Spencer Chandra Herbert

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Spencer Chandra Herbert

Spencer Chandra Hebert.jpg
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Vancouver-West End
Vancouver-Burrard (2008–2009)
Assumed office
October 29, 2008
Preceded byLorne Mayencourt
Vancouver Parks Board Commissioner
In office
Personal details
Born (1981-05-15) May 15, 1981 (age 38)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Political partyCOPE (municipal)
New Democratic Party (provincial)
Spouse(s)Romi Chandra Herbert
ResidenceVancouver, British Columbia
OccupationArts manager

Spencer Chandra Herbert is a Canadian politician who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Representing the British Columbia New Democratic Party, he won the October 29, 2008, by-election in the electoral district of Vancouver-Burrard. He was re-elected to the Legislature, this time in the newly created riding of Vancouver-West End in the May 13, 2009 general election. Chandra Herbert's BC NDP formed the Official Opposition in both the 38th and 39th Parliaments and he was assigned to be the party's critic on tourism, arts and culture. He has introduced several pieces of legislation as private members' bills, though none have been adopted. The Long Term Tenants Protection Act, and his more comprehensive Residential Tenancy Amendment Act, were meant to address evictions and high rent increases that were occurring in the West End. He also introduced the Consumer Protection in Ticket Sales Act, 2009 which would have made ticket scalping illegal and the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act which would have included gender identity and gender expression into the BC Human Rights Code as characteristic protected from discrimination. He entered the 38th Parliament at age 27, as its youngest Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and remained the youngest throughout the 39th Parliament.

Prior to becoming a MLA, he was elected to the Vancouver Parks Board. He served as a Parks Commissioner between 2005 and 2008 and was then a member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors. On the Parks Board he voted against removing the requirement for a referendum on an expansion of the Vancouver Aquarium but later voted in favour of the expansion. He advocate for bicycle valet service at large public events, investigating environmentally friendly means of disposing of animal waste, and implementing a zero-net-loss of greenspace policy.

He is openly gay and married his partner, Romi Chandra, in March 2010. Afterwards, he legally changed his name to Spencer Chandra Herbert. Both Spencer and Romi have been active supporting causes within the LGBT community. At the provincial level, Chandra Herbert has advocated for a community victim services worker in Davie Village, a specialized telephone line for people to call to report incidents involving gay-bashing or verbal and physical assaults, and for school boards to include LGBT issues, especially in anti-bullying lessons.


Born and raised in Vancouver, Herbert attended Prince of Wales Mini School and graduated from Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He has worked in various jobs in the entertainment and culture industry, such as being a manager of a dance company,[1] and a worker at the Roundhouse Community Centre.[2] He worked as a producer of the United Nations World Urban Forum Arts and Culture Festival,[3] and been involved with the Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the GLBT Centre.[1] He has volunteered with Qmunity, the Coal Harbour Residents Association, the West End Residents Association, and the Save St. Paul's Coalition.[1] In 2006, he won a City of Vancouver Youth Award in the "Youth 19 – 24" category.[4]

In the November 2005 municipal elections, Herbert was a COPE nominee for the Vancouver Park Board. The 24-year-old Hebert was one of two COPE nominees to be elected, with the NPA taking the five other seats.[5] On the Board, Herbert resisted using the park funds to pay for Olympic-related projects.[6] Herbert and fellow COPE board member Loretta Woodcock, resisted the Board decision to eliminate the culture and recreation committee by continuing the committee by themselves.[7] Herbert voted with the board in opposing a proposal to bring animatronic dinosaurs to Stanley Park.[8][9] Following the December 2006 windstorm that hit Stanley Park, Herbert held the first fundraiser assist rehabilitation and enlisted local wood-turners and wood-workers in salvaging trees.[1][10] In response to homeless people camping in public parks, Herbert suggested that the city open regulated tent cities, which was quickly rejected by the mayor.[11][12]

