NEWS

David H.T. Wong, the only Green can­di­date who wasn’t elected Oc­to­ber 20, likes pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - By Char­lie Smith

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.

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