Messages of hope still adorn the side of The Bay downtown
A few weeks ago Vancouver not only experienced a devastating riot in its downtown core, it also witnessed the unofficial kickoff of the 2011 civic election campaign. In the days that followed the mayhem, the political posturing and positioning has been nothing short of intense.
In one corner we have Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Prior to the riot most political pundits, including myself, thought he was a shoo-in to win a second majority government. Today, Gregor and Vision no longer appear to be a sure bet.
The Mayor is now clearly on the defensive and he’s likely hoping all this talk of “Robertson’s Riot” will fade quicker than a Vancouver suntan. However, the fact there are no fewer than five separate riot reviews underway, you can expect to hear a lot about this issue in the months to come.
Meanwhile, the riot has provided the once moribund NPA opposition with a new lease on life. Last week NPA leader Suzanne Anton had the Mayor on the ropes when she tried questioning his role regarding the planning and execution of the massive “Fan Zone” on Georgia Street during Game 7.
After a paltry five minutes of probing, Robertson had enough and simply shut off Anton’s microphone, then moved on to the next agenda item.
Anton clearly smells blood in the water, as she fired yet another missile into the Vision Vancouver armour this week. Tearing a page out of the provincial NDP playbook, she publicly challenged Robertson to a broadcasted debate regarding the riot.
If you recall, BC NDP candidate David Eby garnered tonnes of media attention when he challenged Premier Christy Clark to a town hall debate during the recent by-election. A few days ago the NDP opposition was at it again when their leader challenged the Premier to on-air debate regarding the HST.
If Robertson were to accept Anton’s offer – and it appears that he won’t – it would officially confirm that the “silly season” of political campaigning is already underway. Historically, most civic elections kick into gear only a few weeks out from the vote.
Election Day in Vancouver is a grueling four months away.
When all the ballots are counted on November 19th, my guess is the riot will be the “game changer” that affects the final outcome.