Vision Vancouver nominations advance party storyline for the election

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      Vision Vancouver's so-called young gang of four—Trish Kelly, Naveen Girn, Sammie Jo Rumbaua, and Coree Tull—emerged victorious after yesterday's party nomination race.

      This means their names will appear on this November's ballot as Vision park-board candidates.

      And it's sure to cause indigestion for the rival Non-Partisan Association board as it comes to terms with how Mayor Gregor Robertson and his alter ego, chief of staff Mike Magee, are planning to frame their centre-right opponents in the upcoming election campaign. 

      Just as Barack Obama crafted his second term around the support of minority communities, female voters, and the slogan "Forward", Vision is playing the same game.

      The Obama spin doctors portrayed Republican Mitt Romney as the candidate of the richest one percent of Americans, most of whom are sraight white males. Romney also gave the Democrats plenty of ammunition to present him as a candidate who opposed progressive environmental policies.

      Expect Vision to try to frame the NPA in a similar light.

      This branding exercise, along with the NPA caucus's recent ouster of school trustees Ken Denike and Sophia Woo, might explain why the centre-right party has highlighted the rainbow flag so prominently on its website. (See below.)

      How Vision's new park candidates fit into the narrative

      Kelly, a member of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, states on her website that she's of Métis and Ukrainian heritage and that she's also a "proud member of the LGBTQ community".

      She recently wrote on the Straight website that she grew up in a single-parent family and sometimes went hungry. This will help defuse claims from Vision's left-wing opponents that the party is only interested in serving the richest members of society.

      Tull, cofounder of the Double Rainbow Dodgeball League and cochair of Out in Sports, can also burnish strong LGBTQ community credentials. Her involvement in community sports is useful to Vision, given that the park board devotes a great deal of time dealing with playing fields.

      Girn, a cultural historian, has deep roots and many friends in the progressive South Asian community. He spearheaded the Komagata Maru 1914-2014: Generations, Geographies and Echoes project.

      Rumbaua, a Winnipeg-born youth settlement worker, has much in common with young Filipino Canadians interested in exploring their cultural heritage while keeping their feet firmly planted in this country.

      These park-board nominations reinforce Vision's efforts to position itself as the party of multicultural Vancouver and will build new bridges into diverse communities.

      Party members could have backed older candidates with more experience in political backrooms and in addressing serious public policies—notably Catherine Evans and Brent Granby—but their presence on the ticket wouldn't have reinforced the over-arching message that Robertson and Magee want to send in this election campaign.

      Thus Evans and Granby, despite their obvious depth, were deemed expendible. The younger candidates could reach new groups of voters that Vision wants to bring into its tent.

      For a similar reason, Trevor Loke was on the Vision slate in 2011—he helped the party within the young gay community.

      Vision has already made great strides in becoming the party of diverse Vancouver with the presence of three councillors of Chinese descent (Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie, and Tony Tang), veteran gay councillor Tim Stevenson, and new council candidate Niki Sharma, who is now on park board.

      The Vision-controlled board of education's amendments to the school district's LGBTQ policy and regulations also sent a message of inclusion to the city, timed perfectly for the upcoming civic campaign.

      The board could have done this much earlier in its term, but that wouldn't have suited Robertson and Magee's election timetable.

      Vision's marketing will mirror the slate

      Seen in this light, it's no surprise that the mayor would take a cheap shot at the NPA as the party of angry old men.

      It's all part of the Vision marketing campaign.

      No doubt this message will be supplemented in the upcoming election with glorious videos celebrating Vision's efforts to keep Vancouver beaches pristine against the evil one percenters in the oil industry who want to fill Burrard Inlet with tankers.

      If Vision follows the Obama campaign script, there will also be some dazzling music videos calling upon Vancouverites to move "Forward" by giving the mayor and his party another majority.

      I wouldn't be surprised to see Robertson playing his tuba in one of these productions. You can be sure to see plenty of people riding bikes in any of these videos.

      How to counter Vision's propaganda blitz?

      When a civic party has anywhere from $2 million to $4 million to spend, there's no telling what it can accomplish through modern marketing techniques.

      Marketing isn't just about saying something. It's also about getting people to feel certain ways about the product—in this case the mayor and Vision Vancouver.

