NPA Homecoming Queen: Melissa De Genova

Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight reports that after a brief “fling” with Vision Vancouver, Melissa De Genova has gone home to the NPA to seek a Park Board nomination. Could Al De Genova be far behind?

It’s true that De Genova’s family defected to Vision Vancouver in 2006 after Mayor Sullivan suspended the five-term park commissioner from the NPA caucus.

But De Genova is a real-estate agent, and Vision Vancouver is really the NDP farm team in Vancouver. There aren’t many real-estate agents who support the NDP.

Meanwhile, one of the city’s newest real estate agents, long-time COPE (and NDP) member Aaron Jasper, has made the leap to Vision Vancouver to pursue a nomination for Park Board. Many COPE members will likely be shocked at this “defection,” as Jasper was until very recently a most vociferous critic of Vision Vancouver. His campaign launch event was held at the recently re-opened Nelson Park in the West End.

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It’s not easy pretending to be Green in city politics

With Alan Garr on vacation, Vancouver writer-activist-gadfly Tom Sanborn is contributing a few op-eds in the Vancouver Courier. This week, Sanborn casts doubt on the much heralded “green” credentials of NPA mayoral hopeful Peter Ladner:

NPA mayoral candidate Peter Ladner has created the impression he is a new kind of business friendly and environmentally correct politician, likely to arrive at city meetings on his famous bike and to lard his speeches with enviro pieties. His web page even has a green colour scheme. But…

During the last city election, current mayor Sam Sullivan campaigned on a promise to reduce TransLink fares. Ladner joined Sullivan and his NPA colleague Suzanne Anton on the TransLink board in failing, over the three years that followed, to act on that promise–one that would have promoted more environmentally friendly use of our transit system.

Ladner’s support for the traffic-snarl-engendering big box Canadian Tire store in November 2007 has to be considered, too. The store, it has been estimated, will be responsible for adding up to 7,000 tons of greenhouse gases to our city’s air each year, so the colour to invoke here is an unpleasant car exhaust brown, not environmental green.

To be fair, Vision Vancouver also has a dubious record on some of these fronts. COPE also promised to reduce transit fees when they came in in 2002, but that was a promise that the likes of Larry Campbell and Raymond Louie quickly reversed. At the time, now Park Board commissioner Spencer Herbert was steaming mad at the sell-outs:

As we have seen with the recent fare increase, Campbell and Raymond Louie do not support bus riders and have no problem breaking election promises. Voters and party members were lied to. In the last election, Campbell said that he wanted a city where there would be no throwaway people, where no one would be left behind. These statements are pretty ironic now that starting January 1 even more low-income bus riders will not have the option of using public transit, being thrown away and left behind for a public-private-partnership RAV line.

Anyway, back to 2008: All parties are tailoring their campaign message to the green vote. This will come as no solace to former Green councillor Dr. Fred Bass (the greenest elected official Vancouver has ever had, arguably), who basically was unelected in 2005 because of his support for the Burrard Street Bridge trial bike lanes. In Vancouver, some people’s environmentalism is a mile wide and an inch deep. Let’s see what genuine green policies will turn up in the campaign promises of the NPA, Cope and Vision Vancouver. The municipal Green Party, for its part, seems to have essentially folded itself into Vision Vancouver following the council ambitions of former school trustee Andrea Reimer.

Sustainable city? Let’s send a message in a (banned) bottle

In this election year, rhetoric about sustainability is blowing in the wind. But the answer, my friend, to the question of which west coast North American city is the most sustainable is far from clear.

It turns out that pretty much everybody in California is out in front of Vancouver on the issue of plastic bags. Following a similar move by San Francisco, Malibu and others, the City of Los Angeles will ban plastic bags by July 1, 2010.

Last year, Vision Vancouver councillor Tim Stevenson brought forward a similar proposal (but the now bagged Sam Sullivan and the NPA nixed it), and now Stevenson wants to put a kibosh on bottled water at all city facilities. Peter Ladner, one of two bicycling businessmen with a green reputation running for the mayor’s seat, may just have to support both of these initiatives if voters are to be expected to buy his greenwashing of the old NPA machine.

Let’s hope that Vancouver can catch up to California, and start fazing out this waste.

If these issues fire up your carbon-reducing engine, check out the Council of Canadians, which is publicizing worldwide efforts to ban bottled water, which is probably up there in the top 10 most planet-destroying industries in the world.