Kirk LaPointe's biggest obstacle to becoming mayor of Vancouver: Peter Armstrong

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      When the NPA gets around to announcing that Kirk LaPointe is the party's Vancouver mayoral candidate, he's going to face an uphill struggle.

      First off, the former managing editor of the Vancouver Sun doesn't have nearly the same level of name recognition as the incumbent, Vision Vancouver's Gregor Robertson.

      Secondly, the NPA has not developed party machinery or identified its potential supporters to a degree that is any match for Vision Vancouver.

      Thirdly, the number of voters in the NPA's West Side heartland has remained relatively static in recent years—particularly in neighbourhoods like Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, and Southlands.

      Meanwhile, the number of voters in Vision country (i.e. Grandview-Woodland) has shot up significantly.

      Densification helps Vision Vancouver because people who live in multifamily housing projects tend to vote for its candidates.

      The NPA has also done a fairly dismal job in reaching out to diverse communities. Booting Sophia Woo out of caucus—the only elected candidate of Chinese descent—probably won't help matters.

      But these aren't the biggest challenges facing LaPointe at the top of the ticket.

      He's also handicapped by a party president, Peter Armstrong, who's at the centre of Vision's efforts to brand the NPA as a party of one percenters.

      You see, Armstrong is a railway baron. He's the founder of the Rocky Mountaineer.

      The parent company, Great Canadian Railtour, locked out Rocky Mountaineer unionized workers for more than a year, making it a pariah within the labour movement during that time.

      Armstrong is rich and he looks rich—as you can see in the photo above.

      As president, he's also overseen a process in which the NPA directors, not the members, have selected LaPointe as the mayoral candidate.

      That might have been fine had not one of the directors, Ken Charko, publicly objected in an interview with the Straight's Carlito Pablo.

      So while Vision is signing up lots of new members to support its very competitive nomination process for park-board candidates, the NPA looks like a throwback to the 19th century when wealthy railway barons selected candidates in smoke-filled backrooms.

      Already, one of the commenters on this site has branded the NPA as "Not Peter Armstrong".

      The cynics will say that Mayor Robertson is rich, Vision sometimes advances the interests of the rich, and two of its key supporters, Bob Rennie and Peter Wall, are bona fide members of the one-percent club.

      But in politics, perception is everything. And even though all these things are true, that doesn't take away from Vision's ability to market the NPA as a Shaughnessy bogeyman ready to turn back the clock.

      Today, the NPA tried to dismantle Vision's storyline by posting a long statement on its website.

      The NPA outlined an extensive process in which the party tried to encourage people to become candidates before being green-lighted by a committee that was 40 percent female and 60 percent under 45 years of age. That's designed to defuse Robertson's charge that the NPA is made up of angry old men.

      The NPA also insisted that Armstrong didn't take part in any of the "interview panels" with the candidates. Another wealthy member of the NPA board, developer Rob Macdonald, participated in only one interview, according to the statement.

      No one in their right mind will believe, however, that Armstrong stood completely on the sidelines as the NPA chose its mayoral candidate.

      And the fact that the party has issued a statement like this suggests it realizes its predicament.

      Sometimes, campaigns matter and elections aren't determined until the final days. The recent Ontario election and the 2013 B.C. election are two such examples.

      On other occasions, the election is over before the starting gun has even been fired.

      I suspect that this is the case in the upcoming civic race in Vancouver.

      It was Peter Armstrong's election to lose. And by inserting himself in such a high-profile way by serving as president in the years leading up to the choice of the NPA mayoral candidate, he's made himself a target of Vision Vancouver's masterful spin doctors.

      It's amazing that he didn't see it coming a long time ago.

      And the NPA's response—a technical explanation splashed on a website that few people read—is not going to do much to blunt Vision's attack.


      We're now using Facebook for comments.



      Jun 19, 2014 at 3:28pm

      Uhhh, remember Joel Solomon? Shouldn't he have been included in the article for a little balance?

      Frustrated voter

      Jun 19, 2014 at 3:48pm

      Both the NPA and Vision are in the pocket of the development industry. Which one is labelled left and which is labelled right is irrelevant. All the decisions are made by men of wealth and power and a ruthless city manager rams them down out throats. The current regime is making previous "my way or the highway" mayors like Tom Campbell, Gordon Campbell and Sam Sullivan look like gentlemen of compromise, a feat I once thought impossible.


      Jun 19, 2014 at 3:59pm

      Did Vision or Bob Rennie write this? Railway Baron? Really? I'm surprised you didn't Photoshop in white gloves, a top hat and him stepping on a homeless person.

      Another fair and balanced article by Charlie Smith - Vancouver's left wing Fox News.

      Joseph Planta

      Jun 19, 2014 at 4:27pm

      What's unbelievable is that Unbelievable referred to Charlie Smith as "Vancouver's left wing Fox News," thereby employing a rather dated and tiresome reference. If one were to accept Unbelievable's premise, wouldn't it have been easier to refer to him as Vancouver's MSNBC? Or does Unbelievable not have cable?

      Are you on their Payroll

      Jun 19, 2014 at 6:22pm

      Wow. I just commented about Charlie Smith's Journalistic Integrity on another of his articles and then decided to read some of his other stuff... this is bizarre.

      This article is beyond propaganda - it lacks any integrity whatsoever. Why is this Charlie Smith an Editor for anything remotely labeled as "news". He clearly has an agenda, has no regard for hiding the fact, and writes his stories from the perspective of a political candidate or campaign - rather than as a journalist.

      If Charlie Smith is so eager to share his political opinions and views... Than he should step up and run as a candidate for a political party! Here's betting he doesn't pick the NPA!

      Evil Eye

      Jun 19, 2014 at 6:26pm

      With "Visionless" Vancouver running the show, one yearns for the NPA to offer credible candidates for this falls election, but no all they offer is a Toronto centric ex Vancouver Sun type and a railway baron wannabe who was, in part, behind the BC Rail fiasco.

      I think I will hold my nose and vote COPE as what politicians are offering in Vancouver is the bad, very bad and the ugly.

      Martin Dunphy

      Jun 19, 2014 at 7:12pm

      Are you on:

      Thanks for the post. I replied to your mistaken notion on your other comment.
      For this one, I will merely ask you to please raise your eyes to the top of the page and read the title "Commentary".
      Thank you, and have a nice day.

      Looks matter

      Jun 19, 2014 at 9:43pm

      "Armstrong is rich and he looks rich—as you can see in the photo above."

      You're right. His hair is neatly trimmed, his clothes are tasteful and he doesn't have a beard, so that means he's successful and shouldn't be trusted. Nicely spotted Charlie.

      Save Vancouver

      Jun 20, 2014 at 8:48am

      I'm ever so glad Charlie pointed out the horrors of having a Shaughnessy backroom run the city. Everyone know we want the Point Grey Rd backroom running our fair burg.

      And if Charlie's claim that Grandview-Woodlands is going to support Vision again is true, then they better like 45 story towers 'cause that's what they will be getting.


      Jun 20, 2014 at 9:41am

      "Armstrong is rich and he looks rich - as you can see in the photo above".

      You're right. He is fat and smug-looking, with the ubiquitous down-turned mouth of the judgemental. Nicely spotted Charlie.