Why I think Mike Klassen should run for Vancouver city council

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


watts klassen
Mayor Dianne Watts & 24 Hours columnist Mike Klassen

For over 2½ years Mike Klassen has written hundreds of posts, filed numerous freedom of information requests and exposed stories of misspent funds at Vancouver City Hall. CityCaucus.com have been the de facto opposition during this time, keeping an ear to the ground on the issues people care about. For these reasons and many more I will share below, I think Mike Klassen should put his name forward as a candidate for Vancouver city council.

I’ve known Mike for most of the past decade. We first met not long after the ill-fated 2002 civic campaign. I vividly recall how when I first met him he had a real passion for politics and public service. Call him old school, but he firmly believes that politicians, when focused on the right set of priorities, can truly make a difference and improve our individual lives. He’s also acutely aware when politicians come to office with a hidden agenda how it can prove to be problematic in so many ways.

There are many reasons why I think Mike would make a great city councillor in Vancouver. He’s well informed, he cares about people, and he listens. Most importantly he really loves Vancouver, the city he was born and raised in.

Besides his small business background, as an active Eastside community volunteer he also brings to the table a perspective on council that is often in short supply. Not only does Vancouver need more representation from east of Main Street, they also need that person to have a strong voice at the decision-making table. I have no doubt that Vancouverites would get that with Mike.

I have mixed feelings about encouraging my good friend and CityCaucus.com colleague to run for public office. How will it impact our blog? Like it or love there's no denying it has reshaped the dialogue in local civic politics. Will people look at Mike differently as a politician versus a columnist with 24 Hours? I don’t have the answers to those questions, but I still think Mike should take the plunge.

The fact that this civic affairs blog has allowed tens of thousands of people to get connected to Vancouver City Hall is something few of us could have imagined a few years ago. Mike’s combination of wit, analysis, political cartooning, and sense of fairness in his regular posts have got many people engaged and interested in what’s happening in Metro Vancouver politics.

By throwing open the doors to our online civic dialogue in Vancouver, Mike has also had a chance to listen to what has been on the minds of average voters on a daily basis. If you don’t believe me, just check out the over 10,000 comments we’ve received on a myriad of issues.

So do I think Mike Klassen would make a great city councillor? Absolutely. If he wins a seat as part of a majority NPA government, I think he would bring a lot of depth and political experience to the team.

If Mayor Gregor ends up winning another majority, the voters would be well served by having someone like Mike hold Robertson accountable during his second term in office. As with the blog, I'm pretty sure Mike would touch on a few of these issues on a campaign:

  • A big focus on openness and transparency at City Hall and putting the brakes on Vancouver's culture of secrecy
  • Achieving value for Vancouverite's overstretched tax dollar
  • Listening to neighbourhoods and strengthening community engagement
  • Banning foreign donations to civic politicians
  • Completing the Millennium Line out to West Broadway & improving UBC connections
  • Standing up for the principles of a non-partisan public service
  • Ending subsidies to developers through the STIR program

For 24 Hours newspaper, who've recently lost columnist David Eby to the Vancouver-Point Grey byelection, and have columnist Bill Tieleman heavily involved in the upcoming anti-HST campaign, losing Mike as their civic affairs columnist will be a veritable hat trick. It's a measure of the quality of that commuter paper when so many of their writers are being sought for public life.

- post by Daniel. Follow @CityCaucus on Twitter.


Well colour me surprised! Who knew this would ever occur! #sarcasm

I do think Mike should run though. He'd make a great councillor.

Go for it Mike!

I completely agree....excellent candidate!

This city needs to get rid of Vision and get back to intelligent, rational decisions being made that get our city back on the right path. Mike can definitely help with that.

Guys, guys, this is old news. It was speculated at least one month back, go check it out on AGT's blog. Yeah, sure he should run, but so should Glissando, George, David, Max, Julia, Higgins, Gerry, F.H.Leghorn, M Geller and The Angry Taxpayer... I bet two articles down the road Mike is going to suggest Daniel, who will then suggest Sam Sullivan. You've read it here first!

