Part I: Civic parties impacted by all the politicking at senior levels

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


david 3.jpg
It's shaping up to be a David vs Goliath battle in Vancouver civic election this fall

Last week our family decided to get out of Metro Vancouver and head to sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for some much needed Vitamin D. After I boarded the cruise, I shut down all of my electronic equipment until the ship docked at the port of San Diego a week later.

Needless to say, a week can be a lifetime in politics. When I returned to Canada, there were suddenly a bunch of candidate lawn signs popping up everywhere. During my absence, it appears the opposition parties decided to bring down the government and throw us all into an election.

For political junkies in BC, this period in our history is akin to being a kid in a candy store. We have just gone through months of political intrigue as BC Liberal members selected a new leader and premier. Meanwhile, the BC NDP dumped their leader and are also on the verge of selecting a new chief (they’ll likely choose someone I’ve known for years - Adrian Dix). If that wasn’t enough, we’ll be heading into a by-election in Point-Grey riding as well as immersing ourselves in the HST referendum debate within a few months.

So how does all this provincial/federal political activity impact the civic scene in Metro Vancouver? Over the course of a few posts, I’ll provide some analysis regarding how the various players might be impacted. I’ll start off with the organization I believe is in the most trouble, the venerable Non-Partisan Association in Vancouver.

How else can I say it? The NPA are in a pickle at the moment. With local developer Rob Macdonald recently bowing out of the race for Mayor, it's unclear if they have a single credible candidate ready to step forward to run against a weakened Gregor Robertson.

Even Suzanne Anton, long thought to be considering a run at the top job herself, has quietly told her supporters she’s not interested in running for mayor. All round nice guy Michael Geller, a man who would have given Gregor a run for his money, has also indicated he’s going to stay on the sidelines for this election.

If the NPA don’t find a mayoral candidate soon, it could well find itself in the same position as the COPE party. Without a credible leader, it will be difficult for them to elect more than a couple of candidates to council.

The NPA's previous decision to barrel forward with a June 4th meeting to select a full slate of candidates is no longer looking very strategic on their part. Given everything that has transpired at the federal/provincial level, standing firm with this date rather than rescheduling at least some nominations to September seems rather silly about now.

All the politiking at the federal/provincial levels will impact the NPA. I have no doubt their fundraising efforts will be hampered by the fact that senior politicos (with tax credits in hand) are tapping into a limited donor pool – big time. By the end of this federal election, most people/companies will be suffering from a major case of donor fatigue.

There is also the issue of finding volunteers to work on the various nomination campaigns. I suspect they will be in short supply until at least May 2nd. Unlike Vision Vancouver who draws heavily from within the union ranks to run their well-funded operation, the NPA relies heavily on unpaid volunteers. As you can imagine, not many of them haven’t been knocking down the doors of the NPA of late.

Most importantly, anybody wanting to run for the NPA must declare their candidacy to the Board prior to May 4th in order to be considered. With the federal election taking place on May 2nd, that only provides a 48-hour gap between the end of the federal election and the cut off for the NPA nomination.

If there are any failed Liberal/Conservative (or even NDP) federal candidates who may want to consider running for council under the NPA banner, they simply won’t provide enough time to weigh all of their options. As a result, if the NPA continues with their June 4th nomination meeting they may well lose out on attracting a few good candidates to their slate.

If the NPA doesn’t want a repeat of the 2008 civic election (something I'm not totally sure of yet), they’d better get into gear really fast. They are clearly running out of time and options that could provide them with their best chance for electoral success in November.

The NPA needs to demonstrate they are nimble and can assess that the current political climate in BC has radically changed over the last few months. They’d be smart to hold off on nominating all candidates until September, and pray that Premier Clark doesn’t call a general election in BC this fall. It’s the only hope they have at attracting decent candidates, raising over a million dollars and attracting some positive press.

Mayor Gregor Robertson’s polling numbers have been on the steady decline over the last year or so, but he still remains the “Goliath” in this evolving political drama. Even a resurging NPA would find him a tough opponent to beat. If they want to elect more people to the council, school and park board, the NPA will need to re-assess where they are going and set a new course within the next couple of weeks.

In Part II of this special feature, we’ll focus on how Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson are being impacted by all the political activity at the federal/provincial level. You might be surprised to learn that there are some significant up and downsides to having the spotlight turned away from their government at this critical juncture.

- post by Daniel


"they’ll likely choose someone I’ve known for years - Adrian Dix".

How can we be sure he didn't back-date his application?

Lame, Daniel.
Lame, lame, lame. So what now, just wait and deliver to Robertson and Vision an easy election simply because NPA cannot put their things together? Maybe you guys should learn from Glissando Remmy's post ('Missing note on Pandora Street report raises further questions' on your own blog!)Look at the response he's got...and learn! You need to strategise? I could help. You have all the ammunition you need to bury these Vision clowns. Just do it!

