Missing, or just bored with politics? Stevenson, Deal & Louie
They used to lead Vancouver's powerful Vision party in opposition, but the roar is now a whisper. That's because new voices are becoming synonymous with City Council. Meggs, Reimer, Jang are the names that roll off people's lips when discussing the City's new directions, not Louie, Deal or Stevenson. Even the understated George Chow seems more focused, more influential than his first term counterparts in the "new" Vision City Hall.
It feels like a long time ago that Councillor Raymond Louie proposed that he would run as leader of the center left party. He rallied some modest community support in the early going, including an endorsement from Councillor Chow. But when the NDP golden boy from Vancouver-Fairview declared he would run, Stevenson and Deal were quick to jump on the Gregor bandwagon. Stevenson pointed out the obvious, that Robertson was "tall, dark and handsome" and just the right cut to run for Vision as mayor.
Louie was once touted as mayoral material by Larry Campbell, the Liberal firebrand who helped sweep the NPA out of office and went on to become a Senator. Intense, often viciously partisan and self-assured, Louie ate up the flattery and launched a formidable (and expensive) campaign to reshape Vision Vancouver in his own image. In the end he was not able to rally half the support Gregor Robertson did from party members.
Louie quickly tried to ingratiate himself with the new leader, grinning madly beside Robertson for photos. However, the future Mayor had other plans as to who would enter his inner circle, and the former print shop worker slash union organizer was not invited. It became very clear early on how little influence the one-time Vision kingmaker had, as the Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith pointed out.
If Louie has any designs on becoming Mayor, they're looking way off in the distance. His school age kids will be grown ups before he has a shot, that is if Louie lasts that long. As George Chow told everyone who would listen last term, sitting on the back benches of City Council is purgatory. You're nothing more than a warm body for a vote.
Heather Deal loves to sing, and apparently she's been seen more often at the Vancouver Bach Choir in recent weeks. If she was leading the charge in Council chambers, she'd have less time for these pursuits. Since Vision formed government in December, American-born Deal's name has barely been a blip on the radar. CityCaucus.com should know, and we've not written about her once.
Heather seconded Andrea Reimer's controversial backyard chickens motion, but spent most of the meeting as chair cracking jokes. A sense of humour is helpful in politics, but one would expect an environmental activist would have strong opinions on the chickens idea. Instead she sang backing vocals to Reimer's eggsellent serenade.
A marine scientist and passionate environmentalist who works part time with the David Suzuki Foundation, Deal asks some of the most informed questions on the environment in Council meetings. No one needs to explain climate change to her. That's why Gregor's Garden must be a particularly frustrating turn for Deal. She has to know that it's window dressing meant to make the boss look good.
It doesn't come as a complete surprise that Tim Stevenson is making few ripples in Council so far. He never made them in all the years before either, except when he got in trouble for driving under the influence and neglected to tell the public for 14 months. Tim's reputation as someone who often skips committee meetings proceeds him, according to this article by Charlie Smith.
In fact, Tim is making more of a name for himself outside Vancouver City Hall as Chair of Metro Vancouver's Water Committee. Tim was so hard to find during a story on the $200+ million over budget project, that Global TV had to pull 2008 file footage of Stevenson for their story on this subject the other night. While he was quick to support his tall, dark and handsome Mayor, he also seems to be watching from the sidelines.
It will be interesting to see if the three former leading voices of Vision will rally and make something of their term, or they'll continue to punch the clock. It's unlikely their ambitious and eager rookie counterparts will let them.