While the Vancouver School Board is exporting schools and diplomas to the children of the elite in China’s Communist Party, Vancouver residents say it is importing tactics of political repression used by China’s Communist Party.

The result is an international boycott of Vancouver School Board secondary school diplomas. The boycott was launched in 2004 by individuals who have since formed the ad hoc group, Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry. The DTES Enquirer has learned that Vancouver School Board trustees and administrators, including school Principals and Vice Principals, were made aware of the boycott but concealed it from the public.

Organizations around the world “are being asked not to recognize these diplomas”, according to a Feb. 13, 2004 notice entitled, “International Boycott of Diplomas Issued by the Vancouver School Board”, received by the VSB.

The boycott stemmed from evidence that the VSB was using police intimidation and political psychiatry to deter legitimate citizen complaints. Pursuing a complaint against the Vancouver School Board can earn the complainant a visit from Vancouver’s notorious “Car 87”, a police car in which an armed constable and psychiatric nurse ride. They arrive at a complainant’s home, according to official forms that they complete during the visit, to perform an assessment for “apprehension” to a mental hospital.

A psychiatric notation appears for life adjacent to that individual’s name on the police computer system — even if they are cleared. But here’s the catch: even when you’re cleared, you’re never really cleared. The wording on the form reveals that an individual is simply not a candidate for apprehension “at this time”.

In the fall of 2002, outgoing President of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils mentioned intimidation of individuals pursuing bullying complaints with school administrators in an interview with the Vancouver Sun. Reggi Balabanov stated that complainants were finding that administrators had called police about them. Police were showing up at their homes. This has put a “chill” on the willingness of people to pursue complaints. Balabanov said. [Balabanov was not involved in organizing the boycott]

The boycott was ultimately triggered by a case in which a complainant to the VSB alleged that she had become the target of “police intimidation and classic political psychiatry”.  The VSB had targeted her for a Car 87 visit in Oct. 2002, a fact that is confirmed by documents released by Car 87 staff.  

The woman targeted for the Car 87 visit was the last (last known) of several individuals, both female and male, who had lodged complaints — with no knowledge of one another’s complaints at the time — with the School Board about a verbally and physically abusive teacher.

The sole evidence submitted to police and the Car 87 psych nurse to justify the visit, was a letter the woman had written to the VSB dated Oct. 2002.  In the letter, the woman had stated that she intended to campaign in the election, just a month away, about VSB “duplicity” in the handling of bullying complaints, specifically their practice of assuring the public that such complaints were being taken seriously when in fact letters complainants were receiving told a different story. The ruling party, the Non-Partisan Association, was poised to lose the election; any campaigning by the woman could have been damaging to incumbents.

The VSB called police “Car 87”.

On the morning of Nov. 5, 2002, the woman responded to pounding on her door by opening it and discovering an armed constable, Michelle Sevigny, standing with psychiatric nurse, Don Getz. Getz was flapping her Oct. 12, 2002 letter to the VSB in his hand. It is noteworthy that her Oct. 12, 2002 intent-to-campaign letter was the sole evidence submitted to police and the psychiatric nurse to justify the visit.

Sergeant Garry Lester, a VPD School liaison, told the woman on the afternoon of Nov. 5 that he had emphasized to the VSB that there was “nothing untoward” about the letter. But the VSB nonetheless pressured him to approve the visit, he revealed in an informal chat with the woman when she telephoned him after the visit.  He also confirmed that the Oct. 12/02 letter was the sole evidence considered in ordering the visit.

The woman felt sufficiently terrorized by the Car 87 visit that she dropped plans to campaign in the School Board election.

At the beginning of the visit, Getz told the woman, “You seem fine to me.” As he was leaving at the end of the visit, she claims — this is something she reported in writing to the Health Authority and the VSB at the time — Getz told her that he shared her view that the upcoming tight School Board election had motivated the VSB to arrange this visit.

In his official psychiatric report, though, the sole reason Getz provided for going to the woman’s home to assess her for “apprehension” was that she had made “freedom of information requests” to the VSB. Indeed, at the end of the Oct. 12/02 letter, the woman had requested that documents from the file be released to her under the Freedom of Information Act.

For a year and a half before a boycott was organized, unsuccessful efforts were made to have the newly elected Vancouver School Board address evidence that they were subjecting political adversaries to tactics typical of Commmunist regimes in China and the former Soviet Union.  One of the trustees on the School Board at the time was Jane Bouey who works as Assistant Manager of the Communist Party’s People’s Co-op Bookstore in Vancouver.  It’s a bookstore which, in the past, had direct links to the Communist Party in Moscow.  Bouey uses the internet domain address of the Communist Party’s People’s Voice newspaper as her personal e-mail address.  The Editor of the People’s Voice, Kimball Cariou, was Bouey’s partner in her personal life (and may continue to be) while she was on School Board. 

The VSB has never formally responded to the boycott. An internal memo, though, reveals a somewhat flippant response from a VSB administrator, “Wendy”, in a handwritten memo to another VSB administrator, Sue Arthur, dated Feb. 27, 2004:

“Sue – put your “Legal Counsel” hat on for this . . . . Take care & happy Friday!”

To read the full text of this original article and comments, see Downtown Eastside Enquirer

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