On the Vancouver Aquarium, Herbert voted against removing the policy requiring a referendum to approve an expansion[13] but ultimately voted in favour of the $80-million expansion after the board agreed to distribute 23,000 free passes to low-income people.[14] To address the loss of greenspace to new construction, he proposed a zero-net-loss of greenspace policy but it was rejected by the Board.[15][16] The NPA-dominated Board also rejected Herbert's initiatives regarding investigating environmentally friendly means to dispose of dog feces at parks[17] and to have a bicycle valet service at public events (like what was being done at Vancouver Canadians baseball games).[18][19] Herbert was successful in having the board direct its food concessionaires to serve only seafood that was Ocean Wise endorsed,[20] though he was alone in voting against extending concessionairy leases from one year to ten.[21] In February 2008, the local newspaper WestEnder named Herbert Unsung Hero of Vancouver of the year.[4]

Provincial politics[edit]

38th Parliament[edit]

After Lorne Mayencourt announced his resignation as MLA, Herbert announced in May 2008 that he would seek the NDP nomination to run in the by-election.[22] Art Griffiths, the former owner of the Vancouver Canucks, announced he would run for the BC Liberals. While Griffiths was considered a star candidate, he lived in Point Grey, outside the riding. Herbert was still thought to be the favourite.[23][24] The October 2008 by-election was also contested by Green Party candidate Drini Read, BC Conservative Ian McLeod, and Marijuana Party leader Marc Emery, but Herbert won with over 50% of the vote. Herbert, at the age of 27, joined the Legislative Assembly on November 20 during the fourth session of the 38th Parliament. He introduced his first bill on November 24, a private members' bill called the Long Term Renters Protection Act, 2008 (Bill M-228). Herbert was active helping renters in the West End was experiencing high-profile rises in rent, being approved by the Residential Tenancy Branch.[25] The act sought stop these large rent increases by removing the ability of Residential Tenancy Branch to approve rent increases based on geographic area – BC was the only province in Canada that has this geographic component.[26][27] The bill was only given first reading and was not adopted, but the rent increases were over-turned in court.[28]

Herbert was assigned to be the opposition critic for arts and culture. In this role, he introduced another private members' bill, Consumer Protection in Ticket Sales Act, 2009 (Bill M-202) on March 5, 2009, which would make scalping event admission tickets illegal. The bill was in response to a federal Competition Bureau to probe against Ticketmaster for price-gouging and a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster in which British Columbians were not allowed to join due to the lack of such a law.[29][30] Like his previous bill it was only given first reading and not adopted.

39th Parliament[edit]

In the May 2009 general provincial election, Herbert was again challenged by Green Party candidate Drini Read, as well as BC Liberal candidate and gay rights advocate Laura McDiarmid.[31] Herbert was again expected to win,[32] which he did again receiving over 50% of the vote, but his party again formed the Official Opposition to the BC Liberal's majority government. As the 39th Parliament began party leader Carole James kept Herbert as the critic of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.[33] Herbert disapproved of absorption of industry-run Crown Corporation Tourism BC into the ministry.[34] According to Herbert, the government took over Tourism BC in retaliation for speaking against the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax[35] and so it could control messages and gain exposure during the Vancouver Winter Olympics.[36] Herbert went on to criticize the council responsible for the transition of Tourism BC into the government as being dominated (eight of thirteen members) by BC Liberal financial donors.[37] Herbert was also critical of the changes, which began in July 2009[38] and partially restored in March[39] and September 2010, to provincial grant system which distributed proceeds from gambling to non-profit groups involved in arts, culture, sports, and education.[40] Herbert illustrated the impact of the province-wide cuts by contrasting them with the cost overruns from both the Vancouver Convention Centre and the replacement of the BC Place stadium roof.[41]

In June 2010, he brought a motion forward in the legislative assembly to declare the pacific salmon as one of the symbols of British Columbia.[42][43] In July, following the release of a study that identified BC as having the highest number of hate crimes in the country, he called upon the government to operate a telephone "bash line" where people can anonymously report incidents involving gay-bashing or verbal and physical assaults.[44][45] Along with fellow NDP MLA Mable Elmore, he advocated for schools to teach equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning in schools.[46]

In March 2010, he married his long-time partner Romi Chandra and legally changed his name to Spencer Chandra Herbert.[47][48][49] The couple initiated the procedure, in October 2010, to adopt a child.[50] With the NDP, during a caucus revolt challenging the leadership of Carole James, Chandra Herbert acted as a liaison between the caucus and party members[51] and supported James.[52] He considered running in the ensuing leadership election[53] but did not enter the race and did not endorse any candidate.

