Four More Years of social change under Gregor after 2011?
The BC government confirmed today that the entire list of recommendations of their Local Government Elections Task Force will be implemented next spring in time for the November 2011 municipal elections. One of the recommendations is to expand municipal terms of government to four years, instead of the current three years. This was a request from the Union of BC Municipalities that Minister Bill Bennett and his committee abided.
For many, the recommendations of the Task Force seemed like good ideas, while labour-backed groups complained it didn't set enough limits. However, I predict the move to four-year terms will be a harder sell for a public already incensed by the process around the HST. It's been about a generation since we moved from two year terms to three year. While four year terms conform with those of the Provincial government (who are also considering moving the end of the mandate to the fall rather than in May), there is already grumbling about what it means to have four year terms.
For Vancouver and its currently lacklustre NPA, it virtually ensures that Vision Vancouver will rule through 2015. The significance of that date is interesting, because 2015 is the year Mayor Gregor Robertson promised to "end homelessness" in Vancouver. Of course, he's been working hard to insert the word "street" into his promise, as in we'll woo homeless folks off the street and warehouse them until someone can deal with them.
The year 2015 is also the halfway mark to Robertson's promised 20,000 "green jobs" within city limits by 2020. That of course is the year Vancouver becomes the world's "greenest city" (whatever that means). He's been making the rounds in New York and, recently, San Francisco to make sure that all the big US foundations know about his pledge.
It's been said to me by some wise folks that you can fix the damage done to Vancouver's professional civil service by governments like Vision after one term, but it becomes much more difficult after two terms, or more accurately, after seven years in office. So the November 2011 election has some high stakes attached to it.
Will Vision be able to continue their 500-year vision for systemic social change using the power of Vancouver City Hall? Or will a sensible alternative rise up and spoil the broth for the Hollyhock set?
I wish I had a magic ball to tell you what will happen, but alas I do not. But what I do suspect is that there will be a fierceness to the 2011 campaign on both sides of the aisle. With four year terms in play, the game just got 33% more important.
You might have noticed I didn't say that Gregor Robertson would stick it out until 2015. Given the fact he skipped out of his mandate as an MLA early, I think Robertson will drop the Mayor's job like a hot potato when a better opportunity arises – either provincially or federally. I predict he will not finish a full second term as Mayor.
In fact, someone should ask him to promise to do so during the 2011 campaign – will you, Gregor, commit to a full second term in office? Not only should he promise to do so, if he causes an avoidable by-election by bailing early, voters should demand that his financial backers to cover the cost. Given the big bucks behind him, they could easily pay the tab.
- post by Mike