Category Archives: politics and politicians

Vote for Kilts!

Wear a kilt and go after the Scottish-Celtic ethnic vote!

Vision Vancouver candidates for council
and mayor,
Raymond Louie and Gregor Robertson have attended may of the Gung Haggis Fat
Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinners.  This picture is from 2008 with VIP host Deb Martin. 
That same year, Raymond
joined a kilted “Toddish McWong” on Rock 101's Bro Jake Show on Robbie
Burns Day this year.  In this photo Raymond is wearing the Royal Stuart
tartan, while Gregor wears his Robertson family tartan – photo
VFK / Todd Wong collection.

Many of the Vancouver politicians have attended the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner – but not everybody wears a kilt

BC and Canada all have long Scottish-influenced roots.  Vancouver's
first Mayor, Malcolm Alexander Maclean, was born in Scotland.  Canada's
first two Prime Ministers Sir John A. MacDonald Alexander Mackenzie. 
BC's first governor Sir James Douglas was raised in Scotland, after
being born in British Guyana to a Scottish father and a Creole mother. 
And then there are rivers named after Scottish-Canadian explores
Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser.

Read the Scottish Page from “The History of Metropolitan Vancouver”

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson wore a kilt to his inauguration in 2008.  Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart also regularly wears a kilt.

All the current City councilors have attended Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners – Heather Deal and Raymond Louie have worn kilts to Gung Haggis dinners, but Tim Stevenson, Geoff Meggs, and Andrea Reimer haven't – Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang and Suzanne Anton have worn Chinese styled fashion.

Parks commissioners Stuart Mackinnon, Constance Barnes, Sarah Blyth, and Aaron Jasper have attended Gung Haggis dinners.  Stuart wears his kilt, and is a former paddler with the Gung Haggis dragon boat team.  Constance and Sarah have worn multicultural mixed fashion – Constance included her African and Scottish heritage.  Stuart has been a strong independent voice on the Parks board – able to
work with commissioners from each of the other COPE and npa parties. 
Stuart bought his kilt outfit
last year soon after joining the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team,
and wore it with the team in a documentary about Vancouver's
multiculturalism for German Public Television.  Stuart's kilt is
primarily Green – like his party.

Parks Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon in his red kilt, city councilors Ellen Woodsworth, Kerry Jang, Suzanne Anton and parks commissioners Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes. – photo Patrick Tam Flunging Pictures

Donalda Greenwell-baker is running for Parks Board.  Here she is wearing a tartan skirt that she bought at silent auction for the 2010 Burns Dinner for the Vancouver District Labour Council, so money goes to supporting the meal programs at the Queen Alexandra Elementary School. – photo Todd Wong

DSC_0001 by you.
Tartan Day (April 6) was proclaimed for City of Vancouver,
on April 3, 2008.  It was moved by councilor Heather Deal and seconded
by Raymond Louie.   Mayor Sam Sullivan and many city councilors have
supported the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner over the years.  In this
picture Tim Stevenson is holding the Fraser Hunting Tartan backwards. 
He said after I corrected him “I can't do anything straight!”

Heather Deal is wearing a tartan skirt.  Bagpiper Allan McMordie wears
his full dress outfit.  Mayor Sullivan and councilors BC Lee and George
Chow wear tartan sashes. Toddish McWong wears the Fraser Hunting Tartan,
as does councilor Kim Capri in the mini-kilted version.

Todd Wong (centre right in red vest) wears the tartan on St. Patrick’s Day, along with Nathalie Coulombe (right) and others at Doolan’s Pub.
View Larger Image View Larger Image and Story – click here!
the best photo opportunity for a city councilor in a kilt! 
English-born but Michigan-raised Vancouver City Councilor Heather Deal
came to the April Kilts Night, and her family tartan graced the
Vancouver Sun photo.  It was Heather who helped develop the Tartan Day
proclamation and moved it at Vancouver City Hall on April 1st. 

was councilor Raymond Louie who as deputy mayor, actually read the
proclamation on April 6th Tartan Day at a ceremony at Creekside Park,
with the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team. 
see story:
A Tartan Day dragon boat paddle practice… with bagpiper and proclamation reading

Adrian Dix is the most multicultural of both NDP and Liberal leadership candidates

Adrian Dix understands and lives multiculturalism
– He could be BC's next premier with a multicultural vision like Sir James Douglas, “the Father of BC”

Adrian Dix speaks at a Vaisaiki event in 2007.  On the far left is then BC NDP leader Carole James, and wearing the orange tie is Federal NDP leader Jack Layton.   I have yet to find a picture of Adrian Dix wearing a kilt.  photo (hopefully) courtesy of Flunging Pictures

BC history is filled with characters who pushed for a “White Man's Province” such as the political leaders who wanted to charge the Chinese head tax, and created the 1927 Chinese Exclusion Act, all the way up to Premier Duff Pattulo who wanted to keep Canadian born Asians out of the WW2 armed forces, because he knew the next step would be giving Chinese-Canadians the vote.

