David H.T. Wong, the only Green candidate who wasn’t elected October 20, likes proportional representation.
The only Vancouver Green candidate to lose in the October 20 election says he doesn’t want to look like a “whiner”. Architect and author David H. T. Wong told the Georgia Straight by phone that he wonders if he might have been elected to city council— rather than coming 12th in the race for the top 10 spots—had he spent a little more time campaigning.
“I had to take a week off to do my book tour in Kelowna, then my son got married,” he said.
Wong also revealed that people warned him there would be a backlash against candidates with Chinese names because of media coverage of money-laundering in casinos and Chinese investments in the real-estate market.
“This was told to me before I even ran for office,” he said. “They said, ‘There’s going to be some sort of reaction.’ ”
Wong added that when media stories of vote-buying emerged during the campaign, he recognized that this could hurt his campaign. But he insisted that he didn’t want to cite his racial background as an “excuse” for his defeat.
“I really don’t want to come across as a sore loser,” Wong emphasized.
He received 40,887 votes. That was 2,694 votes behind the 10thplace finisher, the NPA’S Sarah Kirby-yung. Wong’s vote total was the highest among Vancouver council candidates with Chinese surnames.
Seven Greens with non-chinese surnames in the election attracted more than 58,000 votes. The only other Green with a Chinese surname, school-board candidate Lois Chan-pedley, received 48,409 votes. A Green council candidate, Michael Wiebe, was elected with 45,593 votes.
For Wong, it was tough watching Greens celebrate victories on election night as he lost. “I felt kind of down,” he admitted.
The Straight first covered Wong back in 1995 when he was part of a successful battle to stop the park board from cutting down hundreds of trees at the Fraserview Golf Course. He also appeared in this newspaper after he wrote a book, Escape to Gold Mountain: A Graphic History of the Chinese in North America, in 2012.
In addition, the Straight has covered his efforts to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, awareness of Asian-canadian literature, understanding about the Chinese head tax, and preservation of heritage buildings. Wong said that he’s been accepted as an honorary member of more than a dozen First Nations after building more than 150 residences in Indigenous communities.
“I’ve trained young people to build their own homes,” Wong added. “That, to me, is much more meaningful than all the accolades.”
Vancouver elects city councillors on an at-large basis, which means candidates must campaign across the entire city rather than in smaller electoral districts.
Wong, a former Green candidate in the provincial constituency of Vancouver Hastings, said that he’s a strong advocate of proportional representation.
In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an at-large system in Georgia was unconstitutional because it discriminated against African Americans, a geographically concentrated racial minority.
“At-large voting schemes and multimember districts tend to minimize the voting strength of minority groups by permitting the political majority to elect all representatives of the district,” Justice Byron White wrote in his 1982 ruling. “A distinct minority, whether it be a racial, ethnic, economic, or political group, may be unable to elect any representatives in an atlarge election, yet may be able to elect several representatives if the political unit is divided into singlemember districts.”
Wong pointed out that if proportional representation had been in place in the last provincial election, he might have become an MLA for Vancouver. He based this comment on his vote count and percentage of the popular vote in comparison to other B.C. Green candidates.
Metro Vancouver transit users will no longer hear Seth Rogen’s voice on Skytrain after Halloween night.
But for fans of the comic actor, writer, and director, there is some good news. In November, Translink plans to release online outtakes of sessions with the Vancouver-raised star.
Rogen has been offering friendly etiquette tips to passengers since being hired to do this in the summer.
In one of the messages, he tells riders that their sneakers are great—but the bottoms of the shoes? Not so much.
“So keep your feet off the seats,” Rogen declares.
In another tip, he compares the 99-B bus to a student’s apartment, except there are “a few more roommates, and you have to clean up after yourselves”.
“Oh, and you can’t throw a party in here,” he adds. “But if somehow you do, please invite.”
The gig came after the actor initially contracted to do this, Morgan Freeman, found himself in the midst of a Me Too controversy.
“Any opportunity to enrich the lives of the Canadian people is an opportunity I will take,” Rogen says in a Translink video before breaking into laughter.
In the same video, he recalls growing up in Vancouver and taking public transit his whole life.
“I do take the Canada Line all the time,” Rogen reveals. “I go to the Richmond Night Market a lot. And parking there is incredibly difficult—and I live downtown. There are a lot of stops nearby.”
He also states that his decision to voice the Skytrain message reflects his long-standing desire “to participate in Canadian culture and to put the spotlight on Canada”.
David H.T. Wong was the only Green candidate who was defeated in the Vancouver election.