Could we be seeing cracks in the united Vision Vancouver front?

Here's a bit of Sunday speculation: what if things aren't going quite as smoothly as everyone thinks within the Vision Vancouver caucus?

It's difficult for the public and the media to know what's really taking place because Vision politicians hold most of their debates in private rather than in the council chamber.

If cracks were surfacing, this bunch would go out of their way not to publicize this.

They saw what happened between 2002 and 2005 when open warfare within the anti-NPA forces denied Jim Green the mayoralty and gave their opponents a bare majority.

There have already been signs of division within Vision. A key member of the coalition, CUPE Local 15 president Paul Faoro, wasn't happy with the way the city manager's office rammed through the last budget. CUPE Local 15 represents city inside workers.

Meanwhile, Vision councillor Raymond Louie's former campaign manager, Neil Monckton, has publicly criticized Mayor Gregor Robertson for promoting a tax shift from business to residential property owners. Vision councillors opposed a tax shift in their previous term. Keep in mind that Monckton was the campaign manager who orchestrated the 2002 COPE landslide.

Here's another thing to consider: Vision park commissioner Raj Hundal has publicly condemned the lack of a ward system in Vancouver. He knows that his chances of getting elected to council have probably diminished because the mayor won't take up the cause of electoral reform.

More recently, former COPE councillor Tim Louis, who is no friend of Vision, recommended a joint mayoral nomination involving members of COPE and Vision Vancouver.

Louis emphasized that this nomination should be a democratic decision. The idea of a joint mayoral nomination was shot down by Vision executive director Ian Baillie.

This is the same Ian Baillie who was a former aide to ex-Vancouver Kingsway Liberal MP Sophia Leung. Reporter Frances Bula wrote on her blog earlier this year that Baillie was chosen over Stephen Learey, a close associate of Green and Vision councillor Geoff Meggs.

Shortly before the 2008 election, I wrote a blog post suggesting that Robertson should watch his back.

That was because the tightly-knit NDP faction with links to the Vancouver-Kingsway constituency had some ideological differences with Robertson, whose enthusiasm for all things green doesn't always match the objectives of organized labour.

Since taking office, however, Robertson and his chief of staff, Mike Magee, have not taken many visible steps to win over those who supported Louie's mayoral-nomination team.

(In a rather amusing aside, if you search www.raymondlouie.ca, you end up on the Vision Vancouver home page, which is plastered with pro-Robertson messages.)

Robertson has remained quiet about the possibility of local schools being closed in Vancouver-Kingsway thanks to the B.C. Liberal provincial budget.

In addition, Robertson did virtually nothing to help New Democrats in the last election, giving only a last-minute endorsement to the lost-cause efforts of Jenn McGinn, who represented his former constituency of Vancouver-Fairview.

Moreover, Robertson hurt the NDP by saying "hooray for the carbon tax" and calling for a three-peat for Premier Gordon Campbell.

Meggs's wife is Jan O'Brien, the provincial secretary of the NDP, whose job is to help elect Carole James as premier. O'Brien hasn't gotten much help in this regard from Robertson, who owes his political success in part to the NDP machine.

Now, there are murmurings of a media hit list linked to the mayor's office. There's no proof, but it's the type of story that will cause some reporters to become even more snarly to prove that they're not going to be intimidated.

What if this is part of a plot by New Democrats within Vision Vancouver to create some uncertainty over Robertson's leadership?

What if the real goal is to have a democratically fought nomination for the next Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate?

Because this time around, there's no guarantee that Robertson will generate the kind of support he did in 2008.

And the NPA is so weak that anyone could probably run with a "Vision Vancouver" label beside their name and win the mayoral race.

If there is to be a challenge to Robertson, I bet it would come from Louie with the support of Faoro. But I also wouldn't rule out a mayoral run by Meggs or another provincial New Democrat who wants a mayor who will stand up to the B.C. Liberals before the 2013 provincial election.

