Gregor: "And by the way, I hope Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid picks up Fairview"
Mayor Gregor Robertson's gushing praise of BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell is sending shockwaves through Vancouver's lefty set. For the first time since former NDP Premier Dan Miller was hired by the Campbell government, a giant WTF? is painted on the forehead of nearly every NDP supporter on this side of The Rockies.
Some saw it coming, others don't want to believe it. One pissed off camper is Georgia Straight uber-editor Charlie Smith. We've always referred to Charlie as one of the finest City Hall watchers in the biz. Famously, he's a man who does his homework to get to the bottom of a story. On his blog we're getting a different kind of Charlie, someone who is at times full of fire and brimstone, like when he blasts NDP leader Carole James and fellow media on their handling of the awkward "Zionists in the workplace" comments made by an East Vancouver candidate.
It reminds me of attempts I made last summer over the span of a month to have a coffee with Charlie. Boy, he let me have it in an email: "I'm very, very, very busy right now." That's pretty busy.
Political cynics are a dime a dozen, but witty cynics are more rare. In a blog post asking why Mayor Robertson is "lavishing praise" on BC's Premier, Smith has come up with a list of possibilities, and none of them are very flattering to the Vision leader:
a) Robertson wants NDP Leader Carole James to lose the provincial election so he will have a chance to become NDP leader and catapult into the premier's office when Campbell retires following the 2010 Games.
b) Robertson has a secret agenda to be recruited to run for the federal Liberals in Vancouver Centre after veteran MP Hedy Fry retires. And this is a good time to curry favour with the business community and show some nonpartisan chops by praising the premier.
c) Robertson is a success whore, like other mayors who preceded him. Robertson perceives that the premier is a successful person because Campbell wins elections, notwithstanding how the premier has failed so miserably to serve poor kids in this province.
d) The premier has been giving Robertson tips on how to be mayor, and Robertson is too dumb to realize he's being used by a man obsessed with the idea of opening the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
e) The premier has proven that sucking up to a senior level of government brings in more booty to the treasury, and Robertson is emulating this approach.
f) none of the above
So, according to Charlie the Mayor is either scheming and ambitious for a continuing career in politics, or a star f**ker.
Does Gregor really want to be the MP for Vancouver-Centre that badly? My bet is that after his stint as Vancouver's mayor he forms the Robertson Foundation, makes Joel Solomon his Executive Director, and conducts retreats for millionaires at Hollyhock. (Or is he doing that already?)
I know it's hard to imagine in the pure laine world of left wing politics, but how about option "G" that Robertson might be exhibiting a little pragmatism? A little well-placed butt kissing that could benefit the city he represents?
Perhaps option H (and now I'm speculating), Gregor is rebelling against the smothering influence of Geoff "Mayor" Meggs, sort of like a kid who's finally got his driver's license?
UPDATE: More hand-wringing from a predictable source, Courier columnist Allen Garr.
A commenter on Smith's post named Mooks had the unmitigated gall to defend Robertson and accused The Straight of shilling for NDP positions:
Why should he lavish praise on Carol James and the NDP when she has championed the "Axe the Tax" campaign of misinformation and lies.
It didn't go down well with Smith, who in response to Mooks' comment wrote, "I wonder if 'mooks' is actually a B.C. Liberal supporter who is writing the kind of nonsense above simply to advance the interests of the B.C. Liberals in the next election." Then he went on to list some occasions his paper criticized the BC NDP during the last 42 years of its existence.
Over at the P. Gazette commenters are warning the Mayor not to expect their support in future contests:
"If he is really endorsing Gordo ... he deserves to have every dipper (well, every leftish type really) tell him they won't work for him"
In other words, either you are with us or you are with Gordo. Heavy stuff, but completely predictable in the world known as BC politics. You can expect Robertson won't pull a stunt like this again before May 12th.
**NEW POLL: Credit must go to Charlie Smith, who credited Anne Roberts for the idea of a poll question. We ask our readers, Why do you think Mayor Gregor Robertson recently heaped praise Premier Gordon Campbell? Add your response at CityCaucus.com today!