A closer look at David Shebib, long-time Victoria independent candidate

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How one disgruntled man has been a thorn in the side of Victoria’s politics for 40 years

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In this election, Victoria had a crowded list of candidates. Every major national party was represented, along with niche parties such as the Veterans’ Coalition Party, the Communist Party, and the Animal Protection Party. But one man’s platform stood out from the rest. Independent candidate David Shebib didn’t focus on fighting climate change or creating affordable housing. Instead he proclaimed that “the elections are a complete fraud … it’s a joke, a cruel joke.”

Shebib, 75, is a retired waste management worker and, in a sense, a career politician.  He first ran for office in 1979 and since then has run in multiple municipal, provincial, and federal elections, culminating in a marathon campaign for mayor in all 13 municipalities in 2014.  

Shebib’s approach to politics could be described as “D.I.Y.” — he’s put hand-painted signs touting slogans such as “Death by politics” and “FRAUD” outside of polling stations and City Hall, regardless of how many times the police have removed them. 

When not running for office, Shebib ran a waste collection company and free store from his home in Saanich before bylaw officers shut it down in 2011. He also invited the evicted residents of the Goldstream “tent city” to live on his property in 2018 before police officers put a stop to that as well. Now he seems to spend his time posting on Twitter, YouTube and his Facebook page: “Judgement Day News”.  

Twitter seems to be the best medium for Shebib, whose thoughts are easily interpreted in quick bursts: “To believe in money is in the same category as believing in Suicide,” and “When you cannot trust the priests who can you trust? Trust forward,” cheekily referencing the Liberal Party’s 2019 slogan. 

It’s the long-form videos in which Shebib’s ideology becomes the most confusing. His YouTube videos primarily consist of him speaking close to the camera, wading through multiple threads of ideas, but never really following any to a conclusion. In a video titled “Judgement Day News s07e01: the system is not the system,” he challenges the notion that a country run by money could ever be called “free.”  

In a conversation with the Martlet, Shebib explained his political beliefs. 

“[We must] to reduce all problems to the source,” he said. “[Approaching problems] economically is based [on the] least action for maximum result. [Approaching them] politically is the best means of achieving the goal.”

“There were no issues discussed by candidates. Climate change? Who said what?  No one said anything except that it was an issue. So where was the direction going in regard to any of the issues? The media should have asked real questions regarding our lifestyle and [how we will need to adapt in the future]. A crisis is not a voting opportunity for a power grab. Truth should have been the platform for action and not party favourites or flavours.”

It’s understandable that Shebib’s ideas are hard to comprehend. Shebib only completed his public education up to grade nine and was put in jail at 14, which he says “ended any chance of a normal life.”  Now, at 75, he describes himself as “trying to graduate into existence.” On a surface level, it’s easy to dismiss Shebib as a fringe candidate seemingly spouting nonsense, but after parsing his sentences for meaning, it becomes clear that his genuine criticisms of Canadian politics are for valid reasons.

After two election cycles of the Liberal party promising to commit to climate action, relatively little has changed. The Federal government hasn’t ended subsidies for the fossil fuel industry like it promised in 2015 — instead, it purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Liberals’ plan to plant 2 million trees — while beneficial to offsetting carbon emissions — likely won’t serve to offset the greenhouse gas emissions caused by LNG expansion in B.C. 

What Shebib tries and often fails to point out through his campaign and videos is that a government that prioritizes money over people has an inherent need to make fraudulent claims to the public about climate action in order to quell the population’s worries and be re-elected. And particularly after our most recent election, is that really so crazy of an assertion?

David Shebib is not Victoria’s idea of a star politician — he only won 105 out of 70 073 votes in the riding this federal election — but we as citizens shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his approach to activism. For his whole life, Shebib has been getting involved at a grassroots level in an attempt to help people. While one may not vote for Shebib because of his values, we can all learn from his approach to enacting the change we want in the world.