Robertson plans to "bump into" Fed ministers while "hangin' around" in Ottawa

Post by Mike Klassen in

12 comments

Minister Jim Flaherty
Will Vancouver's Mayor get to meet those who make spending decisions in Ottawa?

Mayor Gregor Robertson jetted to Ottawa this week, not only to see the kick-off of the Paralympic Torch Relay, but ostensibly to use Vancouver's "new political capital" as the successful host of the 2010 Olympic Games to urge Ottawa for more funding to build housing for his city's homeless. But what really will come of Robertson's Ottawa trip? We should know soon.

Readers might recall that the Mayor's aide Kevin "Vancouver Kid" Quinlan was caught in an email stating that CBC Early Edition host Rick Cluff is an "easy" interview, suggesting he asks puffball questions. The one thing you never underestimate is someone who has spent most of his life as a broadcaster. On this morning's program, Cluff asked Robertson an "easy" question: "Who have you met so far to discuss this funding?" You can catch the audio clip here:

Robertson answers, "Well, I have been bumping into various ministers, yesterday with the throne speech, and they were, they're all back here now [for a new session of Parliament] in, uh, great numbers. And today is the budget so I'll be, I'll be hangin' around, talkin' to lots of, lots of them in Parliament there, and of course talking to the national media about this, 'n makin' sure that Vancouver's concerns are, uh, are on the table, and uh, they're shared by big cities across the country."

Back during their time in opposition Vision Vancouver loved to throw stones at then Mayor Sam Sullivan, especially whenever he left town to visit Victoria or Ottawa. But even his critics acknowledge that Sullivan had a busy itinerary during his Ottawa trips. For example, Sullivan would meet with people like the Governor General, The Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and even Opposition Leaders.

Still, that wasn't good enough for critics like Allen Garr, or the opposition who would rail at the Mayor, decrying the lack of "tangible results" from those trips. Take for example this quote in the Georgia Straight from March '07:

Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie said he is disappointed that Mayor Sam Sullivan's trips to Ottawa haven't produced tangible results in support of the city's housing needs. "Sam had been purported to have all this influence in Ottawa," Louie told the Straight. "He has traveled so many times to Ottawa, including for this budget, I understand, and has delivered zero in terms of value for the citizens of Vancouver."

The COPE opposition liked to dish it out, too, like for example in this December 2006 newsletter:

Sam Sullivan went to Ottawa this week to meet with representatives of the federal government. This trip was NPA Mayor Sullivan's fourth this year, all made for the stated purpose of bringing Vancouver's issues, such as the homelessness crisis, to the federal government's attention. What did Sullivan bring back to show for yet another trip back East?

...Rather than really pressuring Ottawa for funding, it is beginning to look like Sullivan's junkets are more about meeting with his ideological soul mates in the Conservative government.

Even Mayor "Geoff" Meggs took swipes at Sullivan's Ottawa trips, such as he did in August 2008, attacking Sullivan's attempts to secure support for an innovative drug treatment strategy from the resistant Tory government. Meggs' comments in '08 seem to foreshadow his own government's fading support for Vancouver's lauded Four Pillars program.

With this background in mind and knowing that, by Vision Vancouver's standards, trips to Ottawa require "tangible results", it will be interesting to see exactly what Mayor Gregor Robertson accomplishes by bumping into Cabinet Ministers in Ottawa this week. And most of all, it will be good to know whom he actually ends up meeting with from the Federal government. It's our understanding that no formal proposal by the Mayor's office was put forward in writing to anyone in the Federal government in advance of this trip.

We hope that Robertson is as generous in his responses to questions from the media when he comes back as he was leaving town (that is, if the Vancouver media bother to ask). I'm sure we'll get a full report of whom he met with, and what commitments Vancouver can expect from his negotiations with the Feds very soon.