But our history is also filled with visionary people like Sir James Douglas, the first governor of BC.  He was born in Guyana of mixed Scottish and Caribbean heritage.  His wife Amelia was Metis, and he stood up for the rights of First Nations peoples in the Fraser Canyon gold fields stating in 1958 that “the Laws would protect the rights of the Indians
no less than those of the white men.” 

The recent NDP and Liberal leadership races saw Christy Clark and Adrian Dix emerge victorious from their serious challengers of Kevin Falcon, Mike de Jong, and George Abbott for the Liberals; and Mike Farnsworth, John Horgan, Dana Larson and Nicholas Simons for the NDP.

And so… I have been asking myself, “Who is the most multicultural?”

Multicultural understanding is important because without it, we don't have cultural equality in society.  Without respect for different cultures, society become mono-culture.  This was British Columbia during the 1908 Anti-Asiatic riots in Chinatown and Japantown.  This was BC that created the anti-potlatch law and put all First Nations children in Residential schools.  This was BC during the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II.  This was BC, when Canada created the laws that only permitted direct passage to Canada, making it impossible for people to travel directly from India, hence the Komagata Maru incident.

Being a great leader isn't just about being multicultural.  But I think that a great leader must understand multiculturalism. Afterall, the great civilizations have always placed great importance in trade and knowledge.  It has been the death of civilizations to close themselves to the outside world, and insulate themselves in their own ethnocentricity.  In the past years, we have even seen former Premier Gordon Campbell change his tune from working against First Nations to working together.

The Georgia Straight
published this story the other day: “Adrian Dix brings cultural literacy to the NDP leader's office, which could spell trouble for Christy Clark”.  Author Charlie Smith looks at the people around Dix, and his supporters such as Vancouver City Councilor Kerry Jang.  He writes, “Of course, Dix attracted a great deal of support from people from other
walks of life. But had it not been for his outreach to multicultural
B.C.—which set him apart from the other candidates in the race—he
probably wouldn't have won.”

In a similar vein of politics and multiculturalism, Vancouver Sun writer Douglas Todd recently tried to find out how many of
Vancouver's mayors have been historically of Scottish ancestry.  He
tried googling the names and mostly came up with names of Scottish and
British ancestry.  He called me up to ask me my views, which I said was directly linked to the Scots then being the largest ethnic group of Vancouver, but also because of racism, because Chinese were not allowed to vote until 1947.  Read: Opinion: Is the end in sight for Vancouver's 'Scottish' mayors?

He also asked me how soon did I think Vancouver would have a Mayor of Chinese ancestry.  I told him it would be just a matter of time, since Kamloops had Peter Wing, the first Chinese Canadian mayor in Canada in the 1960's, and Victoria recently had Mayor Allan Lowe.

Horgan and Dix have talked about their Irish ancestry.  Horgan says he “can talk anything with anybody”, and Dix said his father was born in Dublin.  Horgan also received endorsement from fellow Irish/Scots Burnaby mayor Derrick Corrigan and his MLA wife Kathy Corrigan.

Christy Clark attended the University of Edinburgh and named her son Hamish.  But it has been harder to find out ancestral backgrounds for some of the other candidates.

Maybe they don't see ethnic heritage as an important part of a campaign, if the candidates are all the same mainstream colour or ethnicity.  But “getting the ethnic vote” has become an issue in the present federal election.  Articles about how the Conservatives and Liberals are stumbling over each other, and in their efforts to secure ethic votes, or stage photo opportunities are making the news rounds.  Meanwhile, the strategic placement of ethnic candidates is discussed as well, especially in the federal riding of Vancouver South, where Meena Wong NDP candidate aims to take some of the Chinese vote away from Conservative Wai Young, as well as challenge incumbent Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh,

Multicultural issues are increasingly inclusive of Gay Lesbian cultures too.  MP Libby Davies and MLA Mable Elmore were big supporters of Adrian Dix.  It's good that in today's society, a candidate's gender preference or race is no longer an issue in the media.

Much has been written about Dix's connections to the South Asian community.  MLA's Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan are leaders in the South Asian and Labour communities and were quick to endorse Dix.  Going into the last week, MLA Jenny Kwan endorsed Mike Farnsworth.   But it isn't just who you know that makes you multicultural, it's how you live your life.

Mable Elmore is BC's first Filipino-Canadian MLA, and when I asked her who the most multicultural candidate was, she told me that He
is the first MLA to have a Vietnamese speaking constituency assistant. 
This was a tremendous help, when Dix became involved in the accidental
death of Vietnamese workers at a Fraser Valley mushroom farm, and took his assistant with him to help translate. I also heard Raj Chouhan speak on this event at the BC Federation of Labour conference, because Chouhan had been the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers' Union.

