Eby Provided Vision Credibility

David Eby’s failed run for a Vision nomination was from the outset a quixotic crusade. Why would a person who works hard for the homeless and those with insecure housing run for a nomination with the party that received the lion’s share of the developer’s loot in the last election cycle? These are the people who, with the municipal government’s sanction, have built no affordable housing over the last 10 years (other than when forced to by council in order to qualify for development permits) and who have driven up property values in this town to the point where no middle income person can afford to move here.

Eby’s candidacy gave Vision something that ad agencies and backroom operatives cannot pull out of their bag of tricks: as an idealistic and passionate reformer, Eby provided Vision with spirit and the appearance of reformism.

On Frances Bula’s essential blog (francesbula.com) one of the defeated Vision nominees for Parks Board, journalist Hadani Ditmars, wrote the following as a ‘comment’:

“I ran for Park Board after receiving a phone call from Raymond Louie while I was in London this summer, writing about Vancouver and Vancouverism for the Guardian and the Globe, encouraging me to run. … (U)nbeknownst to me, the backroom boys had already cooked up a slate well in advance of my phone call from Raymond, I never heard from him again. I like many other candidates, was just part of a political strategy to boost Vision’s power in their negotiations with COPE, among other things.”

Like Ditmars, Eby’s run provides Vision with ‘credibility’ as they continue with their absurd attempt to present themselves as ‘reformers’.

58 West Hastings: Why Won’t Vision Take a Position?

Vision Vancouver has been avoiding taking a position on a key development proposal for the quickly gentrifying Downtown Eastside. Concord Pacific, the largest developer in Vancouver, is proposing a new 160 unit condo development for 58 West Hastings, about a half a block east of the Woodwards development on Hastings. The development will further increase pressures on low income housing in the area, further raise property values in the area, and lead to a new round of displacement of low income tenants from the area.

This development proposal puts in stark perspective the fact that choices around housing essentially involve political decision making. As reported by Frances Bula, at a well attended and passionate development board meeting on the project held in June of 2008, Vancouver’s head of planning, Brent Toderian told the crowd that “Market housing is allowed in this neighbourhood and it’s not the purview of this board to say otherwise”. In reviewing the concerns about the development, a city report, dated May 2008, makes the same point: “Many of the issues raised related to issues broader than this particular development application”. People need to redirect their attention from convenient villains like city bureaucrats and city developers and towards the municipal political parties. Municipal politicians set the rules by which the developers and bureaucrats play, and  concerned citizens need to hold the politicians liable for development in Vancouver.

As expected, the NPA has come out clearly on the proposal, affirming its support of the project. At least we know where they stand. However, Vision Vancouver and COPE have refused to take a position on it. In fact, rather than adding clarity, their statements on the matter cloud their intentions in fog.

In a politically acute and funny piece in the Courier, conservative columnist Mark Hasiuk documented his pursuit of a number of Vision politicians in an attempt to learn Vision’s position on the development. Haksiuk contacted Vision Council members Tim Stevenson, Raymond Louie, George Chow and Heather Deal. Deal did not return his calls. Louie refused comment. Stevenson said that he did not know Vision’s position, but he expected to be able to address the question after a Vision caucus meeting. Chow said he was ‘open to discussion’ regarding the social housing component in the development. Hasiuk also contacted David Eby, who was seeking a Vision nomination at the time (this was prior to his loss). Eby stated he opposed the project as it stood. Eby also said that Vision has no position on the development. (Aside: In another of Frances Bula’s Blog entries, she notes that ‘The company [Concord Pacific] actually had [Vision founding member] Jim Green work on a proposal for the city planning department’). Hasiuk also contacted COPE’s David Cadman, who complained about the NPA’s ‘rush to judgment’, and then complained about lack of community consultation.

Cadman and Chow each exhibit typical small ‘l’ liberal reactions to questions of social justice. Notice how neither gave a straight answer about whether they support or oppose this development. Cadman avoids taking a position on the topic, instead criticizing the NPA and criticizing the city process regarding the development proposal.  Chow embraces the classic liberal rhetoric of a possible ‘win-win’ situation, whereby he implies, but does not state, that perhaps there could be a social housing component to the development.

The proposal is a hot potato for Vision. They need to appear to be working for people with insecure housing, but they also need the funding from the developers, who provided them with the lion’s share of their war chest in the last election. Concord Pacific is the spin off from the greatest real estate scam Vancouver has ever seen, when the ‘free enterprise’ provincial Socred government sold a huge portion of the downtown core for $125 million dollars to Hong Kong plutocrat, Li Ka Shing. Since that time, Concord Pacific has dominated Vancouver development, milking the land acre by acre, development by development. If Vision came out squarely against this market development, or demanded serious social housing concessions in order to approve the development, it would send a message to the whole development community. This could jeopardize their funding base.

