Past Chair of Vancouver Greens says vote NO to the TransLink Tax

February 05, 2015
  • Day: “The plebiscite is being cast as green to greens and as pro-car to those who prefer cars.”
  • Day: “If we reject the bitter pill, governments will find the money elsewhere.”

VANCOUVER, BC: In a new op/ed released today by the No TransLink Tax campaign, Korky Day, former Chair of the Vancouver Greens, encourages progressive voters to say NO to the TransLink sales tax.

The following is the full text of Day’s op/ed, which is available for publication by all media outlets:

Have both sides in the transportation sales tax plebiscite this March failed to convince you fully?

Then probably you haven’t heard OUR reasons. We of the Opponents of Green-washed Transport Taxes on the Unrich (OGTTU) are not generally against taxes. We’re just against taxes on those less able to pay, and against a plan that will mainly re-elect politicians and political parties promoting the tax, and probably won’t improve transportation.

If this ballot were really to find the best or most popular proposals, you could vote for each of several options, including options written by opposition parties, bus drivers, etc. On your ballots you could rank all the options in order of your preference. 

We'll have, though, only 2 choices, allegedly:

(1) swallow the bitter pill of tax hikes on all income classes (‘Yes’) or

(2) create massive traffic congestion (‘No’).

Notice the classic ‘lesser of 2 evils’ scare tactic?

In reality, if we reject the bitter pill, governments will find the money elsewhere. Or they will improve transportation in cheaper ways—probably greener ways.  

How can we be sure? That’s how politics work. Politicians might be mean, but they are smart: much too wily to let the transportation grid freeze up. Too many people would suffer and gripe, including the rich and the business community, which mostly fund the elections. Then candidates would lose votes. So that won’t happen, in spite of their threats.

Most of the funding for the projects will not be coming from this proposed tax, anyway. It is supposed to come from the provincial and federal governments, as the Yes side admits. This new tax will be, instead, window dressing to make you feel like the governments (at all 4 levels) are serving you well. And so you won’t blame them for taxes—because YOU voted for them!

More proof that this plebiscite is to distract you from the real issues is the Yes side's frantic, expensive, promotion, costing at least $4 million in public money. Instead of the Yes side saying the proposal is fully green—for public transit, not private cars—it’s being painted as ‘something for everyone’. They’ll decide later, depending on political pressures, how much will go for trains, for widening roads, or for new bridges for cars.  The ballot is vague. Our votes are only advisory, anyway, not binding.

Many say that they will vote yes even though they don’t think the Yes plan will do enough for green transportation. Nevertheless, they are afraid that our rulers will interpret a No vote as a rejection of public transit. And that then we’d not get enough public transit. 

However, the plebiscite is being cast as green to greens and as pro-car to those who prefer cars. The ballot will say ‘transportation’ first, ‘transit’ second: politician-speak for widened roads and bridges first, more buses and trains second. That priority is because they think drivers will be harder to persuade to vote Yes, not because that’s how the money will be split, necessarily.

Rather, the split is up to our anti-democratic, appointed, fumbling, secretive, overpaid TransLink board.

And what if the future brings us cheap, computer-driven taxis, and buses are phased out, and mega-projects become much too costly in comparison? I'd rather re-start trains now on existing or old rights-of-way than carve much-more-expensive new SkyTrain routes.

Please vote No on this plan to raise taxes on cyclists, bus riders, and bus drivers. Any hikes should be on the top 1% incomes, on carbon or other ungreen items. The rest of us deserve lower taxes, less driving.

Korky Day is a past chair of the Green Party of Vancouver, a life-long user of alternative transport, and an activist for peace and ending poverty immediately. He is a member of the Opponents of Green-washed Transport Taxes on the Unrich (OGTTU). In the Facebook group 'Improve Vancouver'

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