Vancouver candidates allowed to have names on ballots in non-Latin characters

Candidates in Vancouver’s upcoming mayoral election will be allowed to have their names in Chinese or Persian characters on the ballot after a judge adjourned a request by the city’s election official who allegedly refused names in non-Latin characters .

« Today’s decision by the Provincial Court Judge means that Vancouver’s election will continue with the names of the 15 candidates as submitted in their nomination papers, » the city said in a statement.

Judge James Wingham ruled it would be « unfair » to deal with the claim within the strict Vancouver Charter deadline and adjourned the hearing to a later date, sometime after the municipal election.

“We are really happy to see that the Chinese names will remain on the ballot because the judge saw the issues as so complex, so complicated that there is no way a decision could be made today. Nonpartisan Association mayoral candidate Fred Harding said Friday. .

Vancouver Chief Electoral Officer Rosemary Hagiwara filed an application in provincial court on Tuesday to ban the use of Chinese and Persian characters by 15 candidates.

The candidacy included sponsors such as Nonpartisan Association mayoral candidate Fred Harding (傅爱德), outgoing NPA Councilor Melissa De Genova (鄭慧蘭), and veteran Vision Vancouver School Board administrator Allan Wong (黃偉倫).

He said all respondents submitted their « usual name » to be used on the ballots in Latin characters and Chinese or Persian.

Ten of the submissions were from the NPA, two from Vision Vancouver and one from Forward Together, COPE and OneCity Vancouver.

Vancouver Vision school board candidate Allan Wong, left, and board candidate Honieh Barzegari were two of 15 people challenged to submit their names in non-Latin characters for the official ballot. (Vision Vancouver)

The case pitted candidates arguing that non-Latin character names are key to connecting with voters against claims of cultural appropriation.

Chief Electoral Officer Rosemary Hagiwara argued that none of the respondents who had previously contested municipal elections had used non-Latin versions of their name in previous nomination papers.

Harding said before the decision that he had been using his Chinese name for many years because half of his family on his wife’s side was Chinese.

Hagiwara’s affidavit indicates that when Harding originally submitted his nomination on September 6, he did not include Chinese characters in his usual name, but three days later he revised his nomination to add them.

NPA mayoral candidate Fred Harding, center, says he has had his Chinese name for many years. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

She also said Harding did not include Chinese characters when he ran for mayor in 2018.

Vision Vancouver said in a statement ahead of the ruling that Wong and council candidate Honieh Barzegari (هانیه برزگری) were appalled by the possibility of their « unique and common names » printed in non-Latin characters being removed from ballots.

But the party has also accused other candidates of « cultural appropriation » by adopting Chinese names to seek an unfair advantage at the polls.

Uncertain future elections

COPE school board candidate Suzie Mah (馬陳小珠) said she was happy to be able to use her Chinese name on the ballot.

« I was born with a Chinese name, it’s a regular name I use, and I was very shocked to learn that it would have been disputed, » she said.

Mah added that it is unclear whether non-Latin versions of names will be allowed on future ballots.

“This matter will continue and move forward, and I think we need a resolution on this, especially for the next election,” she said.

Hagiwara said in her affidavit that she was not aware of any candidate seeking to use non-Latin characters on ballots until 2014. Only one candidate in each of the 2014 and 2018 polls had used non-Latin characters. on the ballot, she said.

In the 2018 municipal elections, only OneCity council candidate Brandon Yan was allowed to put his Chinese name on the ballot. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In the last municipal election of 2018, the City of Vancouver only allowed OneCity Councilor candidate Brandon Yan (甄念本) to use his Chinese name on ballots while denying other candidates to do the same. The city’s decision led to a legal challenge from school trustee candidates Sophie Woo and Ken Denike.


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