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BC Politics

November 15, 2013

Decision 2014: Identifying and Dehumanizing 'The Other'

One year from today, Vancouver will hold its triennial municipal election, Vancouver's 101st election since the City was incorporated in 1886.

In Vancouver — where, unlike any other municipality in British Columbia, our election is held under the auspices of the Vancouver Charter — the citizens of our fair city will elect 10 City Councillors, 7 Park Board Commissioners, and 9 Board of Education Trustees who, from the weeks after the election, will conduct the governance of civic affairs in Canada's third largest city.

And what an election it will be. Unless VanRamblings is off the mark — and we don't believe we are — the 2014 civic election will prove to be the most disputatious election of a generation, as the nine parties seeking office attempt to slam their opponents with the knockout blow that will leave the challenger victorious, holding the reigns of government, or at the very least, the crucial swing votes that will determine Vancouver's future.

Moreso than in any previous election, the nine parties that will compete for your vote, and elected office, will personalize their attacks on the members of the competing parties, identifying their opponents as "the other" ...

The 'Other', VanRamblings would posit, is a member of another political party, who is designated by the 'In' group as not belonging, as being different in some fundamental way. Any political opponent becomes the 'Other'. The municipal political party identifying "the Other(s)" sees itself as the norm and judges those who do not meet that norm as "the Other". Perceived as lacking essential characteristics possessed by the 'In' group, the 'Other' is almost always seen as a lesser or inferior being and is treated accordingly in all pronouncements, and in the conduct of personal and political affairs in the common weal. The 'Other' will often be characterized as lacking, as less intelligent, or as unstable - which is to say, of reduced or challenged mental capacity - as amoral or immoral, and may even be regarded as tantamount to being sub-human.

And thus the tone will be set for the 2014 Vancouver municipal election.

Perhaps VanRamblings could expand on our definition of the 'Other', as we understand it as philosophical concept, and offer brief remedial prescription.

1. The concept of the 'Other' comes from the perspective that makes 'difference' the key focus in analyzing how we understand the world around us - thus the spelling is often capitalized.

2. The 'Other' is nearly always used as a negative term.

3. The myth of the 'Other' in literature, conceived of as 'perilous' and 'strange' or 'abnormal' plays with the concept of the monstrous 'Other'. The concept of the monster helps to prevent those who identify with the main characters — or, in this instance, the proponents on the main political parties — from assuming that they know everything about them, that they are good; that there is, as Nietzsche has written, "dark chaos that sits in man's hearts", as it does in the hearts of the 'Other'.

4. When the 'In' group designates the 'Other', they point out the perceived weaknesses of the 'Other', to make themselves look stronger, better, more able and more capable. Such designation implies a hierarchy, and it often serves to keep power where it already lies.

5. The 'In' group seeks to demonize, marginalize and punish the 'Other', often through heinous discriminatory measures, to eliminate the 'Other'.

VanRamblings would argue we must strive in contemporary society for empathy and understanding, and the melding and blending of groups, in order that the 'Other' will no longer be a phenomena of our current era.

Each party running for office in 2014 will most assuredly identify their opponents as "the other". It is a "if yer not fer us, yr agin us" philosophy of politics, reliant on a dehumanization of individual members of the opposing party, or parties, the political opponent as demon, who means to do ill — and in the case of Vision Vancouver, it will be claimed, has done ill — and should this unacceptable circumstance, and the aberrant individual(s) who currently hold office retain that office, competing party stalwarts will argue the apocalypse will most certainly be upon each and every one of us.

For many, with nine competing parties vying fiftfully for the attention of a disengaged electorate — let us not forget that in 2011 there was only a 34% turnout of eligible voters at the polls, and that only because of the $658,000 Vision Vancouver ad buy in the final five days of the campaign, a "happy face" strategy that brought out 10,000 "new" voters, in an election which resulted in a 4% greater turnout than in 2008, the election which brought Vision Vancouver to power — the 2014 Vancouver civic election will beggar belief in the malevolent tone of candidate political discourse.

Make no mistake, it will be Vision Vancouver and the NPA who, while attempting to knock each other off message, will bear the brunt of vituperative attack, as the only two parties with any conceivable chance of forming government, the "two developer parties" you will be told repeatedly, as if that is necessarily a bad thing — neither of which party, voters will be instructed, deserving of your vote, the panjundrum repeated ad nauseum, until a disgusted electorate tunes out the cacophony of ill will — none of which circumstance serves the public good or the common weal.

The question begs: does it have to be that way, must Vancouver politicians get down into the muck in order to prevail on election day?

Decorum, decency and civility in public life

Stepan Vdovine, Vision Vancouver's Executive Director, would argue not.

In a Letter to the Editor published in this week's Georgia Straight, Stepan writes about the paranoia about Vision Vancouver's "secret agenda" ...

The type of negative attacks we're seeing from failed council candidates, or the Tea Party-like anger of the NPA, is not surprising as we approach the one-year mark to the next election. Mayor Gregor Robertson and the Vision Vancouver-led council have overseen a boom in new rental housing, more social housing being built in Vancouver than ever before, a drop in people sleeping on the streets, and strong action on climate change.

Let's hope the various opposition parties start offering their own policy solutions, rather than more anger and negative attacks on Vision.

Further down the page, VanRamblings weighs in ...

Stepan is, of course, right: decorum, decency and civility in covering - and in - public life would be a net good thing. Since the election of Sam Sullivan in 2005, politics has devolved to a disheartening degree, not helped by Mayor Gregor, in his first term, when he referred to folks like urban geographer Ned Jacobs as a "fucking NPA" hack. Not a lot of civility there.

Stepan is a good guy (c'mon now, he really is).

But the bare fact is that there are a great many Vancouver citizens who have become infuriated with Vision Vancouver, however ably and well Stepan has come to the defense of the party that employs him as its Executive Director.

My fear is that in the coming 12 months, those of us who live in Vancouver will experience the ugliest municipal political campaign of a generation, a campaign where both Vision Vancouver and the NPA (neither of which party is "the devil") will be demonized by their opponents - be they from COPE, NSV, TEAM 2.0, Vancouver First, or the Cedar Party - and that, contrary to what Stepan would wish, we will hear precious little about, "policy solutions, rather than more anger and negative attacks on ..." well, on Vision Vancouver and the NPA.

We live in perilous times. People are frustrated and angry, and don't feel as if they're being listened to; the natural consequence of that is, as Stepan writes, "Tea Party-like anger" ... but directed not just at Vision Vancouver, but at any politico who just doesn't get it.

Vision Vancouver, who've become one of the most tone-deaf civic administrations of a generation, will bear the brunt of that anger, in 2014.

This next year? It ain't gonna be pretty.

Again, the question begs: does it have to be that way?

In a Toronto Star story published earlier in the week, former Ontario Tory leader Bill Davis argued, as VanRamblings does above, that we need more decorum, decency and civility in public life. In the 1970s, Davis built up a formidable campaign team — dubbed the Big Blue Machine — which resulted in a Progressive Conservative government in Ontario that prevailed from 1971 through 1985, with Davis as Premier. How did Davis achieve such a lengthy stay in government? As Martin Regg Cohn's story suggests ...

He governed from the progressive flank of the Progressive Conservative party, positioning it in the middle of Ontario politics and securing its place as the province's natural governing dynasty. And by surrounding himself with savvy, compassionate political aides — cerebral Tories with heart — who helped him keep his ear to the ground while perched in the premier's office from 1971-85.

The consequence? Good government. Progressive government. Government that listened to the people, and acted on their concerns. These days that almost seems like a foreign concept, doesn't it?

In the coming days, weeks and months, VanRamblings will have a great deal to say about each of the political parties that will enter the municipal political electoral fray, next year, in the fight for your vote. As may be determined by our commentary above, we will not support Vision Vancouver's re-election — outside of support for a handful of their Board of Education candidates — and will seek to move our support to the only Vancouver civic party that we believe has any chance whatsoever in dislodging Vision Vancouver — the most arrogant, untoward municipal government since the days of Tom "Terrific" Campbell, in the late 1960s / early 1970s.

In the past month and more, while working with members of the Kitsilano community, in the west side neighbourhood where VanRamblings has resided for more than thirty years, the Save Kits Beach movement has emerged as the civic story of legacy, for our children and their children. That the Non-Partisan Association, the NPA, emerged as the only municipal political party that acknowledged the importance of legacy is, for us, a profound sadness, in the political venture in which we are all going to be involved in the next year, as we head towards the polls on Nov. 15, 2014.

The NPA: a "right wing" party? Maybe in the past, but no more. No, in 2014, the NPA has learned its lesson, recovered from the nastiness that defined the Sam Sullivan administration (not that everything Sam, and his Council, did was "bad" — let's leave aside "Sam's strike" for the moment) — and has once again emerged as a humanist party, a party of parents and children, grandkids and uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers and neighbours, the only municipal political party in Vancouver — apart from Art Phillips' TEAM (The Electors' Action Movement) of the 1970s — that has ever come close to truly representing the middle class, which is where most of us find ourselves. Although COPE continues to fight the good fight for the poor, destitute and vulnerable, fights for truly affordable housing (not that they have the first clue what that means, in practice), and fights for better transit, while Vision Vancouver fights for raw, cynical power, and tell themselves lies each and every day to get through the day, it is the NPA, VanRamblings believes, which best represents the aspirations of the majority of Vancouverites, about which we will provide explanation and expansion in future VanRamblings posts, in the months to come.

Over the course of the coming 12 months, VanRamblings will keep an open mind. We know that TEAM 2.0's Bill McCreery, Mike Andruff and Dave Pasin are decent men, men of character and intelligence. And despite all, we believe as much as we have always believed that COPE's Stuart Parker — one of the brightest, most charismatic politicians of a generation — deserves a place on Vancouver City Council, as we pretty much believe of COPE stalwart Tim Louis, although we are probably among a minority of those who will support him at the polls in 2014, and perhaps more's the pity on that count, because we need a firebrand on Vancouver City Council. Although it is not de rigeur to say so, we like Vancouver First candidate (and he will be) Jesse Johl. And, if Stuart Mackinnon runs for Vancouver City Council, as a Green candidate, he will most decidedly find our favour.

