As the NPA goes negative, Vision and COPE get help from NDP big shots
This week, two Georgia Straight staff members asked me about unusual election-related phone calls.
In one instance, NDP Leader Adrian Dix left a message urging the person to vote for the Vision Vancouver–COPE slate in the Vancouver civic election.
She wanted to know how Dix got her number. I told her I didn't know the answer.
The other message, to a different staff member, came from NDP president Moe Sihota. In English and Punjabi, he urged this person to vote for Vision and COPE candidates.
The second staffer asked me how Sihota would have known that he speaks Punjabi. I didn't have an answer for that question, either.
The calls came around the same time that the NPA launched its "Take Back Vancouver" campaign, which features a bunch of negative videos about Mayor Gregor Robertson. The tagline features this inexplicable line: "Play time is over. Take back Vancouver."
Meanwhile, the Globe and Mail has published an amusing story playing up the spectacle of duelling developers. Peter Wall, who built the Wall Centre, supports Robertson and reportedly helped Vision raise massive amounts of money. This past summer, the Vision-controlled council approved the rezoning of Shannon Mews. This will enable Wall to increase the number of housing units from 164 to 705 at his 4.4-hectare estate on the southwest side of the city.
Meanwhile, Rob Macdonald, who built the Capitol Residences downtown, is backing NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton. His company was the recipient of a generous density bonus in 2005 from the COPE council. (He also hired former COPE councillor Jim Green after he lost the election later that year to Sam Sullivan.)
The Globe story neglected to mention that another major developer, Ian Gillespie of Westbank Projects Corp., recently held a fundraiser for Vision. This came a week after council approved a huge density bonus for its massive Telus Garden project in downtown Vancouver.
In light of all this, I have a question for the NPA: take back Vancouver from whom? Businessmen like Peter Wall and Ian Gillespie? So it can be given to another businessman named Rob Macdonald?
Of course, this wouldn't be a story if the provincial government ever decided to impose spending limits on municipal-election campaigns. They already exist in provincial and federal elections, but in the banana republic known as British Columbia, they don't apply at the local level.
Getting back to Dix and Sihota, one wonders why they're so willing to go out on a limb for Robertson. The mayor bolted from the NDP caucus in 2008 and then barely lifted a finger to help the NDP battle the B.C. Liberals in 2009.
Perhaps a bigger objective for Dix and Sihota is reelecting New Democrats on council, including Geoff Meggs, Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, Heather Deal, and Tim Stevenson. Maybe we should start calling them "Peter Wall New Democrats".
I never thought I would see the day when Dix and Wall, a huge Gordon Campbell supporter, would be on the same side in an election. Politics certainly makes for strange bedfellows.
Municipal elections 2011