful the Rotary Club let us both have a say. The NDP candidate asked members to attend his fundraiser the next night, then he left – but I stayed to participate in a Tai Chi exercise that they were all learning from one of the members. It was interesting to learn, and felt very good, actually! I thanked them all for letting me attend, and received business cards from three members. I hope I made a good impression on them!

So that’s been my busy schedule lately, and there’s a lot more planned. My election signs are being printed soon, and I’m redesigning my pamphlet for a mail-out version that will go to every home and business in my riding – 21,997 pamphlets exactly. Then I’ll be out knocking on doors and meeting the constituents that I hope to represent after the May 12th election!

April 13th, 2009

On Saturday, April 11th, BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk and I attended the Vaisakhi parade in South Vancouver, in which tens of thousands of people take part. My husband and I had taken Jane to the Rokko clothing store in Little India at Fraser and 46th St. on Friday, and we all purchased Punjabi outfits for the occasion. The day started with rain, but we were told that it always cleared up for the colourful parade and celebration of the Sikh faith – and it did!

We started at the Ross Street Sikh Temple at 9:30am. Many people were gathering to take part in the festivities, which began with offerings and music inside the Temple. We removed our shoes in the lobby area, then walked to the dais at the front of the Temple, made a contribution, bowed our heads to the ground, and took our seats on the floor. The women were all on the left, and the men on the right. Beautiful music performed by Sikh drummers and singers reverberated throughout the Temple.

There was a long line of people making their way to the front, and then taking their seats, and suddenly the media cameras present made a big fuss. BC’s Premier, Gordon Campbell, had entered with his entourage, all wearing the required headwear – but also donning terribly tacky election buttons and the BC logo on their headpieces. Gordon went to the front as required, but did not touch his head to the ground; he’s been doing this for years, and still didn’t get it right! Next came the NDP’s leader, Carole James, and her entourage with NDP buttons and headpieces. She went to the front, and then her entourage of men and women all took a seat on the men’s’ side of the Temple. Jane and I found this to be inappropriate, which the women sitting around us must have felt too. Were female politicians somehow superior to “regular” women?

The Temple leader, Kashmir Dhaliwal, made an announcement that there would be speakers including Gordon Campbell and Carole James, and asked them to refrain from making political statements. Regardless, Campbell used his time to talk about how the Liberals are such great leaders of BC and had introduced legislation apologizing for an incident in 1914 when over 300 Sikhs on a ship (the Komagata Maru) off Vancouver’s shore were denied entry into Canada. The formal apology was an appropriate gesture, but clearly political posturing during a religious ceremony. Carole James did the same sort of thing, praising her party and pandering to the Sikh community.

After the Temple prayers and blessings were made, everyone worked their way to the outside area where floats and thousands of people were ready to begin the parade. My husband and I saw the newly announced Vancouver-Fraserview Liberal candidate, ex-cop Kash Heed, and I introduced myself to him. He was gracious, as were two other Liberal political heavyweights in attendance: Wally Oppal, BC’s Attorney General and would-have-been incumbent in my riding, whom I had met once before (See March 28th blog entry), and federal Member of Parliament for the area, Ujjal Dosanjh, whom I had also met before (see Photo section). I introduced myself to Dosanjh and he said, “I remember you,” as did Oppal. I’m pleased to know that I’m becoming more visible in the political community.

Then the parade began. The sky had cleared up a bit, and the floats began moving along. A huge contingent of Vancouver Police led the way, and Marc and I spent a lot of time walking beside them, even talking to Police Chief Jim Chu and others. We moved further forward and would stop and let people pass by so we could take in the whole scene – and also be seen by as many people as possible, even without any election signage or buttons. The parade route was half in my riding, so it was important to make eye contact and smile to every attendee.

One of the Temple’s members, Rajinder Singh Bhela, came up to me and asked my name, then said he would love to meet with me in the near future to discuss my election campaign. I hadn’t brought any literature or cards with me, so he went to find paper and a pen, and we exchanged phone numbers. Throughout the parade I would see him and the other Temple members, and he always asked how I was doing and what I thought of the festivities. He also introduced me to the Ross Temple president, Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal, who had spoken to Marc the day before and welcomed me to the Vaisakhi event. Two women along the route asked me who I was, and said, “We saw you campaigning at 49th Ave and Fraser Street, and we will vote for you.”

