Rob McDowell: When change is needed, action is required

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      Since I announced my candidacy for city council, many people have asked me: “Why?” I’ve been captivated by politics since I was in high school. I was a delegate to the convention to replace Pierre Trudeau in the 1980s—and that was what got me hooked. But I’ve always preferred to remain a spectator, watching from the sidelines.

      Three years ago, that changed. My friend, George Affleck, ran for Vancouver city council and was elected. I have been helping him during his time on council and have often been dismayed by what I’ve seen. The arrogance and contempt displayed by the Vision-led council is something I could never condone, or even understand. The arrogant attitude that many people have encountered while addressing city hall at public hearings encapsulates the way Vancouver is being managed.

      Neighbourhoods are labeled NIMBYs if they dare speak up about a late addition to their community plans (Marpole: thin streets! Grandview Woodland: towers near Broadway Station!) or dare to speak up against seemingly back room deals to add density (enraging even tower-friendly Yaletown with a tower to beat all towers). The city has even had the audacity to evict—evict!—volunteer-run community centre associations from the centres that they have nurtured and developed in their own neighbourhoods. The sheer number of lawsuits currently launched against the city indicates how much the relationship has soured between the city and its people.

      Why am I running for city council? Because things need to change, and fast.

      Vancouver needs to redefine its relationship with developers and move negotiations back to where they are exposed to the light of day. Vancouver needs to return power to its neighbourhoods—whether that means local control of community centres, or a true seat at the planning table. And lastly, Vancouver needs to re-invigorate a planning system that the people of this city no longer trust.

      I am proud to be running with the NPA. The NPA has been our city’s governing party for many of the past 80 years, and has played a large part in creating today’s Vancouver. The NPA brought in the first climate change policy in North America.

      The NPA created the policy establishing the hierarchy of transportation—pedestrians first, then cyclists, transit, goods movement and, finally, private automobiles.

      The NPA introduced blue bins and recycling programs to the city.

      The NPA nominated one of the first out gay men to be elected across Canada at any level of government.

      This is the NPA I am proud to represent. A group that accepts evidence over ideology, and substance over distractions.

      As a gay man, I also understand the benefits of diversity. Vancouver should serve as a beacon of hope for people from around the world. Here, people have the chance to prosper and live as we want, without hindrance or discrimination.

      I have worked to establish HIV clinics throughout Vietnam, and helped developed HIV policies for migrant workers in Southeast Asia. I have witnessed what can happen when governments view their people with contempt. I do not want that to happen here in any form.

      As a former diplomat, I understand what it takes to bring people from varying backgrounds and needs together. As a mediator, I know how to encourage results that can be palatable for all sides.

      I believe these skills are sorely lacking with the current Vision-dominated city council. Time and effort needs to be spent on rebuilding the trust between city hall and the people that they serve. The dictatorial management style of city hall must end. On November 15, I hope you will vote for Rob McDowell, Kirk LaPointe, and the rest of the NPA team. Let’s rebuild our city together.

      Rob McDowell is an NPA candidate for Vancouver city council.

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      3 Comments

      Ailsa Pearl

      Oct 10, 2014 at 1:06pm

      Maybe mediation and diplomatic skills should be prerequisites for all the candidates. Good point about the NIMBY label attached to those of us who just want to take part in determining the future of our communities.

      Raymond Tomlin

      Oct 10, 2014 at 3:27pm

      Of all the candidates who have placed their names forward to run for office as potential Vancouver City Councillors, Rob McDowell is at the very top of my list of must-elects (along with the NPA's Ian Robertson), so far ahead of the rest of the pack that he's in a category all his own.

      As you have read above, Rob knows the issues. That's because he's attended every Council meeting in the last two years, and more. There's no potential Council candidate who would be better able to hit the ground running come November 16th (the day after the election) than Rob. Voters, all voters, would have no finer advocate on Council than Rob McDowell.

      Rob is one of the most principled people I've ever met. I asked him recently how he would vote if the NPA caucus had made a decision on an issue before Council, but the decision was something he just couldn't live with. Without hesitation, Rob told me he'd vote his conscience. Believe me, if you knew Rob, you'd know that you can take that assertion to the bank. (Not that Rob doesn't understand that politics is the art of compromise — but there's compromising with your colleagues on Council to ensure that an initiative is passed, and compromising your principles — Rob would <em>never</em> do the latter).

      Rob McDowell will be one of the key Vancouver City Councillors in the next term who will ensure the implementation of our city's new — and much-needed — gender variant policy, an initiative he's worked on for a very long time now, and to which he has long been committed.

      No matter what party you intend to vote for, you'd be doing yourself — and the City — a big favour by saving one vote for Rob McDowell.

      Bobby McSloan

      Oct 13, 2014 at 1:04pm

      > But I’ve always preferred to remain a spectator, watching from the sidelines.

      Not true. Rob was extremely active in the 2003 election, as any media who have memories longer than 10 years would remember. He acted as a campaign manager the campaign *against* Jennifer Clarke.

      The face that he's willing to give Ray Tomlin the obvious answer he wants to hear doesn't make him a good candidate: it makes him a panderer.

      Rob's a nice guy--with a head the size and shape of Charlie Brown how could he not be?--but he's closely aligned with George Affleck (they were neighbours in the same condo complex, and may still be) and that's a terrifying thought.