It's become fashionable to hate Vision Vancouver in some circles. And that might account for the hysteria over a five-minute presentation by four Vision Vancouver politicians to CUPE Local 1004, which represents the city's outside workers.
I just listened again to the tape-recorded presentation by councillors Geoff Meggs and Raymond Louie, council candidate Niki Sharma, and park commissioner Trevor Loke.
I can't understand how NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe could take something so innocuous and claim that it's the biggest issue in this election campaign (as he suggested in a Shaw TV debate).
Below, you can read the quote from Meggs to the union local that has riled LaPointe.
"We feel a strong partnership with the members of 1004 because we know that without your contribution, the city would function very poorly, if at all. Gregor Robertson, our mayor, has again recommitted to not expand contracting out to make sure that wherever we can bring in new processes, that members of 1004 will be there delivering those services in your areas of jurisdiction, fighting to keep things to continue functioning well, dealing with free collective bargaining, and we’re very pleased that the labour council has endorsed every one of the candidates that we’ve put forward this time.”
Meggs, who has deep roots in organized labour, added that Vision Vancouver is committed to its relationship with the trade-union movement. He then mentioned his party's support for affordable housing, investments in transit, and child care and then asked for the union's backing on election day.
I didn't hear anything on the tape about Meggs asking for money. The word "contribution", as I interpreted it, referred to the workers' efforts on behalf of the public, and not any baksheesh to the party.
The union local ended up giving Vision Vancouver $34,000, which is less than two percent of the civic party's overall campaign contributions this year. The union threw significantly less amounts of money to the Coalition of Progressive Electors and OneCity, which has only one council candidate, RJ Aquino.
LaPointe subsequently wrote an over-the-top commentary in the Province newspaper on October 21 under the headline "Vision's cash-for-jobs deal with union is suspect".
The NPA mayoral candidate claimed that Vision Vancouver cannot be trusted to conduct negotiations in good faith on behalf of taspayers. He even alleged that Vision Vancouver had "sold out the city's interests".
And that was cited in a defamation suit filed yesterday by Robertson and Meggs against LaPointe and the NPA.
In the meantime, LaPointe plans to release his party's list of campaign contributors today.
I'm curious to see if it includes any companies that benefit from the privatization of public services.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this turns out to be true.
Would the Province open up its editorial page for Meggs to write an opinion piece under the provocative headline "NPA's cash-for-contracts deal with company is suspect"? Would the editors allow Meggs to include the word "corruption" in this article?
My guess is probably not. So why was this luxury afforded to LaPointe?