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HomeBusinessSnubbed candidate says divisive dispatch threatens diversity dialogue

Snubbed candidate says divisive dispatch threatens diversity dialogue


Bob Mackin

A candidate in the last two Vancouver civic elections says nobody from his party has been invited to a meeting to discuss the lack of racial diversity on municipal councils. 

Municipal Candidates for Racial Inclusion’s Cities of Colour is Dec. 8 at the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

“The election results show a troubling absence of elected representatives from racially diverse groups despite large numbers of Black, Indigenous or Person of Color (BIPOC) people living in Metro Vancouver,” said the invitation. “This conspicuous demographic gap triggered social media commentary with the hashtag #CouncilSoWhite.”

Vancouver 1st 2018 election candidates

Jesse Johl, executive director of Vancouver 1st and a two-time unsuccessful city council candidate, said nobody in his party has heard of this group. 

“We had the most-ethnically diverse slate,” Johl told theBreaker. “We had the only black, Jewish mayoral candidate running [Fred Harding]. We’ve got no invite.”

Johl said the conservative-leaning Vancouver 1st boasted the only slate that “reflected the faces of Vancouver.” 

He said racism was not a factor in the outcome. Instead, the well-funded NPA and Vancouver District Labour Council-backed candidates prevented smaller parties and independents from a breakthrough. 

Vancouver 1st’s Jesse Johl

Johl called the post-election #CouncilSoWhite hashtag “unacceptable” and was also critical of the group’s invitation. Municipal Candidates for Racial Inclusion suggests a $10 donation to attend, but states that any white or “non-BIPOC” candidates are not welcome on Dec. 8, because the group wants to “have a discussion amongst ourselves first.”

“If that was ‘council so yellow’ or ‘council so brown,’ would that be acceptable? How is something so blatantly racist so acceptable?” Johl asked.

“Martin Luther King said it best: judge a person by the content of their character, not by the colour of their skin. But we’ve gotten to this virtue-signalling, identity politics to the point where people can’t look past monickers, names and symbols. It’s crazy. People voted the way they voted, at the end of the day, big money, big union money, was the difference.”

The invitation did not include the name of the organizer or a contact phone number. Nobody responded by email for comment. Neither did the workshop facilitator, Natasha Aruliah. 

NPA’s Ken Sim fell 957 votes shy of labour-backed independent Kennedy Stewart in the Vancouver mayoral race. Had Sim won, he would have been the city’s first mayor of Chinese heritage. Eight of the 10 city councillors elected are female, five of whom ran on the NPA ticket. 

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