A campaign day Vision Vancouver would rather forget

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Sun front page
Today's Vancouver Sun front page can't give Vision confidence

There are some days in an election campaign when you wake up and think "when is this ever going to be over?" For Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver team, today was one of those.

It all started when they picked up the Globe and Mail this morning and read Webster Award winning columnist Gary Mason's take on the Occupy Vancouver squat. Under the headline "Time is running out for Occupy Vancouver protesters" Mason writes:

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the protesters will soon have to leave, but so far he has not given them a deadline. If he does, it better be far into the future, Mr. Makowski says, because his fellow campers are not going anywhere soon.

Situated in the centre of the city as it is, in full view of thousands of downtown workers and visiting tourists, the Occupy colony is the last thing the mayor needed with an election less than a month away. It has given Mr. Robertson’s opponent, Suzanne Anton, the Non-Partisan Association party’s mayoral candidate, a potentially divisive issue. She is pressing the mayor to give the protesters a firm deadline, and if they ignore it, well, that’s where the police earn their money.

This stand appeals to downtown merchants and conservative-minded citizens from the city’s west side – groups among the NPA’s traditional base of supporters.

But Mr. Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party have a political base of their own to worry about: social progressives of all ages who share the protesters’ concerns on a range of issues. While those voters may not agree with the camp remaining where it is for the long haul, nor would they support members of the Vancouver Police Department moving in waving billy clubs during a dawn raid to clear everyone out.

I think Mason nailed this one on the head. If the Mayor forcibly shuts down the encampment, he runs the risk of destroying the backroom deal Vision Vancouver struck with the "progressives" within the COPE party. That's why he won't take any real action prior to the November 19th civic election.

It's hard to imagine council candidates Tim Louis or Ellen Woodsworth abiding by the "don't criticize clause" if city officials move in to take down the tents. After all, Louis did tell the Georgia Straight that the squatters were "a breath of fresh air" and that he "strongly" supported the movement.

Vision's coalition with COPE would essentially be dead in the water if Robertson tried to take down so much as even one tent. This would surely cause major trouble for Robertson and his team heading into the final days of this campaign.

Speaking of backroom deals, the Mayor finally shed a bit of light on the secret agreement today. However, it may not please those pushing for more transparency and openness in this civic campaign. When questioned by Jeff Lee at the Vancouver Sun about the Vision/COPE backrom deal, Robertson responded by saying:

It's an agreement between the parties and there's some campaign strategy involved and it is none of the NPA's business. They might like to see it, I am sure they would. But they won't.

So there you have it. The secret deal between COPE and Vision Vancouver will forever more remain under lock and key.

If the Mason column wasn't enough to send everyone at Vision HQ into a hissy fit, the front cover of the Vancouver Sun likely did the trick. The headline story was about how much everyone loves Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts...but when it comes to Mayor Robertson - "not so much". The Sun reports:

A new poll suggests Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson doesn't have a lock on the top job in next month's city election.

Fifty-one per cent of 403 Vancouver residents surveyed by Forum Research Inc. disapprove of Robertson's performance, compared to 49 per cent who approve...

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts had a strong approval rating of 68 per cent, with disapproval at just 32 per cent. Fifty-four per cent of respondents said they would vote for Watts, while 46 per cent said they would opt for someone else.

Vancouver's Robertson is one of only four big-city mayors whose approval numbers are exceeded by their disapproval ratings in the poll. The others are Toronto's Rob Ford, Montreal's Gerald Tremblay and Winnipeg's Sam Katz. 

I'm sure that a few Vision campaign strategists must have cringed when they saw both Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Robertson in the same category.

If that banner headline weren't bad enough, the one next to it didn't do much to lift the Mayor's spirits. The story is about how jobs are moving out of Vancouver and into the burbs over the last 10 years.

From 1998 to 2010, the city of Vancouver enjoyed a net increase of 83,267 new residents and 50,973 new homes - but added just 46 new businesses.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, 24 Hours Vancouver reported on the BC Coroner's inquest into the death of three men on Pandora Street last year. If you recall, the City of Vancouver was accused of not doing enough to prevent the tragedy. Something the Mayor has vehemently denied. 24 Hours interviewed Daisy Lavallee, a mother of one of the victims:

"I would like to see my son alive,” said a tearful Daisy Lavallee, Yellowquill’s mother. She said the city should’ve pushed harder to make the home safe in the months before the fire. “There is no need for it to happen again.”

The Occupy Vancouver squat has quickly become "the" issue of the civic campaign. Attempts by Vision Vancouver to switch the dial by revealing new components of their platform are simply not working.

Yet they continue to soldier on as if they don't have to amend their gameplan. That's because as long as Vision's internal polling shows Robertson ahead of the NPA's Suzanne Anton...it will be steady as she goes.

While this approach may serve to get the Mayor elected, it might also have the unintended consquence of turning a number of COPE/Vision candidates into political road kill. This election is getting more interesting by the day!

- Post by Daniel. You can follow us on on Twitter @CityCaucus or you can "like" us on Facebook at facebook.com/citycaucus.


From the Cayo article:

“Indeed, Vancouver's 50,666 business licence numbers in 1998 actually declined slowly and unsteadily until 2007 when they reached their nadir of 46,555. Then they crept back upwards to 50,712 - 0.09 per cent higher than where they started 12 years earlier.”

So after a 9-year slide in the number of businesses (mostly under NPA rule), Robertson entered office in 2008, and in less than 4 years, not only replaced all of the businesses lost over the last decade, but added a few more… and that is a BAD news story for Vision Vancouver? What are you drinking!?! This should be on the front page of his platform!

Pat J, if you noticed in the article, 30 of those businesses could be explained by the food cart program. Hardly a stellar record of job creation.

Everyman, there were 4,157 new businesses created since he started (46,555 -> 50,712). Compared to the 4,111 lost in the 9 years before he took over (50,666 -> 46,555). That is nothing less than a monumental turn-around! How are you blaming Roberstson for the losses before 2007?

anything unusual happen in 2008 besides Gregor taking office?

The bigger question should be, where is the 80,000 increase in population working if there is virtually no increase in jobs during the same period.

We have a problem that will not be solved by more transit. We need to get jobs happening where people live. Inviting the world to come is a crap shoot. Why not do more to grow the businesses and jobs we already have.

It's not rocket science.

You may not like this Julia, but Gregor announced today that new companies moving to Vancouver will get a tax holiday.

Yes, they will essentially pay no taxes. That means all the other businesses in town will be paying more, while a select few companies will reap the rewards. Wanna bet most of them are "green" companies. how fair is that?

I am waiting for more details. Gregor only has control over property tax. You are right... who is picking up the tab for those incentives? If it is existing business/employers - I am going to be a little more than pissed.

I am still trying to understand what a green job is.

So we all agree there was a significant rise in the number of new businesses under "Mayor Moonbeam's" rule, which more than made up for the signficant business losses under the previous NPA leadership?

Pat, there was a Vision/Cope administration in the time period you discuss so please do not assume the NPA is responsible for all the evil in the world.

The restoration of business licenses should not be hailed as a huge success story. Look what happened around Vancouver to see if we kept pace in the recovery. Also look what sort of jobs were created for the 80,000 new residents that moved in to the city. THAT is the issue. We have population growth but no corresponding job growth.

What are we doing to grow our employment opportunities - especially the ones that pay a living wage.

Please don't tell me about green jobs. Future administrations have to protect the existing job stock plus add more. If they are green - all the better. What are we doing in Vancouver to be competitive with neighbouring jurisdictions? Look at our property tax rates for business and you will discover that we aren't doing a whole lot.

Hi Julia

I completely agree that the key is to have local businesses grow local jobs. Depending on inbound investment or tryig to attract head offices is a loser's game. But it is not going to be easy. We need to do a lot (and when I say 'we' I mean each of us as individuals and communities, not the government) to foster and focus innovation, invest locally and grow local capital pools, and to keep the kinds of people that are willing to accept the risks and failures that come along with this. Angel investors will play a huge role. And we need to fix the local VC situation as well. We should put an end to mega developments (like casinos) and focus on development at a scale that local investors can drive.

Daniel, it is nice to have a summary piece now and them, but it makes the comment stream pretty confusing! I hope you will be chunking these issues out in future posts: Occupy Vancouver; polling; business creation, innovation and jobs.

I don't give Alex G. Tsukamis too much weight - he tends to profane incohernece and seems to know zilch about business or economics, but I am curious about his accusations in regards to disent in the NPA campaign. Will CityCaucus be addressing this?

To what extent do people on the same ticket see themselves as running against each other?

@ Pat – I think the numbers in absolution don’t really tell the story. You need to have something to compare them too. When they were in decline, were they above or below other municipalities – i.e. did they stem the bleeding better than other jurisdictions? Conversely, when they added the 0.09% new businesses, was that above or below other areas – i.e. did they grow 0.09% when other areas grew at 5+%. Without that context you can't determine whether the NPA was incompetent or that VV was competent on the business creation front.

The numbers also ignore many other factors like size of the business, new type of business, etc which would have a greater impact on the City. For these reasons, I am guessing that is way VV isn’t trumpeting their own horn on this particular issue.

Steve I agree with you regarding Tsuckumis. He is a bitter and divisive person.

I don't think we want to boost his ego by making him the subect of our discussion. Ok I realize I just violated my own request.

Agree 100%.
Just pointing out that the article implies only a 0.09% increase in businesses during VV's rule, and that is a horrible, partisan peice of cherry-picking of the data. It is a lie.

Similarly, my calling the entire 1998-2007 decline the fault of the NPA is a terrible, partisan cherry-picking of the data. And reeks of Truthiness.

-your equal-oppotunity offender

Yes, but he does sometimes have important points. From time to time it is worthhile sifting through his blog.

Spot on Julia. Who can forget the COPE hysterics that drove Wal-Mart from Vancouver, along with hundreds of jobs.

LOL, I will never forget listening to Ann Roberts trying to grasp the fact that it standard practice for commercial tenants pay rent+ operating costs +property taxes on the buildings they occupy. She thought the city should make triple net leases illegal.


Are you sure that this cost the city hundreds of jobs? Would there have been net job gain or net job loss? Would the jobs gained be at the same level of compensation as those lost? What about multipliers effects, positive or negative. I am pretty sure none of us can know the answers for Vancouver, but there are many jurisdictions where WalMart has caused net job loss, a net decline in economic activity and a transfer of wealth out of the area where the WalMart store was introduced.

Without referring to the UFCW's attack website can you actually provide some evidence that Walmart stores have caused a net loss in jobs? a decline in wage income directly attributable to Walmart? In what communities has this occurred ? What is a negative multiplier? Is their economic/empirical evidence of a negative multiplier? What econometric studies have been performed to show any of what you assert? What is the net difference between a dollar of private investment versus a dollar of government investment/ Where does the government get its money to make public investments? Does that not crowd out private investment?

Looks like Mayor Robertson will be licking his wounds from losing the mayors seat.After his loss he can go to the Denman Island Retreat and pound a drum to get happy.

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