Thursday, February 21, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


As the battle heats up within the NPA regarding democratic principles, former NPA Mayor, Philip Owen, has affirmed his support that members be given the exclusive right to choose who they want to see as candidates for their party.

This position stated by Mr. Owen, who brought the NPA, three consecutive electoral victories, is a much beloved member of the NPA. His desire for party democracy is in sharp contrast to longtime NPA stalwart, George Puil, who advocates that incumbency protection should be offerred to incumbents. Mr. Puil goes on to say this has always been the case in the NPA.

Mr. Puil, who is supporting current Mayor, Sam Sullivan, who has demanded incumbency protection, is wrong with his stated opinions.

In the 1999 NPA nomination meeting, two former NPA incumbents, Nancy Chaiavario and Alan Herbert were displaced as a result of open democratic nominations. While, Ms Chiavario and Mr. Herbert were deeply disappointed with the result, as anyone would be, this move though, was seen by many as democracy in action.

Another example of democracy at play is when former longtime NPA Councillor, Lynne Kennedy, went on to challenge Dr. Hedy Fry for the federal Liberal nomination in Vancouver-Centre. Ms Fry a sitting incumbent welcomed the challenge and this process by all accounts, created a healthy, respectful atmosphere. Upholding democratic principles was re-affirmed.

The democratic viewpoint articulated by former Mayor, Philip Owen, is consistent with what citizens want in the political arena. They prefer to have decisions made in a fair and transparent manner. Citizens actually find distasteful, any backroom deal-making and they have no appetite for any process they deem unfair.

In this context, the NPA board must be extremely careful in how it addresses nominations. So far, the board has been sending out mixed messages and this isn't good for the party or its members.

The NPA board President, Matthew Taylor, today, has written a letter to NPA members outlining that the board set out criteria six months ago for those seeking nominations. Implementing criteria is fair, however, the board must also understand that while they are given the responsibility to legally oversee and govern the operations of the association between elections, the members though in a number of community dialogues expressly stated they want to see the NPA develop and adopt policies, be more inclusive and champion democracy.

Members also articulated that they didn't just want to be a group who merely runs candidates for elections every three years. Members stated they wanted to see a more community-inclusive and activist-orientated organization. Citing as an example of good public policy and a community-inclusive approach to good government, was Philip Owen's Four-Pillars strategy.

NPA members in the community consultations also demanded greater accountability from the board.

The NPA membership though should never be pitted against its own board and this is an awkward situation, members now find themselves in.

At the NPA meeting of April 22, 2008, members, in a process approved by the board will be asked to vote on approving candidates endorsed and pre-selected by the board. As a result of this board decision, a show-down with the membership is inevitable and this flawed process is going to do more damage to the NPA than anything else.

Why the board is unwilling to take direction from the membership is extremely unfortunate and this situation needs to be remedied before the April 22 meeting.

Hopefully, respected elders within the NPA such as former Mayor, Philip Owen and Councillor, Lynne Kennedy will continue to press for and champion democratic decision-making.

The board must reverse its position on pre-selecting candidates, otherwise the board will have created a no-win decision which pits them against the membership with the resulting show-down set for April 22.

Jamie Lee Hamilton

Sex-Work Activist Calls for Moratorium on Laws

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC

Hi All, I've re-printed with permission from the Georgia Straight a piece done by Carlito Pablo on Increased Missing and Murdered Sex Trade Workers post Pickton charges. For full story please see

Sex-work Activist Calls for Moratorium on Laws
By Carlito Pablo

Twenty-six sex-trade workers have been murdered or gone missing in Metro Vancouver since convicted serial killer Robert William Pickton was arrested in February 2002, according to a list prepared by activist Jamie Lee Hamilton.

In a phone interview, Hamilton asserted that a moratorium on the application of prostitution laws is needed to allow sex workers to come forward and provide more information on the spate of post-Pickton violence—without fear of being charged by police.

“The enforcement of prostitution laws causes displacement, and displacement is historically linked to conditions that lead to violence against sex workers,” Hamilton said.