Those who pay close attention to Vancouver civic and provincial politics need no introduction to Peter Armstrong and Norman Stowe.
Armstrong's company owns the Rocky Mountaineer rail service and he's a former NPA president.
Stowe is a public-relations executive who works with many establishment clients. He's also a former campaign manager for Kevin Falcon.
The Pace Group, which Stowe launched many years ago, employs NPA councillor Hector Bremner as a vice president.
Armstrong is a big backer of NPA mayoral nominee and local businessman Ken Sim.
But there's a problem brewing within the NPA camp.
That's because Bremner has characterized Sim's win as a "poisoned chalice". It came after Bremner's application to seek the mayoralty was rejected by the NPA board.
Tonight, Bremner and his #LetsFixHousing friends are meeting in Gastown, prompting speculation that he's going to run for mayor.
That, however, will drive the NPA establishment berserk. In light of this, I imagined a phone call between Armstrong and Stowe taking place today.
I surmised it might go something like this:
Armstrong: Norman, this is Peter. What the hell is going on with Bremner?
Stowe: He's seriously ticked off that your friends on the NPA board wouldn't let him run for mayor.
Armstrong: Yeah, but he's going to hold a meeting tonight and start another party. This is after we've finally got a mayoral candidate who can read a balance sheet.
Stowe: I can't control the guy. Bremner's become a bloody messiah when it comes to dealing with housing. And he's attracting lots of followers.
Armstrong: But doesn't Bremner know who runs this town? Doesn't he know that Chip also likes Kenny? It's political suicide for both Bremner and Kenny to run for mayor. I can arrange to get Bremner nominated for council with the NPA.
Stowe: You don't understand. Your friends smeared his reputation and he's not ready to go back. Plus, he's worried that you're also going to give a council nomination to that conspiracy theorist Chernen. And there's no way Bremner will be part of any organization with Chernen.
Armstrong: I locked out my railway workers when they got too uppity. Can't you send a message to Bremner?
Stowe: I wouldn't mind doing that, but he's built his brand. He's so loved by the developers that he could easily open his own PR shop now and take away half my business. He thinks he can get the support of the Aquilinis, Rennie, Gillespie, and Peter Wall—and he doesn't need your backing—to run for mayor.
Armstrong: Jesus. I should have let Affleck get the nomination when he asked for it. Bremner has to understand that NPA members are not going to tolerate him and his developer friends ripping up Dunbar and Southlands. We saw what Gregor Robertson did to Shaughnessy by calling it a heritage conservation district. Now, my contacts are furious about their property values going down. Some people in the neighbourhood might have to turn their mansions into rooming houses.
Stowe: If you want to know the truth, I can't control Bremner. He's more interested in listening to Marissen and Coleman. They've convinced him that one day, he could be premier.
Armstrong: What are you talking about? You got Bill Clinton and George Bush together in a room in Surrey. Sim and Bremner are small fries compared to those guys.
Stowe: Yeah, but the City of Surrey was prepared to fork out some big bucks to make that summit happen with Dianne. Since Horgan changed the campaign-finance rules, we can't throw money around like that anymore.
Armstrong: Bremner's got to understand that we're going to crush him if he doesn't shut up and run for council with the NPA. I can set up a meeting with him and Kenny to work out their differences. Kenny's willing to do some rezoning if Bremner will call off his campaign.
Stowe: Okay, I'll let him know and I'll get back to you.
Armstrong: Thanks Norman. I always felt you were a reasonable guy. Talk to you later.
Stowe: Good-bye Peter.