VIVA candidates running for school board, council have ties to People’s Party of Canada

VIVA candidates running for school board, council have ties to People's Party of Canada

Jeremy Maddock spent Tuesday replacing election signs vandalized recently near Oaklands Elementary School.

Maddock is part of the Vancouver Island Voters’ Association, better known as VIVA, a controversial political slate that is fielding a number of school board and Victoria city council candidates in the upcoming Oct. 15 election.

“We’re here to embrace the teaching of facts and to ensure the school is not a place to moralize children. The role of family, and the community is to instill the right moral values. The role of the school is to ensure that our kids can read, and write,” Maddock, who is running as a candidate for Victoria city council, said about VIVA.

VIVA has been criticized by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network for being a far-right group with ties to the People’s Party of Canada and leader Maxine Bernier’s opposition to “gender ideology.”

James Coccola, vice-president for the BC General Employees’ Union, was among those who have criticized the group and has said a number of the candidates also hold views that SOGI 1-2-3 should be repealed.

SOGI is the provincially-mandated program where school districts have to have policies to make schools inclusive spaces for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The presence of VIVA candidates is mobilizing groups such as the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

Tara Erchk, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association said it is encouraging voters to become familiar with the long list of school trustee candidates.

“School trustee elections are not always high on people’s minds. And that’s to be honest why we see these more fringe parties come into school board elections. Because you can often get a seat at the table with 7,000-9,000 votes in a community of 100,000 people.”

READ MORE: 8 mayor, 37 councillor candidates vie for position on Victoria council

Political scientist and professor at Royal Roads University, Dr. David Black says the VIVA candidates are raising the profile of the school board election.

“What they have done, I think, is to have raised the profile of the school trustee races. people like myself without children in the system. We’ll be looking more closely at the candidates and thinking about what they bring to the conversation.”

Jordan Watters served two terms on the SD61, and only decided to run a third time when the VIVA slate came up.

“It’s personal for me. I want to make sure that all kids are supported in our schools. I’ve got three kids in our public schools, and all of them have diverse needs that need to be supported. And I want to make sure that we’re doing that in the best possible way.”

With 30 names on the ballot for school trustees in Greater Victoria alone, voters will decide for themselves on Oct. 15.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Dr. David Black is a professor at the University of Victoria. Black is in fact a professor at Royal Roads University. CHEK News regrets the error.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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