The NPA hope this kind of video will help bridge a six point gap in the polls
With only a few more days left until the Nov 19th civic election, we are down to the final crucial week of campaigning. Vision Vancouver’s spokesperson Ian Baillie went on the six o’clock news last night to indicate his party will be spending unprecedented amounts of cash on advertising this week. Given the fact Baillie has a higher profile than most of Vision’s council candidates, he better hope that investment pays off.
The NPA is also no wallflower when it comes to campaign spending. They have just launched a Take Back Vancouver campaign in an effort to remind voters of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s term in office. They're obviously hoping that reminding taxpayers of Vision Vancouver's record will help to bridge the six point gap between the parties.
Regardless of the advertising blitz this week, I still suspect the illegal Occupy Vancouver squat will end up remaining the focus of the campaign. It’s been over a month now and the pseudo refugee camp which established itself on the front lawn of the Art Gallery a month ago is still going strong.
On Wednesday the court proceedings will resume as the city makes another feeble attempt to remove the illegal tents. But don't expect any kind of ruling from the judge prior to the civic election. There simply isn't enough time for that.
Hence the future of the illegal squat now rests in the hands of Vancouver voters – not the courts. If residents want more dithering and indecision, they should vote for Robertson. If they want someone who says she’ll take the tents down now, they’ll vote for Anton.
What I do find rather amusing is that it’s taken Robertson almost a month before he openly questioned the wisdom of providing the squatters with free city services. In a media scrum, Gregor finally acknowledged that he’s contemplating whether to cut off free electricity to the squat. All I can say in response is…you gotta be kidding me.
If the Mayor were serious about wanting to shut down the illegal encampment he would have cut off the free electricity, water, recycling, garbage pickup etc…city hall has been providing for over four weeks now. These city services not only make it more comfortable for people living in the illegal encampment, they have helped to facilitate its growth. It’s really hard to cut wood pallets with a power saw if you don’t have power.
If you believe Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward, the City didn’t even need to get an injunction to enforce its bylaws. The idea of an injunction was first brought forward by Police Chief Jim Chu at a public briefing in council a couple of weeks ago. He insisted that it was required before his team could go in and enforce the law. As we’ve now seen in London, Ont and Halifax, that clearly is not the case.
I’m not one of those who believe the Mayor actually wanted to shut down the squat prior to the election. I’m convinced getting this mired in the courts is all part of Vision Vancouver’s plan to make it appear like Robertson is doing something, without having to do anything at all. It carries him through the Nov 19th vote without any images on the evening news of cops tearing down tents.
As voters head to the polls on Saturday His Worship can now do what he does best – blame someone else. I can hear Robertson now: “We have to wait for the courts to deal with this. And as we all know the wheels of justice move very slowly. Just look at the Stanley Cup riot.”
Rest assured if Robertson wins on Saturday, the pressure on city hall to get rid of the encampment will evaporate overnight. Armed with a new three-year majority mandate, calls to shut down the power and remove city services will fall on deaf ears.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the encampment there well into 2012 as this whole mess winds its way through the courts. But now that the precedent has been set, once Occupy Vancouver eventually packs up its gear, I am confident another encampment will quickly follow in its footsteps.
On a related note, another poll has come out indicating Robertson maintains a healthy seven point lead over his main rival Suzanne Anton. While these types of polls can be comforting to some Vision Vancouver supporters, they may also have the unintended consequence of putting their supporters to sleep.
The weather forecast for this weekend is looking very damp and cold. If Gregor’s supporters believe they’ve got this one in the bag, they may well just stay home rather than venturing outdoors. Meanwhile, the NPA’s voters are much more motivated in this election than they were back in 2008.
With less than 30% of voters casting ballots and Anton trending upwards, we could see some very interesting results come this Saturday. That is particularly true if the majority of homeowners continue to support the NPA.
In the past, homeowners, west side residents and people with higher levels of education and income have tended to vote in greater numbers than the general voter population. If that’s the case, then the poll results may only be providing us with a partial picture.
So will Occupy Vancouver City Hall on Sunday morning? Will it be Vision Vancouver or the NPA? COPE or the Greens? NSV or some independents? It’s anybody’s guess. But there still might be a few surprises at the squat which could factor in to the whole equation. We’ll all have to wait and see.