Make no mistake, though, it is the Non-Partisan Association, and the Non-Partisan Association alone that can unseat Vision Vancouver, and remove them from City Hall and Park Board: given that the NPA is the best-funded and most united municipal party entering next year's Vancouver municipal election. And you know what else? The NPA is one of the only municipal political parties comprised of sincere folks of character with — wait for this — actual beating hearts — which is to say, there are great women and men in the NPA who are principled, centrist, have your best interests at heart, and should they run afoul of what it is that you want for your community — after assuming office in 2014 — you will be surprised and pleased to discover that the NPA will prove to be, as has always proved to be the case (save the interregnum of the Sam Sullivan administration, and portions of various eras prior to 1972), the one Vancouver municipal political party that — after six years of unbelievably arrogant government under Vision Vancouver — will actually listen to you, and what is even more important, act on your concerns for your benefit.

What if they don't? (and they will, because as was the case with Bill Davis, the NPA wishes to be the once and forever Vancouver civic party of government), Vancouver voters can depend on our "liberal media" to hold the NPA's feet to the fire, in a manner that has been woefully, disconcertingly, and unacceptably absent this past five years — with the notable exception of Charlie Smith, Carlito Pablo, and the dedicated Georgia Straight journalists who do their very best to keep us informed — which "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" journalistic philosophy will thankfully, and gratefully, once again come to the fore to serve us all.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:31 AM | Permalink | Decision 2014

November 10, 2013

Save Kits Beach: Hadden Park Trio Triumph As Bike Path Halted

The Hadden Park Trio: historian Megan Carvell Davis, lawyer Robert Kasting, and Kitsilano activist, Tina Oliver
Hadden Park trio: Megan Carvell Davis, lawyer Robert Kasting, Kitsilano activist, Tina Oliver

On Monday, November 4, 2013 — the same day as the Special Park Board Meeting, about which we've written previously — lawyer, and former Olympian and renowned and respected administrative barrister Robert Kasting filed a petition, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, asking that the Courts grant his client, historian Megan Carvell Davis, an injunction pending a hearing into the issue of the tenets of the Hadden Park Trust, which Mr. Kasting and his client argue the City / Park Board to be in breach of in imposing a 12-foot-wide bike path through Hadden Park. Here's the precise Bob Kasting to better explain the legal events of the past week ...


Administrative law lawyer Bob Kasting explains legal events of the week, re: Hadden Park

As Kitsilano resident and Save Kits Beach activist Tina Oliver wrote in the Press Release that was issued on Friday ...

The land on which Hadden Park sits was bequeathed to the City by Mr. Harvey Hadden in 1928, with the stipulation that Vancouver City and Park Board "shall keep the property as near as possible in its present state of nature, it being the desire of the grantor that those using the park shall, as far as reasonably be, enjoy the same in its natural state and condition."

In recent weeks, neighbourhood residents and other concerned citizens from across the Lower Mainland have held rallies protesting the section of the bike lane that would run through Hadden Park. Ms. Carvell Davis argues that this City-approved bike path is in direct contravention of Mr. Hadden's wishes when he deeded the park to be used as natural parkland.

The City is Court-ordered to halt any construction of the bike lane through Hadden Park until the Court addresses Ms. Carvell Davis' Petition. The date of the trial is yet to be determined.

As Ms. Carvell Davis states, "Harvey Hadden smiles upon us today: he would be pleased to know the park he bequeathed, for all citizens, for all time, has been protected."

Now for some more good news. As the Vancouver Sun's Jeff Lee writes in a story published on Saturday and headlined, Vancouver park board shelves Kits Beach bike path in wake of lawsuit, "The Vancouver park board has shelved a $2.2 million plan to separate bike lanes through Kitsilano parks."

Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes confirmed Friday afternoon that the entire project, from the Vancouver Maritime Museum through to the other side of Kitsilano Pool has been temporarily halted as a result of a citizen-backed lawsuit over one portion of the route.

"We're putting the whole thing on hold because we're being sued and we need to be respectful of the process," she said.

The Hadden Park Trust hearing likely won't occur til sometime in June 2014.

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VanRamblings believes that the section of the Seaside Greenway bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks will never be built.

At present, we are almost exactly one full year away from the next Vancouver municipal election. By June 2014, all of Vancouver's municipal parties will have selected their candidates for office in Vancouver's 2014 election. Vision Vancouver will hold their nominating meeting in June 2014, the same month the Hadden Park Trust issue goes to Court. The Justice who hears the matter will likely take time to reserve judgement on the issues respecting Hadden Park that have been placed before her or him.

Whatever decision is rendered by the courts respecting Hadden Park, Vision Vancouver will not order construction to commence immediately upon judgement, should the City prevail in the Courts — Hadden Park is simply too much of a hot-button issue. While construction of the remaining sections of the Seaside Greenway (completion set for 2017) continues, Vision will likely order construction of the parks portion of the Greenway halted until 2015, "pending extensive consultation with the public."

Despite the information being fed to the sitting Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners that Strategic Communications (Stratcom) polling continues to show a convincing majority win for the party at all levels, VanRamblings believes that Vision Park Board Commissioners will be thrown out of office en masse on election night, Saturday, November 15, 2014.

As little as a 5000 vote loss by Vision Vancouver in 2014, at Council and Park Board, and a consequent gain by the Non-Partisan Association, would reverse the party standings, and result in a near-majority NPA government following the November 15th, 2014 Vancouver municipal election.

From the furore over the Langara Golf Course, to the potential foreshore destroying 30-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path Vision attempted to impose in the area between Kitsilano and Jericho beaches, from Vision Park Board Commissioners' refusal to support the construction of a Killarney Seniors Centre, to the continue hubbub over the dispute, and attempted hostile takeover, involving Vancouver's community centres, in the past two and one-half years, in all the years VanRamblings has covered Park Board matters, never have we witnessed a Park Board regarded in lower repute than the current Vision Vancouver-dominated Vancouver Park Board.

Make no mistake, the current Vision Park Board is far and away, and by any reasonable measure, the worst elected Park Board in the 125-year storied history of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. In 2014, the electorate will gleefully throw the bums out — an entirely deserving fate for the most tone deaf, anti-park Park Board to ever hold office in Vancouver.

And make no mistake, either, the Non-Partisan Association (NPA), or the New Progressive Association, the party of the purple revolution, are well-prepared to take a majority position on, if not sweep, Park Board in 2014. At present, there are 19 candidates vying for an NPA Park Board nomination, led by incumbents Melissa DeGenova and John Coupar — two of the most community-minded park advocates it has been VanRamblings' pleasure to witness in our 40+ year coverage of Park Board.

VanRamblings is aware of an active "Draft Christopher Richardson movement" — former NPA Park Board Commissioner, current Mount Pleasant Community Centre Chairperson, and one of the finest people you could ever want to meet — as a Park Board candidate, and a "Draft Sandy Sharma" movement, as well — she ran with the NPA for a Vancouver Board of Education Trustee position in 2011 — both of these individuals incredibly bright, compassionate, non-partisan and democrats of the first order.

In addition to Coupar, DeGenova, Richardson and Sharma, there's another prominent, and well-loved Indo-Canadian candidate, a woman, as well as an organizer with the Save Kits Beach movement, who are being hotly pursued by the NPA. Should the NPA take power at Park Board in 2014, citizens will not witness the sort of arrogant, bullying and entirely anti-democratic style of decision-making that has defined the Vision Vancouver Park Board approach to governance at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

With a majority NPA Park Board in place, the Hadden + Kitsilano Beach bike freeway parks portion of the Seaside Greenway will not proceed.

And what of COPE, you ask — you mean the party of "There are no parks issues, there are only development issues"? You have to ask yourself, why would the Vancouver electorate vote for another group of "we know what's good for you, and we're going to shove it down your throat" Stalinist miscreants to take the place of the current crop of former COPE members, now Vision Vancouver Park Commissioners? Without the voices of former, celebrated COPE Park Board Commissioner Loretta Woodcock running for elected office, or former Park Board Chair Anita Romaniuk, or even former Park Board Commissioner Tim Louis, in the mix to run for COPE Parks in 2014, COPE does not stand a chance in hell of electing a single soul to Park Board in 2014 — which is, we would suggest to you, as it should be.

In 2014, the Green Party will likely run one candidate for Park Board — whoever that candidate might be (and it won't be former Green Party Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, who will be running for a Council seat, along with incumbent Adriane Carr — who has been perversely silent on the Save Kits Beach issue, lo these many weeks — in 2014). As for the "other parties": TEAM 2.0 will not run candidates for Park Board — the same is true for the upstart Cedar Party, Vancouver First, Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver, De-Growth, and the Work Less Party.


GlobalBC Noon News: Hadden Park bike lane put on hold. November 8, 2013

Park Board General Manager Malcolm Bromley — one of the voices of reason in the whole Save Kits Beach schmozzle, and a candidate to replace Dr. Penny Ballem as City Manager, when she is seconded to Translink to become its new CEO, in 2015 — informed Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey Friday morning that the Special Advisory Committee on the Hadden and Kits Beach parks bike route "would be placed on hold pending the outcome of the Court action brought by Ms. Carvell Davis."

Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey has issued this statement ...

