Robertson unlikely to debate Anton regarding Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot
UPDATE July 6th, 7:00 am: Since we published this story yesterday, Mayor Gregor has confirmed he will not pubilcly debate Suzanne Anton regarding the riot.
He told Metro News “I really look forward to having a debate with her when it’s election season in the fall."
It is increasingly becoming clear that Robertson's Riot has become the unoffical kick off to the the November civic election. If you want proof to back up this theory, you need look no further than a news release issued by NPA opposition leader Suzanne Anton earlier today. She is challenging Mayor Gregor to the first public debate of the campaign, and she wants the topic to be the Stanley Cup riot that took place on June 15th.
Already the Georgia Straight newspaper has offered to host a one-on-one debate between the two civic leaders if it can be arranged. It's only a matter of time before other media outlets follow suit.
The real question is whether Robertson will accept the challenge, or stay confined to the comfortable confines of his west wing office. My guess is he'll politely turn down Anton's offer and get out of town faster than you can say "Cortes Island."
What follows is an unedited copy of Anton's media statement:
SUZANNE ANTON INVITES GREGOR ROBERTSON TO ON-AIR DISCUSSION
July 5, 2011
"The public deserves to hear what the plan was for the fan zones"
NPA Mayoral candidate Councillor Suzanne Anton is calling for an on-air public discussion on both the preparations for the taxpayer-funded fan zones during the Stanley Cup finals and the contingency planning if those celebrations got out of hand.
"The overwhelming message I've heard from the public is that they want to have confidence in their city government to be able to organize large public events," says Anton. "Vancouver is the metropolitan centre and people want to be able to celebrate here."
"The public has had no opportunity to come to council to give their input or ask their questions. When I tried to question the Mayor, he shut off my microphone," adds Anton.
The May 31st staff report did not incorporate any concrete details regarding the Mayor's plan for a 100,000+ outdoor party on Georgia Street for Game 7. No one outside the Mayor's inner circle was consulted when it came to creating plans for the fan zones.
Since then, the Mayor has announced an internal review. The review was not debated in council, offers no independence, and does not, to date, allow for public input.
"The Mayor has been reluctant to answer any of the tough questions regarding his role in the lead up to and during the June 15th riot," says Anton. "I'm prepared to clear my schedule and have a respectful and meaningful discussion as soon as possible. We need to be able to restore the public's confidence that City Hall can safely play host to major public gatherings once again."
One could well argue the 2011 civic election started only hours after the last one ended in '08. But at the very least, we now know there will be at least four full months of campaigning, versus a more traditional 30 day civic campaign.
Over at the Straight, Charlie Smith provides some interesting analysis regarding what seems to be transpiring in the campaign so far:
The tactic of calling the most shameful event of the year "Robertson's riot" has the potential to inflict real political damage on the mayor.
Robertson has a choice. He can become a political punching bag just as former NPA mayoral candidate Jennifer Clarke did during the 2002 election when she was blamed for Philip Owen's departure from politics.
Or he can start fighting back by pointing out that Anton and her NPA colleagues drank the Canucks' Kool-Aid just as heartily as members of his party.
Elections often revolve around what the pundits like to call the "ballot question".
Vision Vancouver's story line goes like this: "The NPA made a mess of the Olympic Village, but we came in and fixed the problem, saving taxpayers millions of dollars."
The NPA's story line appears to be that a bumbling mayor who wasn't paying attention is responsible for millions of dollars of property damage and an international black eye for the city. Then he tried to cover it up with an "internal review".
In both cases, these are gross exaggerations. Vision politicians played a role in creating the Olympic Village financial imbroglio, dating back to 2002. And NPA politicians were just as eager as their opponents to have a downtown party to celebrate the Canucks' run for the Stanley Cup.