Yesterday, Mayor Kennedy Stewart was in the spotlight in connection with a party fundraising list.
Today, it's his rival Ken Sims's turn for some unwanted publicity.
In a news release, Stewart's party, Forward Vancouver, has claimed that Sim's party, ABC Vancouver, ran radio ads that "falsely allege a City plan to implement a road tax in Vancouver's downtown".
According to the Forward Vancouver news release, the Jim Pattison Group and Rogers Media "took the ads down on September 7 in response to evidence provided by Forward Together establishing that Ken Sim's ads constitute a deliberate attempt to mislead the public".
"This raises questions about how he would manage city affairs," declared Stewart, who's seeking reelection.
ABC Vancouver campaign manager Kareem Allam offered a very different version of events in an interview with the Straight.
"They're running now and they will continue to do so until the end of the campaign," Allam said. "In fact, we've actually got two more ads in the can."
He added that Corus Entertainment (owner of CKNW, CFMI, and other stations) and Global never pulled the ads. He said that some of the smaller stations "got spooked", including Pattison-owned 93.7 JR Country, but they now have updated ads, which are running.
Moreover, Allam said that Pattison Outdoor continues running the ads about a road tax on its billboards.
"After months of semantic contortions and implausible denials, the evidence speaks loud and clear for itself," the ABC Vancouver campaign manager insisted.
Stewart, on the other hand, said that he does not support a road tax in the downtown core.
"It’s inequitable. And the city doesn’t have the authority to do it,” Stewart said. “The fact that Ken Sim knows this but chose to run his fake road tax campaign anyway is telling—Ken Sim can’t be trusted.”
Forward Vancouver has also questioned Sim's claim that more than $330 million in non-core city services can be cut and reallocated.
“A $330 million cut to Vancouver’s budget is an axe to vital public services, from the opioid crisis response to childcare, from climate change mitigation to housing for the homeless,” said Stewart. “Ken Sim must come clean on what he intends to cut.”
Chief of staff comes under fire
Allam, on the other hand, slammed Forward Vancouver's campaign-financing tactics.
"We don't take the same approach to fundraising that Kennedy Stewart does," Allam said. "Certainly, we abhor the practice of a chief of staff whose duty is to regulate developers being involved in fundraising."
He contrasted the actions of Stewart's chief of staff, Neil Monckton, with other chiefs of staff, such as Mike McDonald (for former premier Christy Clark), John Horgan (for former premier Dan Miller), Adrian Dix (for former premier Glen Clark), and Katie Telford (for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).
"You never see Katie Telford, the prime minister's chief of staff, going out there and picking up the phone with people that she's regulating [and] asking for donations," Allam said. "That's what we have an issue with here."
In a technical sense, Monckton is not a regulator of developers because the chief of staff does not have a vote in the council chamber when rezoning applications are made. Nor is the chief of staff a member of the Development Permit Board, which awards permits, or the Urban Design Panel, which influences the design of buildings.
Nor does the chief of staff vote on major planning documents, such as the Vancouver Plan or the Broadway Plan. However, he can influence how the mayor votes through the advice that he provides and as a gatekeeper in granting access to the mayor.