RSS Feed

1999 – If Zippy the Circus Chimp wants to run for mayor of Vancouver this year, he may have to pay for the privilege. Same with Frank the Moose, the Trash Terminator, Buzz and Barb E. Doll.

Vancouver Sun
July 30, 1999
A19
Reaction to prank spawns threat to candidacy rights: A former mayoral candidate accuses the NDP and Philip Owen of teaming to lessen the chance for poor people to run for office
Brian Godzilla Salmi

The mayoral ballot for the 1996 Vancouver municipal election had a record 58 names printed on it.

As the duly elected leader of a city where the average voter turn out for a civic election hovers embarrassingly around the 30-per- cent mark you would think that Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen would applaud the fact that such a large contingent of citizens were actively taking part in the democratic process. Alas, ’twas not thus.

It seems that Owen was not at all happy to be sharing a ballot with such true democrats as The Reverend L. Ron Moonbeam, Zippy the Circus Chimp, Mr. X, Yummy Girl, Frank the Moose, Lupo the Butcher, Barb E. Doll and The Trash Terminator.

On July 15, Owen was given the power to ensure that his friends and supporters in Kerrisdale, Shaughnessy and Dunbar shall never again have to sift through a pack of verminous vandals in order to mark their X beside his name on a ballot.

In the waning hours of the recently concluded legislative session the New Democratic Party government passed Bill 88, amending the Vancouver Charter and the Municipal Act to allow civic governments to pass bylaws restricting a citizen’s right to run for office.

Municipal governments can now demand that prospective candidates cough up a $100 deposit for the right to have their names placed on the ballot.

That may not seem like a draconian curtailment of civil liberties to many people, but when you consider that close to 10 per cent of British Columbians are currently collecting welfare and living off $500 a month the implication becomes clear: Some 300,000 people will be told they are not fit to seek public office because they are poor.

It was not by pure chance that the 1996 ballot was flooded with candidates. It was, in fact, the end result of a sinister plot by none other than myself to encourage as many people as possible to try to unseat Owen from his throne at 12th and Cambie.

As the de facto proprietor of an infamous watering hole, and the national affairs editor of Vancouver’s voice of the underground, Terminal City magazine, I took it upon myself to encourage a resurgence of interest in civic politics by offering free beer to anyone who ran for the position of mayor.

I would be dangerously close to taking on the attributes of a real politician if I were to claim that the endeavour was not a prank. But there was a serious aspect to it, as well as being a great gag, that made plenty of people laugh.

The effort was also an experiment and a litmus test for my friends in Owen’s Non-Partisan Association.

In the 1996 election, Mayor Owen said I was slapping the face of every brave Canadian who had fought and died to protect democracy.

Indeed, many people from this country have fought in far too many wars started by megomaniacal politicians. One such soldier was my father, who never spoke much about his reasons for going off to Europe, but he sure as hell didn’t do it so people like Philip Owen could deny a poor person the right to stand for office in this country.

I fully suspected that the powers-that-be would react to my “prank” in the manner they have. It was, in fact, a raison d’etre of the experiment.

In encouraging a flood of candidates I hoped to expose Philip Owen and his compadres in the Non-Partisan Association as being anti- democratic. Owen may try come up with a justification for denying poor Vancouverites a fundamental right, but he will come up empty. There is no possible justification.

The people of Vancouver should understand that any office holder who even attempts to curtail such rights is arrogant, power-mad and more than a little insecure.

If it’s not bad enough that Bill 88 is undemocratic, autocratic and arbitrary it may well also be illegal. Section 3 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”

Since Charter challenges are extremely expensive we will likely never know what the Supreme Court has to say about the issue unless a highly principled lawyer appears from the shadows and generously offers to work pro bono.

As for a candidate’s right to be listed by any name he chooses, Philip Owen explained his position in a very candid interview with Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight by saying that a person could still list a nickname parenthetically beside his legal name: “You know, if I want to be known as Philip Owen, but I’m called `Idiot’ – – so Philip (Idiot) Owen — I think that’s fair and reasonable.”

Well, at least we agree on one thing.

Brian Godzilla Salmi is the founder and leader for life of the Gnu Democratic Rhino Reform Party.

Vancouver Sun
September 11, 1999
B5
Fee to cut monkey business in mayor’s race: The city considers a $100 deposit to discourage any more Zippy the Circus Chimps from running
Karen krangle

If Zippy the Circus Chimp wants to run for mayor of Vancouver this year, he may have to pay for the privilege. Same with Frank the Moose, the Trash Terminator, Buzz and Barb E. Doll.

And Philip Owen, too, for that matter.

Vancouver city council is considering a new bylaw requiring all prospective civic election candidates to pay a $100 deposit to put their names on the ballot. The $100 will be refunded as long as the candidate files a disclosure statement of campaign contributions and election expenses.

The idea is to discourage “nuisance” candidates from running for office.

The 1996 election saw 58 names on the mayoral ballot, including that of the successful incumbent, Owen, who angrily vowed to find any legal way to eliminate fringe candidates from the ballot and get the provincial government to change the rules.

After an exchange of letters this spring between city hall and Victoria, he was successful.

A report from the city clerk’s office, to be discussed at Tuesday’s council meeting, notes that the provincial government recently amended the Vancouver Charter to allow the city to impose a nomination fee of up to $100 for council and mayoral candidates.