Lawsuits tend to pop up when our civic leaders do not do proper due diligence, or try to ram ill-advised initiatives through without proper planning or proper public consultation. In the case of Hadden and Kits Beach parks, a tremendous resentment has been built up, as the City's "accepted bike route" was 'intrusively' rammed through an already delicate balance of recreational / user groups at Kitsilano Beach. Forcing cycling via a 12-foot-wide asphalt roadway 'inside' an already busy park, a bike highway that could be nothing other than the riskiest of park use activities — in a park well-used by Frisbee players, for family picnics, volleyball, tennis, basketball and other activities, into the relatively harmonious state that we enjoy now — is wrong, plain wrong.

Cyclists are welcome to cycle along the nearby roadway, where they can enjoy a great seaside view and experience. Everyone can 'win-win'.

Until the Courts determine the outcome of Megan Carvell Davis' lawsuit, as the Chair of the Canada One Athletic Foundation, I will remain active on issues that impact on park user enjoyment of Kitsilano Beach. While the Park Board Special Advisory Committee is 'on hold', along with the exceptional group of people I have worked as part of Save Kits Beach, collectively and working together we will remain vigilant in our work to preserve green space at Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks.

As Howard, and others, pointed out to VanRamblings over the past 24 hours, "the fight is not over."


GlobalBC NewsHour, 6pm: Hadden Park bike lane put on hold. November 8, 2013

The past month organizing with Save Kits Beach has proved to be one of the finest examples of grassroots movement politics we've witnessed, or been a part of, in the past 40+ years of community organizing activities.

Filmmaker / activist, Laurence Keane posted the following on Facebook ...

A BIG high-five to our friends at Vision Vancouver, this was way more fun than last summer's block party!

Vision dumped a surprise community project in our laps and challenged us to work together. And we did, we made a great team full of amazing, passionate individuals with so many disparate talents. It's been a pleasure working with all of you remarkable guys and gals!

VanRamblings would like to pay tribute to Save Kits Beach folks ...

  • Howard Kelsey. The key media spokesperson for, and de facto leader of, Save Kits Beach, a tough, organized, hard-working guy, a former Olympian (his work ethic and dedication to task shone through each hour of every day), not a political animal — but an affable man who, through character and determination, pulled a group of concerned citizens together over the past month to rescue Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks from the back hoes and assorted construction activities that would have imposed a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway right through the middle of these two beautiful waterfront parks.

  • Elvira Lount. Absolutely tireless, and like Howard, full of energy, whenever and wherever there was an event to be organized, Elvira could be counted on. Her Keep Kits Beach Wild Facebook page, as well as her own Facebook account, was day in, day out, the 'go to' to place for information on Save Kits Beach. Elvira's photography is simply exquisite (there's yet another example at the top, and end, of today's post), her computer design skills exemplary, hers a fine mind of unparalleled creative talent and ability, her demeanour calm always. Elvira is at all times warmly engaging and inspiringly enthusiastic — and her addresses to our exhausted Park Board Commissioners, researched and reasoned in their line of unassailable argument.

  • David Fine and Laurence Keane. David won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short for Bob's Birthday. When days were looking darkest, David's brilliant short, Kits Bike Path - The Movie, injected needed humour, perspective, wit, and a warm attention to the issues that we were doing our best to articulate to the public.

    Laurence was the unofficial cinematographer of the Save Kits Beach movement, that's his Utopia Pictures videos of all Save Kits Beach events over the past month, online, on social media, and on VanRamblings. We're grateful to you for all your fine work, Laurence.

  • The anonymous individual who drew the accurate bike path lanes through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks — you are owed a debt of gratitude from all of us in the Save Kits Beach movement, and all those who value of our parks and green space.

  • Megan Carvell Davis, Tina Oliver and Bob Kasting. It was Hadden Park historian Megan Carvell Davis whose idea it was to bring suit against Park Board and the City of Vancouver to halt construction of the paved bike path through Hadden Park. Thanks to Megan's unparalleled knowledge and insight into Hadden Park history, with the help of Bob and Tina, the imposition of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through Hadden Park was stopped in its tracks.

    Bob Kasting. Bronze medal winner in swimming, in the 4x100m Medley Relay, at the 1972 Summer Olympics, in Munich, and multiple medal winner at the Empire, and the British, games, Bob came on board, not as the legal counsel for Save Kits Beach, but rather for Megan Carvell Davis. The respect Bob has garnered in the legal community, and a style of presentation of argument (as can be seen in the video near the top of this post) that is both devastating in its peerless internal logic and presentation, and a wonderment to behold, has carried the day for all of us who care passionately about our parks, our green spaces as oases of tranquility amidst the hurly burly of our daily lives.

  • John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova. Prior to the October 7th Park Board meeting, it was John Coupar who first raised the issue of concern with Howard Kelsey, and with the media, respecting the paved bike path through Hadden and Kits Beach parks — in respect of the dark decision-making at Park Board (par for the course for Vision Vancouver) that imposed a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path through the parks, sans consultation and public outreach.

    The Save Kits Beach movement was born October 9th. John has been present at each activity conducted by Save Kits Beach, and has spoken out publically to anyone who would listen, about the travesty that would occur should a paved bike route through the parks be imposed. John's father was a horticulturalist, and as a consequence he emerged in his adult life as an advocate for parks and horticulture.

    Working to save the Bloedel Conservatory situated in Queen Elizabeth Park, between the 2008 and 2011 election, when it appeared that Park Board was going to sacrifice the Bloedel Conservatory to the altar of "fiscal responsibility" (and in the process destroy / desecrate an iconic feature of the Vancouver landscape) was what ended up bringing John into politics, although he's far from what most of us would consider a politician to be. In fact, where many of those in the political realm are driven by expediency that is not the case with John — if you look up the word integrity in the dictionary, John's picture accompanies the definition. Over the past two years, John Coupar has gained the respect of everyone whose path he crosses — including the Vision Park Board Commissioners; it is quite simply an impossibility to not like and admire John Coupar. We in Vancouver are fortunate to have John as an elected representative, as an ardent, articulate advocate for parks.

    John conducts the best research of the two NPA Commissioners, and finds his way to putting on the Park Board table a reasoned, coherent, and unassailable argument (doesn't mean his Vision colleagues don't ignore him — they do, and call him names in the process, all the while impeaching his integrity, character, reputation and good name, to the extent that John has to, consistently, take his Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner colleagues to task, and even then they ignore him, as if being a person of integrity is something to be scorned).

    Melissa DeGenova, on the other hand, is one tough cookie — it is Melissa who consistently holds Vision's feet to the fire, and is present to support and encourage every initiative that her NPA Park Board Commissioner colleague John Coupar undertakes. Melissa is the 'politician' of the two NPA Park Board Commissioners — she knows procedure, she's quick on her feet, and despite the worst, most abusive treatment directed toward her by her Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner colleagues [we're talking 'bout you, Aaron Jasper, Niki Sharma, Constance Barnes, Trevor Loke, and — less often, but often enough — Park Board Chair, Sarah Blyth] — that VanRamblings has ever had the misfortune to witness in the political arena, at any level of government - when most of us would be running home to cry to our moms - Melissa consistently gives as good as she gets, and time and again she bests her woefully inept, mean-spirited, and terribly bullying Visionless Park Board Commissioner colleagues.

    This past Monday, November 4th, Melissa outdid herself. Melissa's address to her Park Board colleagues — and to the approximately 100 members of the public who were present just as the vote was to be taken on John Coupar's motion calling for "transparency of process" in the determination of a final route for parks portion of the Seaside Greenway — was, quite simply, the single most moving evocation of community spirit and commitment to democratic engagement at the Park Board table that we have ever heard voiced and been witness to; we were, all of us who were in attendance, in awe.

  • Sandra Thomas, Jeff Lee, Jennifer Palma, and all the media. Without the inveterate coverage of the Save Kits Beach movement by Sandra Thomas in The Vancouver Courier — whose writing on parks issues, as has long been the case, is incisive every time, and without peer — and Vancouver Sun municipal affairs reporter, Jeff Lee — the finest writer on municipal affairs of a generation (the citizens of Vancouver must remain grateful every day that Jeff did not take 'early retirement' — particularly now that a Vancouver municipal election is looming in the next year) — not to mention, the indefatigable Jennifer Palma, at Global BC, whose command of the core Save Kits Beach issues, Park Board and City governance amazed, and whose humanity and intelligence shines through in all of her reports on Save Kits Beach.

    And let us not forget, Steve Bohus and Randy Helten at CityHallWatch, who were the first in the media to jump on the Save Kits Beach issues and report out, and Sam Cooper at The Province who wrote to deadline with a keen intelligence and precise understanding of the Save Kits Beach issues, and Charlie Smith and Yolanda Cole, at The Straight — the 'go to' place to read about what's going on in our City. And to award-winning producer and host of The Rush on Shaw TV, Fiona Forbes, who has stood with Save Kits Beach since day one.

    And lest we forget, freelance writer Bob Mackin, the hardest-working 'holding the pols feet to the fire' / 'no fear, no favour' muckraking journalist to emerge on Vancouver's 'often too polite' Vancouver media scene in years and years, whose 'down and dirty' — and always relevant — local coverage of parks and civic issues is without peer.

    As well as, the news department of our public broadcaster, the CBC; the production team at CBC Radio One's The Early Edition, and host Rick Cluff, and to all those in the media who assisted those of us involved in the Save Kits Beach movement to inform Metro Vancouver residents in order that they might better understand what was at risk contingent to the issues Save Kits Beach sought to bring to the fore — the loss of Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks as places for families to gather, for folks to play tennis, basketball and volleyball, sit in peace under the maple trees on the north end of Kits Beach, or picnic with their families, or to sit on one of the memorial benches placed along Hadden Park, in order that we might gaze in wonderment across Burrard Inlet, to the mountains, English Bay and the ever-burgeoning towers of the West End — to recognize what we were at risk of losing should a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike freeway be constructed within the midst of two waterfront parks of unsurpassed beauty.

