The NHL playoffs will be dominating the headlines for the next few weeks
It’s the time of year that some politicians either learn to love or hate. It’s called hockey playoff season. Over the next several weeks (hopefully over a month or so!!) Canadians will be glued to their television sets watching each and every single playoff round. It may not be the Olympics, but with three Canadian cities vying to become the next Stanley Cup champs, there will be no shortage of drama and memorable moments.
If you’re a politician, the playoffs are a double edged sword. For those elected officials caught in the midst of a scandal or a heated issue, the playoffs provide a much needed distraction on the 6 o’clock news. Who’s going to care about your little transgression when the Canucks might make it to the final round? In our hockey-crazed cities, it will be hard to get anyone’s attention unless your last name is Luongo or Sedin. Hence this can become a government or politician’s nirvana if they’re struggling in the polls or mired in a controversy.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to get a critical message out to voters, you may well find it lands on deaf ears over the coming weeks. Take for example the issue of funding Vancouver’s homeless shelters. In a couple of weeks (unless the Canucks get booted out in the first round) Vancouver will be right in the midst of their playoff run. Local bars and pubs will begin reliving that Olympic spirit and people will be cheering in the streets once again. As a result, it will be very difficult for Mayor Robertson and his Vision colleagues to muster up any real head of steam on the homeless shelter issue whilst we are all focused on playoff hockey.
On April 30th the funding for Vancouver’s homeless shelters is scheduled to run out. The Province has asked the City to kick in a few bucks to help keep them open, however, so far the City has said no. It’s a bit of a Texas standoff and someone will inevitably blink. When they do, it will happen as hundreds of thousands of hockey fans descend on downtown Vancouver to enjoy the spirit. As stated previously, it will be difficult for any politician to get their agenda on the table while we’re all getting our hockey fix.
Homelessness has gone up by 12% since 2008, or about 6% annually since Gregor Robertson became the Mayor. This is despite the fact Robertson claimed he was going to end homelessness by 2015. His strategy of raiding the kitty dedicated to building long-term housing in order to provide a short-term fix with his temporary HEAT shelters appears to be going nowhere fast.
He is almost half-way through his term and his only real success on the housing front has been to secure funding from the Province to help sweep people off the streets in advance of the Olympics. With the Games now behind us and the international media gone home, it appears unlikely he will be announcing any type of scheme to build the thousands of new units of social housing advocates say is needed by 2015 to eradicate homelessness.
The NHL playoffs start tonight and they’ll most certainly be capturing the public’s imagination over the coming weeks. Meanwhile, our elected officials will be playing another game of chicken as both sides see who will blink first when it comes to extending funding for Vancouver’s homeless shelters. In the end, it’s pretty easy to predict which results people will be paying the most attention to over the coming days. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment.
- Post by Daniel