First Thoughts On The Day After

October 21, 2018

My immediate reaction was disappointment; only 12 of my 27 picks were successfully elected yesterday.

The new party I had pinned some hopes on — ProVancouver — put on a decent campaign but their mayoral candidate (my choice) finished 7th, and the most successful of their Council candidates collected less than 9,000 votes, coming in about 46th in line. And while COPE managed to get Jean Swanson onto Council, the vibrant insurgent candidacies of Derricke O’Keefe and Anne Roberts could only manage 14th and 16th places.

Moreover, on Council, the power of the party slate showed itself to still be the key factor, relegating all the independents to the nether regions.  This is no advance in democracy, just a shifting sand.

However, to look  on the bright side, there are potentially six progressive votes on Council against five for the NPA, and hopefully that need for majority can move Mayor Stewart away from his VIsionista leanings toward significantly more progressive and community-minded policies.

Even more satisfying is the virtual elimination of Vision (left with just a single School Board seat), the failure of OneCity to take Vision’s place, and the utter destruction of the build4greed proponents, YES and AHV Vancouver. Ten years of that nonsense under Robertson was quite enough for the sensible citizens of Vancouver.

The big lesson?  The right wing parties simply cannot afford the splits that we saw this year (in Vancouver and Surrey), and we on the progressive left need to keep encouraging them.

 

 

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Vancouver Elections — Final Endorsements

October 10, 2018

Advance polling for the Vancouver municipal election begins today. It is time, therefore, for me to make my final decisions on who to support.  There have been few changes since last I write about this.

I have read and listened to as much of the politicking as I have been able and consider myself a reasonably informed voter.  My choices are based on one simple principle:  I will not vote for anyone who is not what I would consider a progressive or who is beholden in any way to developers, the NDP or BC Liberals.  That immediately disqualifies anyone from NPA, YES, Vancouver First, and Coalition Vancouver.

Anyone who has read this blog at any time over the last many years knows that I do not consider Vision to be genuinely progressive, and their destructive history speaks for itself. So they, too, are discarded along with the Visionista clones Kennedy Stewart, Shauna Sylvester (who apparently said last night that she favours gentrification of all neighbourhoods) and OneCity (though see below for an exception).

That leaves COPE, Green, ProVancouver and some independents to choose from.

I know Pete Fry (Green) and worked on civic issues with him for several years. He is solid.  I know Derrick O’Keefe (COPE) and appreciate the work he has done through Vancouver Tenants Union. I am a big fan of Anne Roberts (COPE) who was forced out of Council when Larry Campbell and Vision cut the legs out from under COPE a dozen years ago. She stuck to her views and refused to go along with Vision’s sellout.  She has the right views and Council experience.  These three get my core support, but they need companions.

I have some reservations these days about Adriane Carr (Green), but she will be a useful voice of experience and is almost certain to be elected regardless.  I am also going with Jean Swanson (COPE) and Sarah Blyth (independent) because it will be both interesting and useful to see how progressive front line activists react to having a seat at the table.

I will also support Raza Mirza and Rohana Rezel (both ProVancouver) who I know mainly from their Twitter posts, and which have impressed me.  I have met Rob McDowell (independent) a few times over the years and he is a thoroughly decent man and deserves support.

And my final choice for Council, I will vote for Christine Boyle, even though she is from OneCity. I have heard her speak at two meetings and she is clearly on top of her game. Given her views, she could easily be running for COPE or as a progressive independent.  She is a star of the future and I’m happy to see her on the Council.

This will be the third election in a row that I have sought a Council that does not have a single party majority. Such an animal requires a common sense consensus-building chairperson as Mayor. I believe that person this time around is David Chen (ProVancouver) and I wholeheartedly endorse him for that position.

If we can get a non-majority Council in 2018, I believe we will be on our way to ridding the Vancouver municipal scene of all political parties. It is vital at the local level (at least) that elected officials are beholden to the electors who elected them, rather than to the interest groups that selected them.  Let’s make sure the 2018 elections are a start along that road.


The Election: One Month To Go

September 26, 2018

It has been about 10 days since I published my first list of favoured candidates running in the Vancouver municipal elections. Ten days is a lot of all-candidates’ meetings, opinion pieces, and general media coverage, so I thought I’d take another look at the choices.