I think Mike would be an excellent addition to the city council landscape!

(Love to be a fly on the City Hall walls with this 'rumour' running around!)

I cannot imagine a more moral, ethical, harder working, better-informed member of City Council than Mike Klassen, a citizen of our fine city who possesses an acute understanding of the important issues that are of concern to all of us who live in the city of Vancouver.

It's time that we return openness, integrity and transparency of decision-making to City Hall.

With Mike Klassen on the ballot come this November, writing as someone who's known Mike for 20 years, I believe that should Michael garner a nomination and should his candidacy prove successful this late autumn, that in electing Mike to City Council we will be afforded the opportunity to elect an individual who is committed to accountability, openness, transparency in his decision-making, and the hard-slogging work that is necessary to be an effective (and beloved) member of City Council.

Raymond remind me please is Mike going to run for COPE? Last I remember you were one of their...friendly operatives! BTW how are Jasper, Gregson, formerly known as COPE members but now mostly known as Vision crap, doing? Boy this city is so big, but yet, the same people are circling the wagons...

Sorry Mira:

Yes, there was speculation on AGT's blog but, this is a bit different.

This is more out in the open. May 4 is fast approaching so.......

I understand Glissy was 'thinking' about running as well, but I am not sure if as a NPA member or an indepedent.
(or maybe I misunderstood...:) )

Regarldess, both would bring a breath of fresh air to the current scene.

Daniel on the otherhand, will have his work cut out for him running this blog, alone!

Lord, what would it be like having intelligent people looking after the interests of this City.....

After AGT ran his speculation, I asked Mike on a post whether he was considering a run. While this post is not definitive, it seems like a trial balloon indicative of an inclination of Mike Klassen to run. If Mike does, I hope he can succeed in gaining a seat on council and to bring the level of accountability of council to where it needs to be.
That being said, it will become a more difficult task for this site to carry on trying to hold all council (including, if successful, Mike Klassen) to account. Mike and Daniel have given birth to an interesting baby here an dI hope it can keep on going.
Good luck if you choose this endeavor Mike.

question I have...where is Mike more effective - on council getting sucked into the vortex of party lines or on the sidelines with the freedom to launch truth grenades with impunity.

Mira, I hope you were joking about me being a politician. I would probably end up in jail for acts of violence.

Klassen-run blog advocates Klassen for city council!

I have been holding back on making a comment,due to the very point you raise...where is Mike more effective..Only Mike knows if his first love is writing or politics..then the question, does this blog become an NPA newsletter...just putting it out there, because the topic will come up...
so many decisions..

Best wishes Mike if you do decided to take the plunge..

@ Mira..I'm in the same boat as Julia...couldn't be sure I could hold my tongue..but thank you for the mention..

Next question, Glissando...what are you thinking? Independent??

@Mira ... I support people of integrity. Period. In the coming civic election, I will support Tim Louis, as well as Mike Klassen.

As for Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper, he's been a major disappointment, in my estimation having lost the integrity which was very much a part of how I knew he brought himself to the world, in the years we were close.

I've had the 'integrity' discussion with Michael Klassen that I did not (unfortunately) have with Aaron Jasper. I trust that Mike Klassen will conduct himself with integrity -- and I'll be there to hold him to account, as will we all.

@Mira. Let me assure you I am not running for public office this fall, and thus I am not expecting an endorsement from Mike. I will however be making a special announcement late next week which you might find of interest. Stay tuned.

Assuming this is your pre-announcement, I want to wish you the best of luck! You will make a great councillor. Eby would have made a good MLA if he wasn't running against the Premier. Let know how I can sign up to support you! We'll miss you on the blog.

Raymond Tomlin,

Correct me if I'm wrong, if I understand what you are saying, you are supporting candidates based on integrity rather than party lines?

Boo is going to ride me over this statement :-)

Great idea and I think it can take off...

Must agree with you about Aaron Jasper..

