UPDATE – Are YOU happy with OUR democratic process being hijacked? Was it? – Read On – You decide!

Posted: January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Under the guise of inviting all candidates in our last Municipal Election to go through a very suspect process to determine which candidates would form the Firefighter’s Endorsed Slate and be a recipient of a well-planned and paid for election campaign consisting of Paid For ads, 4 by 8 signs, Door Hanging Notices delivered door to door and membership letters; THE Firefighters presented their slate through the foregoing material supporting candidates who unanimously supported a contract agreement negotiated DURING the election period. How much did this contract cost? What was the real price we paid? Was there an agreement in place? The cost to us? The 2010 and 2011 contract –  3% per year plus the 2012 to 2019 contract – 2 ½ % per year all equates to a 26% COMPOUND WAGE INCREASE over 9 years! We don’t know the other cost parts of the agreements reached?     

UNTIL WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS OUR RECENT MUNICIPAL ELECTION RESULT WILL BE IN QUESTION –

Have our Township of Langley Firefighters traded on their Community Good Will (otherwise known as Community Capital) to secure a financial benefit (contract agreement) in return for a Public Endorsement for and from a Newly elected Council? “Inducement” (Legislation’s word not mine), a word used in section 151 of the B.C. Local Government Act? (Dictionary definition of inducement is “incentive”)

Are any members of the current Council or their representatives, Senior Staff and/or any other third party acting for any of the foregoing been involved in negotiating an agreement, verbal or written with the Firefighters to secure a public endorsement campaign in exchange for a contract agreement(s)? “Inducement” (Legislation’s word not mine), a word used in section 151 of the B.C. Local Government Act? (Dictionary definition of inducement is “incentive”)

The Legality Question – It is clear that section 151 of the B.C. Local Government Act explicitly prohibits any form of “inducement” (outlined below). A review of the penalties to anyone found guilty of breaching this legislation, are very significant.

As I outlined in my recently published 2014 Election Post Mortem Part Two, this is a very disconcerting campaign activity that should be actively pursued through legal authorities. It should, at the very least, be subject to an investigation by the appropriate authorities. My understanding from a good source is that any resident of the Township of Langley may file a complaint with the RCMP with respect to this issue. I would also suggest that any complaint be laid through RCMP E Division, not the Langley Detachment given the potential of or perception of a conflict of interest.

There are those that want to bury their heads in the sand and suggest that this is just a coincidence or it somehow is anti-firefighter – Well, For The Record, nothing could be further from the truth! Lets deal with the facts – In this case, this legislation (laws) are in place to protect taxpayers and to protect our democracy, these laws are not made to be broken, regardless of who is responsible! Did this happen, only an investigation can tell.

There are many questions that need to be answered as are outlined in the body of my BLOG Post that follows, however there is another question that hasn’t has yet been broached, that of the Firefighters list of endorsed candidates? They threw away the previously (2011) endorsed candidates Ward and Dornan in favor of NEW candidates Quaale and Whitmarsh? If the process was true to itself a review of the answers provided by these two NEW endorsed candidates as well as that of the endorsed incumbents compared to that of the rest of the candidates leaves one to wonder on what basis was this decision made? None of this passes the smell test!

There appears to be clearly enough compelling supporting evidence or at the very least circumstantial evidence to secure a thorough and complete investigation. None of what I have and will present to the general public through this BLOG are sour grapes as some would suggest. I will stand very proud on my record of accomplishments and I have paid a very handsome price personally in many ways to fight the fight. I do not apologize. I will continue to present facts and issues and more than anything I am and will challenge residents to stand up and be counted. It is up to any one of you to grab the issue by the horns and to stand up and do something about it. By WHO and HOW our Municipality is being run is the issue, sitting back and doing nothing to correct it is not an answer.

Special Note: I think I have hit a nerve with some, given a couple of responses I have received, not the kind of language I would publish. To be clear, everyone knows that Council don’t negotiate contracts BUT they do have to approve contracts, in this case unanimously and in this case at a time when, on the Firefighters initiative, were determining who they would campaign for. Again it doesn’t pass the smell test, because it is all clearly about timing! Comparing this situation (a comprehensive campaign of ads, signs and door hangers) to other municipalities and cities is like comparing apples and oranges. We all know of the political activity of Firefighters, the Township Firefighters have just seriously crossed the line.       

As a reminder to readers I have repeated the details of this issue below from my previous post –                 

Township of Langley Firefighters Factor (Is this not Political Interference and more?) – It is my opinion and I believe that of the majority of residents that our firefighters are respected for the service that they provide our community. That aside, the question has to be asked, have firefighters seriously crossed the line with their very questionable partisan political activity? To be clear, while I don’t agree with their activity of public support for any specific candidate(s) I do respect their democratic right to do so. BUT, and it is a BIG BUT, in my opinion their actions appear to have crossed a significant line – read on! You be the judge?

