Leaks exposed OneCity volunteer plot to frame critics as criminals. Now comes the victim blaming.

By Rohana Rezel

The news broke last week that Daniel Oleksiuk’s close associates were plotting to ruin the lives of their “political enemies” – including myself – by framing us heinous criminals.

In response, Abundant Housing Vancouver (AHV) cofounder Oleksiuk is leading the charge in painting me as a “liar” and an “unscrupulous guy”.

What Oleksiuk is doing is victim blaming[1]https://crcvc.ca/docs/victim_blaming.pdf, a common technique used to justify violence against women and racialized minorities.

What Oleksiuk is trying to argue here is that I “deserve” to be framed as being a heinous criminal.

It’s the argument used to justify violence against Black, Indigenous, and people of colour[2]https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/25/us/ahmaud-arbery-racist-rhetoric-trial-takeaways/index.html.

“He’s a thug. He deserved it.”

It’s the argument used to justify sexual violence against women.

“Her dress was too revealing. She deserved it.”

For those not familiar with recent events, leaked chat logs showing civic party OneCity Vancouver supporters, including directors of Abundant Housing Vancouver, have been plotting to ruin the lives of their perceived “political enemies”. Tim Ell, a volunteer who went door knocking with Christine Boyle, even going as far as to suggest framing people as pedophiles[3]https://biv.com/article/2022/09/onecity-damage-control-over-leaked-chat-logs.

Abundant Housing Vancouver is the most prominent “YIMBY” organization in Vancouver. The YIMBY – Yes In My Backyard – point of view is that the solution to the housing crisis lies in giving real estate developers a carte blanche to add more high density market housing.

Oleksiuk has also bragged about how AHV helped move OneCity away from the “left” towards a more YIMBY approach to housing[4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HVCsja6ftQ&t=3542s.

OneCity, AHV, and the YIMBY movement as a whole is being tried in the court of public opinion and it’s not going well for Oleksiuk and other OneCity supporters.

Ever the lawyer, Oleksiuk knows that victim blaming is one tactic that has successfully been used in the past to defend the indefensible.

Victim blaming is not the only strategy Oleksiuk and other OneCity supporters are using to justify what Ell did.

Some are arguing that it was just a joke. Others are arguing that I made it worse for myself by calling them out.

As with victim blaming, these are all tactics used to justify violence against women and racialized groups.

The overall strategy Oleksiuk and other OneCity partisans are using here is DARVO, which stands for deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender. It’s a common tactic used sexual offenders and psychological abusers.

“…I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior,” Jennifer Freyd , who introduced the term “DARVO,” wrote[5]Freyd, J.J. (1997) Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory. Feminism & Psychology, 7, 22-32.. “This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of lawsuits, overt and covert attacks on the whistle-blower’s credicility, and so on….. [T]he offender rapidly creates the impression that the abuser is the wronged one, while the victim or concerned observer is the offender. Figure and ground are completely reversed… The offender is on the offense and the person attempting to hold the offender accountable is put on the defense.”

Oleksiuk is a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal lawyer who adjudicates claims for injured workers and employers. Oleksiuk and his YIMBY pals appear to think that their victim blaming and other DARVO tactics is acceptable behavior. Their devotees viciously attack, slander, and attempt to make life miserable anyone who disagrees with them or tries to hold them accountable.

OneCity and the party’s de facto leader Christine Boyle’s refusal to denounce such behaviour and to issue an official apology to the individuals and public, emboldens these zealots. This is, in spite of evidence that OneCity volunteers and supporters were shown to be orchestrating targeted harassment campaigns against critics.

OneCity and Boyle can protect the victims of the dirty tricks campaign by take three simple steps:

  1. OneCity and Christine Boyle need to issue a formal apology to all who have been targeted.
  2. OneCity needs to cut all ties with all abusive supporters linked to AHV from their campaign
  3. OneCity and Christine Boyle need to make it abundantly clear that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated in the party

Threats, intimidation, and bullying should have no place in civil society. The actions of OneCity supporters are already causing many to tune out of the upcoming election. OneCity and Christine Boyle owe it to the voters of Vancouver to show leadership by taking steps to return the election discourse to one based on democratic debate on substantive issues.

You can reach Rohana Rezel at [email protected] You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Github.

References   [ + ]

1. https://crcvc.ca/docs/victim_blaming.pdf
2. https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/25/us/ahmaud-arbery-racist-rhetoric-trial-takeaways/index.html
3. https://biv.com/article/2022/09/onecity-damage-control-over-leaked-chat-logs
4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HVCsja6ftQ&t=3542s
5. Freyd, J.J. (1997) Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory. Feminism & Psychology, 7, 22-32.