Update: I spoke with the media relations for the Parks Board at 4:30 and they told me that the motion would go ahead as planned. Now, there has been a change, and the proceedings will be held in-camera. This is what the City of Vancouver calls democracy?
Vancouver’s political Twitterverse has a become an increasingly nasty place. It’s become okay to insult, gang-up on others, and to throw unqualified accusations. Ad-hominem has become the norm. This sort of behaviour is totally unacceptable in real life- most people accept that and act accordingly. So why is this happening online?
A motion slated to be discussed at the Vancouver Parks Board today brings one of the most prominent reasons to light- there are many people in leadership positions who are acting as bad examples to the rest of the community. A city that allows politicians, community leaders and even the head of an anti-bullying campaign to act nasty online will inevitably become a city with a toxic Twitterverse.
Something needs to change…
It all started with the above tweet where Parks Board Chair Sarah Blyth labelled Park Commissioner Melissa DeGenova a liar. It’s important to take notice in this tweet that she didn’t actually include DeGenova in her tweet- this is the Twitter version of speaking behind someone’s back. Blyth’s behaviour was far from acceptable- it’s also contrary to the City Of Vancouver’s Code of Conduct.
As a result, DeGenova has put a motion of censure, asking the board to remove Blyth from her position as the Chair. It’s a petty strong response- is a single tweet enough to get someone removed from the chair?
The above set of tweets took place on March 2nd when Vivian Krause was attacked by a crude person hiding behind an anonymous account. Krause tweeted out to Twitter asking for support after this person tweeted out to her that she’s an “inconsequential c##t”. In response, showing a serious lack of leadership, Blyth chimed-in and tried to minimize what happened. Many onlookers (one being myself) were shocked by her behaviour. Krause wrote a formal complaint (which includes more of the Twitter thread).
Blyth herself has refused to apologize to DeGenova saying that it “won’t happen again”- but, her apology was a bit weak and lacked her taking personal responsibility:
Aaron Jasper, the Vice-Char of the Parks Board commented on the situation admitting that Blyth’s actions were wrong, but at the same time saying that DeGenova is taking things too far. Blyth and Jasper are both members of Vision Vancouver, a party that holds the vast majority of seats- if they vote on party lines, it’s expected this motion will fail. Jasper has indicated this is what will happen.
Blyth’s tweets, in themselves, aren’t necessarily reason to remove Blyth from the Chair. That said, there’s a bigger issue to be considered- if the city allows for such behaviour from public officials, how can we expect the public to behave any differently?
It will be interesting to see how the Park Board responds tonight. Let’s hope the Vision commissioners are mature enough to step outside of their party lines and pay serious attention to Blyth’s behaviour. It may be too much to ask them to fire Blyth- but, for the good of the Vancouver Twitterverse, let’s hope they at least put it on the record that such behaviour will not be tolerated in the future.