A young Gregor Robertson ponders a career in politics
Many Vancouver politicians meet a critical juncture, a tipping point if you'd like, that is so resonant that it labels them permanently. For some it happens early in their political career, for others this turn occurs much closer to the end of their public life.
For example, when the Vancouver Sun's City Hall reporter Frances Bula referred to Councillor Jennifer Clarke as "Lady MacBeth," the political career of a highly successful public servant virtually came to an end. When Allen Garr described Mayor Larry Campbell as a "bully" in many of his columns, that label stuck. Years later, Bula wrote that Mayor Sam Sullivan had patented the term "EcoDensity" for his personal gain (in complete absence of the facts of that story) but it dogged Sullivan until his final days in office.
For Gregor Robertson, his critical turning point might be fatefully near the beginning of his time as mayor of Vancouver. And the person we can thank for this defining moment is an unlikely source, left wing columnist and Vision Vancouver supporter Allen Garr.
The Beekeeper, in his column to be published in tomorrow's Vancouver Courier, but is now available online, has written his most damning critique ever of a sitting left-leaning Mayor. It's as though he's auditioning for a column here at CityCaucus.com.
The opinion piece titled, "Vancouver's 'bubble boy' mayor hides from conflict," takes aim not only at Gregor's failure to "take the heat" for his own decisions, but it cuts right through City Hall decision-making.
Seven months into his term and Mayor Gregor Robertson has become the boy in the bubble.
Astute CityCaucus.com readers might wonder why it took Allen Garr seven months to realize the obvious, but better late than never as they say.
Staff here at CityCaucus Tower were taken aback by Garr's editorial, not only because it was so hard-hitting. We were mere moments away from publishing yet another critical post about Garr's shameful (and just plain inaccurate) spin on the Coleman HEAT shelter story the Courier ran last week. It was a clear question for the Courier's publisher of whether to bee or not to bee with their marquee columnist.
Garr tried to turn the tables on the HEAT flop by blaming Minister Rich Coleman instead of Robertson and Councillor Kerry Jang, the real architects of this fiasco. When Coleman insisted that maintaining the status quo on the Granville and Howe shelters was a non-starter, when it came to closing them Garr wrote:
"that decision was made by the mayor's office over a week ago"
Oh yeah? Then how come Robertson was just days before conducting his negotiations with the Province via press release, and threatening that the homeless would be back out on the street without millions from Victoria?
[Robertson] said the Vancouver Police Department has provided the shelter's staff with a list of troublemakers who are now banned and the shelter will no longer allow residents to come and go freely throughout the night.
The mayor called on the provincial government to provide $5 million a year for the next five years to keep the city's shelters operating.
Robertson was no where near admitting defeat on HEAT until Coleman convinced him otherwise. Why Garr wanted to flimflam his readers on this point is not clear, but our sources tell us that the Mayor's aide Kevin Quinlan bragged to select media that their office had Coleman on the ropes thanks to their clever strategy of making the Province out as the bad guy.
But hey, that was last week. Now we have the Bubble Boy government to look forward to for the next 29 months, thanks to Garr. Why does the "Bubble Boy" reference stick to Robertson like flypaper? It's because for months Quinlan and Chief of Staff Mike Magee have been desperately sheltering Gregor from the media in case he puts his foot in his mouth. Reporters have noted the countless photo ops where Robertson ducks and dives to avoid their questions.
Garr insists Robertson is a coward for not facing the public who elected him. Take for example the time he visited the Granville HEAT shelter under the cover of darkness:
The mayor's presence was limited to slipping into the neighbourhood one midnight to have a look while none of the neighbours was around. This isn't just cowardly, but strategically stupid from a political point of view.
Should anyone be surprised? Remember, this Mayor got caught evading his transit fare, then decided to fight it in court until being shamed into dropping the case. These aren't the actions of an intellectual powerhouse.
...in a former life as an NDP MLA, Robertson was everywhere making lots of noise about the harm the public transit Canada Line project was creating for businesses on Cambie Street.
Now, when it's his project that stands to hurt business, well, where is he?
I'll tell you. Last week, he was sucking his thumb over yet another proposal for a bicycle and pedestrian crossing of False Creek. The route may be totally impractical for cycling commuters; it comes from Vanier Park to Sunset Beach. And the estimated price tag at $45 million may be laughably low. But it's a pleasant diversion for our mayor in his bubble seeking once again to avoid the grief his policies are creating.
We've been hard here on Garr in the past, but it's not because we don't like the curmudgeonly columnist. We think of it as an intervention, to help him save himself from the impulse to shill for Vision.
By branding Gregor as Bubble Boy, however, it's possible the Beekeeper has earned himself a permanent pass to the Diamond Room on floor 37 of CityCaucus Tower.