    Those of us involved in the Save Kits Beach movement will remain grateful always for the coverage by Vancouver media that informed and enlightened, and allowed Save Kits Beach to get our message out to all among us who love Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks.

  • To Randey Brophey, who has won accolades in the community and online, for taking the fight for the preservation of Kits Beach and Hadden parks to the Park Board Commissioners, a man of clear conscience and integrity, with the support of everyone who knows him, and everyone who comes to know him.

    To Maria Coehlo, who emerged as one of the keynote speakers at the Sunday, October 20th Save Kits Beach rally, and the first person to bring to light the safety issues that would impact on park users - and, most particularly, small children - should the paved bike freeway be imposed by the City.

    To Lynne Kent, who played a pivotal role in the Kits Point Residents Association, who when she's not working with the Save Kits Beach folks, fulfills her role as President of the Executive Committee of the Board of YWCA Canada. Somehow in her busy schedule, no matter the time day or night, Lynne was on her computer sending out and responding to e-mails, her reasoning on every issue impeccable, her voice at the October 20th rally, clarion. In addition, Lynne introduced Megan Carvell Jones to Tina Oliver, who in turn introduced Megan to Robert Kasting — the rest is, of course, history.

    Adam Smith played a pivotal role, as well, not only as a member of the Kits Point Residents Association, but in large measure as the 'communications' / social media / rally the troops guy, the person who worked most closely with Lynne Kent, and in some measure, one of the individuals who was the glue that held us all together.

    And to Jason Johns, parent and Kits resident, who spoke out November 7th at Park Board, and has worked with Save Kits Beach every step of the way, as has Don Shaw, Bill Hooker, Mike Lount, Julian Phipps, Gloria Sully, Grant Vanderhoek, we hope-the-soon-to-be NPA candidate for Mayor, Ian Robertson, Colleen Hardwick (migawd, Colleen, those early videos of Hadden and Kits Beach parks), Garry Chalk, Ken Leung, and far too many more names than we have space to mention in this blog post — each of whom has made a contribution of tremendous import to the Save Kits Beach movement that has, now, stopped the parks portion of the Seaside Greenway dead in its tracks.

  • And to all those who commented frequently on Facebook, wrote letters, attended the rallies and media events, encouraged all of us whose lives were overtaken by work on the Save Kits Beach movement, to Anita Sigur, Catherine Welsh, Pauline Maden, Ricardo Zborovszky, Chris Cross, Roni Jones, Jane Burkart, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Stuart Mackinnon, Connie McGinley, and oh so many more, thank you, thank you for your support — we couldn't have done it without you.

If you've not signed Margaret Partridge's petition, we would ask that you do so now, and tell your friends about what's been going on between the Vision Vancouver-dominated Park Board, and our beautiful Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, and ask them please to sign the petition.


Hadden Park Injunction Press Conference. Courtesy of Elvira Lount. November. 9, 2013


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:34 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

November 7, 2013

Save Kits Beach: The Battle to Preserve Park Space Continues

At the outset of Monday evening's Vancouver Park Board meeting, scheduled for 6pm, with Park Board Vice-Chair Aaron Jasper at the head of the table, there were not enough Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners present for the necessary quorum. Over the course of the hour until quorum was present, at 7pm, Mr. Jasper adjourned the meeting.


Vancouver Park Board Commissioner John Coupar on CBC's Early Edition. Nov. 4 2013.

During the course of that hour, Aaron "done deal" Jasper approached Save Kits Beach organizer Howard Kelsey to inform him that his mind, and that of his fellow Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners were already made up. Further, Jasper told Kelsey that the Special Meeting that had been ordered convened by Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova — in order that the community might provide input into the membership of, and terms of reference for, an already sanctioned Park Board Special Advisory Committee on the Hadden and Kits Beach portion of the Seaside Greenway bike route — would prove to be a frustrating "exercise in futility," would accomplish nothing, that the Visionless Park Board Commissioners would proceed as they had always intended, and under no circumstance would Park Board relinquish, or cede, control to a Special Advisory Committee respecting the determination of the final parks bike route.


Save Kits Beach rally. Vancouver Park Board Commissioners, John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova, addressing the crowd. Video, courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 20, 2013

Four hours after the Special Park Board meeting was convened that is exactly what happened. One Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner after another, led by Mr. Jasper, and followed by Constance Barnes and Trevor Loke, and finally Niki Sharma (the beleaguered Commissioner chosen to Chair the Special Meeting) - who was all but mute on the subject of the defeat of Commissioner Coupar's motion - voted lock step against a motion calling for a fair, open and transparent process for the determination of a bike route through, or around, Hadden and Kits Beach parks.


Raymond Tomlin, on behalf of COPE, speaks out against Hadden + Kits Beach portion of the Seaside Greenway. Video courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 20 2013

Update: On Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, Megan Carvell Davis launched a B.C. Supreme Court action, applying for an injunction to stop construction of the Hadden Park portion of the Seaside Greenway. On Friday, November 8, 2013, the Supreme Court of British Columbia granted injunctive relief to Ms. Carvell Davis. For now, the City of Vancouver may not proceed with the Hadden Park portion of the Seaside Greenway. Work will be halted.

Please find the Press Release on the matter below.

Hadden Park Press Release, Nov 8 2013

As stated in The Province newspaper story the day after the meeting ...

The Vancouver Park Board voted against a motion to give "claws or teeth" to a promised advisory group on the controversial Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks bike lane.

Speaker Elvira Lount questioned why Park Board was going ahead with its request for proposals deadline of Tuesday when the advisory group, which is expected to be up and running by mid-November, has not yet been formed. "How can (potential bidders on the bike route) budget for something that has not been determined?" she asked the board.

The manner of approach Vision Vancouver chooses to the business of the people? In the dark, with no transparency, spun to make themselves look good, anti-democratic, arrogant and bullying — and, let's face it, just downright infuriating for the hundreds of irate citizens who have turned up meeting after Park Board meeting this past couple of years, only to be dismissed and ignored by the Vision Vancouver members of Park Board.

Gregor Robertson announces it's his intention to hive off 1/3 of the Langara Golf Course for "affordable condominums", Langara residents turn out to protect their green space, and Vision Park Board Commissioners order a "metrics report." With much fanfare, in the summer of 2012, Gregor Robertson announces Vision will build a 30-foot-wide bike path / pedestrian seawall from Kitsilano thru Jericho beaches, along the last piece of pristine foreshore. The response of our nature-loving Vision Park Board Commissioners, "Hey, what a great idea. Birds, wildlife? Nope, it's bikes that matter to us." Fortunately, B.C. Common Law, and the legal concept of riparian rights prevented Vision from acting on their 'off the cuff' plans — there'll be no foreshore-destroying seawall bike path anytime soon, or ever.


Click on the photos above for added pithy commentary, or comment yourself on Facebook. Please click here for additional photos of Monday night's meeting, courtesy of David Fine.

Of course, Aaron Jasper's and Vision's rationale for defeating John Coupar's reasonable motion was, as Randey Brophy writes in a Letter to the Editor to The Province newspaper Thursday, "a complete misrepresentation" ...

Contrary to Vision Vancouver Park Board Vice-Chairman Aaron Jasper's comments after the meeting, there was no overriding power proposed for the advisory group over the city's decisions or policies. What was proposed was that "the advisory group formed will fully review the Seaside Greenway route (Kits Beach / Hadden Park portion) and report back to the Park Board with their recommendation for any changes."

The 'proposed overriding power' of the advisory group, as stated by Mr. Jasper, was not proposed — it was completely made up by Jasper at the end of the meeting, to a chorus of disbelieving questions and boos from the vast majority of the audience ...

Consulting with and listening to recommendations from the affected taxpaying electorate, as opposed to those made by unelected but taxpayer-funded bike lobby groups, is something Vision Vancouver is, once again, demonstrably incapable of doing.

C'mon back mid-Saturday for additional content and insight into the continuing struggle — a struggle that beggars belief, given that our Park Board Commissioners have as their mandate, and are supposed to protect and enhance our parks — towards the preservation of green space, and a Seaside Greenway bike route that will prove safe for cyclists, and all recreational users of our beloved Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks.


Photos of Monday, Nov. 4th's Park Board meeting. Courtesy of Elvira Lount. Nov. 4 2013


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:14 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

November 4, 2013

Save Kits Beach: The Fight to Preserve Park Space Heats Up


Kits Bike Path - The Movie. A movie by, and courtesy of, Oscar-winning director David Fine

The past two weeks in the life of the Save Kits Beach Coalition have proved eventful. Given all that is going on, and all that is planned, today promises to be a watershed day in the fight to bring a modicum of common sense to the issue of a waterfront cycling path through, or around, Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks, amidst an assurance that the the public might still avail themselves of what the parks have to offer — all within the context of preserving what is left of Vancouver's ever-diminishing green space.

This past week, Park Board Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa DeGenova called on Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth to hold a "Special Meeting on Kits Beach Park", at 6pm tonight in the hour prior to the commencement of the regularly-scheduled Park Board meeting, in order that "key community stakeholders" might be provided an opportunity to address the Board, to articulate to all the Commissioners their concerns respecting the Kitsilano Seaside Greenway Upgrade proposal, approved at Park Board's October 7th meeting. As of Friday, Nov. 1, Ms. Blyth rejected the proposal.

Late Sunday, in an interview with Park Board Commissioner John Coupar, VanRamblings was advised that a legal opinion had been received by Coupar and Commissioner Melissa DeGenova, that legal opinion stating that ...

"Under the Vancouver charter, any two Park Board Commissioners may call a Special Meeting of the Board," said Coupar. "When proper application was made to the Chair that a Special Meeting be held, the Board was compelled to hold that meeting. Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth advised us (Commissioners DeGenova and Coupar) that a quorum for a 6pm meeting would not be possible, thus the application was refused. The legal opinion we received, advised that the Board Chair could not pre-suppose a lack of quorum, and therefore the Special Meeting must be held. A Special Meeting of the Board we will held, Nov. 4th, at 6pm."

