NPA councillor Suzanne Anton flubs a golden opportunity to become mayor

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      If you want to know why the NPA has become nearly a nonentity in Vancouver civic politics, look no further than its mayoral candidate's response to the recent hockey riot.

      Rather than acting like an opposition leader holding a government accountable, Coun. Suzanne Anton issued a namby-pamby statement basically echoing what was said by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

      Anton is acting like she's a stateswoman by signing a plywood wall at the Bay store downtown.

      Others are left to question the role of the city and the police in this mayhem getting out of control.

      The City of Vancouver—led by Mayor Robertson, the Vision-controlled council, and city manager Penny Ballem—created a partnership with CBC to allow a fan zone on Hamilton Street.

      This enabled the CBC to broadcast pictures of fans celebrating outside the building every time the Canucks scored. This whipped up more enthusiasm for the CBC's money-making hockey broadcasts.

      Then the City of Vancouver—led by Mayor Robertson, the Vision-controlled council, and city manager Penny Ballem—shut down the city's major boulevard to create more fan-viewing sites downtown.

      These locations were allowed to get dangerously overcrowded.

      Meanwhile, Robertson, in his capacity as chair of the Vancouver police board, watched as the department put much of its policing resources on Granville Street. This happened even though on Game 7, far bigger crowds were at the corner of Hamilton and Georgia streets. The riot began by the main post office building.

      An effective opposition politician would make the case that the mayor and his cronies screwed up. And as a result, the city has received an international black eye, harming the tourism industry and undermining years of goodwill generated by hosting the Olympics.

      In addition, an effective opposition politician would rightly ask if the mayor's decision to host such a massive street party, which led to such damage, creates any legal liability for taxpayers.

      To press this case, an effective opposition politician would demand to see correspondence between the Vancouver Police Department, the mayor's office, and the city manager's office leading up to the decision to allow fan-viewing sites downtown.

      An effective opposition politician would also demand the mayor, as chair of the police board, come clean about contingency plans in the event of trouble in the downtown core. (The Straight reported that Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal had told CBC Radio there were "contingency plans upon contingency plans upon contingency plans".

      And if there weren't any contingency plans, an effective opposition politican would ask why not—given that there was a riot the last time the Canucks played in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

      Instead, Anton has given Robertson a free ride to become the conduit for public anger, rather than being held responsible for any role he may have played in facilitating the riot.

      Good opposition politicians, like good hockey players, aren't afraid to go into the corners to get the job done on behalf of their teams.

      Unfortunately for Vancouver taxpayers, there aren't any of these people sitting on council right now. COPE is too busy making a deal with Vision Vancouver to hold the mayor accountable. And the NPA's sole member of council still acts like she's on the governing side of the chamber.

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

      Comments

      16 Comments

      not NPA

      Jun 17, 2011 at 9:55am

      a good politician waits to know the facts before making foolhardy statements. a good journalist does the same.

      7 9Rating: -2

      Dave Pasin

      Jun 17, 2011 at 9:57am

      As we all know there are several questions that need to be answered.

      1)What was the budget for policing for the Game 7?

      2)Why were police not checking Skytrain riders as they got off the trains for booze, weapons and other contraband (see Fireworks for details)

      3)Why did it take hours to call for reinforcements from outside police forces?

      4)Why were off duty officers NOT called in as reinforcements BEFORE the event?

      5) Why were the fences and access points opened to allow even more people into the area?

      6)Why did it take so long to respond to the violence and looting on Granville Street?

      7)Where were the Skytrain/Transit Police during the day when open drinking onboard the trains by many was taking place?

      8)Why was the Bearcat APC - VPD Riot Vehicle not ready to be deployed and/or used?

      9)Why was there no initial support for the VFRS to get their vehicles in to put the fires out?

      10)Why was the ERT team seemingly overwhelmed in 2 different locations?

      11) Finally...... WHO planned this mess and what was the rationale for cheaping out?

      Just a few questions that NEED to be answered?

      Perhaps Chief Chu, Hizzoner and Ms. Ballem would like to step up and answer some of these questions in a credible manner!

      9 6Rating: +3

      LoveVancouver

      Jun 17, 2011 at 10:02am

      Charlie Smith, i am sorry that Suzanne Anton does not think the way YOU think about the riot. Opposing to whatever the ruling party does is not the role of the opposition party. And everyone knows this is NOT the time for that.

