Friday, August 01, 2014

The Fight for LGBT Voters Begins

[Vancouver, B.C.] Which political party are you going to vote for in Vancouver's upcoming 2014 municipal election? Would it be Vision Vancouver, which is centre-left of the political spectrum or maybe the centre-right party, NPA (Non Partisan Association)? Or Perhaps the left-leaning COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors)? What about the centre-left Vancouver Green Party? The Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith has an interesting article about how the Broadbent Institute took a political swipe at NPA candidate Kirk LaPointe implying that he should not be seen as a friend to Vancouver's LGBT community. Here's an excerpt:
The day after Kirk LaPointe announced his entry into the Vancouver mayoral race, the free-market Fraser Institute did him a favour. It released a report condemning the City of Vancouver's finances, using older data to present a misleading illustration of how it compares to the City of Surrey and other municipalities. The impression was that Vision Vancouver can't really be trusted to look after the books. 
Today was payback time for LaPointe and the NPA. On the eve of Pride weekend, the Broadbent Institute issued a Press Progress bulletin conveying an impression that LaPointe and the NPA are no friends of the LGBT community. (The Broadbent Institute's Vancouver-based director of strategic partnerships, Mira Oreck, "played an instrumental role in the campaigns of current Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson", according to her biography.) 
The Press Progress article notes that as editor-in-chief of the Hamilton Spectator in 1999, LaPointe wrote a signed editorial explaining why the paper chose not to publish a photo of two men kissing. In "Photo decisions based on needs, taste", LaPointe stated that "the image would be offensive to a number of our readers" and that it was a "provocative gesture" and "staged". 
One of the men in the photo, Bryce Rudyk, took exception to LaPointe's column. In a letter to the editor, Rudyk wrote: "In the space of a few typewritten lines, LaPointe devalued and marginalized our relationships, essentially saying that we were offensive and not 'normal' enough to run a picture in his paper". 
The Broadbent Institute would have done well enough to stop there, but it tried to drive the knife in deeper by claiming that the NPA has a "less-than-stellar record on gay rights". The justification? In 2006, the NPA-controlled council voted against a motion by Vision's Tim Stevenson to create an advisory committee on LGBT issues. At that point, LGBT issues were part of the committee addressing diversity. 
Here are some things that the Broadbent Institute neglected to mention in its Press Progress bulletin: 
• In 1986, the NPA's Gordon Price was the first out gay man elected to council in Vancouver history. 
• The NPA's Alan Herbert, a champion of LGBT rights, was elected to council in 1996. Herbert is a former chair of the Vancouver Pride Society and AIDS Vancouver. 
• In the 1990s, the NPA had three members of the LGBT community on the seven-member park board. 
• It was Vision Vancouver, rather than the NPA, that decided not to run bisexual writer Trish Kelly as a park-board candidate after she had been nominated. 
It's true that there has occasionally been a rocky relationship between the LGBT community and the NPA. 
Read more at The Georgia Straight