Good luck Mr. Klassen!
And I mean it. It's going to be a rough ride though, when you have to admit, all those senior managers freshly anointed at the Hall under Ballem's direct supervision will work hard during 'City business hours' on behalf of the ones that gave them those jobs.
on a previous comment you made a good point when suggesting that other opinionated people could run as well. The question is, NPA, COPE, VISION (scratch that) or Independent? I'd really, really, like to hear that Glissando's running for Mayor. But that's me. :-) Probably NPA would be too hard nosed to consider that, COPE and VISION are out so what's left? Independent. Which in my opinion, if successful would be not only a premiere in Vancouver, but I think the best thing that could happen to this city and to democracy. Could you even comprehend having an INDEPENDENT Mayor? Like George below I'd love to hear from you GR.
As for Raymond Tomlin, I agree with you that Jasper is the 'death becomes him' kind of a politician, Tim Louis is good man. A bit hard on the edges that he has a great mind.

I'm going to end on a higher note here so,good luck to Mike and all that are going to fight for us Vancouverites against the Evil Gingi-vision-atis.

Sorry Chris;

I cannot agree with your assessment of Ebby.

His alliance and protection of the Black Bloc during the Olympics was an embarrassment as is his involvment in the Bountiful case and their 'right' to a polygamist life.

Oh, and let's not forget Ebby taking the word of an admitted stoned pot smoker (who convenitently disappeared) who made a statement against the police over the police incident.

Ebby has no credibility.


If I were to forward a 'contibution to your campaing' where would I send it?

send it to me ;-)

Good one George!

Mike would get my vote. That said, his media role as political critic would be sorely missed.

Wonderful news! Finally someone with integrity running for city council. Good on you and let's hope you win big time and clean house. Now all we need is for Mike to make it official.

With his passion for this city Mike would make a great addition to Council. Just don't forget your principles when you get there (as many politicians seem to do).

But I'd hate to lose Citycaucus. : (

"Now all we need is for Mike to make it official."

I agree with you 100% in favour of Mike running. I'd add that all we need now is for him to find a half dozen like-minded citizens to join him!

Best of luck. November's CHANGE to sanity cannot come soon enough.

David Eby seems to make a living out of being confrontational.
I'm tired of the politicians in this Province always acting like that.
Eby seems to be AGAINST everything. All I've ever heard from him is 'the police shouldn't have done this, the City shouldn't have done this, the Courts shouldn't have done this'
For years!

The B.C. Civil Liberties defense of polygamy was the final straw for me.

How can anybody defend a group that went and 'married' off 12 year old girls?

It's splitting hairs to say that polygamy should be allowed, but child abuse investigated.
Child abuse is very difficult to investigate in a atmosphere of complete secrecy.
Which polygamy created.

Of course that would be a good idea. But we live in an age of slate politics. One person can not effect change or even be particularly effective. Mike needs a Team around him, starting with a credible person as a mayoral candidate. No one has surfaced so far.

I am curious about one statement - "Not only does Vancouver need more representation from east of Main Street, " = is it not the case that the vote was split almost right down main street last election with Vision winning the 'east of main' vote? It seems to me the west of main has been abused by Vision - False Creek, west end etc. and they are the ones that need a voice.

David Eby? Didn't I read somewhere that the Pivot Legal Society receives funds from the same "backers" as our dear Gregor?

Yes, they do.

And if I remember correctly, it was somewhere around $500 - $750 K.

Bobh and Omishiroi

The point you raise about slate politics and the Main Street divide is important. That summarizes most of the defects of the current 'at large' electoral system here. I know Mike was a supporter of it but he, and any independently minded candidates, are very likely to be its victims.

Vision can easily win another landslide even with a reduced vote so long as all its supporters vote for all of its candidates (the vote multiplier effect of this anti democratic system) just as the NPA used to, so that one half the city overides the choice of the other and denies it representation. Also, given the way party lists work (and the only important choice is being selected for that) Mike had better hope that most other candidates have surnames starting with any letter between L and Z as Anton and Bickerton have a built in advantage.