Most importantly, Dix's wife is of South Asian ancestry.  Rennee Saklikar is a wonderful woman, whom I liked immediately when I first met her.  She complimented me on my Gung Haggis Fat Choy activities, and we have crossed paths in literary communities.  She is a poet and this weekend, she shared with me that her poem “June 1981” has been nominated for poem of the year for Descant Magazine.  They have known each other a long time, and it is impossible not to share each other's cultures and perspectives.  Because of this, I am sure that Dix is also affected by the Air India bombing of June 1985, because Saklikar's aunt and uncle were lost on that flight.

When families become interconnected, we become part of each other's culture and history.  In the same way, that I have met so many people of both Scottish, and Chinese ancestry, or both combined – it is acknowledged that all the guests who come to a Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner, are part of our multicultural family now. 

Dix is known as an intelligent and sharp critic – one of the opposition stars in Carole James' shadow cabinet.  While I had hoped that Carole James could fulfill my vision of a Dougals-like premier, with her Metis and Scottish ancestry, as well as her compassion for inclusion and human rights, it looks like Dix is the man who might best exemplify the qualities of Sir James Douglas.

In the Canadian Dictionary of Biography Online, Sir James Douglas is described as such:

      “A man
of iron nerve and physical prowess, great force of character, keen intelligence,
and unusual resourcefulness…  A
practical man, but yet a visionary, Sir James Douglas was also
humanitarian. He treated individuals, including Negro slaves and Indians, with
a respect that few of his contemporaries showed.”

With Dix's reputation as the hardest working member of the NDP, and his commitment to close the gap between rich and poor, to make health care more accessible, to stop closing schools and maintain student teacher ratios, to look after the environment…. and his “cultural literacy”- he may well be the person most likely to fill the shoes and multicultural vision of Sir James Douglas.

Read the Georgia Straight article:

No kilt – but here is Adrian Dix participating in the Fiji Festival last summer, wearing a green grass skirt.  Second from left is Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan, and in red is Burnaby MLA Kathy Corrigan.  photo by Patrick Tam, Flunging Pictures.

Tyee: “How Strangely You Canadians Elect Your Leader” by Aleeza Khan

Tyee: “How Strangely You Canadians Elect Your Leader”

A global perspective is always interesting…. How are Canadians viewed by the world and how do Canadians view the world.

Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff has viewed the world as a media correspondent for BBC and CBC, and also as a professor at Harvard University.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper rarely visited another country, until he had to as Prime Minister.

I have met Jack Layton and his wife Olivia Chow and found them both very personable and friendly.  Both have a good understanding of multiculturalism, inclusion, and immigrant issues.  They are such a “Gung Haggis couple” because of their intercultural marriage.


Jack Layton posed with me and my bagpiper friends Allan and Trish McMordie, following the 2009 St. Patrick's Day parade. photo T. Wong

Check out this article in The Tyee, by visiting Brit Aleeza Khan.

Tyee: “How Strangely You Canadians Elect Your Leader”

A visitor from the UK contrasts Conservative PM David
Cameron with Conservative PM Stephen Harper, and what it takes to win
there and here.

By Aleeza Khan


Visiting U.K. writer Aleeza Khan — here
sampling the other Canadian bloodsport — wishes to be clear that she
likes Canadians and our cultural customs, a lot.

I'm not totally new to your
land. While I'm from London, I have many connections to Canada and have
visited numbers of times. What has made me feel a stranger during my
current visit, though, is this exercise underway called the Federal
Election of 2011.

From my vantage in Vancouver, I've been
taking notes and forming comparisons with the election we in Great
Britain went through less than a year ago. You may have noticed that
the person who became prime minister, David Cameron, calls himself a
Conservative, as does your Stephen Harper. There, most similarities seem
to end in the way the two men present themselves, in the way they've
run for office, and in the effect they have on the voting public,
particularly younger ones like me.

Can I share some observations?

1. In England, we feel the need to like our prime minister. You apparently don't.

2. In Canada, the prime minister says coalitions are evil. In the UK, the prime minister owes his job to one.

3. In Great Britain, candidates want as many people as possible to vote. Not in Canada.

4. Back in England, younger people are a lot more politically engaged than here in Canada.

Read full article here:


I am part of the Vancouver 125 team.  I was
down at Jack Poole Plaza from 1:30-5:30, helping out with the ball
hockey tournaments. The 6pm Happy Birthday ceremonies included: birthday singalong by Vancouver Bach Choir + cake +
cauldron lighting at 6:45pm!
-photo T.Wong

