Backroom boys: two of the most influential guys in Vancouver that most folks have never heard of

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      At yesterday's Urban Development Institute's luncheon at the Hyatt Regency, two of the city's most senior political aides ended up sitting beside one another.

      On the left is Colin Metcalfe, director of regional affairs for Industry Minister James Moore.

      Moore is the senior regional Conservative minister for B.C.

      Metcalfe is his eyes and ears on the ground, which means none of the federal government's major regional initiatives in B.C. escapes his scrutiny.

      If the Vancouver Art Gallery isn't getting federal funding for a new building, it's probably because Metcalfe has briefed Moore on the issue and let him know that there are more important priorities for the Conservatives.

      Beside him is Mike Magee, the long-time chief of staff to Mayor Gregor Robertson.

      Some of the city's cynical political observers see Magee as the real mayor. Others say that Robertson shares a brain with Magee and therefore, the city is really ruled by Mayor Gregor Magee.

      Mike Magee's influence is likely growing as Robertson appears somewhat disconnected from his job these days.

      Metcalfe and Magee have a couple of things in common.

      First, they're intensely competitive.

      Secondly, each has managed a successful mayoral campaign.

      In 2005, Metcalfe was the brains behind the NPA's Sam Sullivan's surprising victory over Vision Vancouver's Jim Green.

      Magee oversaw Robertson's successful campaign in 2008.

      Another thing that Metcalfe and Magee have in common is that they've never been elected to public office.

      When he ran for the Vancouver park board as an NPA candidate in 1999, Metcalfe lost to Roslyn Cassels, the first Green politician ever elected in the city.

      Magee has never put his name forward as a candidate, preferring to wield power more quietly in political backrooms.

      If you're wondering why former Vision Vancouver park commissioner Niki Sharma ran for council and Catherine Evans stepped back from the nomination race and ran for park board, the answer probably lies inside the brain of Magee.

      Niki Sharma (second from right) was defeated, but Catherine Evans (far right) was elected to the park board.
      Yolande Cole

      However that decision was made, it end up dashing the political career of a bright young politician who might have been reelected had she been encouraged to spend one more term on park board.

      Some of us still wonder if Vision would have elected a seventh councillor in 2014 had popular former park commissioner Constance Barnes been encouraged to run for the position.




      May 24, 2015 at 1:06pm

      I don't think Nikki Sharma would have got re-elected to Parks Board due to her Heavy involvement into the lack of consultations with the Community Centres (read "Ballem's lackey" - and Constance Barnes - please,I cringe every time she opens her mouth. She does not seems to think before she speaks, not a good trait for a politician

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      Warren Walker

      May 24, 2015 at 2:46pm

      Constance Barnes is busy scaring the shit out of Hedy Fry and federal Liberals about to lose what they consider a safe seat in Vancouver Centre. Hedy Fry and Sam Sullivan can continue to collaborate on Liberal support in that area (their respective provincial and federal constituencies overlap in many ways) but their days in office are numbered.

      Constance sets the standard for work ethic when it comes to campaigning for a federal seat... I totally understand why she garnered the most votes last time she ran for Parks Board.

      There's less than five months ahead for a tectonic shift in Canadian politics and another twenty years to undo the damage Stephen Harper and his compatriots have done.

      Whether you like Constance or not you have to admire her tenacity and willingness to step up to the plate.

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      Jon Q. Publik

      May 25, 2015 at 9:44am

      @Warren Walker Uh what? Barnes has no chance against Hedy Fry. If Hedy wasn't running then maybe she would have a better chance.

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