Mayor Gregor Robertson represents Vancouver in Shanghai (at Expo)
We're getting the occasional news bites from overseas where Mayor Robertson's $120,000 "green" industry economic junket is taking place in China. With not much to report yet about the journey we're getting reports about how Robertson is distantly related to Dr. Norman Bethune from journos over there, and announcements partnerships between North American companies and the City.
Today however some breaking news. Gregor Robertson opened up to a CBC reporter in Beijing who asked Vancouver's Mayor his thoughts about doing business with a country that many perceive as having relatively lax environmental standards. Robertson has been criticized during his term back home for his council's lack of public consultation on zoning decisions, bike lanes, bridges and HEAT shelters, mainly in the name of improving the city's environment.
His response to the CBC reporter's question about working with an authoritarian regime was as follows:
"...you can be critical of a lot of regimes around the world, and you can question how worthwhile democracy is in a lot of countries right now which are, frankly, ignoring the biggest crisis in the history of our species which is climate change. That's where you see the Chinese government taking radical dramatic action in investing in turning the ship around. And you do not see that in Western governments right now, democratically elected, and that's because they're afraid. And that's not serving the greater interests of society."
So to our readers, what are your thoughts on the Mayor's comments?
What do you think this statement means? Is democracy a tool for change or an impediment? For Robertson's China junket, what was a pretty dull affair will certainly now garner a little more attention thanks to the Mayor's words.
UPDATE: The Globe and Mail follows up with a finger-wagging editorial about Vancouver's Mayor, calling him "naive" and "carried away by communism" – read here: http://bit.ly/bSX6Kr
- post by Mike