The sky turned blue with occasional clouds, with lots of sunshine for the Vancouver 125 Celebrations, marking the 125th birthday of the City of Vancouver.  Fresh snow decorated the local mountains, yet the Jack Poole Plaza was a warmish 9 degrees in the sunshine.  The concert stage opened at 4pm with Uzume Taiko, followed by Mmm-HoP, and Leela Gilday.  The 6pm ceremonies featured a birthday singalong by the Vancouver Bach Choir, of which city councilor Heather Deal is a singer.

photo – photo Deb Martin
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson with Vancouver 125 Team city employees Kathy Bengston and Todd Wong.  The Mayor was dressed for ball hockey and he played with some of the teams, then later posed for pictures with the youth teams.  Wong works for the Vancouver Public Library and wore the Fraser Hunting Tartan kilt, because April 6th is also Tartan Day throughout Canada, and because the Fraser Hunting Tartan has the similar blues and greens of the Vancouver Tartan.  Bengston was part of the City of Vancouver Host team and was stationed at the Downtown Live City venue during the Olympics.

My role for the Vancouver 125 Team was to help out with the ball hockey games.  During my breaks, I walked around the Jack Poole Plaza and saw the music performances that featured some of my friends.  Bonnie Mah is part of Uzume Taiko.  Ndidi Cascade was one of the performers of Mm-HoP: Hop Jump Jive.

Uzume Taiko blends the traditonal and contemporaryarts into a great cultural fusion using Taiko drums, traditional Japanese masks…. and bagpipes!

Here is the bagpiper for Uzume Taiko wearing Japanese styled outfit.

A large screen projected rap singer Ndidi Cascade into a large image for the crowd, as she performed with Mm-HoP: Hop Jump Jive


It was a picturesque day with fresh snow on the mountains, and all the people creating a happy crowd.

2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a big success… or was it Gung HAPA Fat Choy?


We celebrated the 14th Annual Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner on January 30th, 2011.
Our 2011 theme featured so many performers of Asian-Celtic-Gaelic heritage that we could have called it
Gung HAPA Fat Choy!

Co-hosts were actor Patrick Gallagher (Glee, Men of a Certain Age, Night at the Museum), Jenna Choy (CBC Radio), writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu, and creator of the event Todd Wong aka “Toddish McWong”Featured performers were: Jocelyn Pettit and her band – Siew & Joel Pettit + Bob Collins
Joe McDonald on pipes, accordion, Address to the Haggis, and Highland Fling.
Jay MacDonald, performing Loch Lomand and “Ring of Burns”
Jaime Foster singing Ae Fond Kiss
Vancouver Poet Laureate: Brad Cran
Dr. Leith Davis: Immortal Memory
Gung Haggis Pipes & Drums: led by Pipe Major Bob Wilkins with: Allan McMordie, Trish McMoride, Brenda McNair, Don Scobie, Danny Graham, drummers were: Casandra Lihn, Bill Burr and Tracey Morris

All photos below from our official photographer Lydia Nagai.

Creator and co-host Todd Wong aka Toddish McWong with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, try out the haggis won ton with chop sticks. – photo Lydia Nagai
Fiddler Jocelyn Pettit with her French-Celtic-Canadian father and the Chinese-Canadian mother – the Jocelyn Pettit Band! – photo Lydia Nagai

CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski and his cameraman film Jocelyn Pettit as she performs! – photo Lydia Nagai

Actor Patrick Gallagher was our co-host, while our Bearded Scottish Lady roamed, and all posed for a picture with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and host and Gung Haggis creator Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Co-hosts 3 =  2 1/2 Asians…. Todd Wong, writer/comedian Tetsuro Shigematsu and Jenna Chow (CBC Radio). – photo Lydia Nagai


Todd Wong and Jenna Chow read the poem “Recipe For Tea”, written by Jim Wong-Chu, which describes how tea first traveled from China to the UK, via Scottish traders. – photo Lydia Nagai

Floata manager Antonio Hung carries the haggis during the Piping of the Haggis – photo Lydia Nagai

Dr. Leith Davis, director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University, cuts the haggis, as she read the 3rd verse of Robert Burns immortal poem “Address To A Haggis” as CNN reporter Percy Von Lipinski, films Leith close up. – photo Lydia Nagai


Film maker Jeff Chiba Stearns explains the meaning of “Hapa” as a word to describe people of Mixed ancestry with Asian heritage.  His film “One Big Hapa Family” was featured at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner.  Co-host Patrick Gallagher, of Irish and Chinese Ancestry, looks on. – photo Lydia Nagai

The Head Table with MLA Shane Simpson, co-host Jenna Chow and friend Mattias, Meeka, Bahareh (partner of co-host Tetsuro Shigematsu),  co-host and founder Todd Wong, Jeff Chiba Stearns and partner Jen Kato. – photo Lydia Nagai

Musician Joe McDonald, sans bagpipes, flute or accordion – dances a jig, with bagpiper Don Scobie. – photo Lydia Nagai


