Queer Vancouver parks board hopeful Jamie Lee Hamilton says she may launch a human rights complaint after the Non-Partisan Association rejected her candidacy for November’s municipal election.
She wasn’t given a reason why she was turned down, but she alleges the issue revolves around her posting an ad on ShemaleCanada.com and her work in the sex trade.
Under BC’s Human Rights Code, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of sex or sexual orientation.
NPA president Ned Pottinger says he can’t comment on a possible complaint.
“I don’t think there’s any basis for one,” he adds. “We didn’t make a moral judgment. Jamie thinks we did but we didn’t.”
Hamilton says the situation indicates to her that the party is not as inclusive as it claims, calling the situation a “slap in the face” to the queer community.
“If they can’t be representative of all people in this city, they don’t have the moral right to govern,” Hamilton says.
Hamilton alleges two NPA directors invited her to a meeting in a public cafe to discuss an ad she had placed on ShemaleCanada.com, a meeting place for the transsexual community.
She has never denied being a sex trade worker, and she declared on her candidate’s form that she had worked in the sex trade.
Indeed, she has campaigned tirelessly for sex trade workers’ rights for years.
She says she found two meetings with the board members very uncomfortable.
“They were wanting to know if I was still currently sleeping with men. They were asking about my bedroom conduct,” she says.
“I came away from that meeting just reeling.”
But Pottinger says the meetings were part of an extensive process in which the party’s candidate committee examines potential nominees closely to see if they would be compatible with the NPA team.
“During the interview process, we were all quite impressed with Jamie Lee,” he says. Pottinger adds that there is a lot of support for Hamilton and her ideas in the city.
“I think she might be better working outside of a team,” he adds.
Hamilton supporter Trude Huebner says a fundraiser was held Aug 27 for Hamilton’s campaign.
Huebner says among those at the gathering were former NPA Mayor Phillip Owen, who spoke of Hamilton’s courage.
Also there were NPA councillors Kim Capri, Suzanne Anton and Elizabeth Ball who Huebner says praised Hamilton’s community work.
And, she adds, candidates Michael Geller, Laura McDiarmid and Christopher Richardson all acknowledged her hard work and consistent advocacy.
While NPA mayoral candidate Peter Ladner was not at the fundraiser, his website carries an endorsement from Hamilton.
“There is no doubt that this city would reach greatness with councillor Ladner as mayor. Peter is a world-class guy who can make Vancouver a truly world-class city,” the endorsement under “Community Leaders” reads.
In fact, Hamilton says she received a phone message from Ladner saying he could not attend the event due to the board decision.
She says the situation smacks of “backroom” politics with those who are unaccountable to the electorate wielding power.
“This is not the hallmark of someone I would like to see as mayor of Vancouver,” Hamilton says.
She says she may just run for mayor herself.
Hamilton has twice run for municipal office. She ran for council in 1996 and in 2005, when she campaigned under the moniker Queen of Hearts.
In announcing her last candidacy, she appeared on the steps of city hall for a press conference adorned in a red robe and tiara.
In those cases she ran as an independent. She says she wouldn’t run for council on an NPA slate.
The parks board, she says, is a different matter.
“In the past, I think the NPA parks commissioners were pretty independent and weren’t always toeing the party line,” she says.
Hamilton is a Pride director and also sits on the board of the Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society.
The NPA nomination meeting is Sep 13.