Council of Canadians National Chairperson Maude Barlow is concerned Wal-Mart may be attempting to influence the outcome of Vancouver’s civic election.
"I am appalled by what appears to be an attempt by Wal-Mart to get a council elected that will reverse an earlier decision that rejected their development," said Barlow. "This touches on the basic right of Canadians to make our own decisions about what happens in our communities."
Barlow was commenting on revelations that Allen Langdon and Wayne Hartrick of Reputations Corp, Wal-Mart’s public relations firm, are also managing the campaigns of Vancouver NPA mayoral hopeful Sam Sullivan and NPA Councilor Peter Ladner.
Last June, Vancouver’s COPE Council rejected Wal-Mart’s proposal for a big-box in Vancouver after hundreds of local residents were concerned that Wal-Mart would destroy local business, increase air pollution and damage their neighborhoods.
Sullivan and Ladner backed Wal-Mart’s failed bid. Sullivan now says he will support Wal-Mart if it makes another attempt to get a big-box in Vancouver.
Wal-Mart public affairs director Andrew Pelletier says his company is planning on submitting another development proposal after the next election. Pelletier also confirmed Wal-Mart looked at "coalition building" with other businesses as a way of influencing council to get the proposal passed.
"If Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the US, gets away with this in Vancouver, they will try in other Canadian cities," said COPE Councillor Anne Roberts. "I am encouraged by Maude’s support in making sure that a Canadian election process is not influenced by Wal-Mart."
The Council of Canadians has chapters and members across Canada and works to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, safe food, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern.
Barlow is in BC to speak about her new book Too Close for Comfort that examines the role of large corporations in influencing Canada’s public policy and its relationship with the U.S.