Dr. Leith Davis, gives the Immortal Memory – talking about the “Life of Robbie Burns” and the connections of Todd Wong – photo Lydia Nagai


Trish & Allan McMordie, with guitarists Jay MacDonald and Bob Collins, join in the singing of “I Went to a Robbie Burns Dinner” – Burns lyrics set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s famous song – “Ring of Fire” – photo Lydia Nagai

During the singing of Auld Lang Syne, people joined hands to sing…. as the Chinese Dragon weaved through the crowd. – photo Lydia Nagai


Members of the audience joined performers on stage to sing Auld Lang Syne for the closing song.
(l-r Siew Pettit, Jocelyn Pettit, Todd Wong, Trish McMordie, Allan McMordie + 3 members of the audience) – photo Lydia Nagai

After the singing was over, a posed picture of kilts and legs, was taken!
(l-r: bearded Scots Lady, Bruce Clark, Todd Wong, Adam Todd, Don Harder and Allan McMordie – photo Lydia Nagai

Shelagh Rogers interviews Ken McGoogan, author of How the Scots Invented Canada

Ken McGoogan is interviewed on CBC Radio's The Next Chapter by Shelagh Rogers.
– with a mention of Gung Haggis Fat Choy by Shelagh

How the Scots Invented Canada by Ken McGoogan

Note that the tartan featured is the Maple Leaf tartan, featuring the yellow, green and red colours of a changing maple leaf.

It's a lively interview that Shelagh has with Ken McGoogan.  Of particular interest, McGoogan talks about pluralism and how the Scots themselves are an ethnically diverse group,

Shelagh: “I want to get back to pluralism because i find this a very interesting impact of the Scots in Canada, the population has never exceeded 16% of the country.  What do you think it wa was it about the Scots and what they brought over that created this pluralistic vision.

Ken: “Yes, that's a wonderful question Shelagh, because and you;re quite right to focus on that  because that to me is one of the central  themes of the book, and probably my favorite theme that arises in the book, because I do see Canada as multicultural and multi-racial. And I do trace that back… on the pluralism of the Scots themselves.  It's also interesting, the Scots were, First of all, they felt they were underdogs in relation to the English, Scots have always felt that England has always treated Scots badly.  There always had been this undertone of tension in the Scots' feeling to be underdogs.  But at the same time, in addition to that feeling, it made them more empathetic to other peoples than they might otherwise have been.  You also have the Scots being well educated and highly literate much earlier than almost anywhere in Europe.”

And McGoogan talks about Robert Burns, and his influence in Canada.  He calls it “singular and amazing,” who there are Burns statues and influences in Canadian cities from Halifax to Victoria.

Check out the TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan

Shelagh's special unabridged conversation with Ken McGoogan, author of “How the Scots Invented Canada”.

Right click to Download TNC Special Podcast – Ken McGoogan
[mp3 file: runs 34:53]

Go to 18:10 to listen to Shelagh Rogers tell Ken McGoogan about Gung Haggis Fat Choy

Here are some reviews of McGoogan's book and a link to his own web page.

  1. Ken McGoogan: HOME

    Ken McGoogan is the author of four Canadian bestsellers about the search for the Northwest in October 2010, will publish How the Scots Invented Canada. – 

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?

2009_May 164 by you. Vancouver is called one of the “most livable cities” – kite flyers, sailboaters enjoy English Bay from Spanish Banks – photo Todd Wong

Vancouver vs San Diego? vs Logan Lake?
Vancouverism is an architectural concept for which diversity of use, diversity of space and diversity of people is included.

VANCOUVERISM is a wikipedia entry… and a traveling architectural exhibition to Paris and London.

SAN DIEGOISM is non-existent.

And where the heck is Logan Lake?

Vancouverism is also a touring exhibition to London and Paris. see:

Last weekend in Vernon, when somebody from Logan Lake found out I was from Vancouver, they complained about how “unfriendly” Vancouver was – especially about parking.  I had to ask where Logan was located.  Answer: between Kamloops, Merritt and Cache Creek. It is tiny with a population of only 2,100 people.  The Metro Vancouver area has a population of 2,116,581.  This person complained that mass transit didn't help him when he visited Vancouver, and that there is no freeway.

I pointed out that you cannot apply rural values and issues on a large city and expect similar results. Vancouverites fought against a freeway through Chinatown and Strathcona neighborhoods.  I told him that ubanist Jane Jacobs moved from the U.S.A. to Toronto because she declared it “more livable,” and today Jacob's son Ned Jacobs lives in Vancouver's Little Mountain neighborhood for it's livability where he leads an annual Jane's Walk.

