Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan has something to say about how things are run in Vancouver and how many resources are devoted to the city.
“I was born in Vancouver and raised there until age 25,” an agitated Corrigan told the Georgia Straight by phone from Burnaby City Hall. “I have a right to criticize Vancouver. It’s my hometown.”
Corrigan put a target on his head on April 13 when he requested in writing, on behalf of Burnaby city council, that the B.C. government and its Local Government Elections Task Force not “bring forward rules and regulations which will make it more difficult for persons to participate in the democratic process”. Burnaby council opposes spending and contribution limits in local elections, in contrast to its neighbour’s Vision Vancouver–dominated council, which wants stricter controls on election spending. In the same official submission, Corrigan wrote that “outside of the City of Vancouver, local government elections are not overly costly or controversial.”
Corrigan, chair of the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee, explained to the Straight that he’s “resentful” of the fact that “in this province, it [Vancouver] is always the tail that wags the dog.” He added that infrastructure targeted at Vancouver, which has 600,000 residents—about one-quarter of Metro Vancouver’s total population—“consistently dwarfs what’s put into the rest of the region”.
“Yet people are complaining about the rest of the region for not living up to expectations as far as [housing] densities are concerned and as far as lifestyle is concerned,” Corrigan said. “That’s really because, if you keep putting all your assets into the end of the peninsula, then you’re obviously going to have a wasteland in the rest of the municipalities in the areas of recreation, sports, arts, and all those things that are important to people’s lives.”
Upon being told of Corrigan’s comments, Vision councillor Raymond Louie took a deep breath and muttered, “Wow.”
“Mayor Corrigan is wrong to call the whole Metro region a wasteland,” Louie told the Straight by phone. “I’ll stop right there.”
After considering submissions from municipalities and organizations, the elections task force sent its report to the province on May 28, recommending that new campaign-finance rules be imposed in time for the 2011 civic elections. These rules would ban anonymous donations and limit campaign spending.
In a phone interview with the Straight, Neil Monckton, chair of the urban-affairs group Think City, said Corrigan’s opposition to limits on campaign spending and contributions puts him out of step with the provincial NDP, Vision, the labour movement, and its allies.
Corrigan’s terse response to Monckton’s comment was, “So that should make me upset?”
“The one thing that you can depend on with Neil Monckton is that he’ll be in step with whatever is the current wisdom,” Corrigan said. “Certainly, his lack of creativity is legendary, so I am not concerned at all about Neil Monckton’s position, nor am I intimidated by his brilliant success in politics.”
Monckton was the campaign manager behind COPE’s landslide victory in the 2002 Vancouver civic election. He also managed Ian Waddell’s 2004 federal NDP campaign in Vancouver Kingsway, in which Waddell narrowly lost to then-Liberal David Emerson.
According to campaign-finance disclosures filed with the Burnaby city clerk’s office, Corrigan’s Burnaby Citizens Association party spent $243,683 in the 2008 election. The BCA swept the mayor’s chair and all eight council slots, shutting out the TEAM Burnaby and Independent Voices slates.
Former one-term TEAM Burnaby councillor Garth Evans made four separate contributions totalling $21,000 to his breakaway party, Independent Voices, in his failed reelection bid in 2008.
“Do I disagree with Mayor Corrigan [on campaign-finance reform]? Completely,” Evans told the Straight. “I think there need to be controls. I haven’t thought about the amounts or how to implement them. But there certainly need to be controls.”