UPDATE ! Township of Langley “FIREFIGHTERS were hired to Serve and Protect… NOT TO SERVE AND ELECT!”

Posted: October 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

UPDATE: It didn’t take long (about 2 hours) but I am in receipt of a response from a firefighter, I can only assume is speaking for all firefighters and that is unfortunate. First, in their words expressed are not flattering to their profession and cause, but they do support my comment in the post that candidates cannot respond or they would be crucified! I am not publishing their comment due to it’s content (I will leave that there) but as important, it is not signed, so in response to that I say have the guts to stand behind what you are saying! One thing I will say, on the issue of what you say is my opinion, here is a challenge to all of you – You state on your signs that these selected candidates support Public Safety, which by inference suggests all others don’t, so I challenge the firefighters to state publicly – What was the process of selection and what were the reasons that you selected these 9 candidates rather than any of the other candidates? We challenge the firefighters, if I am wrong in my opinion and/or assumption, that you go public with the process used in making your decision. All Candidates have worked hard and are running to improve their Municipality. Don’t hide behind Public Safety, that is nothing more than a ruse, otherwise known as BS!    

Are YOU happy with yet another attempt by our Firefighters to hijack OUR democratic process? By your paid Public Servants!

This election year is turning out to be like many others. You know, don’t leave it to the opinions, conclusions and conscience of our voters and our candidates, our firefighters seem to think we the taxpayers of Langley need help as to who to vote for? Somehow the Township of Langley Firefighters believe that taxpayers are incapable of making this decision for themselves? You see, Firefighters are trading on their public goodwill that somehow they have some special expertise in deciding who to vote for in the upcoming election. Now bear in mind a very stark reality, their decision has absolutely nothing to do with Public Safety as they state (all candidates support public safety), it has everything to do with self interest in approving their next labor contract.

Well, to the taxpayers of the Township of Langley, lets send the Firefighters a message to stay out of our democratic process and that we are fully capable of thinking for ourselves. We don’t need employees of the Township of Langley to tell us who to vote for! I have gone through their charade in the elections of 2008, 2011 and 2014, if it wasn’t so serious their process would be laughable.

Candidates who are not chosen for endorsement by our firefighters won’t speak up because they can’t, they would be crucified. They would be the object of fear and intimidation! Well that is not right and it must be addressed.

So how does the Firefighters process work? The Firefighters local union provides all candidates with a list of questions and requests written answers to be returned on the day of their scheduled All Candidates meeting. Candidates are told that these questions will be drawn at random at the All Candidates meeting to be answered at random by candidates. It is said that these questions all deal with public safety and that the firefighter’s selection of endorsed candidates will be based on their answers. FACT, a criteria for selection based on answers given would clearly qualify 90% of candidates for selection. Obviously that can’t happen so there must be much more that goes into the selection process. WHAT WOULD THAT BE?

What do Firefighters do for THEIR selected candidates? In the past ie 2014 the Firefighters spent about $7,600. on their campaign support for selected candidates as 3rd Party supporters. Their campaign consisted of Paid For Newspaper ads, 4 by 8 signs and Door Hanging Notices delivered door to door. I believe it is totally reasonable and acceptable to play politics with their members BUT NOT with the general public. Under NEW 3rd party rules for the 2018 election in the Township their maximum allowable expenditure is $3,850.08 or about half of what it was in 2014. Details below!

A Very questionable history! As my BLOG Post of January 2015 clearly outlines, the issue back then was the fact that the firefighters had been without a contract for 2 – 3 years and they asked the question to the candidates before their 2014 All Candidates meeting whether they would support a settlement with their firefighters. Somehow, that single question dealing with labor relations was the only one not asked of any candidate in that all candidates meeting and within a couple of days of that meeting a settlement was announced. A short time later, surprise surprise signs, door hangers and newspaper ads appeared supporting the incumbents. Now you tell me, is this just a coincidence? Do you believe in the tooth fairy? A VERY questionable series of events!

What was the real price that we paid? Was there an agreement in place? What was the cost to us? The 2010 and 2011 contract – 3% per year plus the 2012 to 2019 contract – 2 ½ % per year that all equates to a 26% COMPOUND WAGE INCREASE over 9 years! We don’t know the cost to other parts of that agreement reached?

