When you think of political prisoners names like Mahatma Gandhi, Emma Goldman and Nelson Mandela might come to mind. And now, COPE city council candidate Jean Swanson?
The term is defined as someone who's imprisoned for their political beliefs, who has criticized the government and been unjustly kept behind bars. If you're using the term as Jean and her party have done the definition is a person who knowingly breaks a court injunction and intentionally gets arrested, goes to jail on purpose, in the process garnering tons of media exposure to hopefully benefit their run for a seat on city council.
There's no doubt that Swanson is passionate about her views opposing the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. She might have broken the injunction even if there wasn't an election. However the way her and her party are playing up the martyr angle right before the October 20th election is... well... it's a bit much.
After she was released 4 days into her 7 day sentence COPE tweeted out the "press release" that Swanson wrote while in custody. They made sure to highlight the fact that it was handwritten. With a pen! Because conditions at the minimum security Alouette Correctional Centre for Women are tough (they only have one gazebo)!
I've mostly been using this new column to call out bullshit on the campaign trail when I see it, and this pile of it is ripe. With that being said, I think Jean will make a fine councillor. She obviously cares about the people of Vancouver and has worked for decades as an anti-poverty advocate with the hopes of making lives better locally.
Let's just hope when she gets elected she tones down the theatrics and can remain humble and focused despite being a crowned martyr in the fight against the pipeline. That way she can concentrate on things that have an immediate effect on the people of this city: garbage collection, fostering arts and culture, property taxes etc. Things Vancouver city councillors actually have control over and are elected to govern on our behalf.
This is Vancouver’s Stupidest Politics Column, informing voters leading up to the Vancouver election on October 20th, 2018. Check out the entire archive HERE.