Friday, September 16, 2022

Scrap the Tax proponents celebrate the signatures, as all four Prince Rupert Mayoralty candidates sign on

The social media campaign to push forward the Scrap the Tax initiative has celebrated another step in their awareness program today, with Mayor Lee Brain using his Facebook stream to note the signing on to the petition for all four candidates for his job this October.

The call for more revenue from other sources to put towards civic spending, probably is a topic that would generate strong endorsement from anyone looking to take on the job of Mayor.  

Not to the mention the need not to be seen on the outside of the rising tide of populism that has been stoked by the last seven days of message making. 

The Mayor observing today of the "Breaking news" from the Scrap the Tax organizers, a short update that delivers their latest narrative to the ongoing information push that has rolled out over the last seven days since the petition initiative was launched.

"Nobody wants to see us pitted against one another in a small town as a result of a law passed in Victoria. While the candidates may disagree on the exact solution, all Prince Rupert mayoral candidates agree that there is a problem and have called on the BC Legislature to act. It's not about politics. It's about fairness."

The organizers have taken a page from the Mayor's eight years of using Facebook to develop his themes and to deliver his talking points on his previous programs and vision making;  in this instance featuring frequent notes of the progress and their call for the community to stand behind them as they take their initiative to the Province.

Something which more than likely left the candidates with no choice to sign on, even if they haven't actually said much about the issue so far in their own campaigns, other than to repeat the flow of information from the Mayor, Councillor Blair Mirau and from the campaign launch itself.

That commentary from the two departing civic officials, has at times been countered by similar message making from Prince Rupert Port Authority officials. 

Though their volume of response and information delivery has been sparse compared to the daily updates and ever exapnding theme development from the petition organizers.

It's probably a safe observation to suggest that most of us probably are not well versed in the minutia related to provincial tax provisions on industrial lands and revenue schedules towards municipal funding.

So what's probably required for residents to truly understand the issue, is for an independent study of the Port Tax Cap issue. 

Something that would offer up a thoughtful and well documented full review of the issues from the perspective of all the principles: The Port, Province and Municipal government.  

It could be a document that would be put together with recommendations towards a solution that might take on a different tone than the current model of information delivery as promoted in the current initiative.

A study such as that however, doesn't seem to fit into the current moment of political theatre and performance art that has taken hold of the Tax Cap issue.  

A topic which is taking on so much of the political oxygen at the moment, that it is framing the 2022 Council race as a dominant issue.

That's something that voters should be on guard for, while an important topic worthy of review, there are many, many other vital community issues that need some of that spotlight before the October 15th vote.

Hopefully some of those community concerns start to capture the imaginations and message making  of the four candidates for the top office in the city as the weeks move forward.

More notes on the 2022 Municipal election campaign can be reviewed here.

Included in the archive above are the social media links to those candidates who have developed some kind of public engagement process for the campaign. 

A few candidates are more engaged than others in campaign themes,  while other  have yet to be very visible on the campaign trail or to develop those important message making options of our new political era. 

In a period of time where Social Media has become the dominant political pulpit, it's an area where they can expand if they wish on the Port Cap Taxation themes and maybe even the other, more pressing concerns for the community.


  1. If it is such a game changer where has the mayor been the last four years.

  2. Way to go!
    When are you going to flood your LinkedIn profiles with this hastag?
    Wait, you won't because it will be viewed as amateurish and unprofessional.

  3. One wonders why all the anonymous opinion makers are not on the ballot?

    1. Imagine a Prince Rupert if the anonymous opinion makers were?

  4. I wonder if any of them has a Plan B?

    1. Just look at the 700 block of third ave. the plan "B" should of been exercised years ago!

  5. The @scrapthetax page says that North Coast Review has been fact-checked for FALSELY stating that "The petition initiative is a project that clearly has come out of the State of the City presentation of outgoing mayor Lee Brain."

    The Mayor had stated that the tax cap is "the number one reason why this community is stuck", which the Port responded in a letter to the editor on July 14, which councillor Mirau (who was not writing as a councillor) responded to in a letter to the editor. The mayor's statement was NOT part of the chain of events that led to the petition.

    Furthermore, "the petition is NOT a City of Prince Rupert initiative." True, the mayor and all currently serving councillors have supported the petition, but they are doing that as private citizens.

    However, if you check your council meeting notes, you will see that the current council has NEVER directed that a letter or other submission be made to the provincial government to complain about the tax caps, including when the minister of finance invited submissions in May 2019. The petition is entirely a citizen initiative!

    1. Considering the long running angst the City Council has had over the issue, its curious that they never hosted a public discussion in Council over it,

      The talking points left for the Mayor's Lester Centre presentation .. which then led to some social media messaging which seems to be their preferred engagement with the public of late

      Then again as a review of our coverage of council notes from time to time, discussing many important things in public sessions hasn't really been their strong suit over the last eight years

      Still, the momentum for the project does appear to have been generated by the Mayor's commentary from his State of the City theme development.

      One imagines, however, that most in the community can likely see a few of their fingerprints on the petition
      whether they drafted the initiative or not...