      If the overwhelming message is going to be that the NPA is the party of one percenters who want to foul our beaches, then perhaps the left might want to do to Robertson what he's already doing to the centre-right.

      COPE has already begun going down this road by portraying Robertson as the corporate mayor.

      But it's going to be more difficult given Vision's assiduous efforts to court diverse communities in Vancouver and recruit new young park-board candidates from modest backgrounds.

      That's why I'm inclined to think that this election may already be in the bag for Vision Vancouver, notwithstanding all the opposition that Robertson has encountered from mostly older neighbourhood activists from across the city.

      I was wrong about the last provincial election. But given Vision opponents' inability to respond to its efforts to define them, a political upset appears less likely this time around.


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      Jun 23, 2014 at 12:30pm

      We do see Obama style tactics being used by Vision (I'm betting there are more than a few Democrati 'consultants' advising Mcgee et al). But given the 'state of the union' in the US right now, one wonders if 'segmented' voting populations will all vote 'one way', as anticipated by Vision.

      Unfortunately, some with wisdom and experience like Catherine Evans don't fit the 'marketing' mould. Perhaps she should have run for council. OOPS! Nope. Nikki Sharma was 'awarded' that spot. So, the Park Board is the only one of the three civic political levels that has focused on 'new' and 'young'. The council and school board levels largely retain their 'same old, same old' with a lot of 'do nothings'. Irony!

      That, unfortunately, is the cynical exercise in politics. Not the 'best' and the 'brightest' for the WHOLE of the city, but rather those who are perceived to claim a chunk of a segment. And then, those who will follow orders from the Third Floor a la the Park Board Vision commissioners. Hey, what happened to all of them, anyways? ;-)

      We have seen what data mining and segmenting has done to the USA---and is starting to so here. 'Just Say NO!' to American-style consultants, people. I hope that ALL Vancouverites will consider what this council has done (and not done) for the City over their last two terms. And then give their votes to other parties.


      Jun 23, 2014 at 12:36pm

      Vision could actually be a good party if they put as much thought and ingenuity into running the city as they do trying to con the population into voting for them.


      Jun 23, 2014 at 6:04pm

      What this commentary misses is that the new young slate was put together by the waspy backroom of Vision. These new faces were also willing participants to the deal-making of the backroom. This tells me that these new faces are willing to go along with being directed by the backroom. This is no different than the current Vision Commissioners who always and still do as they are told. This new younger crop may be the new faces of Vision but sadly for voters it is still the same old Vision. And the only outcome of moving forward with Vision will be the complete dismantling of an independent Park Board.


      Jun 23, 2014 at 9:46pm

      To me, Vision represents the 1%ers... I so wish Cope would rise again to transcend campaign jargon with such a coherent platform it blows them all out of the water. :( Hope springs eternal...

      Community Observer

      Jun 23, 2014 at 10:21pm

      I am sure that all of these candidates of Vision have passed the "Hollyhock Cult" test, so they are suitable flakes for the positions. They will do as ordered by city hall and will not represent the interests of the people of Vancouver or advocate for parks and recreation in this city. Losers, one and all!

      white guys dont make the cut...

      Jun 24, 2014 at 2:27pm

      ....according to the back room white guys who pull the strings at Vision.

      This is diversity taken to a cynical, exclusionairy extreme.

      Would Vision care to run a young Pinay mayoral candidate for mayor and put the handsome white guy on the Park Board? I dont think so, and until they do their tactics should be seen as the cynical racism that they represent.

      7 8Rating: -1


      Jun 24, 2014 at 4:10pm

      Here is a simple way to campaign against Vision. The key reason Vision continue to offer for their development friendly ways is the simply argument that the city needs more buildings to bring rents down.

      But few people know that Vision has been quietly allowing their developer supporters to do conversions of major rental buildings to luxury condos! Vision have not a shred of credibility as honestly attempting to add rental units in Vancouver.

      Yes, hard to believe but google "1265 Barclay." Or follow the link below, then search on "Pacific Point" and prove to yourself.

      8 5Rating: +3

      Alan Layton

      Jun 24, 2014 at 4:16pm

      Will Vision stop at nothing to win!!! The bastards!

      6 8Rating: -2