Vision Vancouver nominations advance party storyline for the election
This means their names will appear on this November's ballot as Vision park-board candidates.
And it's sure to cause indigestion for the rival Non-Partisan Association board as it comes to terms with how Mayor Gregor Robertson and his alter ego, chief of staff Mike Magee, are planning to frame their centre-right opponents in the upcoming election campaign.
Just as Barack Obama crafted his second term around the support of minority communities, female voters, and the slogan "Forward", Vision is playing the same game.
The Obama spin doctors portrayed Republican Mitt Romney as the candidate of the richest one percent of Americans, most of whom are sraight white males. Romney also gave the Democrats plenty of ammunition to present him as a candidate who opposed progressive environmental policies.
Expect Vision to try to frame the NPA in a similar light.
This branding exercise, along with the NPA caucus's recent ouster of school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, might explain why the centre-right party has highlighted the rainbow flag so prominently on its website. (See below.)
How Vision's new park candidates fit into the narrative
Kelly, a member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, states on her website that she's of Métis and Ukrainian heritage and that she's also a "proud member of the LGBTQ community".
She recently wrote on the Straight website that she grew up in a single-parent family and sometimes went hungry. This will help defuse claims from Vision's left-wing opponents that the party is only interested in serving the richest members of society.
Tull, cofounder of the Double Rainbow Dodgeball League and cochair of Out in Sports, can also burnish strong LGBTQ community credentials. Her involvement in community sports is useful to Vision, given that the park board devotes a great deal of time dealing with playing fields.
Girn, a cultural historian, has deep roots and many friends in the progressive South Asian community. He spearheaded the Komagata Maru 1914-2014: Generations, Geographies and Echoes project.
Rumbaua, a Winnipeg-born youth settlement worker, has much in common with young Filipino Canadians interested in exploring their cultural heritage while keeping their feet firmly planted in this country.
These park-board nominations reinforce Vision's efforts to position itself as the party of multicultural Vancouver and will build new bridges into diverse communities.
Party members could have backed older candidates with more experience in political backrooms and in addressing serious public policies—notably Catherine Evans and Brent Granby—but their presence on the ticket wouldn't have reinforced the over-arching message that Robertson and Magee want to send in this election campaign.
Thus Evans and Granby, despite their obvious depth, were deemed expendible. The younger candidates could reach new groups of voters that Vision wants to bring into its tent.
For a similar reason, Trevor Loke was on the Vision slate in 2011—he helped the party within the young gay community.
Vision has already made great strides in becoming the party of diverse Vancouver with the presence of three councillors of Chinese descent (Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, and Tony Tang), veteran gay councillor Tim Stevenson, and new council candidate Niki Sharma, who is now on park board.
The Vision-controlled board of education's amendments to the school district's LGBTQ policy and regulations also sent a message of inclusion to the city, timed perfectly for the upcoming civic campaign.
The board could have done this much earlier in its term, but that wouldn't have suited Robertson and Magee's election timetable.
Vision's marketing will mirror the slate
Seen in this light, it's no surprise that the mayor would take a cheap shot at the NPA as the party of angry old men.
It's all part of the Vision marketing campaign.
No doubt this message will be supplemented in the upcoming election with glorious videos celebrating Vision's efforts to keep Vancouver beaches pristine against the evil one percenters in the oil industry who want to fill Burrard Inlet with tankers.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Robertson playing his tuba in one of these productions. You can be sure to see plenty of people riding bikes in any of these videos.
How to counter Vision's propaganda blitz?
When a civic party has anywhere from $2 million to $4 million to spend, there's no telling what it can accomplish through modern marketing techniques.
Marketing isn't just about saying something. It's also about getting people to feel certain ways about the product—in this case the mayor and Vision Vancouver.
If the overwhelming message is going to be that the NPA is the party of one percenters who want to foul our beaches, then perhaps the left might want to do to Robertson what he's already doing to the centre-right.
COPE has already begun going down this road by portraying Robertson as the corporate mayor.
But it's going to be more difficult given Vision's assiduous efforts to court diverse communities in Vancouver and recruit new young park-board candidates from modest backgrounds.
That's why I'm inclined to think that this election may already be in the bag for Vision Vancouver, notwithstanding all the opposition that Robertson has encountered from mostly older neighbourhood activists from across the city.
I was wrong about the last provincial election. But given Vision opponents' inability to respond to its efforts to define them, a political upset appears less likely this time around.