Tonight, at 6 p.m., then, at the Park Board offices located at 2099 Beach Avenue, near the Stanley Park tennis courts, and opposite the north shore of English Bay, the requested Special Meeting of the Board has been ordered, and will be held. Park Board meeting co-ordinator Pat Boomhower will accept requests to speak til noon. Ms. Boomhower may be contacted by phone, at 604.257.8453, or by e-mail at Pat Boomhower (click on the link).


Park Board Commissioners John Coupar and an intransigent Constance Barnes, in an interview with host Rick Cluff, on CBC's Early Edition, this morning. November 4, 2013

VanRamblings will provide live coverage of the meeting on our @raytomlin Twitter feed, also available top right of VanRamblings' home page.

This past Thursday, Park Board Chair Blyth issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on the parks portion (Kits Beach north end "bikeway freeway" here) of the Seaside Greenway approved on July 29th. On the Save Kits Beach Facebook page, Kitsilano resident Elvira Lount raised a conflict concern that the consultant hired by Park Board to draft the final parks portion of the Seaside Greenway bike route proposal was also a bidder on the construction of the bike path. Ms. Lount went on to express consternation that, given the context of the RFP, the City-approved Seaside Greenway bike route seemed all but a "done deal", negating any alternative proposals the Special Advisory Committee — struck to provide input into the final determination of a bike route — might forward to Park Board for approval.

Please find below the full text of Ms. Lount's Facebook post on the matter.

"(Park Board General Manager) Malcolm Bromley has said that the Park Board is in the process of hiring a design consultant as per the RFP that was posted (on the Save Kits Beach Facebook page). This consultant will be hired by the 2nd week of November. Details for creating the Advisory Panel will be finalized by mid-November. A final, detailed design is to be completed in January, 2014, with construction of the new parks portion of the bike route to begin in February. The problem? The Consultant hired represents / is part of the same company that will do the actual work, and therefore has an inherent conflict of interest. How likely is it that s/he will go for the cheapest and best solution — putting the bike lane on the road? Also, how can these consultants bid on the job outlined in the Request for Proposal, if this route is only 'preliminary'? They will obviously bidding on the job as outlined in the RFP."

VanRamblings has in our possession a letter from a British Columbia cycling advocacy organization that argues against the City-approved parks portion of the Seaside Greenway, laying out the reasons why, and offering suggestion as to a green space saving Hadden and Kitsilano Beach park alternative bike route, approved and preferred by its members. At present, there's an embargo on release of the letter. Following a press conference later today, VanRamblings will make the letter available to our readers.

Update: Please find below, the letter from Richard Wooles, Executive Director of Cycling BC, to Howard Kelsey — an organizer of the Save Kits Beach Coalition — respecting Cycling BC's opposition to a paved bike route through Hadden and Kits Beach parks.

Richard Wooles, Cycling BC, letter re: Kits Beach Cycle Lanes, Nov 2nd 2013

Update: On Monday evening, Megan Carvell-Davis, a longtime Kits Point resident, informed Park Board Commissioners that she had, earlier in the day, filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court against the Park Board and the City of Vancouver to stop construction plans for the 12-foot-wide paved lane, alleging the bike pathway is in breach of a trust established when Hadden Park was bequeathed to the city of Vancouver in 1928.

"The trust stipulates the Park Board maintain the property as near as possible in its present state of nature," Ms. Carvell-Davis states in the petition, and that "the Park Board has no authority to breach the terms of the Hadden Trust by permitting the creation of public transportation corridor through Haddon Park."

Here''s are most of the pages of the civil Court Action.

Megan Carvell-Davis vs City of Vancouver

Oasis of serenity, Kitsilano Beach. Photo by Duke Lang
Oasis of serenity. Kitsilano Beach park. Photo, courtesy of Duke Lang. October 30, 2013

While we attempt to secure the entire Court document, to post, we would ask that if you haven't signed the Save Kits Beach Coalition petition, that you consider doing so now, that you tell your extended family, your friends, your neighbours and your colleagues about the petition, that you post share the petition on your Facebook page, and a link to the petition on your Twitter account, if you've got one (and you oughta, believe me!).

On Friday, November 1st, The Province newspaper published a column by Vancouver teacher and former Green Party Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, titled "Is asphalt the new green in Vision's Vancouver?", in which he writes ...

For a party that promotes itself as green, it appears to have a great affection for concrete and asphalt. Vision Vancouver seems to view our parks as some sort of "land bank" that they can make withdrawals from whenever they feel like it. In fact, our parks and beaches are a legacy left to us by our parents and grandparents and held in trust by us for our children and their children in perpetuity."

Mr. Mackinnon's clarion voice rings as true today as it did during his three-year term on Park Board, when he was subject to constant attack of the most unsavoury kind by Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners.

As Elvira Lount wrote online recently, "We will not be bullied into silence."


Save Kits Beach Coalition's Howard Kelsey conducts a Media Walking Tour of the "accepted bike route", the 12-foot-wide, raised blacktop bike lane approved by the Vancouver Park Board on October 7, 2013. Video, courtesy of Elvira Lount. October 27, 2013


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:31 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

November 2, 2013

Salmon Confidential: Dying Salmon, Destruction of an Ecosystem

About two-thirds of the way through Twyla Roscovich's maddeningly compelling documentary, activist marine biologist Alexandra Morton and a few cohorts with whom she works on the study of the impact of salmon farming on Canadian wild salmon, enter the Real Canadian Superstore at Rupert Street and Grandview Highway, in Vancouver.

The scientific foray into the community involves purchasing all the salmon available at the store, in order that their purchase might be shipped to a laboratory in Europe, and another on the east coast, to test for the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) virus, and other pathogens.

The result? Suffice to say that anyone who watches that particular sequence in Roscovich's provocative documentary film — available above in today's VanRamblings post — will never eat farmed salmon ever again.

Here's Ian Bailey's Globe and Mail review of Salmon Confidential ...

This feisty and provocative film is spoiling-for-a-fight cinema. Someday there will be a new feature-length documentary reconciling both sides of the debate over the environmental costs of farming salmon in B.C. For now, there's this compelling work which tilts sharply towards the wild-salmon side. Director Twyla Roscovich's visually alluring film spotlights activist biologist Alexandra Morton as she finds B.C. salmon in the wild showing European viruses that Ms. Morton links to fish farms on the coast. Federal and industry representatives declined to sit for interviews, Ms. Roscovich has said. Still, the film serves as a forceful primer on an ongoing debate that some viewers, especially those in urban areas, may now just be catching up on. Let the debate begin after the end credits.

Hey, it's The Globe and Mail — you expected an evisceration of the role of both the provincial and federal governments for their failure to act to protect wild salmon, or the health of Canadians? Not the world we live in.

Alexander Morton, in a scene from Twyla Roscovich's Salmon Confidential

Greg Ursic, in The Ubyssey, says about the film "Salmon Confidential is thoroughly researched, informative and so infuriating that you'll want to throw something at the screen." Jason Coleman, at Star Pulse, agrees with VanRamblings, when he writes ...

You will never eat farmed fish for the rest of your life after viewing this. A must-see, especially for British Columbians known for world-renowned Sockeye, Salmon Confidential is a corker of a doc. It's staggering and eye-opening to see how the business of B.C.'s natural resources and food has been tainted by government and how puppet scientists have given up their objectivity simply to kowtow to (corrupt) governments. This is the GMO monster in a different form and here the monster kills by passing on poisons and infection that are a recipe for extinction of a foundational salmon species. An important film right on par with The Cove impact-wise, Salmon Confidential is an important don't miss it experience for all who care to listen. — 5/5 stars

Meanwhile, while our intransigent senior governments take a do nothing approach to the destruction of B.C.'s wild salmon industry, Norwegian authorities have recently ordered that some two million sea-lice infested farmed salmon in the Vikna district of Nord Trondelag be slaughtered with immediate effect after becoming resistant to chemical treatments against the sea-lice parasite. Actor Ted Danson and Andrew Sharpless, CEO at Oceana, the largest international conservation organization fully dedicated to protecting the oceans, have published a paper stating, and backing up, their contention that "farmed salmon are not a sustainable alternative."

Enough? Whether you're concerned for your health, wish to gain more insight into the "controversy" involving farmed salmon, or are simply interested in watching a provocative, compelling, and incredibly well-made and watchable documentary film, we would encourage you to screen Salmon Confidential — take our word for it, you won't be sorry you did.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:06 AM | Permalink | Environment

October 31, 2013

Political Trolling: The Fine Art of Obfuscation and Harassment

Political Trolling: The Fine Art of Obfuscation and Harassment

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of VanRamblings' involvement in the recent Save Kits Beach organizing activities — setting aside for a moment the anti-democratic intransigence of our elected Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners — revolves around the visceral, unwarranted, near constant, utterly ludicrous, and often hurtful engagement that has come as an unfortunate consequence, and politically expedient by-product, of good people attempting to bring some degree of transparency and democratic engagement to an issue — the bike path route through Hadden + Kits Beach parks — that Vision Vancouver would rather we allow be kept hidden in the shadows, along the margins of civic debate, and as far away from those who elected Vision Vancouver to govern on their behalf, as possible.

We are, of course, referring to — as the title of this post suggests — the fine art of political trolling, in service of the obfuscation of an issue, and the outright harassment of proponents of one side of a democratic debate, so as not just to marginalize those who would wish to bring out into the open for public consideration the decisions that were taken behind closed doors, but even more to devastate emotionally those who would deign to question the "good" (read: poor) judgement of our "political betters".

In 2013, our Vision Vancouver municipal government has brought the art of politics in Vancouver to a new, previously unimagined level of degradation.

Political Trolling: The Fine Art of Obfuscation and Harassment

Trolls divert online discussions into non-productive, off-topic venues.