During the second session of the 39th Parliament, Chandra Herbert re-introduced his Long Term Tenants Protection Act, 2010 (Bill M-209). In the third session he introduced a more comprehensive act, the Residential Tenancy Amendment Act, 2011 (Bill M-205), which included giving right of first refusal to existing residents during a strata conversion and giving existing residents the option of returning to renovated apartments at a rent increase no more than would otherwise be lawful.[54] Later the same month he introduced the Gender Identity and Expression Human Rights Recognition Act, 2011 (Bill M-207), which would have included gender identity and gender expression in the definition of sex in the BC Human Rights Code as characteristic protected from discrimination.[55] As private member bills, they all received first reading but none were adopted.

Electoral history[edit]

2017 British Columbia general election: Vancouver-West End
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic Spencer Chandra Herbert 13,420 60.97
Liberal Nigel Elliott 5,064 23.0
Green James Marshall 3,059 13.90
Libertarian John Clarke 352 1.60
Independent Leon David Dunn 116 0.53
Total valid votes 22,011 100.00
Source: Elections BC[56]
2009 British Columbia general election: Vancouver-West End
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
New Democratic Spencer Herbert 9,926 57 $65,124
Liberal Laura McDiarmid 5,735 33 $43,941
Green Drina Read 1,582 9 $2,742
Libertarian John Clarke 196 1 $250
Sex Scarlett Lake 90 0.5 $250
Non-affiliated Menard D. Caissy 36 0.2 $317
Total Valid Votes 17,565 100
Total Rejected Ballots 96 0.5
Turnout 17,661 50
By-election, October 29, 2008: Vancouver-Burrard
Party Candidate Votes % ± Expenditures
     NDP Spencer Herbert 6,998 51 $62,474
Liberal Art Griffiths 5,089 37 $91,934
Green Drina Read 741 5 $2,788
Conservative Ian McLeod 599 4 $2,379
Marijuana Marc Emery 384 3 $1,840
Total Valid Votes 13,811 100
Total Rejected Ballots 26 0.2
Turnout 13,837 23


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  4. ^ a b "Unsung Hero Candidate for Mayor Village Idiot Politician Who Should Retire". WestEnder. Vancouver. February 28, 2008. p. 18.
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  10. ^ Ivens, Andy (May 13, 2008). "Fallen city trees to get new life". The Province. p. A11.
  11. ^ Baron, Ethan (August 8, 2008). "Vancouver tent city proposal shot down". Times Colonist. Victoria, British Columbia. p. D8.
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  28. ^ Fraser, Keith (January 14, 2010). "West End rent increase 'patently unreasonable,' judge rules; Landlord ordered to refund paid increases". The Province. Vancouver. p. A6.
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  34. ^ Constantineau, Bruce (August 18, 2009). "Tourism BC president, entire board dismissed". The Vancouver Sun. p. A1.
  35. ^ Chai, Carmen (August 19, 2009). "Tourism B.C. closure is 'retribution,' claims NDP". The Province. Vancouver. p. A22.
  36. ^ Mickleburgh, Rod (August 19, 2009). "Time was right to take over Tourism BC, minister says". The Globe and Mail. p. A8.
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  38. ^ Hansen, Darah (July 23, 2009). "Province slashes wide range of post-secondary funding; $16-million cut from student aid budget, but no announcement". The Vancouver Sun. p. A4.
  39. ^ Lederman, Marsha (March 3, 2010). "Money restored for the arts not enough, groups say". The Globe and Mail. p. S3.
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  42. ^ "Make salmon our provincial fish: NDP". The Northern Sentinel. Kitimat, British Columbia. June 7, 2010. p. 1.
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  51. ^ Holman, Sean (November 8, 2010). "Carole James faces growing questions about her leadership". The Globe and Mail. p. S1.
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  56. ^ "2017 Provincial General Election Preliminary Voting Results". Elections BC. Retrieved 31 May 2017.

External links[edit]