Pete Fry

My key three are still Pete Fry (Green), Derrick O’Keefe (COPE) and Anne Roberts (COPE).  It is vital that we get a thorough progressive shakeup that brings the power from the corporations back to the people (which is why you will not find any Vision, NPA, Vancouver First, YES Vancouver, or Coalition Vancouver candidates on this list). Pete and Derrick are articulate modern movers and shakers, and Ann brings the wisdom of progressive experience. With these three at the core of a non-majority Council, I can see interesting floating coalitions created with an intent to actually solve an issue.

Obvious accomplices in these efforts would be Jean Swanson (COPE), Adriane Carr (Green), and Sarah Blyth.  Adriane Carr is, of course, a very well-experienced Council member, while both Jean and Sarah would allow front-line workers the opportunity for a voice at the table.

Christine Boyle

If we can get six progressives willing to work together, that’s all we need. However, to fill out the roster, I am currently leaning toward Christine Boyle (OneCity), Rob McDowell, Raza Mirza (ProVancouver) and Rohana Rezel (proVancouver).  I was impressed with Boyle from the speech she gave to a COPE meeting earlier this year. However, her messianic cheerfulness is a bit cloying.  McDowell seems to have been around a while; an NPA type, but decent for all that. Mirza is a frequent tweeter, so his views are easily known.

For mayor, I am still leaning towards David Chen (ProVancouver). However, reports from meetings sometimes make him out to be a little unclear — which really surprises me — and his poll numbers are not improving. I am clearly NOT going to be voting for the Stewart – Sylvester duo of Visionistas, nor the blandness that is Ken Sim, nor, god forbid, the snake oil salesman incarnate Hector Bremner. Of the rest, I am immediately impressed by Sean Cassidy‘s ideas but need to know a lot more about him.

One month to go; we’ll see what changes.

 


Important Dates: Local All-Candidates’ Meetings

September 25, 2018

The Grandview Woodland Area Council, along with a number of other neighbourhood groups and associations, has arranged a series of meetings at which local residents can discuss policy and values with as many Mayoral, Council, Parks Board and School Board candidates as possible.

The first of these, for mayoral and Council candidates, will take place on Monday 1st October, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm,  at Gym D, Britannia.

Different from most other meetings this election season, the format will be what is known as World Cafe style. “Using the “world café” format, the events will offer individuals and representatives from each party an opportunity to speak for three minutes and then, after these short speeches, the balance of the time will be spent at tables, with 10-15 community residents in a 15-minute dialogue with a single candidate. After 15 minutes, candidates will rotate tables. Each table will have a moderator and a note taker, and the notes will be shared with our community through various platforms.”

It is a bit like speed dating, but a lot of ground can be covered in a reasonable time.

The second Mayoral and Council candidates’ meeting will take place at Ray-Cam, 920 E. Hastings, from 5:30pm to 9:00pm Wednesday 9th October.

Meetings for Parks Board and School Board candidates will take place from 11:00am to 3:00pm on Saturday 29th September at Britannia, and at Strathcona Community, 601 Keefer, from 6:30pm to 9:30pm on Friday October 12th.


The Election Races Forward

September 17, 2018

I seem to have been writing, on and off, about the 2018 Vancouver municipal election for months. But now we finally find ourselves with the full list of registered candidates and only just about a month before the big day.

We finished up with a record number of contestants for this election: 21 people standing for the Mayor’s job alone (with only one winner), along with 71 wannabe Councillors (just 10 to be chosen), and another 33 each vying for Parks Board and School Board, which have 7 and 9 seats respectively. There will be a lot of disappointed candidates come October 21st, but at least Vancouver’s voters will have been given a wide choice — no bad thing.

Just to make things a little more complicated, the candidates for each position will not be listed in alphabetical or party order. Apparently it was thought that candidates with names beginning with “A”, “B” or “C” have an advantage over those with names starting with “W” or “Y” or “Z”.  Therefore, the candidates will be listed in random order in a draw to be made soon.

I understand the reasoning for this change, but I don’t agree with it.  Listing the candidates in random order — especially when there are so many in each category — guarantees that name recognition and/or party slate voting will play a larger role than it should.  I believe the dangers of that are at least as great as having to deal with lazy voters who don’t look beyond the first half of the ballot.

My selections may change over the next month, but as of today, my plan is to support David Chen for Mayor and the following Council candidates (in alphabetical order):

  • Sarah Blyth
  • Christine Boyle
  • Adriane Carr
  • Pete Fry
  • Lisa Kristansen
  • Rob McDowell
  • Derrick O’Keefe
  • Mirza Rezel
  • Anne Roberts
  • Jean Swanson

Although I recognize their importance, the fact is I just don’t follow School or Parks Board, so I don’t feel comforable selecting favourites.