Political trolls, in this instance, pose as part of a community — i.e. those concerned about a park destroying blacktop bike path through Hadden + Kits Beach parks, advocating only to disrupt it. Trolling is, not to put too fine a point on it, anti-social behaviour of the first order, as damaging to democratic engagement as any activity that you might consider.

Here's how Internet technologist Howard Fosdick defines trolling, as he suggests for your consideration just a few of the withering techniques online trolls employ to accomplish their obfuscatory objectives ...

  • Pithy put-downs, too clever by half, designed to cause outrage

  • Name-calling, insults and hurtful personal attack of every description

  • Ad hominem attacks that attempt to negate an opinion by alleging negatives about the person supporting it, anihalating the individual

  • Impugning the integrity and motives of those on the side that is contrary to the position that is being enunciated by the troll

  • Aggressive, coercive, intimidating, harassing, bullying behaviour

  • Posting off-topic material that makes absolutely no sense, & finally ...

  • Posting inaccurate, so-called "facts", often ludicrously misdirectful, maddening material designed to infuriate rather than inform

Filmmaker and 42-year Kitsilano resident, and creator of the Keep Kits Beach Wild Facebook page, Elvira Lount — an identifiable proponent of keeping Kitsilano Beach and Hadden parks in their natural state — has emerged over the past three weeks as an outspoken advocate for a Park Board reconsideration of the environmentally devastating, unsafe, and unpopular green space and park destroying Kitsilano asphalt bike route.

Ms. Lount has borne the brunt of almost hourly, withering attacks on her Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as online in any number of forums.

VanRamblings would direct your attention to ...

  • Scout magazine. Douglas Haddow's frothing at the mouth, ageist and altogether off-putting take down of anyone involved in attempting to bring some degree of reason to the implementation of a west side bike route through, beside or around Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks. Fortunately, in the article's comments section, Ms. Lount manages to give as good as she gets, but migawd one obfuscatory argument after another is raised requiring response. Enough to make one's blood boil.

  • The Courier, October 15th. Take particular note of ACMEsalesrep and paid bike lobbyist / Visionite Richard Campbell's maddening commentary, and the reasoned responses the commentary generates, responses ignored by the trolls as they plunge on ahead.

  • The Courier, October 18th. ACMEsalesrep, someone named Anna — who writes, "As a biker who is petrified to cruise on the road with cars (rightfully so!) I fully support this bike path" [VanRamblings' response, "as if anyone who rides a bike could avoid the road! What planet do these people live on?] — and Richard Campbell are at it again.

  • Twitter. Vancouver library web guy James Gemmill engaged in a heated Twitter "debate" with several Save Kits Beach proponents, offering this picture as response to commentators, as if the posting of such a ludicrous picture in support of tearing up green space adds anything of value to the reasoned debate over the best bike route through or around Hadden + Kits Beach parks. Earlier this week, VanRamblings was engaged in a Twitter dialogue with People Are Spicy's Kim, who offers, "more cyclists is very good for the environment, and with the finished seawall plans; tourism. grass is very resource heavy." Huh?

Of course, Facebook comes into the mix, as well, as a place for trolls to harass and harangue proponents of democratic engagement in the decision-making on a west side parks bike route. Articles covering the debate on an acceptable west side parks bike route — in the Vancouver Sun, The Straight, The Province, Metro Vancouver, 24 Hours, or any other online media — are targets and forums for the political trolls to misdirect, misinform, and otherwise advocate for a Vision Vancouver style of faux consultation and unilateral, destructive political decision-making.

Dispiriting is all one can say in response to such cynical conduct.

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Over the course of the past five years, several different credible sources have reported to VanRamblings that Vision Vancouver attack dog Marcella Munro — one of the most unpleasant Visionites you'll ever hear on radio attacking any hint of opposition to Vision Vancouver — oversees a squad of up to 20 "team members" whose sole job it is to monitor online media, and comment on any online story, Facebook, Twitter or blog post so as to deride commentary negative to Vision Vancouver's interests.

The suggestion has been made that Ms. Munro's employment with the Earnscliffe Strategy Group — a prestigious lobbying "public affairs" company — is simply a front for Ms. Munro's activities "lobbying" for Vision Vancouver, that her boss, Bruce Young — a longtime NPA insider — given the way the political winds blow on the municipal political scene, "sanctions" (but just barely) Ms. Munro's activities, her salary paid "indirectly" from Vision coffers, rather than directly from the Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

Further, VanRamblings has been told that Vision has placed its trolling operatives in city-paid jobs, or in jobs in the non-profit sector that are funded in part by the City, and in greater measure by Vision Vancouver financial backers. In Vision Vancouver's world, as in the world of all big league politics, money talks, and cynical, self-serving conduct reigns.

As we've written previously, where most other Vancouver municipal parties play some form of the gang who couldn't shoot straight, or let's see who can shoot who in the foot, Vision Vancouver moves like a powerhouse. These are folks who know what they're doin', and they're going to do. Not necessarily for us, of course, but for their supporters (developers, the Hollyhock/Tides gang), and by extension, one must grant, for themselves.

To be fair, the political trolling of the new millennium is simply an updated, more sophisticated approach to the Socred's Letters to the Editor scandal of the 1980s, where the government of the day paid party staff to flood newspapers across the province with letters to the editor deriding opposition opinion, and supporting government initiatives, on a range of hot-button issues. That Vision Vancouver has refined the cynical art of political trolling for a new age of online engagement is simply more of the same utterly corrupt and unethical conduct that has defined a particularly cynical approach to politics, dedicated solely to maintenance of power.

Make no mistake, the federal Conservatives are engaged in similarly disruptive conduct, although if the truth be told, the folks on the Vision Vancouver team of miscreants make Stephen Harper's befuddled Conservatives look like Sunday school teachers when its comes to spinning the debate in favour of imposing perspective on legislative initiatives.

The difference in 2013, as opposed to 20 and 30 years ago: no one in the media calls out our governing political parties on their unethical trolling conduct. Rather, it's simply seen cynically as the way "one plays the game."

VanRamblings is here to say that the work Vision Vancouver's well-funded trolling literary "hit squad" engage in each and every day does a disservice to our citizenry, and the notion of what it means to live in a democracy.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:03 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

October 27, 2013

The Save Kits Beach Now Coalition Issues Backgrounder Document

As of this writing, more than 1,000 concerned citizens have signed the Save Kits Beach Now coalition petition expressing their dismay at the recent decision taken by Vancouver City Council, and Park Board, to "tear up family park green space in favour of a 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path."

If you haven't signed the petition, please do so now.

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On Sunday morning, Save Kits Beach Now coalition organizer Howard Kelsey led a media tour thru Kits Beach & Hadden parks, outlining the concerns of those who have rallied to defend North America's most highly-related beach park. Courtesy, Global BC. Oct. 27, 2013

This beautifully sunny Sunday morning, Save Kits Beach Now coalition organizer, Howard Kelsey, led Vancouver media — and a handful of concerned citizens who have expressed outrage at the decision taken by Vancouver City Council, and Park Board, to impose a 12-foot-wide, high-speed blacktop bike path amidst the trees, memorial areas, native lands, and picnic areas in both Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks.

Vancouver-based filmmakers Elvira Lount and Laurence Keane were on hand to record the event, and take photos — when the photos, and video, are made available, VanRamblings will publish that material on this page, as we will media video reports made available through Sunday's evening news.


On Sunday morning, Save Kits Beach Now coalition organizer Howard Kelsey led a media tour thru Kits Beach & Hadden parks, outlining the concerns of those who have rallied to defend North America's most highly-related beach park. Courtesy, Global BC, 6pm. Oct. 27, 2013

This past Tuesday, October 23rd, VanRamblings received a call from a source with ties to senior engineering and transportation staff working within Vancouver City Hall. This source related to us that the City / Vision Vancouver had made a decision to push ahead with the approved Hadden + Kits Beach portions of the Seaside Greenway bike paths, despite the issuance of a Press Release from Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth the previous Friday, October 19th, agreeing to strike a Special Advisory Committee of the Board that would give voice to community member concern, and provide a vehicle for community input into the determination of the final route for the much-maligned park section of the Seaside Greenway bike route. This source asked VanRamblings to contact Colleen Hardwick to advise her of such, but as Ms. Hardwick is out of the country, such contact was for nought. Not to mention, VanRamblings could not believe Vision would override the decision of their Park Board Commissioners, and interfere with the democratic process in such a callous, calculated manner.

North end, Kitsilano Beach, blacktop bike path graphical projection
Graphic projection of north-end Kitsilano Beach portion of bike path. Courtesy, David Fine.

On Sunday, October 27th, during the course of the Howard Kelsey-led Media Advisory Kits Beach-Hadden Park walk-through, a senior government official in attendance approached VanRamblings to appraise us, independently, of information confirming the above-planned course of action, with the City moving forward on construction of the approved Hadden + Kits Beach park-destroying bike freeway as early as this week.

Perhaps VanRamblings is naive, but quite simply we cannot believe that a municipal government — even one as tone deaf as Vision Vancouver, with just a bit over 12 months to go til an election — would deign to move ahead with a bike path project that has so raised the ire, indignation and opposition of such a broad swath of the multi-ethnic, demographically diverse, and varied community interests groups, all of whom have come together to oppose the imposition of a 12-foot-wide blacktop bike highway amidst two of Vancouver's, and North America's, most beloved parks.

Apparently, realizing the potential for a scenario such as the one described above, Save Kits Beach Now organizers have set about this week to develop a plan of action in support of those who've come together in opposition to the current approved City plan for a bike route that would hug the foreshore along Hadden + Kits Beach parks, that would forestall any such, or related, eventuality as described in the two paragraphs above.