12 Comments

Mike,
I'm somehow amused that Robertson plays the "Mr. Smith goes to Washington" part,oh dear, oh dear,'cause he should be playing his real part, the one from the "Lord of the Flies".
What a joke!
Having said that, he will get out of Ottawa the same way Sullivan did. Tail between his legs, few thousand more travel Airmiles under his belt and an non-washable golden handshake from some bored Federal politician. Good for you Jack!
After so many taxpayers paid lunches, dinners, perks and shtanghel-manghel meetings during the Olympic Games the Maeeyor is a clear case of "celebrity shoulder rubbing" postpartum depression. Say it ain't so.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

God, that clip is so painful to listen to---he doesn't even believe himself! Can't we stick him in Madame Tussaud's in Victoria and be done with it, already?

Vancouver didn't have any "shovel ready" projects in place (though we know they can sure shovel it at City Hall) the last time Ottawa handed out stimulus funding goodies. Now, of course, there is no money for much of anything. Phew, good thing Gregor is on top of that file.

Does City Hall really believe that Joe and Josephine Voter don't see this silly excursion as just more overblown rhetoric, with a generous dollop of window dressing on the side?

Gee, well, at least he will come away with a fine "grip and grin" pic with the GG to show for his efforts. It will look so cute in his Olympic scrapbook, next to the eye-rolling athletes he tried to co-opt during the Games.

Ugh.

Why does Robertson's honeymoon with the mainstream media continue? They should listen to this radio interview, then ask themselves why they're giving him a pass. With the exception of you guys and Alex, everyone has just been lulled into a hypnotic trans by his good looks. Yeeesh.

I can just imagine Robertson's Facebook/Tweet: Surf's up in Ottawa, Dudes. Totally gnarly. And, like, there's totally lots of politicians here. Who would'a known?

Robertson is an embarrassment for Vancouver

You're right about the lack of substance in that reply, but the criticism for the ums and ahs is totally off base. Anyone will read like a moron if you transcribe an off-the-cuff remark verbatim.

Yeah, the answer doesn't sound so bad when listened to rather than read.

I'll note your comment, but you should know that I included the pauses because it made it more apparent to me that he was struggling for an answer to a simple question.

Actually Mike didn't put all of the 'ums' and 'ers' and repetitions in his transcript. All this question needed as an answer was a brief list of people Robertson had seen. I can only take his hesitations as a displacement response or diversion from the fact that he'd seen no one in any significant way. It's similar to the way some people repeat your question before giving an answer, a near infallible guide to them having something to hide.

umm isn't the reason we have a 'drift' of homeless to Vancouver is 1) weather 2) lax attitude toward drug use - (I see people shooting up and smoking crack pipes in the open on Howe, Davie any major street - you wont find that just anywhere!), 3) the slackest welfare system on the planet AND 4) the fact that we provide no barrier, no rules, no obligation shelters with 2 squares a day (using our most expensive real estate in Coal Harbour, False Creek, Kits and Dunbar to do so)

Seems to me we built it...and they came.

Will spending even more than the 3.5 billion already spent on 'homelessness' only attract more homelessness?
I would like to see this experiment - no federal, civic or provincial funding for the Pivot Legal Society, RainCity or any of the other 250 poverty perpetuation agencies that exist in Vancouver for 5 years. (Do you think a person with a $90k a year job working for RainCity REALLY wants to end the gravy train??) Let the church organizations and volunteers do as they please and fund them with your donations if you so choose. But put all our taxpayer based funding into programs for addiction and mental health. Would that stop the 'drift' of homelessness to Vancouver?
I really, truly wonder.

Hopefully, the Mayor "bump[s] into" the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Vic Toews, and is able to persuade the Minister to continue the Canadian Border Services Agency waiver of customs charges to Amtrak for the second Amtrak train between Vancouver and Seattle. The charges are $1500 / day and neither Amtrak nor the State of Washington will pay them. The current waiver expires at the end of March and, without its continuation, Amtrak will cancel the 2nd train.

It would be truly ironic, with all the political talk about sustainability, improving trade and tourism in the Cascadia corridor, and a month after the world left the Olympic Games, that a sustainable transpiration mode in the Cascadia corridor loses half its service.

"Robertson is an embarrassment for Vancouver"

The embarrassment is that Vancouver voted this man in.

Even after Bill Good slammed him on the radio 3 days before the election - anyone listening to that interview would surely have seen the light. I couldn't believe he got the vote. I guess Chorus doesn't have the ratings, or the right demographic...

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