It has become quite apparent over the years that Township of Langley Full Time Firefighters have made it a practice of using election campaigns in what appears to be an attempt to leverage their labor negotiations to benefit negotiation outcomes. It is one thing to come out in favor of a candidate or group of candidates; it is quite something else to appear to involve negotiating a contract in exchange for support? Is that what happened? Is there enough evidence to justify an investigation under Division 17 / Sections 151 (below) of the B.C. Local Government Act at the very least?

Please follow the time line below –

Candidate Questionnaire from IAFF 4550 – On or around the first of October 2014 the Township of Langley Fire Fighters Association IAFF 4550 distributed a package of 24 questions to members of Council. (I received a copy of these in confidence before I filed my nomination papers) After filing my nomination papers I received a different package of 16 Candidate Questions? We were asked to submit our answers that dealt with Public Safety and Firefighter issues in writing by noon October 17th, 2014 (the day of the Firefighters All Candidates Meeting).

Objective of this process – It was made clear that at the conclusion of this process our firefighters would decide who they would publicly endorse in the election. That style of endorsement was on display during the 2011 election.

All Candidate Meeting InvitationTownship of Langley Fire Fighters Association IAFF 4550 invited ALL candidates to an open All Candidates Meeting at the Willoughby Hall Friday October 17th, 2014 at 7:00 PM.

Questions asked of CandidatesDuring the All Candidates meeting, questions were drawn randomly from the questions and answers that were submitted in writing and were randomly asked of each candidate. NOTE – You will understand later why I ask this question – The only one of the 16 that was not asked of candidates during the meeting was the question on Labor Relations which was – “Despite a wave of freely-negotiated contracts for full-time firefighters in other B.C. Municipalities, Township of Langley firefighters have been working under an expired contract since 2009. Township of Langley firefighters believe that elected municipal leaders have a role to play in helping to ensure this matter is resolved in a fashion that is fair and equitable to all parties involved. Please describe your thoughts on this particular issue.” (At the conclusion of the meeting I found it highly unusual and interesting that this question would be absent from the questions asked of candidates.) I think the answer to that question lies in the following two Surprises! (A surprise to some maybe?)

Surprise Contract Agreement – With no contract since 2009 it was suddenly announced PRIOR to the end of October (October 27th to be exact in middle of the election campaign) that a settlement had been reached for 3% increase per year for 2010 and 2011. (Aldergrove Star 12/18/14) The questions? – Who had conversations with whom to suddenly settle this agreement at such a fortuitous time? What was promised to whom and by whom? Who was in on the settlement? Was there a third party active in getting this deal done with a condition of public support the goal by either side? Question – Does this not equate to an “inducement”? See below.

Surprise Contract Agreement – On the heels of the above settlement for years 2010 and 2011, the two parties began to immediately go into negotiations for 2012 – 2019 (During the election campaign) which was settled Dec. 4th for 2.5% per year plus other benefits. (Aldergrove Star 12/18/14) Question – Does this not equate to an “inducement”? See below.

NOTE – What makes all of this a possibility of and for an “inducement”? The Township of Langley Firefighters Association IAFF 4550 PUBLICLY provided their preferred slate of candidates with the following, which can only be described as – “Inducements” that could be to the benefit of both parties. Are ONE or BOTH parties guilty of a breach of Section 151?  

Firefighter paid for minimum half page full color Newspaper Ads listing all candidates they endorsed that they say supported their views of “Public Safety”! (I will add that all candidates if not a minimum of 95% of all candidates came out in full support of Firefighters.) Therefore their inference being that these are THE only candidates that support public safety is and was bogus. Could there be other reasons for their candidate preferences? – Contract negotiations?

Firefighters paid for and distributed large 4 ft. by 8 ft. full color signs posted throughout the Township of Langley by November 6th listing all candidates that they say endorsed and supported their views of “Public Safety”. (I will add that all candidates if not a minimum of 95% of all candidates came out in full support of Firefighters.) Therefore their inference being that these are THE only candidates that support public safety is bogus. Could there be other reasons for their candidate preferences? – Contract negotiations? OH, and by the way – When were these signs painted and by whom? Just asking the question?

Firefighters paid and distributed Door hanging notices was distributed presumably by firefighters identifying their list of candidates with descriptions such as “Support Local Champions of Public Safety” and “ensure those elected to council agree that the safety of your family and your property is a priority”. (I will add that all candidates if not a minimum of 95% of all candidates came out in full support of Firefighters.) Therefore their inference being that these are THE only candidates that support public safety is bogus.

Direct Mail Letters that were sent to all Firefighters living in the Township of Langley requesting their support for their selected candidates as posted. It is suggested by Firefighters that there are about 1,200 – 1,400 firefighters living in the Township plus their family units. A fairly large voting block wouldn’t you say with the potential for significant voting affect. Extrapolate those numbers to include extended family and friends?

Council ratified the agreements – In one of their first acts after taking office these union contracts were ratified unanimously by this council.

