Garr vs Bruce: round one to Bruce

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

3 comments

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Let me first thank our generous readers who have provided us with a few pennies to pay for our ongoing Freedom of Information requests. Over the last few months, these requests have uncovered a few doozies.

First there was the revelation that Kevin "enforcer" Quinlan, the Mayor's media guy, thought that the CBC's Rick Cluff was an "easy" host for an interview. We also found out that Vision Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal supported a plan to shut down all six lanes of Burrard Bridge for a party to celebrate the grand opening of a bike lane. Now we have obtained an interesting email that Mike Bruce sent to Vision councillors Geoff "Mayor" Meggs, Heather Deal and Tim Stevenson.

If you recall, it was Bruce that abandoned Vision Vancouver in a huff after Mayor Gregor Robertson all but provided an endorsement of the BC Liberals and Premier Gordon Campbell during the election last spring. At one time, Bruce was a Vision Vancouver insider and confidante of the Mayor. That was before Robertson got all cozy with the provincial Liberals.

In his email to the councillors, Bruce attaches a note he sent to the Courier's Allen Garr regarding an editorial in which he was referenced. Bruce pulls no punches as he goes after Garr. What follows is a complete transcript of that email obtained through our FOI request:

From: Mike Bruce

Sent: Friday, June 5, 2009

To: agarr@courier.com

Subject: Your Column today

Hi Allen,

Before publishing some of the incorrect information about me in your column today, you might have wanted to make a phone call or, I don't know, maybe even drop an email to me to clarify. Reporters used to do this all the time. You clearly spoke to someone who fed you misinformation. I am certain of who this is, but then I wouldn't expect you to give up a source. That's just good journalism.

Of course, so might it have been to contact me before publishing untruths.

First off, I work for the Canadian Office of Professional Employees Local 378. That's COPE 378. Not CUPE. Entirely different organizations.

Second, whoever told you that I was stripped of responsibilities and sent elsewhere in the civic campaign is outright lying. I was never in charge of the E-Day effort, and was just working on the Election Day team. With a few days left I was sent to work on the vote mobilization and advance pull in South Vancouver because we were worried about pulling the vote in those parts of the city. I worked out of a parallel office with the South Asian community, namely because I have a lot of experience working with that community and know several of the organizers very well. Did I disappear? Yes. I was actually out in the community organizing and pulling the vote, and doing a widescale vote pull for the advance ballot. A novel idea to people who think that communications and spin and columns in the Courier can win you an election.

Working on Robertson's 2005 campaign was a whole other story, and nothing along the lines of what you are suggesting. I would have happily had a conversation with you about this but, again...

The email that sparked all of this was never intended to go public. In fact, I too find it incredibly bizarre that it has generated any attention, and that it is a story at all. Yet, someone clearly found it expedient to feed you a number of mistruths. If you felt the need to then repeat smears and unfounded allegations, then you at least should have done the due diligence of phoning me.

I trust that you will clarify all of this in an upcoming issue of the Courier.

Yours,

Mike

The Courier's Mike Howell did ask Mayor Robertson to comment on Bruce's departure from Vision. Here is an excerpt from that interview:

Q: Former Vision executive member Mike Bruce recently sent you an email voicing his disgust with your "fawning" remarks about Premier Gordon Campbell. He said your remarks upset the party and they were "disrespectful" to your councillors. In the 2002-2005 council term, COPE imploded over infighting. Is this the beginning of that with Vision?

A: I don't see it that way at all. [Bruce] is a disgruntled former member and he has his reasons and I respect his opinion on that. But I'm not hearing that from a lot of Vision members. Obviously, I want to respond to concerns but this seemed like a one-off and we have our differences.

As for Garr, he originally wrote the following commentary on Bruce's departure:

Now we come to Robertson and the Bruce email. As unhappy as Bruce was, he represents no significant factor in the party. Bruce has had a rather checkered relationship with Robertson. He worked on Robertson's provincial campaign for his MLA job. Sometime during the campaign, he was either pushed out or "disappeared."

He was again involved with Robertson's civic campaign and in charge of election day until, according to one source, he was stripped of his responsibilities and asked to leave.

He quit the Vision executive last November to work on the provincial contest. In his role with his union, COPE Local 378, he was responsible for the most negative and vicious ad campaign against Gordon Campbell. NDP leader Carole James wore the criticism for those ads although her party had nothing to do with them.

So Mike Bruce is hard line and hard to handle; good riddance to bad rubbish you might say. But for this: almost all of Robertson's caucus was offended by his comments supporting Gordon Campbell and told him so. And one of his closest advisers is clear that Robertson could have avoided this latest incident if he had simply picked up the phone and talked with Bruce.

In response to Bruce's email to the Courier, they have subsequently posted the following note on their website above Garr's column:

Since this column was published June 5, we have corrected two errors. First, due to an editing error, Mr. Bruce was incorrectly identified as a member of CUPE. He is a member of COPE local 378. Second, Mr. Bruce was not "stripped of his responsibilities [in the civic election] and asked to leave." During the last days of the campaign Mr. Bruce was working in the South Vancouver campaign office.

So in round one of Bruce vs. Garr, it would appear that Bruce came out victorious in the end.

3 Comments

This is good stuff. Kinda goes to show what you guys have been saying all along, that the Courier lets Garr carefully craft pro-Vision spin for their readers. What a joke.

Oh, that is old news.

What I found most amusing was Garr's fawning notes in the Courier during the election implying that Michael Geller had a a chance to work with Vision. Michael ate that up of course, never suspecting that the VV's were using him to divide and conquer and laughing it up with Garr as they played with him.

As an aside, the Vancouver firefighters "endorsed" Geller on their billboard campaign (yes, they paid for all those billboards---so Vision wouldn't have to) ---knowing full well that VV folks would never vote an NPA candidate in.

A very clever ruse on the firefighters part to look like they actually made their choices based on "the best person"--and appeared apolitical to boot---AS IF!!!. Snort! Of course, they were amply rewarded for their VV support by way of a quiet, rich settlement of their long standing contract dispute. Hmmm. I wonder how Penny will pay for that contract now that the city finds itself in such dire straights?

But I digress...re: Michael. Too bad he didn't hear his "champion" Garr mock him at VV headquarters during the campaign, and chortle at how dumb Michael looked trying to suck up to Gregor et al. Gee, I wonder if Michael, trying to work himself into the bosum of VV, might have shared any NPA tid-bits along the way? Beyond disparaging the operation, I mean...

"First there was the revelation that Kevin "enforcer" Quinlan, the Mayor's media guy, thought that the CBC's Rick Cluff was an "easy" host for an interview."

That's probably because Rick Cluff IS an easy interview. The guy wouldn't know a hardball question if it smacked his amicable face.

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