      10 8Rating: +2

      spartikus

      Jun 17, 2011 at 10:07am

      True enough, but a dilemma for the NPA is they also hopped on the Canucks bandwagon, and were also urging for more and expanded "fanzones", had their pics snapped at them, etc...

      But you're 100% right, it's the duty of the opposition to ask these questions.

      Personally at the end of the day I think we are all to blame. I can't think of a single voice that spoke out prior to Game 7 saying "Gee...maybe these things are getting a bit too big". Everyone got swept up in Canucks fever. Everyone was complacent.

      11 4Rating: +7

      Jason

      Jun 17, 2011 at 11:18am

      I believe Anton put out a PR requesting an independent inquiry into the entire fiasco....she wants a group outside of the Police Department and city hall so that there can be no bias or influence in their decision.

      Sounds like she's doing exactly what you wanted, you just didn't care to wait.

      10 5Rating: +5

      james green

      Jun 17, 2011 at 4:20pm

      Let's not fool ourselves. A good councillor questions the actions of the Chief and the Chair of the Police Board on this file.
      The mayor and the chief failed us as the plan did not work and they must take responsibility for their poor insight and actions to protect the city and the good people of this city.
      This is not a political question. It is a question of accountability and consequences.
      Chu and Robertson are responsible for public safety and they did not do their jobs as Chu admitted today in the Sun.
      We pay him over $400,000 a year and he must like anyone else who has not done his job properly, resign and the mayor must not be re elected next election.
      While he sat and dreamed about another party he didn't have the intelligence to see that a riot was brewing as history has taught anyone with half a brain.
      So, Chu must go a Gregor needs to pay next election. We need new leaders who will carry out their mandate in a compent manner not a mayor who has his head in the clouds.
      Let me add that Anton is not the right person to be mayor either

      12 6Rating: +6

      RealityCheck

      Jun 17, 2011 at 4:43pm

      Agree totally with Jason. Leadership in politics isn't 100% about optics. It's actually doing things that are substantial. Anton has done the smart thing here by calling for an independent inquiry. You're jumping the gun on criticism here, Charlie.

      7 6Rating: +1

      AntiAnton

      Jun 17, 2011 at 5:05pm

      The riots no doubt caused quite a bit of a stir in the Arbutus Club, and Anton is doing her best to represent those people, her primary constituents. Just like she was all for the bike lanes, until she got an earful from those Westsiders at The Club aghast that their SUVs had to share the roads with those "counter culture freaks" on their two wheels.

      Anyone with any experience with Anton knows she is clueless and hops on any and every issue and attends everything right down to the opening of an envelop, just to get a little publicity. Charlie does us all a disservice by feeding the beast.

      And tomorrow she will gladly switch her position if she thinks it will get a little more ink. She would have been all over the fan zone thing as it looked popular, and then amnesia would set in the moment it turned.

      12 5Rating: +7

      Joseph Jones

      Jun 17, 2011 at 11:49pm

      Police Have So Much Classified Information ...
      Like Their Numbers for Who Was Out on Patrol!

      Transcript from CBC On the Coast (June 16)

      Stephen Quinn:
      How many police were on the street last night and how many were, were called in to support those officers?

      Gregor Robertson:
      Well there, uh, the police are very careful with the numbers – they, they don't give exact numbers on this, but there were, there were certainly hundreds of VPD deployed on the streets – a, a full public safety unit on the street.

      Stephen Quinn:
      What does that mean?

      Gregor Robertson:
      There was – that, that's the unit that is responsible for keeping the peace in, in –

      Steven Quinn:
      Does it have a certain size? is it made up of a certain number of officers?

      Gregor Robertson:
      It's, it's flexible, depending on, on the event, uh, but it's a comprehensive team that's used to, uh, managing these types of situations historically. There were a hundred RCMP, a tactical team of RCMP who were on the street, and they were deployed in advance as well. And that, that, that was the core team, uh, the combination that was, that was working through the evening.

      12 3Rating: +9

      Mike Puttonen

      Jun 18, 2011 at 12:15am

      Thank you for asking vital questions. Keep it up.

      8 5Rating: +3