"Unlike Vision Vancouver who draws heavily from within the union ranks to run their well-funded operation, the NPA relies heavily on unpaid volunteers."

Hmmm. I used to be a member of the NPA and was an active, fully unpaid volunteer on several elections. As I recall, there were various spouses and children of wealthy corporate citizens, as well as a few other assorted characters who were otherwise between engagements, "volunteering", at least some of whom were collecting a salary for a job that they coincidentally didn't have to show up for. The NPA wasn't paying them, so they don't count as "volunteers", and of course none of this likely counts as a political contribution and therefore need not be reported.

It wasn't very gratifying to be selflessly contributing my free time -- believing that I was contributing to the democratic process -- while surrounded in spoiled rich kids who were being paid to do (less of) the same free work I was doing.

I walked away from the NPA for multiple reasons, but the obvious fact that it appeared to be simply a front for the excessively privileged to secure further privileges was certainly a big one.

Would Jennifer Clarke running for the Cons in Vancouver Center and likely losing to Hedy signify a political comeback - use this run as a trial balloon to either run for the BC Cons in a Point Grey by-election or even a return to civic politics.


Let me share a little secret with you: nepotism is not unknown amongst all political parties, unions, corporations, etc.

While it can be a springboard (or parking spot) for progeny, it still takes real talent to make a go of it.

And the most fun is behind the scenes, anyway. Apparently, anyone can be Mayor in Vancouver. Much more fun to be a puppet master!

If you are really interested in being politically active, I urge you to lick your wounds, learn how the sometimes rotten system works, network to learn who's who in the various zoos, be ethical and fight a good fight.


Like the Pope and thirty million Frenchmen, 5,500 used ten dollar bills cannot be wrong.

I have to admit, being a poitician is a bit of a thankless job - you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I can't even imagine what is does to your so called 'personal' life and the toll it takes on your family.

I look at Christy Clark's little guy and think, regardless of what she tells him, it must be hurtful to him to see that ridiculous commercial the NDP have put out, aside from the general name calling.

Politics have no morales and no boundries.

Open hunting season.

I agree. The NDP commercial calling the Premier mean is itself mean. The NDP should be ashamed of themselves. This ad may be funny, but personal attacks have no place in bc politics. I can only imagine what the Premier's son's friends are saying in his classroom. Shame on you NDP.

I can only imagine what the Premier's son's friends are saying in his classroom. Shame on you NDP.

Jennifer, lets be realistic here. If Christy Clark gave a rats pututie about what her son heard in class she would call for a full inquiry into the sale of BC Rail...

Instead she "put her son into the middle" by holding him up as a reason to leave politics, when it got too hot to handle...and again using him when she chose to re-enter the political going to his hockey game with news folks in tow, using him as a photo opportunity...

You can't have it both first indeed, she brought her innocent son to the rodeo...can't claim foul now, as a Mother she should have thought of that earlier...

Perhaps when she and her husband and brother got involved in the BC Rail issue from day one...which by the way effects many families and children throughout the province...

If anyone should think about their child, it perhaps should be his Mother..

Shameful on her part..

I agree, George, and look at the Premier Unelect's ministerial record to see a lot more harm being caused to a lot more children than some comical commercial.

Sorry George and David:

But this kid is an innocent.

He has zero to do with any decisions made by his parents. He knows nothing of 'BC Rail'.

We tell kids that bullying is wrong, yet too many adults set a piss poor example.

No child should pay the price for the sins of their parents.


I beg to differ..

Not one person has said bullying is OK, please don't twist words here..I won't be accused of endorsing that behavior!

Blaming the NDP of bullying is just ridiculous...
There was absolutely no reference to her child in that ad...none.

But as a deflection it is a good tactic.

Christy Clark knew this would be an issue, and I see she selfishly has chosen a life in politics.... did she think of the implications on her child then??? No she put her ambitions first.

All the more reason to have a full inquiry..If I was innocent, I would want my name cleared for my child's sake... but that would mean putting your child first...

That is something his Mother needs to deal with...

Edward: "I walked away from the NPA for multiple reasons, but the obvious fact that it appeared to be simply a front for the excessively privileged to secure further privileges was certainly a big one."

So I guess you prefer the millionaire Mayor Robertson and his wealthy American friends who funnel large quantities of cash into their campaigns? What a hypocrite.

I often wonder how people tend to forget that Robertson comes from a very priviledged California monied background.