All along the parade route, tents were set up with free food and drinks for anyone who came by. It was very busy and there were beautiful colourful outfits on the women. Many women would see me, then get their friends and family members to turn and look my way – I was wearing a gorgeous blue outfit with sparkling beads and bangles, and Marc was one of the only men in full Punjabi dress. All along the 7-hour walk, hundreds of women stopped to point and smile, waving at me, and I smiled and waved back, saying “Happy Vaisakhi!” Many people said I looked beautiful in the traditional garments, and commented that the look suited me very well. I felt completely comfortable, never getting tired or bored during the entire event.

BC Green leader Jane Sterk left halfway through to attend the Surrey Vaisakhi parade, but Marc and I completed the entire circuit and finished at the Ross Street Temple, where some people recognized me from inside the Temple hours earlier. Overall it was an incredible event; the food was delicious, the music uplifting, and the people so happy, festive and welcoming. I had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the day, and can’t wait for next year’s Vaisakhi!

See more photos from the day here!

April 9th, 2009

  • I feel really good about the following email conversation I had with the Province newspaper reporter Kent Spencer. It started when I sent the following email message:

“Solicitor-General John van Dongen said yesterday the new pretrial remand centre will have jobs for 200 employees, $15 million in annual salaries, $3- million-worth of supply contracts and $400,000 of grants in lieu of property taxes.” The Province, April 1st, 2009

What does it say about BC when we need to build prisons to create jobs? Our province is filled with resources and skilled workers, so we should be investing in a prosperous and sustainable future that helps move our society to a higher standard of living. Prisons are a sign of a socially and economically failed state. The criminal justice system only serves to break apart families and communities, and creates more criminals.

How can anyone justify the immediate and long-term expense of building a new jail when schools are forced to cut back at the expense of our youth? What must young people think when new jails are being built – that there is an expectation of the next generation to produce prisoners to maintain the local economy?

Let’s work towards reducing the number of criminals and prisoners in our society instead of creating more spaces in jail to be filled. We can make BC a better province by investing in our communities through education, skills training, crime prevention, and job creation.

  • The reporter, Kent Spencer, wrote back:

Jodie: Have you checked the news lately? K.

  • I responded:

I follow the news regularly. What are you referring to, specifically?

  • Kent wrote:

Shootings, killings, gunfire, innocent victims, etc. K.

  • I replied:

Yes, I am very aware of those events and concerns. That's why I'm running in the provincial election.

We cannot imprison our way out of the problems of shootings, killings, gunfire and innocent victims. The USA has tried and they are far less safe than Canada, even though they lock up 1 in every 100 citizens. Imprisoning people does not stop the gangs or violence. When a gang member is jailed, someone else rises up to fill their position.

Building prisons and jailing people is treating the symptoms of the problem, and does nothing to address the root cause of the problem. The cause of the gangs and turf violence is drug prohibition. We have to end prohibition to end the gang violence, just as ending alcohol prohibition put a stop to the original gangsters' financial incentives and murders.

If increased law enforcement and imprisonment worked, then the USA and Mexico would be safer places than Canada. But they're not. The prison industry needs people to commit crimes -- and to be sentenced to long jail terms -- in order to fill prisons, which necessitates the mass imprisonment of people but does not rehabilitate the prisoners or make our streets safer. Prisons do not stop crime, or guns, or killings. Again, look to America and tell me if that prison nation is what Canada should be like.

If you want to make our country like America, with prisons everywhere, then you're yearning for the destruction of our society. Canada should try something different than the USA and Mexico, or we'll be just like those countries in the years to come. Again, prohibition is the problem, and we must end prohibition if we're to put a stop to the shootings, killings, gunfire, innocent victims, etc.

  • He closed our conversation with:

Thanx Jodie. Good answer. I will be doing the odd election piece, plse. feel free to keep in touch with any updates. K.

April 6th, 2009

Jodie Emery, BC Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Fraserview, is pleased about the prospect of debating Liberal nominee Kash Heed during the election campaign.

