Simon Fraser University's Gordon Price is a former Vancouver city councillor and a longtime advocate for improved transit in Metro Vancouver.

The Bateman Strategy: Killing TransLink and the regional vision

Concerted attacks on transit will use every method possible to defeat funding referendum, with dire consequences for region

By Gordon Price

Not that I want to publicize Jordan Bateman (the local spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation) even more, since the media do enough of that already (and let’s face it, I get my fair share of coverage too) – but in the absence of leadership from local leaders, his strategy regarding the transit referendum may well prevail.

And what strategy is that?  Why, getting people to vote against their self-interest in order to effectively disable TransLink – and with it, the regional vision we have pursued for decades with considerable success.

Not, of course, that Metro citizens will intend to vote against more transit or a more sustainable region.  But thanks to Jordan’s strategy, that’s what will happen.

Here’s how the strategy works.

1. First, discredit government – in this case, TransLink, and the collective goods we pay for with taxes.  Ignore the larger purpose of the organization and concentrate on the ‘bureaucrats’, whom you can dismiss contemptuously.

2. To do that, use small examples, real or manufactured, to tar the entire organization.  Whether free coffee for staff, bonuses for executives, teething problems for Compass Cards, policing costs (or not enough policing), the installation of fare gates (or not installing fare gates), it doesn’t matter what the examples are – so long as there is a steady beat of criticism, amplified for and by the media.

3. Maintain that any new programs can be paid for by eliminating ‘waste, fraud and abuse.’  Never give credit for any instances where that actually occurs.  TransLink has already had three performance reviews and an audit, it has already saved millions in ‘efficiencies’ (often a euphemism for cuts) – but never mind.  Always maintain that spending is ‘out of control.’

4. Establish the bottom line as ‘No More Taxes.’  Do not ever get into a debate about the value and merit of what those taxes purchase.  Simply repeat, and repeat: NMT.

5. Suggest that voters can ‘send TransLink a message’ by voting for ‘none of the above’ on the transit-funding referendum.  It matters not that eliminating the entire administration of TransLink (about 4 percent of its budget) would barely pay for a few more bus routes, much less a multi-billion-dollar rapid-transit line.  Insist that cutting salaries and perks is a necessary condition (though never sufficient) before discussing new revenues.  At that point, simply assert that we’re taxed out, even if we’re paying less taxes or getting new services.

By aggressively attacking the organization so that those in favour of a new tax will have to defend it before they can argue in favour of its funding, you disarm the proponents before they even begin a ’yes’ campaign.

Meanwhile, time is running out – 442 days left til Nov 15 (though it’s possible that the referendum might be held in May or June) – and we haven’t even got the wording yet, much less leadership for a yes vote.

One wonders whether the CTF was instrumental in convincing the Premier to go with the referendum idea during the election since it gives them an ideal platform to pursue their agenda.  Better yet, blame for a No vote can be put on local politicians for their inability to convince the electorate.  And the subsequent cutbacks on local transit services as other sources of revenue decline thereby justify another round of criticism of TransLink.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Gordon Price is director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University. He blogs on transportation and urban issues at pricetags.wordpress.com. This was originally published on his Price Tags blog here.

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

Electric car-share company to bring 2,000 vehicles to Surrey/White Rock

SUMO is to launch next year with 150 vehicles, and increase to 2,000 by 2022

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

B.C. Ferries wants input on concepts for a Horseshoe Bay terminal re-design

Ferry corporation accepting public feedback until Oct. 13

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Most Read