I believe there is serious reason to be concerned with the possibility that Township of Langley Firefighters and/or Municipal Council members and/or Municipal Staff and/or Township Fire Dept. executive staff and/or a third party (in communication with one of the foregoing) could have seriously crossed the line and breached Section 151. Did they? This could only be determined through a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

What is that all aboutRead carefully the following excerpt from the B.C. Local Government Act. It is Interesting that these sections along with a few other pertinent sections were included in the candidate Nomination Packages so ignorance of the law is NO excuse. What qualifies as an inducement? This is not rocket science!

Definition of Inducement – “That which induces; incentive. The act of inducing.”

Excerpts from the B. C. Local Government Act (below)

Division 17 — Election Offences

Vote buying

151  (1) In this section, “inducement” includes money, gift, valuable consideration, refreshment, entertainment, office, placement, employment and any other benefit of any kind.

(2) A person must not pay, give, lend or procure inducement for any of the following purposes:

(a) to induce a person to vote or refrain from voting;

(b) to induce a person to vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular candidate;

(c) to reward a person for having voted or refrained from voting as described in paragraph (a) or (b);

(d) to procure or induce a person to attempt to procure the election of a particular candidate, the defeat of a particular candidate or a particular result in an election;

(e) to procure or induce a person to attempt to procure the vote of an elector or the failure of an elector to vote.

(3) A person must not accept inducement

(a) to vote or refrain from voting,

(b) to vote or refrain from voting for or against a particular candidate, or

(c) as a reward for having voted or refrained from voting as described in paragraph (a) or (b).

(4) A person must not advance, pay or otherwise provide inducement, or cause inducement to be provided, knowing or with the intent that it is to be used for any of the acts prohibited by this section.

(5) A person must not offer, agree or promise to do anything otherwise prohibited by this section.

(6) A person prohibited from doing something by this section must not do the prohibited act directly, indirectly or by another person on behalf of the first person.

Prosecution of organizations and their directors and agents

153.1  (1) An act or thing done or omitted by an officer, director, employee or agent of an organization within the scope of the individual’s authority to act on behalf of the organization is deemed to be an act or thing done or omitted by the organization.

(2) If an organization commits an offence under this Part, an officer, director, employee or agent of the organization who authorizes, permits or acquiesces in the offence commits the same offence, whether or not the organization is convicted of the offence.

(3) A prosecution for an offence under this Part may be brought against an unincorporated organization in the name of the organization and, for these purposes, an unincorporated organization is deemed to be a person.

Time limit for starting prosecution

153.2  The time limit for laying an information to commence a prosecution respecting an offence under this Part is one year after the date on which the act or omission that is alleged to constitute the offence occurred.

Penalties

154  (1) A person who contravenes section 151 or 152 is guilty of an offence and is liable to one or more of the following penalties:

(a) a fine of not more than $10 000;

(b) imprisonment for a term not longer than 2 years;

(c) disqualification from holding office in accordance with subsection (1.1) for a period of not longer than 7 years.

(d) [Repealed by 2014-19-71(a).]

(1.1) Disqualification under subsection (1) (c) is disqualification from holding office as follows:

(a) on a local government;

(b) on the council of the City of Vancouver or on the Park Board established under section 485 of the Vancouver Charter;

(c) as a trustee under the Islands Trust Act;

(d) as a trustee on a board of education, or as a regional trustee on a francophone education authority, under the School Act.

(2) A person or unincorporated organization who contravenes section 153 is guilty of an offence and is liable to one or both of the following penalties:

(a) a fine of not more than $5 000;

(b) imprisonment for a term not longer than one year.

(3) Any penalty under this Division is in addition to and not in place of any other penalty provided in this Part.

(4) A person or unincorporated organization is not guilty of an offence under this Part if the person or organization exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

Conclusion – The effect the Firefighter’s Campaign had on Election 2014? Was their campaign only motivated by an inducement? Is that what stimulated their message? You decide? This apparent conflict or breach of this legislation is certainly in question, given the evidence available (above). It doesn’t pass the smell test and in my opinion certainly screams out for a public complaint being filed to investigate the issue at the very least. The Firefighters endorsed nine members of Council – EIGHT of them were elected.

Given the wording of the messages sent out by the Firefighters to residents and given the public’s trust of their firefighters I would strongly suggest this activity would have influenced / induced enough residents in their votes to have a significant effect on the final result, certainly for Councilor. The following reflects that considerable likelihood.

For the record there were FIVE candidates for Council that were no more than 465 votes below the last successful candidate, only one of which was endorsed by the firefighter slate. To put it into net political reality of how votes are affected by numbers check the following;

IF only 233 votes were taken away from the bottom three elected candidates (Firefighters recommended slate of candidate’s) and added to the top three unelected candidates you would have a different result in the outcome for Council!

Given the information above, given the widespread Firefighter campaign and it’s potential for widespread effect on the election outcome, does this not put the entire past election into question? Just asking?

This issue must be dealt with, otherwise our democratic process is susceptible to be hijacked by any significant special interest group and taxpayers will pay a significant price. As you will note above, the penalty, if found guilty, is severe, as it should be.

RG

Stay tuned for discussion of top of mind topics that directly affect us in the Township of Langley and our region to be published in the months ahead and much more….!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

 

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