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Parent group raises concerns over campaigning at Greater Victoria schools
The Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils is asking Greater Victoria board of education trustee candidates to follow school district policy and keep election campaigning away from schools.
Earlier this year, the board of education voted unanimously in favour of supporting a policy which prohibits candidates from campaigning on school grounds, including distributing campaign materials on campuses.
But despite their support of the policy, it’s one that candidates have violated during this campaign, confederation president John Bird said.
The confederation reports receiving parent and staff complaints regarding candidates visiting school grounds, candidates depositing campaign materials on bulletin boards, use of district email to disseminate campaign materials and a vehicle parked in a school parking lot mounted with a campaign billboard.
“The general public votes for all the trustees, (and) parents are everywhere … so why do (candidates) decide they need to encroach on the school properties?” Bird asked.
“They have multiple ways of getting their message out. I just don’t think it’s necessary to politicize the school grounds.”
On Nov. 8, the confederation sent a letter to candidates asking for their commitment to uphold the policy – as well as the “spirit of the policy” – by not campaigning adjacent to the boundaries of school campuses. Candidates had a chance to respond the following evening during an all-candidates meeting.
While all 16 candidates agreed to abide by the policy, a handful of the trustee hopefuls took issue with being asked not to campaign on public property near the schools.
David Bratzer was the first to openly admit to approaching parents near school grounds, for which he was met by a round of applause from an otherwise tranquil audience of about 25 spectators.
“I understand how important it is to follow the law and any policies that have been put in place, but this is a public sidewalk we’re talking about, and it’s a fundamental Canadian value to be able to participate in an election campaign on a public sidewalk,” Bratzer said. “People in countries all over the world are envious of these rights and freedoms that we have.”
Deborah Nohr argued that parents have been very excited to meet candidates in this environment and offer feedback.