Todays' Vancouver Sun newspapers reported on a San Diego news blogger 

San Diego blogger Arthur Saim compares Vancouver to San Diego, and says that Vancouver is “depressing” for him when he thinks  about the potentials for San Diego. Many comments on the blog have focussed on the social problems of Vancouver

See original article:

I think the key to Vancouver is its inclusion of diversity.  Whether it is the architectural concept of Vancouverism incorporating mixed use development, of community and industrial and business needs, – or the cultural diversity of its population.  Vancouver is many things to many people.  This is both it's strength and weakness.

Here are some links and quotes about Vancouverism:

“Vancouverism is characterized by tall, but widely separated,
slender towers interspersed with low-rise buildings, public spaces,
small parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes and facades to
minimize the impact of a high density population.”
-The New York Times, December 28, 2005

The word first entered the argot of American architects and city
planners over the past decade, who began speaking of “Vancouverizing”
their under-populated, un-loved urban cores, seeking inspiration from
Canada’s Pacific portal’s re-development successes. Our city has become
first a verb, and now, an ideology promoting an urbanism of density and
public amenity. Vancouverism at its best brings together a deep respect
for the natural environment with high concentrations of residents.
Within condominium residential towers downtown and courtyard and
boulevard-edging mid-rise buildings elsewhere in the city,
Vancouverites are learning to live tightly together; a healthy,
engaging – even thrilling place.

Not Asia, not Europe, not even North America, but a new kind of city
living with elements from all of these – a hybrid that now demands to
be taken on its own terms. In the language of city-building,
“Vancouverism” is fast replacing “Manhattanism” as the maximum power
setting for shaping the humane mixed-use city, important ideas for a
new era of scarce energy and diminished natural resources.


“Vancouverism is evolving a second and more interesting sense: that
of the latent character, the subjective quirks of urban identity hidden
behind these shiny façades. Call it the theory, or the legacy, or the
idea of Vancouver, but increasingly our writers are producing books
that capture this precious moment of self-knowledge, as this
good-looking adolescent of a city enters a more complicated young

Meredith Quartermain’s new collection of poetry, Vancouver Walking,
deals with this latter sense of Vancouverism, her word-images evoking
our hidden histories and the textures of our streets, especially on the
East Side.

Lance Berelowitz’s Dream City: Vancouver and the Global Imagination
deals with the bricks and mortar and geographies of this town, a
rah-rah appreciation of our downtown and our more officially sanctioned
westerly zones.

Lance Berelowitz is a consultant to the urban development industry
who came to Vancouver from his native South Africa in 1985, after a
decade studying architecture and working in Europe… The first half of Dream
City, in particular has a “Gee whiz, aren’t we bloody marvelous” tone,
no doubt born of these prior commissions. “Vancouver is the poster
child of urbanism in North America” is his opening sentence, and too
much of the book varnishes over that poster with multiple coats of

Save TLC committee is the best prepared to lead The Land Conservancy of BC for the Aug 8th election of new board.

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is holding an Extraordinary General Meeting on August 8th to elect new board members.

TLC founder Bill Turner gives a positive “thumbs-up” approval with proposed board members from the Save TLC Committee.  They all attended a one day workshop and meeting on July 5th in Saanich with other proposed board members, committee members and community leaders.
Standing: Todd Wong, Bill Turner, Ken Millard, Magnus Bien
Sitting: Cheryl Bryce, Elspeth McVeigh, Briony Penn

The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) is one of the important players in land conservancy in Canada.  It is a non-profit organization, based on the The National Trust of England, Ireland and Wales.  TLC purchases lands and creates environmental convenants in order to lands, and buildings of environmental, scientific, historical, cultural, scenic and recreational value that would otherwise be loss to destruction, demolition, or development.

TLC: What happened?

On March 27, TLC executive director and founder Bill Turner was “fired” without warning or rational explanation.  This is only three years after the founding visionary was appointed the Order of Canada for  “his tremendous energy and selfless dedication to preserve his province's
natural environment. A realtor, he founded the Land Conservancy of
British Columbia (TLC) to advocate for the protection of the
environment through conservation covenants and ecological gifts.”

According to Save TLC website Q's and A's “At the same time, “another Director gained access to TLC's head offic, once the staff had left for the day, disabled TLC's communications network and changed the locks on the doors.

When Turner was notified of his firing, a replacement had already been hired – without any public search.  Now to be called  Chief Operating Officer (COO) this replacement has no experienc managing land trusts or non-profit organizations, and has never even worked in one.  On Monday, March 30, the COO also fired TLC's long-time Deputy Executive Director, Ian Fawcett – again, without warning and without any explanation.

TLC members were shocked to learn of the events, and of the allegations by the TLC board about the TLC founder Bill Turner.  The Save TLC committee was founded to support the return of Bill Turner and senior management staff to TLC.  As well, the TLC committee has diligently worked to challenge the TLC board on its allegations, and to inform TLC members about these events.

