The crass exploitation of Lois Jackson

Lois Jackson, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors and mayor of Delta, is perfectly capable of looking out for herself, but I don't think she realizes how she is being exploited by senior Metro staff in their effort to pursue an agenda that is entirely their own.

Jackson is the only politician in our region (with the exception of Marvin Whatsisname) who has taken a strong stand in favour of the "waste-to-energy" agenda. All the other politicians have been very skillful at avoiding profile on this issue. But Jackson, once again this week, has put her political career on the line by backing the incinerator plan.

Metro Vancouver staff sometimes refer to our regional politicians as the "temporary help". Temporary because, after all, they come and go with the political winds, whereas the professionals on senior staff can survive for decades. Temporary, too, because they only come in once or twice a month—busy the rest of the time with their real jobs representing the interests of their municipalities.

Metro staff brilliantly exploited Mayor Jackson's love-hate relationship with the Vancouver landfill (hate the concept, but love the millions of dollars in royalties and free dumping) to recruit her as an incinerator backer. They have convinced her—somehow—that turning the Vancouver landfill into a permanent dump for toxic ash is going to be a win for her community.

Staff are counting on Jackson's well-deserved personal popularity on the board and her high profile as board chair to convince fencesitters on the board to vote their way on July 30. What Jackson doesn't seem to see is that she will lose no matter which way the vote goes.

If the board votes with her to approve an in-region incinerator, Jackson will be the lightning rod when it inevitably comes time to site the first facility in someone's community.

And if the board turns down her recommendation on July 30 and votes for a plan that says the burning is OK but it should be in someone else's backyard, Jackson will lose face (and the politically ambitious chair of the Waste Management Committee will win a point).

The third alternative—a majority vote that rejects the positions of both the popular Metro Board Chair and the promising Waste Committee Chair—seems increasingly unlikely. It is late in the day for the temporary help to muster the political will to take back the region's waste policy from the bureaucrats.

But you never know.

Helen Spiegelman is a Vancouver-based environmentalist and blog coordinator. Read more at Zero Waste.



Check your facts, Ms. Spiegelman

Jul 29, 2010 at 12:51pm

"Jackson is the only politician in our region (with the exception of Marvin Whatsisname) who has taken a strong stand in favour of the "waste-to-energy" agenda. All the other politicians have been very skillful at avoiding profile on this issue."

"Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan agreed the incinerator was the most logical alternative to landfills. He noted his city has been "hosting" an incinerator for the past 20 years and there have been no complaints from residents.

"Passing that on to another community in B.C. doesn't solve the problem," he said. "The garbage was created here and we need to find a solution right here to deal with it."

New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright agreed. "From our city's point of view, this is the viable way to go, " he said, but acknowledged that "it'll be a tough sell; it'll be political and a very hard road.""

glen p robbins

Jul 29, 2010 at 10:40pm

As a public relations analyst - I would say 2 things: First, Lois Jackson is improving in interviews - and second/I agree --- she has been captured as partisan - for her political benefit or not.


Jul 30, 2010 at 1:27pm

Glad to see Ms. Spiegelman knows everything, including what's best for Lois Jackson. Call me crazy, but maybe Lois Jackson knows what's best for Lois Jackson. This is just an example of someone with no support trying to undermine the support of someone on the other side of an issue. A classical dimwitted leftist tatic.

burn it!

Jul 30, 2010 at 1:59pm

Incineration or land-fill, City of Vancouver wins because it won't be hosting either of the projects. Pretty well up-wind of any incineration plant OR a landfill.


Aug 3, 2010 at 12:21pm

We live in an educated, literate society that almost intuitively understands that burning garbage is not a good practice in this day and age, especially with Climate Change threatening our very existence. Yet we have the likes of Lois Jackson and Derek Corrigan who believe that incineration of our garbage is the only viable choice here.

Derek Corrigan was on CBC Radio 2 weeks ago and clearly stated that he thought that enough recycling could not be achieved to avoid his approval of the these terribly polluting incinerators.

My response to him is that with Climate Change, we have no choice but to recycle the required amounts. Mayor Corrigan must put his political life on the line here and vote against incineration of our garbage. Lois Jackson, on the other hand, as Helen has shown, is a lost cause.

Recycling is the only way. Why burn or bury it when you can recycle it.