All of that was timed for the last election, what about this year? An interesting thought! This election is for 4 years, in other words the next election is in 2022. The next firefighter contract comes up at the end of 2019, next year? So this election will elect the Council that must vote for any settlement with the firefighters? Now I have heard the firefighters suggest, as a diversion tactic, that they don’t negotiate with Council. Really, are you guys serious? Council with Senior staff are in a position of directing or suggesting that certain negotiations take place and settlements occur. Are you going to tell me that doesn’t take place? If so I have a bridge to sell you. I have served a number of years on a Provincial Food Industry Labor Relations Association as well as serving on the Metro Vancouver Labor Board, I know how it works. PROOF? Go to the Delta Firefighters contract on or about 2014 that formed what the Township of Langley was paid, following that contract. It was resisted for a year or so until the Township endorsed slate was announced!

If the firefighters hold their activity over the head of our local politicians ALL of us taxpayers are forced to pay the price, regardless of what that might be. All for reciprocal pay-back!      

UNTIL WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS, OUR MUNICIPAL ELECTION RESULTS WILL ALWAYS BE IN QUESTION –

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?

Are any members of our Council, the Union or their representative(s), Senior Staff and/or any other third party acting for any of the foregoing been involved in suggesting agreements, 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.

This is a very disconcerting campaign activity. IF in the future there is another situation that just happens to occur, 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 an issue such as this. 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, I have family in this profession, I have great respect for the job they do! NOW lets deal with the facts – In this case, this legislation (laws) that are in place to protect taxpayers and to protect our democracy, regardless of who is responsible! Would this happen? Only an investigation can tell.

In the 2014 election there appeared to be clearly enough compelling supporting evidence or at the very least circumstantial evidence to secure a thorough and complete investigation. I 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.                     

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? I don’t agree with their activity of publicly advertised support for a specific self-serving slate of candidate(s). It is fundamentally wrong!

Over the years our Township of Langley Full Time Firefighters have made it a practice of leveraging political activity during election campaigns to assist their labor negotiations to benefit negotiation outcomes? What other reason could there be? Firefighters everywhere are politically active, no problem, however going public with a publicly advertised slate endorsement is wrong.

No other Fire Department in Metro Vancouver or the Fraser Valley Regional District takes their political activity to this level. The Township of Langley deserves better!

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. Were ONE or BOTH parties guilty of a breach of Section 151 in 2014? Could all of this be leading to 2019 negotiations? Here is what they did in 2014….

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.

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

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 was significant on the Elections of 2011 and 2014 as it has a chance to be in 2018, IF we allow it to be? 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.

In 2014 the Firefighters endorsed nine members of Council – EIGHT of them were elected.

Well what about the list of 2018 endorsed candidates? They threw away the previously (2011) endorsed candidates Ward and Dornan in favor of NEW candidates Quaale and Whitmarsh for 2014? This year they threw away Long and Richter and added two new ones? Based on what? 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! It is once again it is the Jack Froese Team being endorsed with a couple of changes.

Given the wording of the messages sent out by the Firefighters in 2014 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 in 2014 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;

In 2014 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 election process 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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Comments
  1. George B says:

    I don’t know why the firefighters are the able to do what they do.They do the same in Surrey and other municipalities.Why is Elections BC just standing by ,doing nothing.
    For some reason they think ,they are some kind of heroes.
    It is just a job like all others.Wait till their pensions kick in.Bankrupsy!!!!
    The taxpayer should wake up and vote “their slate out”.
    .I had enough with this behaviour, of our elected representatives.
    Not one of them looks after the taxpayer.
    Pure self serving.

    • Well George I am not here to throw bricks at them I am here to demand they stop with this blatant political activity they hope to disguise as those that support Public Safety. That is BS and they know it but are trying to hide behind their public profile. Well that has got to be called out!

      • George B says:

        If an individual, endorses a candidate it is ok.As a union to endorse and basically put up signs endorsing a “slate”…..by any name ,it is borderline blackmail.
        Basically they say “you do what we want or you don’t get elected”.
        All in the name of “safety”!!!

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