If there's a protest in Victoria

If there's a protest in Victoria

Report card time for local politicians

Meet my poster child for bad local government, Victoria councillor Ben Isitt, who spends a lot of time telling senior governments what to do

VICTORIA – This November, voters will be hiring local politicians for a four-year term, rather than three.

It’s a good time to ask some tough questions about the performance of councils on the job they are assigned to do, as opposed to posturing about senior government matters.

Remember when it was fashionable for city councils to declare their communities “a nuclear weapons-free zone”? You can still see the signs entering Vancouver and Nanaimo. Alert voters may wonder: “Did they really think we’re that stupid?” Yes, they did. And some of them still do.

To illustrate, allow me to introduce my poster child for bad local government, Victoria city councillor Ben Isitt.

A long-time NDP activist, Isitt got elected three years ago after raising his name recognition with a couple of runs for mayor. His rookie term has been notable for a series of stunts that extend his career as a professional student, campus radical and occasional history lecturer.

One of Isitt’s big studies is the influence of Soviet communism on the B.C. NDP. He was on one of his visits to Russia earlier this year when President Vladimir Putin was having his way with Crimea.

Isitt’s fondness for state control was on display last fall when aboriginal protesters disrupted natural gas drilling in New Brunswick, torching several police vehicles in the process.

Isitt took to his Facebook page to decry the federal government’s use of police against the population, and suggested Canada should emulate Venezuela, where petroleum resources benefit the people rather than corporations.

Venezuela sells gasoline for nine cents a gallon, the late Hugo Chavez’s gift to his people after nationalizing the oil industry. The capital, Caracas, is famous for extreme poverty, brutally suppressed riots, and a crime rate so bad it ranks among the world’s most dangerous cities.

How does Isitt’s political outlook translate to his role in local government?

This week local politicians gather in Whistler for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. One of Isitt’s first contributions a couple of years ago was at a UBCM workshop on how to finance local infrastructure.

Isitt proposed setting up a municipal income tax. Presumably this would be on top of property taxes.

In its wisdom, Victoria council appointed Isitt as their Capital Regional District representative. In that capacity he led the charge against Canada Post’s decision to wind up door-to-door delivery for the minority of people who aren’t already using community mailboxes.

After instructing Ottawa to accelerate the bankruptcy of this Crown corporation, Isitt began ordering the province to intervene in a dispute over Grace Islet, a rocky point off Salt Spring Island where an Alberta man is trying to build a retirement home. The dispute centres on aboriginal burial grounds and artifacts, and Isitt appointed himself advocate for the grievances of native people.

When the B.C. government didn’t follow his instructions, he demanded that the CRD expropriate the land and evict the owner. Island politics being what it is, this was actually considered before cooler heads prevailed.

And how are things with the CRD’s real job while the Isitt circus rolls on? The most over-governed region in B.C. remains locked in a bitter turf war over a federally mandated sewage treatment project, and is on the verge of forfeiting hundreds of millions in provincial funds.

So voters should ask themselves a couple of questions this November. Is your council doing the job it was hired to do? And do you trust these individuals with your wallet until the fall of 2018?

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Logo
Canadian Blood Service is adding additional donor clinics in Mission

New Sunday clinics begin June 20, donors can register online

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read