So don’t expect a clear statement from Vision on this matter, look for more solemn pronouncements from Vision and from their farm team, COPE using such warm liberal words like ‘community’, ‘process’, ‘consultation’, ‘dialogue’, ‘change’ and other  vacuous jargon.  At least the conservatives, like the NPA, can state things clearly.

Vision Vancouver blocks nomination of David Eby

Lots of interesting results from the big Vision Vancouver nomination meeting today. But the big story is that PIVOT housing activist David Eby finished ninth, 17 votes out of a council nomination. The loss was largely due to the fact that Kerry Jang, Geoff Meggs and Andrea Reimer organized a slate that did not include Eby.

Eby, who turned down an offer to run for COPE on the basis of “electability,” would seem to have grossly overestimated the willingness of Vision Vancouver to take on a candidate with a history of taking on the city’s slumlords and developers. More on the Vision Vancouver nomination coming soon, including a look at the inexplicable selection of Sharon “shotgun” Gregson for school board.

Left eye joins municipal politics media contest!

Readers of this blog are encouraged to check out an innovative contest set-up to help promote independent journalism and civic discussion. Votermedia.org is hosting the Vancouver election blog contest: Check them out today!

Vision – COPE “negotiations” continue

With nominations just over a month away, the ongoing saga between Vision Vancouver and COPE continues. Apparently, talks are taking place.

So far, Vision has said that it will leave spots open for COPE incumbents. On council, that means Coun. David Cadman.

But that won’t satisfy COPE, Ellen Woodsworth, a former city councillor again seeking a COPE nomination for council, said Friday.

“At this point, the decision is to not run a COPE mayoral candidate if we can reach an agreement with Vision,” Woodsworth said.

“But if we can’t reach an agreement, we would run a COPE mayoral candidate.”

In other words, the status quo for the past year and a half at least: COPE is trying to negotiate unity with Vision, Vision is ignoring COPE or offering them table scraps, and COPE is making half-hearted threats to run a mayor if Vision continues to bully them.

The hawks at Vision, and the pundits who love to demonize Tim Louis, would be wise to remember what happened as a result of the Treaty of Versailles after WWI. In case this analogy is unclear: If you can’t stand Tim Louis, then resist the primordial urge to destroy the left and make a respectable peace offer to COPE, otherwise you will find yourselves running against a COPE mayor supported by former councillor Louis.

Gregson shooting for re-election

Sharon Gregson, who made headlines in 2006 for her advocacy of concealed weapons and the elimination of gun control in Canada, is running to get a nomination for re-election to the Vancouver Board of Education.

The school trustee left COPE to join Vision Vancouver earlier this year. Vision Vancouver supporter and pundit Bill Tieleman endorses Gregson, but COPE may well consider this addition by subtraction; the NPA, for their part, must be hoping she gets the nomination so that the general electorate can decide whether having a gun nut in charge of our school children is a good plan for Vancouver.

Liberals blurring NDP Vision for Vancouver

Politics makes for strange bedfellows, but one wonders if the NDP members who make up a good chunk of the base of Vision Vancouver are uncomfortable shacking up with so many federal Liberals.

A number of Vision candidates will be voting for this guy in the upcoming federal election.

A number of Vision candidates will be voting for this guy in the upcoming federal election.

A number of Vision executive members and prospective candidates are leading organizers with Stephane Dion’s party, even with Peter Ladner offering a much more Liberal-friendly face on the NPA than the dethroned Harper Yes Man Sam Sullivan.

First up is veteran Liberal operative Greg Wilson, a supporter of Gregor Robertson and executive member of Vision. Wilson, before being dumped during the campaign, was in fact the 2005 campaign manager… for the NPA! He is better known as a long-time backroom Liberal.

Vision executive member Greg Wilson managed the 2005 NPA campaign.

Vision executive member Greg Wilson managed the 2005 NPA campaign.

And then there are the council candidates stepping forward to compete for a nomination with Vision Vancouver. Among them are a number of long-time NDPers, but also some staunch Liberals.

There’s Catherine Evans, who lost out to MP Joyce Murray for the Liberal nomination to replace Stephen Owen in the recent by-election. And there’s Demetri Douzenis, who at age 30 with little to no municipal issues experience is trying to jump straight into the big leagues, a long-time Canadian Forces reservist who has also served on the Liberals Quadra executive.

I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising, since Vision Vancouver did start out as the Friends of (Liberal Senator) Larry Campbell.

It will, however, be interesting to see how the internal dynamics play out within Vision, especially if there’s a federal election this fall. Meanwhile, no word on whether Vision will be offering any kind of unity deal to COPE, whose executive continues to leave the door open to such an arrangement (while some disgruntled COPE members lose patience with their years-long ordeal). Could it be that the Liberals within Vision are blocking any kind of unity with COPE?