Better to debate than deliberately disrupt

The provincial NDP are proposing a new school tax on homes worth more than $3 million. The revenue projections are in the vicinity of $200 million and would largely be used for seismic upgrades for school buildings.

Many of the homes that would be affected by this new tax are located in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding of Attorney General David Eby. Full disclosure: I live in this riding, and Penny and I own one of the houses that would be affected.

Mr. Eby decided to host a town hall meeting to discuss this new tax. People were asked to RSVP in advance. The event quickly filled up. It was then moved to a new, larger venue where, once again — even with the additional space — it quickly filled up.

Unfortunately, those intent on creating chaos at the meeting then got to work. CBC Radio and other media reported that the leader of the opposition, Andrew Wilkinson, circulated a letter urging people to show up regardless of whether they had registered in advance or not. Also, two real estate companies took out ads urging people — including non-constituents — to do the same.

With the event already at capacity with people who had registered in advance, this spelled trouble.

David Eby was placed in a difficult position. Many of the people who had volunteered to help out at the town hall meeting were seniors and young people — individuals who would be unable to deal with crowds of people pushing their way into an already full event. The last straw was when a last-minute protest was planned to “march on in”. With safety at issue, Mr. Eby had no choice but to cancel the town hall.

This is unfortunate as the proposed new education tax certainly needs much debate. Should individuals who are asset-rich but income-poor be forced to pay this new tax? Would it be fairer to instead raise the marginal income tax rate for individuals earning over $200,000 a year?

Had the town hall event gone forward, these and many other interesting questions and ideas would have been raised since a panel with speakers from both sides of this issue had been planned.

It is one thing to disagree. It is another thing to deliberately disrupt.

I hope David Eby is able to organize another venue on another date, and that this issue will get the debate it deserves.

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