Today, I received a broadside from Coalition Vancouver, a new party led by former Conservative MP Wai Young.
Young's Vancouver mayoral campaign has gone under the radar of some in the media.
It's been been treated as a joke by other Vancouverites who've attended mayoral debates.
I don't see it as a joke at all. This might explain why I was singled out in the party's news release.
"Unsurprisingly, Charlie Smith, editor for The Georgia Straight has recently attacked Wai Young and Coalition Vancouver in 2 twisted articles," the news release declares. "In one article, he states that it would be horrific for cannabis users and sex workers if Wai Young becomes mayor merely because she was a former Member of Parliament. Rather than reading the policies of Wai Young’s party Coalition Vancouver, Charlie ties everything to the policies of a former federal government. Apples and Oranges."
In fact, I have read the policies of Coalition Vancouver. It doesn't take very long because there aren't that many.
This was reflected in my article about its housing policy, which appeared in last week's Georgia Straight. Anyone who reads it will immediately see that I quoted the housing policy from Coalition Vancouver's very own website—before anyone else in the media.
I also asked Young about her housing policy after a mayoral candidates debate.
She dished up a quick answer before leaving. I had to resort to asking Coalition Vancouver council candidate Ken Charko for his ideas on housing, which were duly noted.
Charko later urged his followers to share this article with friends who live and vote in Vancouver.
Yet this same article is now described as "twisted" by the Coalition Vancouver campaign. It's rather hilarious.
I also wrote an article about Young's plan to use city legal resources to challenge a provincial tax on homes valued at more than $3 million.
No complaints there. In fact, it's placed prominently on her website.
Readers might ask: why would her campaign staff be complaining with a news release highlighting one newspaper in a city with dozens of other newspapers?
I have two theories.
One, they're smart enough to know that I'll probably write about it, boosting her name recognition and giving her campaign even more momentum.
Two, Young's campaign is anchored on two major points:
* she's insisting that cyclists comprise just two percent of commuters. In fact, the city's data indicates that 10 percent of people get to work or school by bicycle, but it's just two percent across the Lower Mainland. Young isn't running for chair of Metro Vancouver; she's seeking the mayoralty of Vancouver, where it's 10 percent commuter cyclists. Checkmate.
* Coalition Vancouver and Young want to convince voters that there's not a supply problem in the Vancouver housing market; to them, it's an affordability problem. In her interview with the Straight, she said there were 40,000 housing starts last year. I reported the federal housing agency's number of 26,204 housing starts in the region last year and just 6,077 housing starts last year in Vancouver and Electoral Area A. Checkmate again.
Because I'm presenting "alternative facts" to those of the Young campaign, her strategists are sowing some doubt about my numbers.
Here's what the Coalition Vancouver news release about me says: "Charlie, our data is at least the size of your data."
It's very clever. It made me laugh.
But I'm also aware that similar tactics of sowing doubt have been employed by public-relations practitioners for decades.
Those include spin doctors who've worked for the tobacco companies to diminish health concerns and for oil companies interested in creating a "debate" over climate change.
In closing, here are my thoughts about Young.
She has demonstrated that she's an outstanding campaigner, even if you disagree with what she's saying.
She's an experienced MP who understands the theatrics of politics better than any other candidate for mayor of Vancouver.
She knows how to rouse a crowd. This will play particularly well with people from countries where this is the political norm, like India and the Philippines.
There's an element of show biz in Young's performances at the podium.
She has a good intuitive grasp of what her potential supporters care about.
Young always appears to be having fun—something you can't always say about her competitors. This upbeat, feisty, populist persona appeals to those who share her point of view.
She's also a Harper Conservative with a dreadful voting record in Parliament on issues of concern to many Georgia Straight readers, including those who work in the sex trade and those who work at cannabis dispensaries.
I happen to think Young has a chance of becoming mayor of Vancouver on October 20.
That's why I'll continue highlighting data from government sources that contradict what she's telling the media and those at candidates meetings. I encourage others in the media to also give more thought to fact-checking all the candidates' statements.
But here's the kicker. I think Young would have an even better chance of winning if she focused less time on me and more time on the growth of the city budget.
Why isn't she talking about the rising number of city-hall employees who are earning more than $100,000 per year? That's red meat to her supporters.
I'll be frank. The Coalition Vancouver platform is thin and lacks the depth of research that might be necessary to take Young across the finish line in first place on October 20.
A truly dedicated conservative could have made mincemeat of spending increases during the Vision Vancouver era with pie charts, news releases, and amusing videos.
I initially thought this was going to be the direction of the Coalition Vancouver campaign when it released an effective video—from a conservatives' perspective—back in May. You can see it below.
But the party hasn't seen fit to even post it on its website. So it has a mere 575 views as of this writing. That's four-and-a-half months after it went on YouTube. I take that as a sign of incompetence on the part of whoever's handling social media for Coalition Vancouver.
I can tell you this: had Jordan Bateman or any other topnotch conservative strategist been running Young's campaign, that video would have been seen by far more people by now.
Young is spending money on radio ads on CKNW yet she's not taking advantage of social media to get people to watch her video for free.
At some point, donors might wonder if this campaign is making the most of the money they're handing over at her well-attended fundraising events.
And if she ends up losing the election by a whisker, she'll have no one to blame but herself—and certainly not the editor of a newspaper that's giving her more coverage and taking her campaign far more seriously than most of his peers.
(Anyone who has gotten this far is probably dying to read the actual news release, which I've reproduced below.)
For Immediate Release
September 21, 2018
Unsurprisingly, Charlie Smith, editor for The Georgia Straight has recently attacked Wai Young and Coalition Vancouver in 2 twisted articles.
In one article, he states that it would be horrific for cannabis users and sex workers if Wai Young becomes mayor merely because she was a former Member of Parliament.
Rather than reading the policies of Wai Young’s party Coalition Vancouver, Charlie ties everything to the policies of a former federal government. Apples and Oranges.
He also spends that article pondering whether or not Wai Young will enforce the law. Want to operate an illegal business? Drive while impaired? Well that would be a crime somewhat equal to Socialist Stewart’s criminal contempt – apparently he also doesn’t believe the law should apply to him. All Apples.
Next, he disputes well-researched numbers with other well-researched numbers – unfortunately for different metrics. Housing under construction ≠ housing starts. Metro Vancouver ≠ City of Vancouver. Apples and Oranges.
Charlie, our data is at least the size of your data.
Actual picture of an apple and an orange.