      They may be supporting the initiative as 'private citizens' but by using those names identified as "council members and candidates for mayor' the petition has become a political narrative for the civic election.

      So maybe they should provide some of their detailed research (other than the current talking points of the website) that led to them signing on and outline their positions for review of those casting a ballot on Oct 15

      But thanks for taking the time to read the story and to share word of the 'fact check' ... adds to the narrative and theatre of it all I guess


  6. If it is as important as the mayor let’s on he has had the opportunity to start action years ago with the City of Prince Rupert endorsement.
    Council follows his party line. Why is he doing this now?
    Book tour?

    1. That is indeed a mystery and raises questions that could be put to all of the incumbent council members. Why do they sign a petition as citizens when they could have made official submissions as a council? And why now when most of them have been in office for eight years?

      An irony is that the only candidate who apparently has not signed the petition is Sheila Gordon-Payne, but as a councillor in 2014 she supported (I recall the vote) submission of a resolution to the UBCM pointing out the inadequacy of the provincial grant and calling for repeal of the tax cap. The convention endorsed the resolution, but there was no official follow-up by her successors that anyone seems to be aware.

      Perhaps Blair Mirau decided to start the citizens petition as the only way forward after years of inaction or indecision by the council.

    2. One note on your comments, according to the Scrap the Tax organizers latest message making, the 'citizen's initiative' was not started by the Council member mentioned ... though his letter in response to a Port commentary is described as the genesis of its creation and the initiative has benefited from the social media distribution of both the Councillor and Mayor. NCR

    3. Curious that the mayor said in his Sept 9 social media announcement of the launch "PS - Kudos to Blair Mirau for getting this started!" Perhaps this is a case of 'they also served', whoever they are.

      Anyway, what is clear is that the five councillors seeking re-election should not be taking a bow for their inactivity on this file for several years.

  7. The council badly needs a re-set. I hope Teri Forster and Andy Chugh do well in the election.

  8. If the mayor wants an industrial tax base, he has had 8 years to develop industrial lands. There was big talk about the vision he had for Watson Island. A private developer with a vision would have done something with the property. Now it is probably a drag on the taxpayer. Release the books!

    The industrial park is an embarrassment with bad roads, junk and derelict vehicles everywhere. The mayor and Blair have however ventured into commercial leasing with the CN building which will be a real drag on the taxpayer. Book tour can't start soon enough!

    1. There has been a "vision" in Hays 2.0 but no clear strategy or economic development plan resulting from public processes as to how the vision will be implemented. Why or even how decisions are made has not been clear.

      The result has been an astonishing lack of transparency. Control of Watson Island and other lands were turned over to Legacy Corporation, originally to get around restrictions on how revenue could be spent if the city sold the lands. The outcome has been decision-making within a cone of silence.

      In fairness to the mayor and Blair they have had ideas and initiative. The other council members, though, by all appearances have just gone with the flow rather than questioning assumptions, proposing alternatives, and advocating for greater openness. They do not deserve to coast to easy victories in the upcoming election!

  9. Just curious to what the city would do with the extra money it would collect from the port ? Hire extra people to manage it? The
    Port has poured money into various projects around town that the City neglected and I guarantee that extra tax money would not have been spent on them.

  10. Sadly the thought of them hiring more people is probably what the current city would do. The current administration is very top heavy and seems to have a local hiring policy rather than effective hiring based on knowledge, skills and abilities.

  11. This citizen petition is a distraction from the fact that after eight years, our civic leadership has not attracted the necessary secondary and tertiary businesses and services to diversify our tax base and compliment the growth of our port.
    Until city hall owns and acknowledges this, this resident will not accept the argument that the tax cap is the number on reason why our city is stuck or not free.

  12. When the petition is submitted, briefing notes will be prepared for the finance and municipal affairs ministers setting out alternative positions and making recommendations. What are they likely to say?

    The background section can recount that in 2014 the city council submitted a resolution that was endorsed by UBCM. In 2018 the mayor tried to rally support among other port cities, but without apparent success. The council has otherwise taken no initiatives that anyone is aware of. It does not look like the city participated in the 2019 policy review of the PPTA by the ministry of finance.

    There has been a lot of chatter at the local level, which arguably distracts from other issues, as has been noted, but the Province is entitled to take things at face value. The petition is a citizens initiative supported by individual council members, but without formal city council support or endorsement. Recent tax increases may be a motivating factor. Another circumstance may be the council's narrative that revenue from Watson Island especially would lighten residential and small business tax burdens, which has not happened.

    It may appear at the ministerial level that the council has been offside with a significant portion of its own electorate. The local government has not made submissions supported by evidence, e.g. that the provincial grant is inadequate, does not offset declining tax revenue resulting from the prescribed depreciation rate, and that the problem is getting worse (some of those points were made in 2014). It is not for the Province to investigate the city's finances to make the case that the city government has not made. Appeals about "fairness" are not persuasive without more.

    The city has not handled the issue effectively at an inter-governmental level. It may not be even formally 'seized' of the issue. I doubt that there is much that the Province is likely to or even can do in response to the citizens petition other than wait for the elected local government to make a case in writing and with particulars.