Gang violence is a very important issue in this election period. Residents of Vancouver are extremely concerned, as gang-related murders happen in their neighborhoods. The BC Green Party and I know that gang violence is caused by drug prohibition, just as the gangsters of the 1920s and ‘30s were created and funded by alcohol prohibition.

Kash Heed understands prohibition is what causes more gangs and violence, and he has studied and advocated for drug policy reform in the past. According to the Calgary Herald of February 14th, 2009: “Kash Heed, chief of the West Vancouver Police, recently called gangland violence the city's most ‘pressing social problem’ and admitted that what police have been doing over the past five years to control it ‘isn't working.’”

I agree with Mr. Heed. What “isn’t working” is prohibition, the policies adopted by the BC Liberals and NDP – a circumstance that Heed readily admits, yet he seeks to be the Solicitor-General of a government that embraces the failed policies contributing to gang violence in this city. How will he apply his enlightened principles in the Liberal caucus if elected?

The official BC Green platform includes “end prohibition of psychoactive substances and begin regulating and controlling modes of production and access”. Legalization and regulation of marijuana would be the first step towards cutting off gangs’ financing, removing the incentive for violence, saving billions of dollars in law enforcement, and transferring billions more from organized crime to the legitimate economy.

Kash Heed has explicitly called for the legalization of marijuana as the first necessary step to choking off the flow of money to the gangs in the lower mainland, according to The Calgary Sun reporting on April 30th, 2003: “The commander of Vancouver's vice and drug squad believes the drug should be legal. Not an easy position for one of Canada's top cops. But Insp. Kash Heed rarely does anything the easy way. ‘The prohibition of marijuana use has been a failure,’ Heed says.”

Can we really believe that Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals are finally ready to turn the page on prohibition? Will they repeal the misguided policies that have seen well over a hundred youth killed in lower mainland gang wars since 1990? Will hard-line BC Liberal caucus prohibitionists, like current BC Solicitor-General John Van Dongen, smother Kash Heed’s educated understanding of what causes gang violence and how we can stop it?

It seems Kash Heed’s 30-plus years of experience has him juxtaposed with BC Liberal policy. Will the BC Liberal Party change radically, or will Kash Heed abandon his principles? What exactly does Heed expect to achieve if he receives, as expected, the top law enforcement job in the province? How will he help save the constituents of Vancouver-Fraserview from the terror of gangs and gang violence?

We are beginning to see the gang violence escalate, just as it has in Mexico and the United States. But we can prevent it from worsening. We can try something new, something that worked before – ending prohibition and putting the gangsters out of business.

Mr. Heed himself knows this is the solution, and said as much in the September 19th, 2002 Vancouver Sun: “’We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem,’ Inspector Kash Heed told participants Wednesday at a two-day symposium exploring ways to handle the city's drug problem. ... Heed, commanding officer of the police department's vice and drug section, said … many police leaders are reluctant to discuss such issues and they worry about losing the power to arrest people should Canada's drug laws become more liberal. ‘Any police leader who advocates more liberal drug laws or approaches risks being pictured as favouring drug use,’ he said.”

In our all-candidates meetings, I will seek to get a pledge from Mr. Heed that he still feels that current BC Liberal government policies of prohibition are the root cause of today’s gang violence in BC, as Heed himself has admitted on numerous public occasions: "When I was commanding officer of the drug unit I realized that something had to be looked at, because for so many years, our practices and policies have not worked. A lot of our policies are along the lines of increased enforcement, which has created a paradoxical effect where we have made the situation worse by the policies we put in place." (Simon Fraser News, May 12th, 2005)

Mr. Heed proudly explained to the Vancouver Courier in the September 22, 2003 edition: "’I don't back away from being outspoken. I don't back away from tackling difficult issues facing policing. ... I've been criticized by people because I don't take the traditional view of incarcerating everyone that's involved in the illegal drug industry, but what I say to people – and it kind of takes any momentum away from their statement – is look at my performance on the enforcement part of it.’ Heed's new post means he will be working in a community that has the highest concentration of Indo-Canadians in Vancouver. An Indo-Canadian himself, the 25-year cop is looking forward to addressing problems such as gang violence. ‘You can place me anywhere, and I'll do the best I can.’”