One has to ask oneself, does the City care so little for the interests of its citizenry? Do Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners Constance Barnes and Trevor Loke — both of whom were present at the successful, well-attended Sunday, October 20th rally — have so little regard for the voices of the hundreds who came out to rally and stand in opposition to the imposition of the Park Board-approved Hadden + Kits Beach park bike path? Does the democratic input of the almost 1000 signatories to the Change.org petition opposing the asphalt bike path not matter a wit?

Has our Vision Vancouver-dominated city government become so cynical and out-of-touch with the electorate, are they so self-assured (one might even say, deluded) about their prospects for overwhelming electoral victory at the polls in 2014 that orders would be given through the office of the City Manager, Dr. Penny Ballem, to move ahead on bike path construction through Hadden + Kits Beach parks, on a bike path route so widely considered to be contrary to the interests of not just those who are residents of Kitsilano, but also the many tens of thousands of visitors from across Metro Vancouver, B.C. and Canada, from every corner of our vast globe, who visit Kitsilano and Hadden parks to wonder at the magnificence of these two Vancouver west-side parks of unsurpassed, majestic beauty?

While it is true that the strength of the Vision Vancouver political machine — a well-disciplined municipal political organization with an uncommonly coherent focus on power at all costs — knowing no equal in the history of Canadian municipal governance (we've almost become the Chicago of the north, no wonder Sadhu Johnson from Richard Daley's administration came to work under Dr. Penny Ballem), ready to mount an incredibly well-funded, virtually unassailable electoral campaign in 2014 amidst a confused, disorganized, unfocused, and internally-divided opposition, even given all that, is electoral victory in 2014 so much a foregone conclusion, does Vision Vancouver believe that only 30% of those eligible to vote in next year's election will bother to turn up at the polls, while their core union-bike lobby base of support will turn up at the polls lock step, and that no matter what bone-headed moves Vision Vancouver pulls over the course of the next 12 months, a flashy, latter campaign $658,000 five-day suppertime newshour media happy face ad buy blitz will, in 2014, catapult Vision to its third consecutive majority term of government? Apparently so, it would seem.

And more's the pity for all the democrats among us, on that count.


Slideshow. Sunday morning, Save Kits Beach Now Media Tour walk-through of Kits Beach & Hadden parks, on the Park Board-approved bike route. Courtesy, Elvira Lount. Oct. 27, 2013

David Fine has created a brief, poignant (some would even say, anger inducing) blacktop bike path projection photo essay that details the Park Board-approved route through Hadden and Kits Beach parks. Please click on the link.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:17 PM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

October 22, 2013

Park Board: Coverage of Sunday, Oct. 20th's Save Kits Beach Rally


Slideshow. Save Kits Beach rally. Photos courtesy of Elvira Lount. Sunday, October 20, 2013

As much as the ne'er-do-wells and naïfs in Vision Vancouver wanted the bike lane controversy on Vancouver's west side to go away, as much as the rally at Kitsilano Beach — protesting the planned for, done deal, decided upon without consultation, "hell, we're not going to reverse our decision", and wholly detestable bike freeway through Hadden and Kits Beach parks, two parks of unsurpassed beauty — was a non-consideration for Vancouver's Park Board, despite the cynical belief system that informs the arrogant "we know what's best for you" — and one would have to say corrupt, if one were being truly honest — political machine at City Hall and Park Board, on this overcast Sunday afternoon, up to 800 citizens, tried and true, turned out to do something that one would hazard a guess most of those present on this chilly afternoon had either never done before, nor had done since the halcyon days of their youth: protest.


Kits Point Residents' Lynne Kent. Save Kits Beach rally. Courtesy, Elvira Lount. Oct. 20, 2013


Concerned parent Maria Coelho, Save Kits Beach rally. Courtesy, Elvira Lount. Oct. 20, 2013

Yes, there we were speechifying, clapping, booing Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes "off the stage" (we've had enough of Constance, who's not a bad person, but by God, she's a Visionite), those of us gathered on Sunday at Kitsilano Beach making it perfectly clear that we've had enough of the likes of the disingenuous Vision types who keep telling us ad nauseum that they know what's good for us — because, don'tcha know, we the citizens are too stupid to know what's good for us ... hell, if we had any wit or intelligence, we'd be Park Board Commissioners or City Councillors, but we're not, and they are, so why don't we just shut up!

Well, there was no shutting us up on Sunday afternoon.


Ray Tomlin. Excerpt of Save Kits Beach speech. Courtesy, Paul Tolnai. Oct. 20, 2013
That is Park Board Commissioner Constance Barnes whispering to Commissioner Trevor Loke

CBC may be reporting that "the park board says it isn't backing down," but clearly whoever wrote their online story wasn't present on Sunday, because come hell or high water, the 800 folks who'd arrived at Kits Beach at noon Sunday would hear no talk of a bike freeway through their beloved parks.

Sure, there were shills and bike lobbylists — oh say, the likes of Chris Keam — extolling the virtues of the "bike path", but bought-and-paid-for Vision hacks were not going to carry the day — and will not carry that day — when it comes to the destruction of Hadden and Kits Beach parks.

Note should be made that a goodly number of those present on Sunday were cyclists (as is this writer), that we frequently cycle around and through Hadden and Kits Beach parks — you can watch, again, Colleen Hardwick's fine video for insight into the quiet residential street that those of us cycling for pleasure, or cycling home from downtown, take each and every day, or at least frequently. Those of us gathered on Sunday very much desire a separated bike path, but for heaven's sake, not a bike freeway through the middle of the grassy, treed areas of Hadden and Kits Beach parks.

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At Monday evening's Park Board meeting, there were 100 irate folks telling Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioners where to shove it, when quisling Commissioner Aaron Jasper made a last-minute "strike and replace" amendment to Commissioner Melissa De Genova's motion to advise Vancouver City Council that they must direct future developer community amenity contributions for the purpose of the construction of a long overdue and much-needed seniors centre in the Killarney neighbourhood.

Jasper's watered down amendment would simply ask Council to, please oh please oh please, ask senior levels of government in Victoria and Ottawa to fund what Vancouver should damn well be requiring Vancouver developers to build. But Vision, of course, is in the pocket of developers (gosh, can we say that ... hmmm, I think we just did), and we wouldn't want to hurt Vision's developers stream of financial sustenance that allows Vancouver's greenwashing party to continue to screw us now, would we?

Coverage of Monday night's Park Board meeting is available @raytomlin, VanRamblings' twitter feed, that if you're not following it now, you oughta. And, if you're not on Twitter, just let me say this, "Get on it".


CBC TV. Coverage of Sunday's Save Kits Beach rally. October 20, 2013

Now, we raise the issue of Monday night's disquieting Park Board meeting because, although there were 100 Killarney seniors, and their friends and family, who turned up to support Melissa De Genova's entirely ethical motion, if Vision Vancouver's Park Board attempts to stack the Special Advisory Committee that's been established by Park Board to provide community input into the final route the — it's only fair to say, absolutely unnecessary — Hadden / Kits Beach bike path will take, there won't be 100 irate citizens turning up at the Park Board offices off English Bay, there'll be hundreds, and hundreds more outside on the manicured lawns.

Civil disobedience, it's a wonderful thing.

The hundreds of righteous folks who turned up at Kits Beach on Sunday — counterintuitive radicals — made it abundantly clear, they'd had enough.

You take the 100 seniors in Killarney, and the irate neighbours in Grandview Woodlands, the folks over in Langara who were threatened by Mayor Gregor Robertson and Park Board with taking away their beloved green space, the Langara Golf Course, and you add hundreds of other concerned citizens in another dozen neighbourhoods across the city, and you combine their number with the hundreds of folks who came out to protest at Kitsilano Beach, and you've got yourself a revolution, a grassroots uprising of folks who say in clear voice and good conscience, Enough is Enough.

And this isn't going to be any COPE-led movement or revolution (will they ever get it together?), and the genesis of the movement certainly won't be coming from the NPA — although it could, cuz it'd be a middle-class revolution, and as the NPA is repositioning itself as part of the Naheed Nenshi purple revolution, the New Progressive Association, you just never know, the NPA — if it plays its cards right, could push — no, let's say throw — the Vision Vancouver scoundrels out of City Hall and Park Board.

We don't include the Vision Vancouver-led Board of Education here, because Patti Bacchus and company are a gift of our landscape.


Global TV. Coverage of Sunday's Save Kits Beach rally. October 20, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013.

Mark it on your calendar. There's a revolution coming to Vancouver politics.

Hell, it might even be a Howard Kelsey-led revolution — you know those basketball types, they've got their eye on the ball (so to speak). And VanRamblings, we'd like to offer our name up as a candidate for Park Board. But for which party? Yes, that Tomlin fella introduced himself as the COPE guy, but really, COPE seems to think it has bigger fish to fry than parks — talk about a party that doesn't understand revolution, I tell ya.

Yep, it's a whole new ballgame out there.

Let's see who emerges as a community leader in the coming weeks and months to defeat the most despicable Vancouver municipal party since the days of "freeway, you wanna freeway, well, I got a freeway for you" Tom 'Terrific' Campbell. Could be a COPE gal, could be some community-oriented NPA folks. Whoever it is, they're going to have to be well-funded, strong of character and backbone, and ready to face one of the meanest, most corrupt — and, best organized — municipal parties Canada has ever seen.

Make no mistake, though, a change, it's a comin'.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 5:09 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

October 17, 2013

Park Board: Paving Paradise to Construct an Asphalt Bike Path

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A rally to protest the imposition of a 12-foot-wide, paved bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks will take place at NOON, this Sunday, October 20th, at Kitsilano Beach, in the area between the palm trees, adjacent to the Boathouse restaurant. Please read the post below for background information on the rally, and protest. We'll see you there.

In July of this year, Vancouver City Council approved a bike-friendly corridorcolloquially titled the Seaside Greenway — stretching from the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge through to Jericho Park, the process achieving a critical component of a much-sought-after Vancouver bike road network.