“The nomination deposit is the only mechanism given to us by the provincial government to deal with the issue of frivolous candidates,” the report says, adding that there was no move to increase the minimum number of two people required to nominate a candidate.

The fee would not apply in other B.C. municipalities, which are all governed by the Municipal Act.

The report also recommends council ask the park and school boards to pass a similar bylaw enforcing the nomination fee.

The Vancouver Charter used to require a $300 nomination deposit and 25 signatures for mayoral candidates but, the report notes, “the Election Reform Act of 1993 removed that authority.”

That year, 23 names appeared on the mayoral ballot.

Brian Salmi, who ran in 1996 as Ronald F. McDonald, offered people free beer if they would file nomination papers for the mayor’s job. He figured he had persuaded at least 50 of the candidates to run.

David Cadman, who plans to challenge Owen for the mayor’s chair, representing the Greens and the COPE, said he sees nothing wrong with the fee, especially if it is refundable. “One hundred dollars doesn’t strike me as too exorbitant to really disqualify anyone who is a serious candidate,” he said Friday.

Vancouver Sun
September 16, 1999
B4
Fringe candidates face hurdles to running this fall in Vancouver: City councillors pass a bylaw that requires a $100 registration fee and also sets new rules for getting one’s name on the ballot
Karen Krangle

Zippy the Circus Chimp and some of the other jokers who ran for mayor in 1996 will have to pay a new $100 nomination fee if they want to run this year.

And even if they’re willing to put up the money, they won’t be eligible to run if they didn’t play by the rules last time.

A bylaw passed by Vancouver city council Tuesday requires all candidates in the Nov. 20 civic election to pay the deposit to put their names on the ballot and disqualifies anyone who did not follow campaign disclosure requirements in 1996.

Deputy election officer Rob Drennan said the city will also be able to launch a court challenge of any candidates it finds “suspicious.”

After the 1996 election, in which 58 candidates, many with weird names, ran for mayor, Mayor Philip Owen vowed to have the system changed. He and city clerk Ulli Watkiss complained to the municipal affairs ministry that the large number of fringe candidates confused voters and was disrespectful.

The provincial government amended the Vancouver Charter this spring to allow the city to charge up to $100 for each nomination. The money will be refunded if candidates submit a statement of disclosure of campaign contributions and expenses, or if they are disqualified from running.

Some council members were confused over whether candidates could still register (and make disclosures) under their real names but use other ones on the ballot.

“If their name is John Smith and they chose to run as Big Gorilla, will they be able to run as Big Gorilla?” asked Councillor Lynne Kennedy.

Watkiss said the new legislation will make that more difficult: “We have the authority to challenge that in court.”

Although council passed the bylaw unanimously, there was some debate over what constituted a “frivolous” candidate.

“I don’t really have a problem with frivolous candidates as long as they’re seriously frivolous,” said Councillor Gordon Price. “When you think of Amor de Cosmos [B.C.’s eccentric second premier], there’s a long tradition of frivolous candidates.

“The problem we had last time was that there were so many that weren’t participating in the campaign.”

Councillor George Puil said he thought candidates should be required to garner a minimum number of votes before the deposit is refunded.

Brian Salmi, who bought free beer for prospective candidates in ’96 and ran as Ronald F. McDonald, said the new bylaw shows that council — whose members all belong to the civic Non-Partisan Association — is undemocratic. He said he will not run this time and would be disqualified anyway because he filed his disclosure statements too late.

“I’m advocating that nobody run against them this time,” he said. “They’ve proven that they don’t want a fair game. Let them run the city themselves.”

Nominations close Oct. 15.

Vancouver Sun
September 18, 1999
A22
New election rules hinder opposition
Mike McLean

Brian Salmi’s 1996 election prank continues to reverberate through city hall (Fringe candidates face hurdles to running this fall in Vancouver, Sept. 15).

Mayor Philip Owen and council were apparently so traumatized by this innocuous, yet effective (and hilarious) prank that they have taken steps to prevent their sensitive natures from being so harmed again.

Or is there a more sinister reason for the new candidate rules?

The Non-Partisan Association, once it achieved its monopoly of council and the boards, is ensuring that public office is available only to those wealthy enough to participate. This guarantees neither democracy nor good government. Every citizen should be able to seek public office, regardless of financial standing.

It is time for those who elected this slate to decide whether they want to continue to support those who would enact these undemocratic measures. It is also time for those who did not vote to realize their inaction has allowed the NPA to get away with this.

Vancouver Sun
September 18, 1999
D 23 (letter to the editor)
Dangerous talk?

In Apocalypse Now, Marlon Brando delivered one of the most poignant lines I have ever heard in a movie when he said (I’m paraphrasing), “We teach them to drop bombs on children but we won’t let them write `fuck’ on their planes because it’s obscene.” The hypocrisy is transparent and nobody who has seen through it will ever be able to listen to anyone who bleats on about the need to censor bad words.

Sun editors substitute f— for the outright spelling of the word. How does the reader pronounce f— in his head? And what horrors will unfold if we take the — out and put the uck back in? If the idea of not printing bad words is because people’s delicate sensibilities will be offended, why aren’t there more bad words? How about adding rape to the list. Doesn’t reading the word rape bring discomfort to everyone who has ever been raped?

Brian Godzilla Salmi

%d bloggers like this: