Last week's 6.3 earthquake did not trigger the crack forming in Vision's coalition
For the last three years Mayor Gregor Robertson and his political caucus have been shouting from the city hall rooftop about how they want to transform Vancouver into a new green oasis. It’s a grand experiment that would have us tending to our chickens in the backyard while replacing our front lawns with mini wheat fields.
One would think all this talk about ‘greening’ the city would have lots of appeal to members of Vancouver’s Green Party. That’s because during the last civic election in 2008 the Greens, COPE and Vision Vancouver locked arms and ran on the same slate.
But despite all the self-generated hype about the Mayor’s green credentials, a considerable number of Vancouver’s environmentalists don’t seem to be impressed. On Tuesday, the Green Party made it official by breaking away from Robertson’s coalition and nominating a set of opposing candidates for the upcoming civic election.
It’s not a decision they took lightly. But after years of being treated like second-rate citizens by Vision Vancouver, they simply had enough.
It’s a decision I’m confident was wholeheartedly endorsed by Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, the party’s only elected official. It’s widely reported the relationship between Mackinnon and his Vision colleagues was less than stellar.
Things turned really sour after the commissioner had the temerity to speak out against Vision Vancouver’s cuts to the Park Board budget. It’s a decision I suspect was the genesis of this political fracture.
This new reality means that Vancouverites will have the option to vote for candidates from four major parties — three of them on the left side of the spectrum. Council candidates from COPE, the Green Party, Vision Vancouver as well as the NPA will now be fighting it out on the campaign trail.
Despite the spin from the Mayor’s office, the loss of this major coalition partner is a big blow to Robertson. That’s because he’s invested a lot of his political capital nurturing the environmental vote in the hope they would be there for him on election day. But I have to ask, if the Green Party isn’t prepared to buy his environmental message, will Vancouver voters?
In a poll conducted by Justason Market Intelligence, 63% of decided voters did not select Vision Vancouver as their top choice. This week’s decision by local environmentalists will only serve to further erode that support.
Vision Vancouver may well have a relatively popular mayor, but I’m still unclear as to whether that directly translates into improved political fortunes for some of their weaker council candidates.