Don't expect Tung Chan to run for mayor of Vancouver with the NPA
Fontaine was chief of staff to former NPA mayor, Sam Sullivan, who served on council after Chan's only term ended in 1993.
Chan, 58, recently annouced that he will retire on November 1 as CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a well-known immigrant-services organization.
I think Fontaine is dreaming in technicolour if he thinks there's even a slim chance that Chan would want to run for mayor.
Chan served one term on council, and chose not to run for reelection in 1993 even though he would have won easily.
Council spends much of its time on land-use issues, which didn't appear to interest Chan that much during his only term of office.
The mayor and council sit for hours on end at public hearings listening to developers' proponents and citizens argue over densities.
If a building gets a couple more storeys through a rezoning application, then the developer will throw some money at the city to finance affordable housing.
Municipal politics is a grubby business that involves cozying up to the real-estate industry if you want to generate enough campaign contributions to win a majority on council. Chan probably has no interest in being in the minority.
Then there are the endless discussions in committees about traffic-calming measures in various neighbourhoods. For people with a keen interest in transportation, this can be extremely interesting. But it's enough to drive anyone else fleeing for the nearest exit, which is precisely what Chan did by not seeking reelection in 1993.
Council has very little impact on immigration, the national economy, and education, which are three areas that do interest Chan.
He came from Hong Kong as an immigrant and worked his way through school on his way to obtaining a sociology degree. From there, he went on to become a successful banker and later, the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. He has also served on the board of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, which again reflects his interest in education.
Chan knows what it's like to start with very little in life and succeed against the odds. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. does a great deal of language training, and as its CEO, he has tried to level the playing field for immigrants.
In addition, Chan has quietly tried to further human rights in other areas, notably by attempting to get the media to focus on the glass ceiling facing visible minorities in management.
He has been a strong advocate for the recognition of foreign educational credentials. In addition, he was an early proponent of an apology to families who paid the Chinese head tax.
I remember interviewing Chan in 2004 about a B.C. Liberal cabinet shuffle. Even though he was a supporter of Premier Gordon Campbell, he didn't shy away from criticizing the lack of diversity in his choices--which included 16 Caucasian men and three Caucasian women holding all 19 senior positions.
A mayor is pretty powerless to do much about these areas, unlike a provincial or federal cabinet minister. My bet is Chan won't seek municipal office, where he would have only one vote among 11 members of council.
He has ties to the federal Conservatives. If he returns to politics, it will most likely be as the Conservative candidate in Vancouver South or Richmond. This could lead to a cabinet position where he would have real influence.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.