The only thing that will dampen this Sunday speculation is if Vision Vancouver's board publicly declares that the mayor won't have to seek a nomination in a democratic contest in 2011.

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

Comments (9) Add New Comment
Brenton
What if the real goal is to have a democratically fought nomination for the next Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate?

You're kidding, right? Tim Louis has about as much political capital in this city as my mom. Are you imagining that he and Neil Monckton communicate ever? That Ian Baillie worries about what Raj Hundal thinks about wards? Charlie, this is ridiculous.
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Max
Charlie, after lecturing others in the media about using unnamed sources last week, your article seems to go further than that in reading Vision's political tea leaves. "Could it be?", it could be, but speculation and conjecture about possibilities does not a fact make. I sympathize with you. Years of covering the difference between twiddle dee dee and twiddle dee dum requires focusing attention not on political substance (as there is very little substantial difference between Vision, the NDP, the Liberals etc in terms of political programs) but instead good journalists need to pay attention to 'murmurings', 'could it be's', 'what ifs', the way politicians comb their hair, or what model of bike they ride.

Until politicians talk about issues of substance and dispute about political principles and programs, what else is there to go on? Political criticism will be reduced to being a sort of storefront psychic offering political tea leave readings, political astrology, and political styles, more akin to political fashion statements than anything else (e.g. Monkton's laughable conversion to a stop in redistribution of taxation from businesses to residents, after years of supporting candidates, i.e. Louie, Campbell, who did just that).
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Charlie Smith
Max,

I said it was a piece of idle speculation on a Sunday on a blog. I didn't suggest it was anything but this. You can't deny there have been some policy differences within the Vision tent between the federal Liberals and the provincial New Democrats.

As I was writing this, I thought about how difficult it is to discern the cracks within the highly disciplined Vision Vancouver caucus.

There was a school of research called Kremlinology to detect what was happening within the old Soviet politburo. The way Vision operates, maybe we need a new school of research for the Vancouver civic scene. We can call it Visionology.

Of course, this wouldn't be necessary if Vision behaved like every other civic party in the past and held its debates in public in the council chamber.

Charlie Smith
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Charlie Smith
Brenton,

Ian Baillie should care what Raj Hundal thinks about wards because Raj Hundal can have some influence over who gets a Vision council nomination in 2011.

Charlie Smith
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glen p robbins
See: former NDP - BC Liberal supporter Brad Zubyk and federal Liberal Jonathan Ross.
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Ziggles
Brenton: "Tim Louis has about as much political capital in this city as my mom."

Thank you for demonstrating exactly the type of arrogance that is going to bring down Vision in the next election. Ever since that election, Vision acts like they own the city of Vancouver and no one else matters. This comment from an obvious Vision supporter or paid operative is a glimpse into their mindset. They know better than you, so, sit down, shut up and stop trying to be participate in your government, otherwise, you'll be accused of being a "fucking NPA hack."

People are getting sick and tired of the bullying and disparaging comments coming from this Vision crowd. They have attacked the NPA, COPE, Greens, Liberals, community groups, business owners, individual citizens, and the list keeps on growing. Vision won't have many friends left in another year at this rate.
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Fun Police
since when did vision become the fun police

how do 7 people vote on behalf a city that you can't smoke outdoors. outdoors!

i dont smoke, but if they can do this, what else can they do??
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Brenton
Ziggles:

I voted for COPE candidates in 2008, believed strongly in the complementary slate, and will attend the COPE general meeting this Sunday. I hope Vision and COPE run a complementary slate again, and will be urging the Vision leadership to arrange this.

Ask the younger activists in COPE, and they'll say the same thing: Tim Louis has managed to marginalize himself in municipal politics.
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Brenton
Charlie:

Fair point. I just don't think wards will be a significant issue this election, so whether Raj Hundal thinks so or otherwise is probably irrelevant. But you're right, whoever makes it through the nomination process may think differently and a future council could revisit the issue.

Cheers,
Brenton
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