I congratulate Mr. Heed on having the right ideas in this pivotal election. If Kash Heed is appointed Solicitor-General of a new BC Liberal government, I hope he does “the best” he can by repealing prohibition to end the gang violence.

April 2nd, 2009

I'm upset about the amount of money being spent on prisons and policing, money that would be better spent helping improve the economy and community. Here are my thoughts, which I sent as a Letter To The Editor at "The Province" newspaper.

Invest in People, not Prisons

From The Province, April 1st, 2009: “Solicitor-General John van Dongen said yesterday the new pretrial remand centre will have jobs for 200 employees, $15 million in annual salaries, $3- million-worth of supply contracts and $400,000 of grants in lieu of property taxes.”

What does it say about BC when we need to build prisons to create jobs?

Our province is filled with resources and skilled workers, so we should be investing in a prosperous and sustainable future that helps move our society to a higher standard of living. Prisons are a sign of a socially and economically failed state. The criminal justice system only serves to break apart families and communities, and creates more criminals.

How can anyone justify the immediate and long-term expense of building a new jail when schools are forced to cut back at the expense of our youth? What must young people think when new jails are being built – that there is an expectation of the next generation to produce prisoners to maintain the local economy?

Let’s work towards reducing the number of criminals and prisoners in our society instead of creating more spaces in jail to be filled. We can make BC a better province by investing in our communities through education, skills training, crime prevention, and job creation.

March 28th, 2009

Super Signature Saturday, and Meeting BC's Attorney General Wally Oppal

The BC Green Party had candidates across BC getting nomination signatures on “Super Signature Saturday”, March 28th 2009. At 10:00am my husband Marc and I set up a large pavilion tent and table on Robson Street, at the foot of the Art Gallery steps in the cold drizzling rain. We had a large three-sided sign reading “BC Green Party: Sign Nomination Papers Here!” and big signs for both my campaign and Vancouver-False Creek candidate (and BC Green Party Deputy Leader) Damian Kettlewell. Our table was covered with buttons and information.

Joining us were Drina Read (fellow BC Green candidate for Vancouver-West End), her partner Paddy, and BC Green Chairman Walter Meyer zu Erpen. Over the next five hours, we collected well over 75 signatures for various BC Green candidates, getting support from people in Vancouver area ridings and other constituencies in BC, including Powell River-Sunshine Coast, Cariboo-Chilcotin, and Delta North.

At about 1:30 pm, a distinguished-looking gentleman approached our table after seeing the sign for my candidacy in Vancouver-Fraserview. I thought he looked familiar, but couldn’t quite place his face to a name. I said my standard pitch aloud – “Do you live in BC?” – and he responded, “Yes”, and seemed to be looking at me for some signal of recognition. I asked if he would like to sign our nomination papers, still trying to place where I knew him from, when Marc interjected, “Mr. Oppal, how are you? This is my wife, Jodie Emery, who is running against your record in Fraserview.”

Sure enough, it was Wally Oppal – the BC Attorney-General (“top prosecutor”), former BC Court of Appeal judge, and sitting MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview. I had been slated to run against him in Fraserview, but he switched ridings after I was nominated. I introduced myself and shook his hand, feeling sheepish about not being able to recognize who he was; after all, the Georgia Straight newspaper had run an article with the headline “Green Party siren Jodie Emery targets Wally Oppal the prohibitionist” when my candidacy was first announced.

He gingerly remarked, “You can say you scared me off, that you intimidated me to seek another riding!” He was facetious and good-humored, but part of me really believes it. In the Georgia Straight article, I was quoted saying: “There is a lot that needs to be said that he needs to hear … He used to be a bit more progressive, but he’s since turned to become more prohibitionist and [is] supporting the policing, even though he and everyone can see that hasn’t worked thus far. I think I will have a good time discussing some of these issues – gang violence and prohibition and organized crime – with Wally Oppal. I am quite excited about it.”

Mr. Oppal graciously stayed for a brief chat, and Marc, ever helpful with his knowledge, continued: “Jodie may not have recognized you right away, but she’s very familiar with your 1994 Report of Policing in British Columbia. Do you think your government has made suitable progress on your recommendations from that report?” Mr. Oppal replied that, yes, in his opinion, the BC Liberals had done some significant work on the proposals of the groundbreaking report from the bench fifteen years ago.