Beware The Resurrection of Andrea Reimer

September 12, 2018

The thing about Dracula is that he never really dies. It doesn’t matter how long he lies cold and dusty n his stone tomb, there is always some idiot who will come along and somehow set him free again to wander the earth on his deadly journey.

That image — stark and fearsome — came into my head last night as I read that, with the sudden withdrawal of Ian Campbell from the Vancouver mayor’s race, Ms. Reimer was contemplating putting herself forward for the job.

I wrote the following about a year ago when Reimer’s retirement from Council was announced. I think it bears repeating.

_________________

 

I came across Charlie Smith’s hagiography of Andrea Reimer from the Straight. It was a hard read for me because my experience of Reimer was so different, so negative.

We started off badly, back in early 2012, when I spoke before Council in opposition to the design of the Baptist Church’s proposed building at First & Victoria. In her self-proclaimed position as Councillor for Grandview, she asked me a few questions after I had had my allotted five minutes. She was arrogant, assumed I knew little of Grandview, and the tenor of her questions clearly indicated a predetermined yes vote for the development regardless of any arguments that might be presented. Things only got worse when the Grandview Woodland Community Plan process began.

A central paragraph in Smith’s column asks us to remember

“Reimer’s credibility with the environmental community, her appeal to residents living in the Commercial Drive–Trout Lake area, her stunning work ethic, and political radar that may only have been matched on council in recent years by Geoff Meggs, who’s left municipal politics.”

Problem for me was that I didn’t recognize any truth in most of those statements about her.

I wondered whether my early experience with Reimer had clouded my opinion of her, allowing me to miss the good she was doing. So I asked a number of my friends and acquaintances whether they had opinions on her years as Councillor. By the time I am writing this, more than half have responded and they are all overwhelmingly negative in their judgement.  Many described her as “manipulative,” and as “an opportunist … only interested in her own career.” None believe that she ever genuinely represented any constituency here in Grandview, and that her demeanour was often “officious” and unpleasant. I share all of those views.

When City Planning’s “Emerging Directions” document became public as a draft Community Plan in the spring of 2013 an uproar of complaint erupted from the residents of GW, most especially as “Emerging Directions” included dozens of pages on rezoning the neighbourhood that had never been raised or discussed in any of the public meetings over the previous eight months. While Mayor Robertson admitted the process had not been a good one, and Planning boss Brian Jackson considered it a disaster, Reimer was still giving interviews praising Vision’s handling of community planning.  At the massive community meeting held in early July that year to protest the Grandview Plan, Reimer came late and hid in the back of  the crowded room. When finally shamed into speaking, Reimer ignored everything residents had passionately spoken about for an hour or more, asking for understanding as she was currently being evicted (which, it later turned out, was something of a permanent status for her).

She was an instigator and heavy supporter of the benighted Citizens’ Assembly process deliberately designed to exclude the majority of Grandview’s residents from participation in a vital community project. On the several occasions that I spoke to Council during the Community Plan period, Reimer (along with Geoff Meggs) generally led the attack on me and GWAC or whoever else I was speaking for. She argued against community representation, calling local groups irrelevant and claiming them to be “unrepresentative”.

When the final Grandview Community Plan came before Council, it was Reimer who proposed a last-minute amendment that — against the professional advice of Planning — granted several extra stories to the highly controversial Boffo Tower monstrosity proposed for Commercial and Venables.

And it wasn’t only Grandview she screwed. After years of discussion and community debate, the DTES Community Plan was brought before Council for approval. It was loyal Vision foot soldier Reimer who, again at the very last hour, showed up with a lot of scribbled pages that changed substantial and substantive portions of the Plan, that no-one had a chance to digest before Vision voted it through …

Wherever she ends up I’ll be glad to see the back of her (except, of course, the Mayor’s chair).


David Chen: A Possible Mayor

September 6, 2018

I have for some weeks now been leaning toward supporting David Chen of ProVancouver in the upcoming mayoral election.  I have been impressed with his ideas and I am even more so now that I have listened to a very useful 30-minute interview he had with Business in Vancouver and which they have released as an audio.

There are certainly some issues on which he and I would have differences of opinion, but far fewer than I would have with any one of the other nine or ten candidates, I am sure. But the important part of this interview is that any reasonable person listening, without endorsing any of his policies, would agree that this is a solid serious candidate.  As a newcomer with a new party, that’s a vital first step.

With Chen as mayor and with a Council majority made up of ProVancouver, COPE, and Green councillors, perhaps Vancouver can finally start hoping for better and more compassionate days ahead.