Iggy & Louie. Is this what the Grits have in mind for Vancouver-Kingsway?
Rumours are swirling about the imminent departure of Raymond Louie from Vancouver's left-leaning Vision Vancouver party, stepping down from his City Council seat only months after being re-elected to run for the Federal Liberal nomination in Vancouver-Kingsway.
As much as CityCaucus.com would love to post a rib-tickling April Fool's Day joke, we tend to feel that Mayor Robertson has provided enough guffaws for voters over his first 100 days at Silly Hall that we didn't need to. Ever since it was reported by intrepid provincial political reporter Sean Holman that Raymond Louie and other retired politicians Peter Ladner and Sam Sullivan recently attended the Michael Ignatieff Liberal Leader's Dinner, tongues have been wagging about whether Louie and others might resurrect themselves on the Federal scene.
Vancouver-Kingsway would be a prize catch for Louie. It would mean a big salary and benefits increase for him and his family, and virtually guarantee him a job for life. The Federal Grits really hate losing traditional Liberal ridings, and Iggy might offset some of his conservative image in the party by strategically embracing a few NDP-flavoured candidates like Louie and Mike Farnworth. Note that this strategy succeeded previously for Paul Martin when former NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh make the jump to federal politics.
Wendy Yuan, who currently holds the Liberal nomination, despite being an extremely hard-working candidate has simply by all accounts not connected with voters in the riding. She lost badly in last October's race, even to a longshot Conservative candidate, letting the NDP's Don Davies take the riding. It's safe to assume that the Grits have a new plan for Vancouver-Kingsway, that would introduce a well-known candidate and split left-leaning support in the riding to knock off the NDP.
The Federal Liberals do not need another scandal to follow them around. It has been questions about money and influence that collapsed Liberal support in Quebec. Therefore we predict that Raymond Louie will be forced to come clean on the matter of donor disclosure before making any moves. Questions about his failed $240,000 mayoral nomination campaign, and the apparent unwillingness of Vision Vancouver to release Louie's numbers to the City Clerk have dogged the incumbent Councillor since he was re-elected.
Louie's lacklustre performance in Council this term, coupled with the fact that he appears to be on the outside looking in at the Mayor's inner circle, hardly provides him with a high note to end his career at Vancouver City Hall. Note that Louie's biggest booster has been Liberal Senator Larry Campbell, who has publicly taken shots at Mayor Gregor Robertson. Politics can provide some strange twists, and it may be Louie in the end who has the last laugh.
Note, if Louie steps down it will force a costly by-election for his empty Council seat – you can add another $500,000 of avoidable expenses to the City of Vancouver's budget. While you'd think Vision with its healthy majority will shrug off the loss, they'll search high and low for a replacement to prevent the NPA from getting a second seat on Council. We expect that David Eby will be sitting by the phone waiting for the call. Currently, Councillor Anton has no seconder for her motions, and Vision would like to keep it that way.
The NPA still appear to be in a deep slumber since their November trouncing. There are no clear choices who might run for the NPA, or even COPE in a by-election. Perhaps it's an opening for Vancouver's "new" progressive party led by Tim Louis?
It will be a very interesting few months to watch this unfold. The speculation is that another Federal election will be underway before year's end.