As he prepared to leave, I handed him my “How do we end the gang violence? End prohibition!” pamphlet and Marc asked if he thought the policies of prohibition have been working. He didn’t answer definitively yes or no, but took the pamphlet, shook my hand, and wished me good luck in the election. I saw him reading the information as he walked away. Perhaps he’ll take it to heart and begin talking about how gangs are created and funded by prohibition – who knows? Stranger things have happened!

See more photos from the day here.

March 26th, 2009

My husband and I were in a cab, headed to a Green Party meeting for candidate John Boychuk (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant), when we got into a discussion with the cab driver about Olympic costs and the economy. I said aloud, "They party and we pay", and decided to make that a recurring phrase during my campaign. Here is a short write-up I did about that theme.

They Party, We Pay

Taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill of visiting politicians and dignitaries during the 2010 Olympics, says BC Green Party candidate (Vancouver-Fraserview) Jodie Emery. Vancouver City Council is spending $2 million on a hospitality program for visiting politicians and corporate executives during the Games.

“The International Olympic Committee has even told VANOC to scale back the public parties, which are much larger and more expensive than other Olympic venues have been,” Jodie Emery says. “These rising Olympic costs all have to be paid by taxpayers. Governments and organizing committees don’t pay for all the excesses – taxpayers do. Even sponsorships haven’t been met, as corporations are equally burdened in the down-turning economy. The Olympic costs are being passed on to Vancouver residents through increased property taxes that cannot be afforded in tough economic times.”

Jodie Emery suggests that visiting dignitaries and guests of VANOC should pay for their tickets and accommodation if they want to help the Olympics bring revenue to Vancouver as promised when the Olympic bid was won.

March 25th, 2009

I saw a Global BC news segment about the Vancouver Police and their Bar Watch program. I was concerned by the intimidation used and the lack of tangible results, so I sent out a press release.

BC Green Candidate Says Police “Bar Watch” Program Costly and Ineffective

Every night of the week, the “Integrated Gang Task Force” goes into bars and restaurants to check patrons’ I.D. and determine if certain individuals should leave.

BC Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Fraserview, Jodie Emery, feels this is an expensive and ineffective program. “For many hours every night, the police do these rounds and purport to be making the venues safer – but the Bar Watch program simply results in suspects moving to other venues, and making innocent customers feel as though they are in a place that could be unsafe even if there are no gang members present.”

Law enforcement has been completely ineffective in reducing gang recruitment and firepower. Despite the various task forces that have been created over the years, the gang violence continues – and the police get rewarded for poor results by getting bigger budgets and resources every year.

On March 25th, Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu and city manager Penny Ballem said the Vancouver Police Department has spent nearly half of its $2-million criminal investigation fund in the first two months of 2009, and is expected to be “significantly over-budget by the end of 2009.”

“With the economy worsening, and the Olympic taxpayer costs running endlessly higher, Vancouver cannot afford this expensive and ineffective policy,” Jodie Emery says.

“Prohibition is not sustainable or economically feasible. The Bar Watch program and VPD policing strategy is costing taxpayers millions of dollars at a time when the economy is unable to sustain such large and unsustainable financial burdens.

"If we want to get serious about preventing and stopping gangs and gang violence, we must treat the source of the problem. Gangs exist and are funded are a result of drug prohibition, just as the original gangsters were during alcohol prohibition. If we repeal prohibition, we will not only remove gangs from our society, but we will also save millions in law enforcement costs and transfer financial revenue from organized crime to the legitimate, taxed and regulated economy.”

Jodie Emery says the BC Green Party understands that ending prohibition in BC will dramatically reduce gang violence, save millions in law enforcement and judicial costs, and create much-needed revenue for better health care, schools, and housing. The BC Green Party’s platform, “BC’s Green Book”, supports ending drug prohibition and regulating substance use. The BC Green Book was released on March 19th.

Contact Information:

Jodie Emery, BC Green Party candidate, Vancouver-Fraserview
(604) 818-4201
[email protected]