The Save TLC committee has recruited 11 proposed board members that have worked with TLC in many capacities and/or have related experience and background to helping TLC recover from this current situation.

Both the Save TLC committee and TLC Board have
agreed on a procedure that would see all members of TLC vote to
elect a full 11 member Board at the EGM. All Directors of the current
board will resign at the EGM and those eligible may stand for

I am pleased that Bill Turner asked me, Todd Wong, to be on the Save TLC slate.  I have worked with TLC and Bill Turner since December 2005, when TLC became partners with the Save Kogawa House Committee, in an effort to save the childhood home of famous Canadian author Joy Kogawa from demolition. 

I have always been interested in the history of BC, and especially its pioneers.   I have always loved the natural history of BC, and am very aware of the need to protect its environments and eco-systems.  I was honoured that David Kogawa nominated me for the BC Community Achievement Award, citing my community work with the Save Kogawa House Committee, as well as my multicultural community events for Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.

Former Founding Director Briony Penn has written a letter and sent it out to friends and members of TLC.  Briony writes:

I have received a large number of calls and emails from members
asking me who to vote for regarding the upcoming mail-in ballot for
electing 11 new Board members of  TLC The Land Conservancy of BC and
what my thoughts are.

will be receiving a ballot with 23 names. I would recommend this
wonderful team of grassroot individuals with trusted and proven
experience with land trusts that have put their names forward under the
ballot of Save TLC ( and consider them for the board. Then
vote through the mail-in ballot which you will be sent.

Barry Glickman, professor of biology at UVic
Cheryl Bryce, lands manager for Songhees and spokesperson on First Nations issues of land conservation
Magnus Bein, an ecologist working on the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program in the interior
Alastair Craighead, former Victoria City councillor and cycling activist
Elspeth McVeigh, a Vancouver business woman and historic building specialist
David Merner, a dynamic conflict resolution lawyer and community volunteer
Ken Millard, a veteran lands trust director and Galiano Islander
Carol Pickup a retired Saanich coucillor interested in heritage conservation
Frances Pugh, a farmer and chair of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society
Todd Wong who was active in Vancouver on the Joy Kogawa House and an award winning multiculturalist community organizer
and myself, a Founding Director of TLC and consultant environmental communication/education

have already met as a group and identified our respective skills and
roles that we would bring to restore the organization. All of us are
hard workers in our communities and understand that the financial
security of the organization relies on the relationships we form with
members/donors as this is our biggest asset for the long term financial
and social stability of the organization.

We have all spent time
going over financial statements and addressing the financial
allegations levelled at the senior management by the existing Board
with an independent chartered accountant and a trust lawyer expert that
we hired. The allegations were incorrect and a misinterpretation of the
Charitable Purposes Preservation Act. No law has ever been broken, the
lawyers that resigned were going on verbal advice based on an informal
conversation (one lawyer's)  about blending trust fund accounts, which
is common practice for charities. It is only illegal in a lawyer's
practice in some instances e.g., where you need to separate different
client's accounts that are accruing interest. (for full legal opinion,
trust lawyer David John's letter will be on the tlc website tomorrow,

Ironically, the old board did put forward a motion
to sell Keating Farm which would have been illegal under the Act.  The
Board perceived they needed to do this to alleviate  “crippling debt”
but this again was an incorrect characterization according to the
accountant. The organization was healthy at the point when the staff
were fired. At the end of the day, nothing has waivered our belief in
the skills, competence and commitment of the staff. We did identify
many areas for improvement including the need for Board members to
spend more time fund raising and working directly with the Executive
Director and staff so the two solitudes of Board and Staff never occurs

Part of the biggest problem I believe was that the Board
became more and more distanced from and distrustful of senior staff
because of a difference of interpretation over the financial
circumstances, the law and the selling of properties. The latest slate
of members are already doing their homework and have started on a full
analysis of what went wrong. All of us have worked on projects from the
trenches—either as activists, donors, in political and other supporting
roles. We all know what it takes to make projects successful, attract
members and keep the money rolling in. I believe this slate consists of
people capable of working even in the most challenging circumstances.
That might be what we face August 8th.

Prior to us getting
together last week, Bill Turner had picked me up from the Sunday 6:15
am ferry and we went to Elk Lake to set up the Bottle Drive for TLC. We
spent the next couple of hours picking up and assembling the stands,
bags and tables for the bottle drive. The bottle drive was part of our
commitment to raise money for TLC as the membership contingent of Save
TLC which has been very successful with over $100, 000 raised in a
month. When you are considering which board members to vote for and who
should lead the organization, consider asking the different candidates
who got up at 6 on a Sunday morning to get a bottle drive organized to
raise the funds to save special places?

I know where my vote lies.


