Volunteer members of the Vancouver Police Board pose for a group photo
When Mayor Gregor Robertson received the email request from NPA opposition leader Suzanne Anton to attend today's Vancouver Police Board meeting, one can only imagine what was going through his mind. I'm sure he must have thought "what is this effin NPA hack doing at my meeting."?
It is considered quite unusual for a sitting politician to come before the Vancouver Police Board and make a presentation. The last time it happened was back in January 2010 when NDP MLA Jenny Kwan spoke to the Board.
Today's showdown at the Police Board meeting will be quite the media spectacle. That's because it's the first time both Mayor Gregor and his embattled Police Chief Jim Chu will be in the same room since Robertson's Riot. In addition, Chu has placed the topic of the riot on the agenda.
The public meeting starts at 1 pm (Wednesday), but Anton won't likely get an opportunity to question Mayor Gregor until about mid-way through the meeting. Our sources tell us that Anton will not only be pressing the Mayor for some answers regarding riot preparations, but she will also be providing a series of concrete recommendations.
Anton will apparently highlight the fact that unlike an Olympic Games, the odds are in favour of us experiencing another Stanley Cup playoff run in about 10 months. Given the fact we are heading into a civic election this fall, Anton may well be chairing the very Police Board she is presenting to this afternoon.
Over the last several weeks, there have been numerous attempts made to find out just how many police were on the streets the night of Robertson's Riot. To date, Mayor Gregor has refused to divulge that information. However, in the days that followed the mayhem, Robertson admitted he asked Chu for that number, but he refused to provide it to him.
The Mayor's messaging regarding the riot has been all over the map. Initially he blamed the riot on a small group of "hooligans and anarchists." That assertion (a.k.a. spin) was proven to be false. It even led one prominent activist to tell the media that no self-respecting anarchist would wear a Vancouver Canucks jersey to a riot.
Anton's open letter to Robertson also captures a few of the contradictions in the Mayor's statements. Here is an excerpt:
Today, Mr. Mayor, you published a piece in the Vancouver Sun, so it appears you are finally ready to discuss your role in the riots, albeit a very one-sided discussion.
Your opinion piece raises more questions than it answers. For example in the Globe and Mail on June 25, you are quoted as saying: "I didn't know any details. That's how the system is set up. ... I have full confidence in the chief and the chief is responsible for that plan."
Now, in your opinion piece, you say: "I spoke frequently with Chief Jim Chu throughout the playoffs about police preparations, and ensured that everything the VPD asked for in terms of city resources, they received." Which is it, Mr. Mayor?
Today you say there were "well resourced and coordinated plans for the Stanley Cup playoffs downtown, which were constantly adjusted.... A wide range of city departments and stakeholders were involved in the planning of the live sites, liquor store closures and street management." Then you say, "Now we need to rely on an independent review to identify what the shortcomings were."
It may not be the kind of high drama we're witnessing over in Great Britain with the Rupert Murdoch scandal, but today's Police Board meeting may well generate some fireworks.