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.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Outdoor AED unit in Surrey among the first in B.C.

SaveStation cabinet is alarmed and monitored – and hasn’t been used yet

Trade sends Surrey NHLer Brenden Dillon to Washington

‘We felt it was important for us to add a player of his caliber to our defensive group,’ says Caps GM

Suspect in Surrey forcible confinement arrested in Toronto

Constable Richard Wright, of the Surrey RCMP, said William Daniels-Sey was arrested on Feb. 16

ZYTARUK: Trudeau needs to stop dithering and fix blockade crisis

Trudeau noted Canadians are asking themselves, “What is happening in this country?” He’s got that right

Tamanawis boys repeat as B.C. high school wrestling champs

Sehijvir Sandhu and Karanpreet Gill earn gold medals for the Surrey team

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Metro Vancouver wants the region to repurpose, donate, or repair used clothing

Textile mending workshops to be held across the Lower Mainland

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Budget 2020: B.C. unveils new grant for students, phases out debt-relief program

For the first time, diploma, certificate students qualify for yearly post-secondary grant

Budget 2020: B.C. NDP taps top tax bracket for more revenue

Minimum wage set to pass $15 an hour by 2021

Most Read