Vision Coun. George Chow, left, speaking with Burnaby City Councillor Sav Dhaliwal. Photo: Dan Toulgoet, Vancouver Courier
There are a whole lot of Vancouver politicians who have avoided having to deal with the Falun Gong human rights vigil taking place on Granville Street, and for good reason. If a protester can sit in the lotus position in a box, during rain, sleet and snowfall while about 25,000 cars per day whip by, you can bet they are pretty tenacious.
Everyone it seems, including the protesters themselves, has framed the hut and signage erected on the busy thoroughfare as a human rights issue. The City of Vancouver saw it more plainly as a bylaw and land use issue. The problem for the City was that none of the elected officials wanted to touch it with a 20 foot mace. For example, when Mayor Sam Sullivan tried to deal with the matter in 2006, accusations flew about his motives, so the matter moved off to the courts.
On Thursday, CityCaucus.com broke the story that the courts had ruled in favour of the City of Vancouver on the land use question. At the time we suggested that Mayor Robertson take the lead on this file. In his place we heard from the rock steady Councillor George Chow.
Speaking on CBC Radio Friday Chow commented, "Obviously I'm fine with [the court decision]. Because we are not against the content or the protest. But we basically have to have the bylaws regarding this kind of structure uhpheld." Simple enough, you'd think. But in fact it was a brave thing for Councillor Chow to comment publicly on Council's behalf, given the previous controversy.
George Chow might be the most effective member of Vancouver's city government. Never prone to the histrionics of many of his colleagues, Coun. Chow has been a voice of reason and common sense within the Vision caucus. Frankly, they are lucky to have him and probably they know that. He almost singlehandedly makes Vision Vancouver seem the "centre" party they claim to be.
Effectively retired, by returning to public life for a second term Councillor Chow is making a true personal sacrifice for the City. While George doesn't pipe up all the time, and seems to sit patiently while members of his caucus have grandstanded on a host of issues, he is highly respected for the balance he brings to politics.
By not fully subscribing to some of the more left wing approaches of his colleagues, George is probably the most electable political figure in the whole city. Like the late Don Lee before him, who served as City Councillor and School Board Trustee under the NPA banner, George is seen as the go-to guy for Vancouver's prominent Chinese community on Council.
Alongside Andrea Reimer, who is maturing into one of the strong women on Council, we see George Chow as one of the truly reliable members of Vancouver's government and we can only hope that he will bring much needed balance to City Hall.