Jenny Kwan for mayor of Vancouver?
A fair number of municipal politicians are status seekers.
They like being movers and shakers, meeting important people in their communities, and attending gatherings with politicians from other cities.
This was obvious to me in October 2009 when I attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.
Inside the sprawling convention centre, there were hundreds of politicians.
Outside the building, there was only one elected official attending a protest of homeless people: Vancouver–Mount Pleasant NDP MLA Jenny Kwan.
She wanted to hear what the city's poorest residents had to say. Everyone else, including members of the media, were more interested in getting a good seat in advance of then-premier Gordon Campbell's speech.
Now into her fifth term, Kwan has always seemed more interested in choosing the road less travelled and in highlighting important public issues than in making a name for herself.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in her consistent calls for better housing conditions for the poor.
Her lack of careerism was also apparent in her decision to risk her political future by fronting a caucus revolt against former NDP leader Carole James.
It would have been easier for Kwan to sit on her hands rather than face indignities from fellow New Democrats. They've demonstrated again and again that they find it hard to forgive anyone who shatters party solidarity. Just ask Ujjal Dosanjh, who did more to advance women's and minority rights than any other attorney general in history.
Kwan only went public with her concerns after James's supporters infamously outed her and 12 other dissidents to the media. This was done by planting yellow scarfs on James's supporters at a Victoria political gathering.
Kwan also chose the road less travelled in dealing with the health concerns of her constituents more than a decade ago.
Along with Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry and former Vancouver mayor Philip Owen, Kwan was a pioneer in advancing the four-pillars approach, including harm reduction, in addressing drug addiction in the Downtown Eastside.
Kwan knows that scientific evidence supports creating more supervised-injection sites across the province. But her party is too hidebound to turn this into a political issue, even though it would save lives. Who knows? Maybe the NDP president, Moe Sihota, figures this might interfere with fundraising efforts.
This morning, I heard Kwan on CBC Radio raising concerns about the city's public-consultation process around the proposed Grandview-Woodland community plan.
That's because her constituents don't want to be shafted by city council along the lines of what's happened in other neighbourhoods across the city.
I've concluded that Mayor Gregor Robertson has already decided that he's going to run for Parliament in 2015 as a federal Liberal alongside Justin Trudeau. (Of course, I could be proven wrong about this.)
If this is the case, Robertson should not seek reelection in 2014 because that would be an act of bad faith to the citizens, forcing them to go through an unnecessary by-election the following year.
That leaves me wondering who would be a good replacement for Robertson.
Many Vancouver residents are looking for someone to rebuild trust between city hall and neighbourhoods. Others would like a mayor with a demonstrated interest in public policies, particularly housing and the best approaches for addressing drug addiction.
In a perfect world, that future mayor would be able to communicate with a large number of residents in their native language. And this candidate would have a demonstrated track record of integrity.
Kwan was on council from 1993 to 1996 and later served as the minister of municipal affairs. She understands what the job of mayor entails.
Vision Vancouver has no shortage of politicians who would love to climb the ladder from park board or council to the mayor's chair.
But ask yourself this: how many have taken risks along the lines of what Kwan did in advancing harm reduction and by standing up to what she believed to be unethical practices within her own party?
For Kwan, there must be more to life than sitting on the opposition bench of the legislature for another four years—especially knowing that some of her colleagues will never see things from her point of view.
Perhaps the time has come for Kwan's admirers to launch a campaign to persuade her to try to become the next mayor of Vancouver. The election is only 15 months away.