But, hey, you decide to become a medical doctor but don't have the grades to make it as an MD, so you get some degree through a no name uni in the states (BA in something) and then with all ambition or responsibilites set aside, you pack your boat (or yacht), sail around the world for a bit,finally pitching tent on farm in the Fraser Valley, dec ide your a greenie and supposedly invent some juice factory (has anyone even checked this as true, as well, I don't think his bottles are recycleble as they dont have the markings on the bottle, anywhere)and failing all else , you join a group of green loving hippies on some remote island off the west coast of BC, where you make friends with other bewlidered and monied like-minded individuals, become an 'ineffective' NDP MLA (as described in our local paper), failing that you and your other monied halfwit ( and probably pot smoking) friends sit around the fire one night, concot a 500 year plan to invent and influence a green a city - let's pick Vancouver. One of your fan base and new Hollyhock friend says 'I'll help you as long as I get to drive the train and you do as I say, and you can live with me in my apartment in the DTES during election period. Feel the vibe.... and it is agreed. Next thing, this individual with a very spotty and unrecongized track record as a Provincial MLA (I mean truly, what did he do for provinicial politics...anyomne...crickets chirping...) and of a dubious educational backgroung (no thinking about it more, it does explain a lot)all of a sudden has his hat in the ring for the very honorable seat as Mayor of Vancouver. And the american dollars are flowing in.

And it makes you wonder - did he call home to say 'Look mommy and step- daddy, I'm Mayor of Vancouver....gush, and you said I would NEVER make anything out of myself....' Did you see me and my kilt on TV????

The Thought of The Day

“Gregor is a Hillbillyan, Penny a Hippocratian, and Joel a Hollyhockian. Together they form the H3 recombinant a.k.a. ‘The Bird Flu’. Me? I am an Omnivorian. I eat birds on a bed of plants. Don’t care much about their Influenza.”

Re, the coming elections. All it's needed is to be ...halfway prepared. Only...always.
One other thing, next time when you bring the attention back on to the NPA, remember:

And stick with it!

earlier comment re. Christy Clark.
Shameful of her part...Agreed!

Nothing more to add. My work here is done!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I am struggling to understand why the NPA can't come up with a credible candidate for mayor. Democracy only works if there are reasonable alternatives. Surely their are some capable, visionary people in the NPA's fold that want to run for mayor, even if 2011 is only setting the ground for the next election. I gather from this post that the NPA should move its nomination process out to at least July. Hopefully they are listening.

"monied halfwit (and probably pot smoking)".

Not that that's a bad thing. After all, if it weren't for wealthy pot-smoking half-wits Pierre Trudeau would have died a bachelor.

Hi Daniel:

The Province is reporting a different side to this story:

Steven ,
I believe that's so because they couldn't find a guy or a gal rich enough, connected enough, and with no real desire of wasting their life in meaningless meetings when they all know it, what they really want is to be out sailing or canoeing or gardening organics or teachings others from their vast experience, take Gregor for example. See how well that worked for him?
Plus they have to be honest and of a good character (not breed) and that right there is a bummer. Some people advanced Trevor Linden of the Clearly Contacts fame...see what I mean? Gregor with a hockey stick.

There have been for some time and are many people who are working within and for the NPA to ensure we will be successful on 19 November. Those potential candidates I am aware of are 1st rate and are committed to bringing responsible government to City Hall. No doubt others will also come forward by the 4 May deadline for application.

What Daniel is talking about is that the NPA does not yet have a mayoral candidate. What's the hurry? As John Moonen has confirmed there are 3 or 4 seriously interested mayoral candidates, as well as a number of candidates for the other spots. The nomination meeting is 4 June and the deadline for application 4 May.

Delaying the nomination while it may provide more time for other candidates to come forward, also has the disadvantage of either a summer date or September. September is to close to the election with several difficulties as a result.

For what it's worth...I would suggest that the NPA seriously consider postponing the nomination meeting until September. It had been hoped that people would focus on the municipal scene once the Liberal nomination process was over, but now the Federal election seems to have further diverted attention from the municipal scene.

What the recent federal election call has demonstrated to me is that you only need six weeks from announcement to election day to select candidates, orchestrate a campaign, etc. For this reason, a fall nomination meeting could fact I'm told that traditionally the NPA had fall nomination meetings.

I'm delighted to hear there are candidates lining up, both for Mayor and Council, but I suspect there could be even more good candidates if one were to postpone till the fall.

And if Christy calls a Provincial election, you ask? Well, she shouldn't and probably will not since I'm sure she would not want to interfere with a fall NPA nomination meeting!

Yes Michael, I agree with you. September sounds good and it makes sense. Also, you should run, IMHO. Glissando Remmy should have enough time to make up his mind also. Can anyone imagine a debate between GR and the Mayor? I'll take time off from work to watch that!

OK Michael, Ned, I'm not convinced one way or the other on which date would be better. There are pluses and minuses for both. Either way the NPA will have a strong team of candidates ready to take on Vision.

Check out!

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