Uncomfortable questions for Vancouver's growing list of mayoral contenders

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      So far, there are nine people who've expressed a serious interest in becoming the next mayor of Vancouver.

      Whoever wins will essentially be chair of the board of an organization with a $1.4-billion annual operating budget.

      Not all of the names listed below are declared candidates, and two will be eliminated when the NPA chooses its mayoral nominee on May 29.

      With all of this in mind, here are some uncomfortable questions for each of them.

      Hector Bremner: Why should voters trust you to abide by conflict-of-interest guidelines when you voted on issues involving clients of your boss's public-relations firm?

      Ian Campbell: You're the political spokesperson for the Squamish Nation and you live in North Vancouver, where the district and the city mayor are not seeking reelection. Why not run there rather than in Vancouver where the Squamish Nation is involved in two massive real-estate plays—on the former RCMP E Division site and the Jericho lands?

      Adriane Carr: When you ran as B.C. Green leader in the 2005 election, your party siphoned off enough progressive votes to enable the B.C. Liberals to be reelected and Gordon Campbell to remain premier. What assurances can you give voters that by entering the mayoral race, you won't split the progressive vote and help elect another right winger as mayor?

      Glen Chernen: The chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court once ruled that a lawsuit you and others filed against Mayor Gregor Robertson was "without foundation" and was "an abuse of the Court's process". What guarantees can you give citizens that you won't abuse the council process or promote lawsuits on behalf of the city that are without foundation?

      John Coupar: In light of your opposition to hosting cannabis-related events in Vancouver parks, do you agree with NPA councillor Melissa De Genova that Vancouver cannabis dispensaries should only carry weed from federally licensed distributors?

      Ken Sim: You've never been elected to any public office, but you think you have what it takes to be mayor of the third-largest city in Canada. Why won't you pay your dues and start by running for park board or council so you can learn how processes work before you start chairing the council meetings?

      Kennedy Stewart: You talk a lot about renters and about being a renter. Why didn't you voice your concerns to Burnaby council when many of your constituents in Burnaby South were being evicted in Metrotown to make room for new developments?

      Shauna Sylvester: What's your response to anyone who suggests you're running as an independent so that Joel Solomon and Mike Magee have someone in the bullpen in case Vision Vancouver falters badly in the stretch run leading up to Election Day?

      Wai Young: Will you obtain an endorsement from Ripudaman Singh Malik like you did in 2011 when you were running as Stephen Harper's candidate in Vancouver South?

      Election day is October 20.


      Shauna Sylvester says not in anyone's bullpen; she's in the mayoral race to win.
      Greg Ehlers

      Shauna Sylvester read this column and sent the following reply:

      "I’m not in anyone’s bullpen.  I am proudly running as an independent to protect the city we love and create the future we want. After October 20, we are going to have a City Council with a diversity of perspectives and we need a mayor who can ensure everyone is working in the best interest of the city, not just the party they are representing. I have 30 years experience chairing, convening and facilitating groups to solve difficult problems. I’ve also served in leadership positions on boards for organizations with billions in assets. I’m in this to win."

      Coun. Adriane Carr isn't convinced that the B.C. Greens played any role in the reelection of the B.C. Liberal government in 2005.
      Stephen Hui

      Adriane Carr read this column and sent the following reply:

      "Not sure if your statement is true about the 2005 BC Election. What everyone does agree on is that the 2017 BC election delivered an NDP-Green minority government because of a dozen or so tight races which the NDP won despite their vote staying the same because the Greens “siphoned off” enough Liberal votes.  In Vancouver’s 2018 election, I won’t be a 'vote-splitter'. How can I 'split the vote' when I’m in the lead? Research Co.’s poll of May 3 shows my support for mayor at 35%, double that of the next nearest contender, Raymond Louie, at 19%. The poll also shows that I draw support from across the political spectrum: 41% of my current supporters voted for Vision’s Gregor Robertson in 2014; 40% for the NPA’s Kirk LaPointe. I’m the best chance the progressive left has of ensuring there isn’t a right wing mayor."

      MP Kennedy Stewart says one of his highlights as a federal politician was securing federal funding for cooperative housing in Burnaby.

      Kennedy Stewart read this column and sent the following reply:

      "Thanks for the question. Affordable housing issues are very important to me as when I was young my family went bankrupt and lost everything - including our home. I have been a renter since I moved to Vancouver in 1989, except for a brief period when my wife Jeanette and I owned a condo in my federal riding of Burnaby Douglas which we sold after the riding boundaries changed in 2015. We have since rented a condo in downtown Vancouver.

      "As MP, I have done absolutely everything I can at the federal level to protect and increase affordable housing in Burnaby. My actions toward this include tabling a BC affordable housing strategy in Parliament calling on the federal government to recognize housing as a fundamental right, expanding public investments in housing co-ops, maintaining rent subsidies for low-income families, setting targets for reducing and ending homelessness, and studying the impact of investor speculation and housing vacancies on real estate prices. I was overjoyed when the plan was endorsed by many organizations, including the City of Burnaby and Burnaby Society to End Homelessness. My ongoing efforts pushed the Liberal government to provide Statistics Canada $500,000 to study foreign ownership. I have also tabled many petitions in the House of Commons urging the government to take action.

      "In Burnaby, I have been fighting extremely hard to save existing affordable housing units and improve the lives of all my constituents. My doors are always open to housing advocates and I have had dozens and dozens of meetings - including with Metrotown demoviction activists - to discover how we can work together to address the problem. I have done numerous home visits to gather evidence which I used to force negligent landlords to improve maintenance and upkeep for their tenants. I have also worked with those being evicted to secure government ID and benefits, and provide free telephone, photocopying, faxing and washroom facilities for those in need. 

      "One of the top highlights from my many years of work is securing federal funding for Burnaby cooperative housing. I am a huge fan of co-ops and have been doing all I can to ensure those in the city continue to thrive. I would like to end with a few lines of a letter I received May 7, 2018 from the director of the Post 83 Co-Op in Metrotown which was in great danger of closing its doors for its 272 occupants:

      "Dear Kennedy,

      "The Board and Members of the Post 83 Co Operative Housing Association would like to thank you for all your help in encouraging the Federal Government to continue to subsidy to housing cooperatives. The result of all the hard work and support is that we - along with other coops - have been granted a subsidy extension to the year 2020. Our members can now rest easier for knowing their housing is secure for at least another two years! Again, thank you for your hard work and for being a strong housing advocate and ally."