3 Asian Canadians appointed to new BC Liberal Cabinet: Ida Chong, John Yap and Naomi Yamamoto

Ida Chong, John Yap and Naomi Yamamoto were all appointed to BC Cabinet, creating the largest Asian representation ever, along with  Kash Heed who is South Asian.


Naomi Yamamoto, the first Japanese-Canadian, is sworn into the new BC Cabinet on June 10th 2009, by Hon. Steven Point, the first Aboriginal BC Lt. Governor.

Ida Chong (Oak Bay)
Minister of Healthy Living and Sport.

Chong is the first Canadian born Chinese-Canadian BC MLA.  Previously she had been minister
of small business, technology and economic development and minister
responsible for the Asia-Pacific Initiative in the last term.  I first met Ida at the BC Community Achievement Awards last April.  In August, Ida and I were two of 16 BCers voted into the BC Royal Museum's “The Party” display for the “Free Spirit” exhibit celebrating the 150th Anniversary of BC.  see:
Royal BC Museum invites 6 new people to “The Party”

John Yap
(Richmond Steveston)
Minister of State for Climate Action.

Yap was born in Singapore.  He has been active with many community organizations.  Our paths have crossed with his support of the Chinese Canadian veterans of Pacific Unit 280.

Naomi Yamamoto
(North Vancouver Lonsdale)
Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations.

The first ever Japanese-Canadian MLA in BC.  Naomi's parents had been interned during WW2.  She beat out Don Bell, the former North Vancouver District Mayor and Member Parliament for the constituency nomination.  Active in the North Shore community, she has been president and manager of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce for the past 2 years, and has also previously been chair of the BC Chamber of Commerce.  While I've never met Naomi, I have known her sister Donna for many years through her theatre work.

Kash Heed
(Vancouver Fraserview)
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

Heed is a Simon Fraser University alumnus where he
completed his BA and MA at Simon Fraser University part-time.  Formerly with the Vancouver Police Department, he was appointed Chief of the West Vancouver Police Department in 2007.  While with the Vancouver Police, he was also head of the drug
squad, led the Indo-Canadian gang task force and launched the COMPSTAT
system, using computer technology to track crime.

Missing cabinet after winning 3 straight election is Richard T. Lee (Burnaby North).

I'll try to identify the Scottish-Canadians appointed to cabinet – but it's a harder task because the while Mac's are usually Scottish and Mc's are usually Irish, they are sometimes interchanged.  Many Scottish-Canadians don't necessarily disclose their Scottish ancestry because Scots have long been part of BC's mainstream political culture and history.  First BC Governor James Douglas' father was Scottish, even though Douglas himself was born in Guyana to a mother who was a Free Black.  Current BC Premier Gordon Campbell claims Scottish ancestry, though I have yet to find a picture of him wearing a kilt.

See links:

Canadian Press: List of BC cabinet ministers

Vancouver Sun: New cabinet to secure BC's economic, fiscal, environmental and …

North Shore Outlook – Rookie MLA Yamamoto earns seat on cabinet

Georgia Straight: Vancouver tops the charts in Premier Gordon Campbell's cabinet

Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto: First Canadians of Filipino and Japanese ancestry elected to BC Legislature

Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto elected to BC Legislature!

2009_May 248 by you.

Filipinos were the first Asians to come to North America.  Japanese Canadians were interned during WW2.  Both are now represented in BC Legislature.  The election of Mabel Elmore and Naomi Yamamoto will hopefully bring more diversity and inclusion to BC's Legislature, as Filipino and Japanese Canadians citizens have often been at the brunt of some of BC's legislation regarding racism and immigration.  Let us hope that the WW2 internment of Canadians of Japanese ancestry, after their valiant fighting for Canada during WW1, will never happen again, nor affect other Canadians of ethnic ancestry.

2009_May 246

Mabel Elmore is proud to bring Filipino-Canadian representation to Victoria.  Elmore won Vancouver Kensington last night. When Mabel gave her short speech, her mother and cousins were standing nearby.  They were all very proud and happy that she was elected.

Naomi Yamamoto won North Vancouver Lonsdale for the Liberal Party, and will hopefully be in BC Cabinet.  Yamamoto has been chair of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.  She is also the daughter of Japanese-Canadian internment survivors.  Her father Mas Yamamoto celebrated her historic win with her on election night.
See: North Shore Outlook: Yamamoto becomes B.C.'s first-ever Japanese-Canadian MLA

2009_May 258

Jenny Kwan, BC's first Chinese-Canadian Cabinet Minister in 1988, was easily re-elected in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant.

2009_May 279

Sharing a hug with friends Mel Lehan, who ran in Vancouver-Point Grey, and Meena Wong, who worked on Adrian Dix campaign in Vancouver-Kingsway.

Check out my pictures from last nights NDP party in Burnaby:

2009 BC Election: NDP party Vancouver Burnaby

2009 BC Election: NDP party…