Will a group of left leaning supporters be able to stop the COPE/Vision coalition?
Only weeks after CityCaucus was launched almost three years ago, a small group of folks (many who leave comments on this blog) began to argue that our writers were way too hard on Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party.
Whether it’s been our take regarding his backyard chickens scheme or his latest program to turn front lawns into wheat fields, they say we’ve simply been unfair to His Worship.
I must admit that on more than one occasion I’ve felt like the Maytag repair man when it’s come to reporting on our Teflon Mayor and his merry band of councillors. Up until recently, there were few columnists, commentators or business leaders prepared to openly criticize Robertson.
However, with the recent introduction of a new blog called The Mainlander.com, what's left of Vancouver’s left are regaining a voice in the blogosphere. They've also become very vocal critics of the current Vision administration.
Ever since a rogue group of COPE politicians and backroom staff left the party and started up Vision Vancouver, the voice from the left has been all but silent. Left-leaning journals such as The Tyee or Vancouver Observer have on most days heaped more praise than criticism on the Mayor. It’s pretty clear the introduction of TheMainlander.com is about to shake things up a bit.
Unlike CityCaucus which approaches most issues from a centre-right perspective, The Mainlander clearly feels there is a need for the left to have a voice. I’m not sure how they’re funded, but I suspect it’s mainly a volunteer effort that doesn’t rely on hefty donations from international foundations to keep the lights on.
So what are they saying about Vancouver’s governing party? Firstly, they argue the backroom deal struck between the more left-leaning COPE and the more right-leaning Vision Vancouver will end up killing the only voice left for the left. In other words, they think striking up another coalition will be the final nail in COPE's coffin. On that one issue I am in full agreement.
In one of The Mainlander articles dated June 17, author Tristan Markyl states:
The party [Vision Vancouver] who promised to end homelessness and address affordability has turned out to be its mirror opposite, giving millions in tax breaks to developers, decreasing the corporate tax rate to the lowest in the world, forcibly closing homeless shelters, cutting services, hiring millions of dollars of additional police officers, and deepening the affordability crisis at every possible turn.
Ouch! Are we to assume one of the individuals they refer to in this next excerpt is Vision Vancouver operative and FD Element executive Don Millar? He also works as a senior advisor to BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark:
Vision staffers and politicians are closely connected with the BC Liberals and Christy Clark, while COPE is still a left-wing, working class party with connections to labour. Now is the best time to take advantage of the orange surge that recently swept across Vancouver in the federal election.
Based on that last comment, I suspect Markyl and company also weren't too thrilled when Mayor Gregor was cheering on BC Liberal leader Gordon Campbell to win a "threepeat"? If you recall, Mike Bruce quit Vision Vancouver partly as a result of Robertson's comments.
Under the categories of Affordable Housing, Homelessness and Corporate Tax Havens, Markyl states:
As a result of inaction on affordability, homelessness has increased every single year since the election of Vision Vancouver…
Vision has put profits before people by turning Vancouver into a global tax shelter while closing homeless shelters, selling off social housing, and cutting services...
The goal of ending homelessness has since changed to “ending street homelessness by 2015
Hmmm. I thought we were the only one’s making those kinds of claims. The author then goes on to talk about Vision’s record as a supporter of Vancouver’s public service workers:
One of the first Vision decisions was a mass layoff of City staff, and they have made service cuts ever since. Vision is a pro-business party that seeks private solutions to public problems. Vision privatized almost all the remaining subsidized housing at the Olympic Village, eliminating any chance of delivering promised affordable housing at the site.
As you continue to read through the article, you can definitely feel a theme emerging. Vision = NPA and the NPA = Vision. The only exception might be that the NPA actually never laid off CUPE staff during its recent terms in office.
When it comes to how Vision’s handled the Downtown Eastside, The Mainlander doesn’t pull any punches. They clearly aren’t happy with Robertson laying off CUPE workers and replacing them with police:
The Downtown Eastide is a vibrant low-income community that needs support from city hall. Instead of addressing affordability, Vision has hired extra police and ramped up market pressures on an already stressed community.
Even in areas where The Mainlander agrees with Vision, they provide what could only be described as a backhanded compliment:
One of Vision’s few successful initiatives in office has been the creation of bike lanes in the urban centre.
To add one last bit of insult to injury, The Mainlander writes:
As discussed, Vision is not a progressive party. Although Vision ran on a progressive platform in 2008, its actions have proven otherwise.
So there you have it. If you thought CityCaucus was the only game in town when it came to critiquing Vancouver’s government, think again. With the introduction of The Mainlander to the civic scene, it’s doubtful Mayor Gregor will be getting the free pass he’s enjoyed from other so-called left leaning journals.
FYI: The group opposing the Vision/COPE coalition have even set up a new website (www.copenotvision.com) which they hope will encourage other like-minded individuals to join their movement.
- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus. Or you can "like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/CityCaucus