Archive for the '2008 election notes' category

politicians are human too

May 30, 2009

It seems a lot of people assume that most politicians are compulsive liars. Unfortunately, my successful petition to have a lying politician ousted from office may reinforce that belief. While the behaviour of James Coleridge was certainly deceitful, he is a very rare exception.

The problem with politicians isn’t that they’re dishonest; it’s that they’re human. As such, they have emotions; they can want things to be true that aren’t, making themselves susceptible to self-deception; and they can just simply be wrong because they can’t possibly know everything about all things. So, if an elected official says something at one time then says something different later, is it that they were lying the first time? Or did they learn something new, hear a compelling alternate opinion, or see things from a new perspective? Maybe, after some more careful consideration, they just changed their mind?

In the case of the Coleridge deception, he said things that he knew are not true and then refused to accept responsibility for that lie until forced to do so in Supreme Court. This is an unusual exception. This isn’t a case of him changing his mind or misunderstanding the facts at hand; he told people things even though he knew they were not true.

Ignorance, misunderstanding and naiveté is understandably human and tolerable. Deception is also human, but much less tolerable. But it’s not enough to demand more integrity from politicians. Deceit should be equally unacceptable for all people, not just elected leaders.

People who step up to serve as leaders in our community should not be set up for ridicule with unrealistic expectations that, upon being elected, they should suddenly become smarter and less susceptible to self-deception than everyone else in the community. The best way to raise the standard for politicians is to raise the standard within the whole community.

judgment day

May 27, 2009

My petition to have the election of James Coleridge declared invalid was successful. The judge released her decision yesterday. He is no longer a member of City Council for the City of White Rock. He is required to pay $20,000 toward the cost of a byelection to fill his vacant seat, and some of my legal costs will be reimbursed.

What is ironic about the decision is that the judge seemed less concerned about him pretending he didn’t know who sent the contentious email and making up stories to cover his tracks, it was that he was lying about being honest in his campaign advertising — he was selling himself as being someone who citizens could trust to be honest with them, all the while he was lying.

But this judgment is less about lying than it is about integrity. They are related, but there is a difference. Integrity requires that you accept responsibility for your choices. Yes, Coleridge lied, but it was his lack of integrity — his unwillingness to accept responsibility for his incorrect and misleading statements — that cost him his office. In reading the judgment, it sounds like, had he enough integrity to admit his error when he had the chance (before I filed a petition in Supreme Court to force him to do so), he probably would have escaped this consequence.

survival of the deceptors

March 22, 2009

Are we born to be deceivers? If humans evolved this way, it might have been good for cavemen, but doesn’t work so well now. So, how can we inoculate ourselves against something we’ve inherited in our genetics?

There are some things we are pre-wired for. From birth, we know how to eat and have a fear of falling — nobody has to teach us. Our brain structure is set up in such a way that emotions can easily take command of our reaction to something before we’re even consciously aware of it. Even smiling is thought to be evolutionary because it seems there is no culture or society, no matter how isolated, that does not understand what a smile means. These shared traits were established within our neural circuitry before groups of Homo sapiens struck out on their own (which was relatively recently) to discover new lands, eventually forming new races and developing unique cultures.

Unfortunately, it seems we also share a less constructive human condition. We have a tendency to form assumptions based on almost no information and to try to escape responsibility for things that go wrong. It seems more important to have a complete explanation than for the story to actually be true. So, when faced with a lot of unknowns, we just fill in the blanks ourselves. Likewise, impulsively at least, figuring out whether a mistake was made isn’t as important as avoiding responsibility for it. This is witnessed frequently, daily. Read on »

liar’s supporting cast

February 15, 2009

Coleridge’s slate email saga was not a solo performance. Nor was his wife the only other player. His tangled tale was made possible by a cast of supporting characters.

In his election campaign he made up a slate of other candidates and labelled it the “Real Estate Slate.” He said the City loaned Bosa money, certain candidates were heavily financed by developers, and others advocated outlandish development schemes. These were all lies; Coleridge made it all up, just like his bizarre stories about the email’s source.

But he’s been a known liar for many years. I’ve heard stories of other dishonourable dealings, but the one for which I have seen documented evidence took place in 1999 and was also an issue of public trust. So, how could he continue to be elected to public office?

That’s a good question. Here’s some for the people who helped him cover up his lies and get re-elected… Read on »

weight of the wait

February 13, 2009

And the wait begins. The judge gave no indication of how long it might take for her to render a decision. My lawyer’s guess is that we won’t be waiting more than a month. But she might come back sooner than that knowing that the Local Government Act directs the court to act as “expeditiously” as possible. She seemed to be fully aware and sensitive to the impact her decision would have — whatever her decision is — on the community of White Rock. So, hopefully we won’t be waiting very long to learn the outcome of my petition.

day of the respondent

February 10, 2009

All my witnesses appeared in court yesterday and provided their evidence. Coleridge has begun to present his evidence and will continue to do so today. He has expressed intent to have only two witnesses: himself and his wife.

petition hearing next week

February 7, 2009

The hearing for my petition to the Supreme Court of British Columbia begins Monday February 9.

I am asking the judge to remove James Coleridge from the office of Councillor for the City of White Rock due to particular actions he conducted during the election. The Local Government Act requires an unusual, expedited process. Evidence cannot be entered by affidavit; all witnesses must appear in court to provide their evidence verbally.

The hearing will begin at 9:45am in Vancouver and could take up to four days.

petition update

January 5, 2009

The lawyers representing the Coleridge and the City (two separate sets of lawyers) have asked for more time to prepare. We have agreed to immediately adjourn the hearing on Wednesday as soon as it begins. I expect the actual hearing will take place sometime in January, or even as late as February.

Local Government Act link

December 24, 2008

If you’re curious about the petition reported in the Peace Arch News today, here is a link to the relevant sections of the Local Government Act:

Please note: I have given notice of my intent to enter evidence provided by others, however, I am the sole petitioner. Glenda Bartosh and Mary-Wade Anderson are just providing facts regarding incorrect information that was said about them during the election — they are not arguing for the petition, they are simply stating facts to set the record straight.


December 18, 2008

I have two or three posts in my head that I haven’t written down yet. I’ve been distracted. Most of my time this past week and a half has been absorbed by a complete rebuild of the White Rock Youth Ambassador’s website.

The current site is difficult for the group to update. Consequently, they almost never do. The idea behind the new one is to make it as simple as possible to post pictures, updates and information about the community events and initiatives in which they are involved. Hopefully it will make it easier for the members to keep themselves organized and also be informative for the community about their activities.

If you’re curious, the trial site can be viewed at The current site (that is being replaced) is at When the new site is thoroughly tested and polished, it will be moved to the location.

Now that I have a month of hindsight, hopefully I’ll have to some time soon to write about my thoughts on why I lost the election and what that says about our community, and what to expect from the new council and what impact to expect it will have on White Rock.