It feels like flogging a dead horse but why we persist with a system that manages to combine all the defects of PR with all the defects of FPTP is a mystery

The fact is today, and for this election, the NPA will have a pretty even east/west split because Mike is not the only one who lives on the east side. There are potential candidates lined up at both Council and Park Board from the east side. I am not sure about School Board.

It should also be pointed out that several potential NPA candidates and directors are involved in various 'green' businesses and initatives, so Vision cannot claim any high ground there either.

Yes but my point was not so much about the address of some candidates as the location of the electorate. A well funded party with motivated supporters can swamp its opponents in this system, it was deliberately set up like that which is why I call it anti democratic. If local representation is good, then why not have wards? Presumably most NPAers continue to support 'at large' because they hope someday it will swing back their way. At some point perhaps it will become clear this is like trying to boost your savings by playing Bingo.

As my comments must make clear I'm keen to see the back of Gregor and co. but don't count your chickens before they hatch.

Glissando for Mayor. As per Ned below, I am really hoping for someone with Cohones
East or West doesn't matter!

at this point I am thinking Gregor will retain the mayors job simply because there is nobody else emerging as a credible option. However, with some strong, intelligent councilors (NPA or independent) stepping up to the plate, we could have a chance of stopping this train wreck.


I think many of us share your feelings about Glissando for Mayor...

What I find most amazing is that we do not know who this man is, we do not know what he looks like, or how he dresses, ...there are no photo ops with friends of influence. We accept him based on his words alone...

We are intrigued with an honest man that has shared his random thoughts, with humor, intelligence, honesty, and an ability to cut through the BS...

We are looking for a new direction of integrity, and the ability to bring citizens together with a no nonsense approach to running this city.

Funny I'm not sure if I want to know Glissy's identity...I love the mystery of the wizard behind the curtain....

But I do know he is brilliant, and we as a city need brilliance to save us from the chaos of the past 3 years....

Glissy you are being very quiet...I can only hope you are "independently thinking"....

At this point I'd vote for a cardboard Luongo cutout.

Hear, hear George. I could not have said it better myself.

LOL, George. re. Glissando, I bet that you, Alex Tsakumis, Mike and Daniel, and the whole Vision entourage would like to meet this guy/ gal OR... to put their hands on him/ her :-), depending on who you ask. I am in agreement with you "We are looking for a new direction of integrity, and the ability to bring citizens together with a no nonsense approach to running this city." Could this person be THE Guy/Gal? I also liked what Ned wrote before you "Could you even comprehend having an INDEPENDENT Mayor?" I totally agree with this statement. Wouldn't that be something? IMO Mike or Alex might know him/ her but are bound by confidentiality, and I respect that...could I be right here? Anyway, Mike Klassen, you go for it, man. I'll vote for you.

I would be far more willing to back Mike if he ran as an independent rather than for a party. With party based politicians the party always seems to come before the citizens and if Mike really wants to represent all the people of Vancouver he should run as an independent. It would be great to see the mayor and the majority of council as independents with no ties to the backroom boys who run the parties.

I have had the same thought several times as I follow his contributions to City Caucus. He would be a wonderful candidate, councillor and ,perhaps, future Mayor.
Keep up the good work.

I don't participate in Tweet or Facebook but want to send my support for Mike Klassen to run from City of Vancouver Council!

Well said, Daniel.  I thoroughly agree:  Mike is someone who would re-connect Vancouverites with their own city’s future, and would re-open the City Hall doors and windows sealed shut by the Gregor-Ballem syndicate.

He certainly would be a credible candidate. I appreciate his passion for the city and its people. I would want to know what his policies are before I would consider voting for him. I also tired by the bitter partisan tone of this blog. It sometimes provides great insight and has done some very good research. But its mocking tone and occasionally silly positions detract from its credibility. It is important for the future of Vancouver that the NPA (or someone) put together a strong slate and get some people elected.


There is another...

As for me running, Mira, I assure you, that if I did, I would be FAB-ulous!

No sense in showing any false modesty here. ;-)

@ Omoishiroi: The vote split more on a NW to SE angle, from Kits heading SE to Champlain Heights.

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