That the Seaside Greenway plan lacked substantive detail, and was bereft of any suggestion of insight into the possible environmental impacts of the newly-approved, extended, bike route corridor stretching along Vancouver's pristine west side waterfront, that the approved plan called for a bike route along York Avenue that almost every one of the more than 100 speakers who addressed Council opposed, that details of a proposed bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks was utterly lacking in transparent disclosure — exorcising a goodly portion of a concerned populace — mattered not, at least for the moment, anyway.

Summer beckoned, the sun shone as it had not before, family vacations were in the offing, and the warming, sandy beaches of the west side made their siren call. The silly season had overtaken us; there was time enough down the line to consider the full implications of the decision taken by Vancouver City Council to introduce their much-desired Seaside Greenway.

Initial construction of Vancouver's Cornwall Avenue - Point Grey Road Seaside Greenway commenced in early September with engineering changes to the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge, and the implementation of a T-intersection — the full implications of which we're just going to have to wait to see, in practice — that will serve, all at once, to restrict vehicle access to Cornwall, prioritize and enable easier bike access, and direct most bridge traffic south along Burrard Street to Fourth Avenue, and Broadway.

Residents Oppose Paved Bike Route That Will Scar Westside Parks


Global TV. Residents speak out against 12-foot-wide paved Kits Beach bike path

Approximately two weeks ago — on Monday, October 7th — a Vision Vancouver-dominated Park Board approved $2.2 million in new bike paths along Vancouver's westside waterfront, in support of Vancouver City Council's Seaside Greenway "Point Grey-Cornwall Active Transportation Corridor". Included in the approved plan were "improvements" to Hadden & Kitsilano Beach parks — an initiative that would result in the destruction of a portion of Vancouver's natural environment, in favour of the building of an egregious 12-foot-wide asphalt bike path that would serve to all but destroy the natural beauty of two of Kitsilano's most beloved parks.

In today's VanRamblings' post, we'll attempt to present a broad cross-section of opinion on the proposed Hadden / Kitsilano Beach park bike route — from concerned neighbours, the media, Vision Vancouver and NPA Park Board Commissioners, and others — and hope to inform you of the very important issues at play in the decision taken by Vancouver Park Board on October 7th that many believe will permanently destroy a tranquil setting of natural beauty along Vancouver's Burrard Inlet oceanfront.

This coming Sunday, October 20th, at noon, in front of Kitsilano Beach's Boathouse restaurant — in the area nearest the palm trees — concerned citizens will rally to demand that the Vancouver Park Board reverse their decision approving a plan for Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks that will ...

  • Eliminate much-needed green space, and

  • Create serious new safety hazards for families, children, pedestrians, and non-cyclists who would seek to enjoy the natural beauty of the two parks

Organizers of the rally suggest that "an improper consultation process — including a lack of public engagement, advisement, consultation, public signage, and public meetings with key stakeholders" invalidates the decision taken by Park Board to approve the new 12-foot-wide, paved bike path through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks. Organizers further take umbrage with the City's unparalleled rush to construction, and point out to Park Board Commissioners that the leader of the BC Cycling Association supports an alternative bike route, adjacent to the nearby roadway.

Vancouver Courier columnist Sandra Thomas reports that the "Kits Beach bike path is a done deal", quoting Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Aaron Jasper thusly ...

"To be clear," said Jasper, "this decision will not be reversed."

In The Courier article, Thomas reports KitsFest co-founder and two time Olympian Howard Kelsey disagreeing that the public consultation was thorough, noting that many stakeholders affected by the proposed bike path were in attendance at a special ceremony on September 29th for the official Park Board opening of 10 recently-renovated Kitsilano Beach tennis courts, quoting Kelsey as saying ...

"We were right there and no one said a word to any of us," said Kelsey, who chairs Canada One Athletic Foundation and is executive vice-president of Canada Basketball. "We were completely blindsided."

Commenting on the Save Kits Beach Facebook page, Vancouver resident Anita Sigur writes ...

Now they've gone too far.

Slicing up the best and most untouched part of the park in order to put in a twelve foot paved bike path is absolute madness. How does cutting out the heart of this beautiful park serve to "green" the city?

The hill at the north end of Kits Beach Park is a paradise for picnickers. In a recent newspaper article (Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner) Constance Barnes called it a "dormant" area. Really?! If she meant a perfect spot to catch a summer nap, then I'd wholeheartedly agree. On my frequent walks there in the spring and summer I am always greeted with the sight of many contented couples and families hanging out there, making a day of it. It is the ideal spot to enjoy breathtaking views, a cool sea breeze, and some much needed shade from the enormous maple trees.

This place that they want to pave over is the destination that rewards those who walk, cycle, or arrive at the park in their cars. If you're in a hurry to cycle some place else, I suggest you take the road. Parks are for slowing down in and drinking in their beauty. The proposed bike path not only takes away a 12-foot-wide wide swath of valuable park space, but vast amounts of park space around it that will be avoided by dog walkers, people with children, and those who don't find it at all relaxing sitting next to what will be, in effect, a bike freeway."

Vancouver resident Colleen Hardwick has prepared the following video ...

Meanwhile, Vancouver Sun columnist Pete McMartin attributes elitist motives to those who will rally to protest the imposition of a paved bike route through the middle of two of Vancouver's most beloved parks. McMartin writes that the west side protest represents ...

"... a disturbing trend that might be demographic in nature; or it might be a symptom of the growing gulf between the haves and have-nots in the city. But it's shrill, and it betrays a panic that has entered the public discourse."

A very fine, a humane, writer, with all due respect to Mr. McMartin, very rarely does he get it as wrong as he gets it here. When he writes, "And whatever its route, a bike lane running through a park is not an issue." No? Has he not watched the video above, nor personally tracked the route (someone has clearly marked the proposed bike path with chalk), as VanRamblings did this past Monday? Does he honestly believe that the faux consulting that the Vision Vancouver-dominated City Council and Park Board have engaged in (a bought-and-paid-for-by-Vision online survey — this is 'big city' politics of the worst kind we're talking here) truly represents the opinions of the hundreds and thousands of cyclists who traverse the route around and through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks? If so, there may be a bridge he's interested in that we could sell him for cheap.

Vancouver's 'rant king', the blustery Bruce Allen, weighed in Wednesday, in his daily commentary on CKNW, taking a stand against the proposed bike route through the parks — we feel as if we're falling down the rabbit hole here, perplexed that McMartin is taking the wrong side of the issue, while the generally frenzied Allen finds himself on the side of the angels ...

On Monday, October 14th, Vancouver Sun reporter Brian Morton wrote the following story, titled "Kitsilano Beach bike route plan draws fire from critics", quoting Kitsilano resident James Goodman ...

"I don't object to a separated bike lane," said local resident James Goodman on Monday. "But to go right through a picnic area is ridiculous when they can easily follow the park boundary around it."

"There wasn't enough consultation, but there's also not enough common sense," added Goodman. "This is the one area of the park that's heavily used."

Morton also quotes Howard Kelsey, Executive VP, Basketball Canada ...

"We are quite strongly shocked to see this and we knew nothing about this until last Monday," said Kelsey, who said he represents about 3,000 basketball, tennis and beach volleyball users. "This just came out of the middle of nowhere because it was so stealthily managed. We are just so disappointed.

"We would be remiss to let them pave a 12-foot swath for a bike highway parallel to Arbutus Avenue through a highly-used recreational area beside the basketball courts that we donated and the children's play area that Rick Hansen donated," added Kelsey, noting that 23 parking spaces in a parking lot would also be taken away in a crowded area "where those spots are worth gold in the summer."

Kelsey said he proposed a meeting with the Park Board on Wednesday, but hadn't heard back. For all that, according to the Vancouver Sun, the opposition to the Hadden/Kits Beach park bike route is gaining momentum.

Howard Kelsey

On Wednesday morning Kelsey, and Kits Point Residents Association's Lynne Kent, appeared on Bill Good's CKNW talk show to express concern about the imposition of an unnecessary paved bike path through Hadden and Kits Beach parks. Click this link to hear what they had to say.

Update, Saturday morning: Howard Kelsey appeared with Jill Bennett on CKNW. Click on the audio file below to hear their discussion.




Vancouver Courier 'Central Park' columnist, Sandra Thomas, in a front page story published in Friday, October 18th's Courier, has written a well-researched, balanced story, titled, "Vancouver bike path critics ready to fight, Rally against Kits bikeway planned for Sunday," quoting the concerns of park users on the planned paved bike route. Well worth a read.

The Province newspaper has weighed in on the bike path controversy ...

"You know what Vancouver needs? A lot less partisan politics at city hall. While some other large B.C. communities have municipal parties, and the ideological debates that can bring, nowhere is local politics more vicious and destructive to social cohesion and sense of community than in Vancouver. And never has that been more true than since Vision Vancouver under Mayor Gregor Robertson laid political siege to the city. It was Robertson himself who set the tone early when he was caught on microphone at a 2010 public meeting dismissing a group of concerned residents as "f---- NPA hacks.

Now Vancouver parks board vice-chairman Aaron Jasper is getting in on the act; he's arrogantly dismissing legitimate citizen concerns about a bike lane that will cut through the heart of Kits Beach park, endangering other users, as the work of the Non-Partisan Association. He says he'll listen to them, but it's a done deal.

That's the brutal partisan behaviour of Vision that so many Vancouverites have grown sick of and why they feel they have no voice. Vision's reputation for ramming through its projects without regard to public opinion is well-established. It's why so many now say, "I voted for Vision, but never again." It's also why some residents now tune out Vision proposals, which isn't good either.

Vancouver could do with a lot more of the municipal politicians you find in smaller towns who are primarily interested in serving the public and finding compromise on issues — not turning every issue into a winner-take-all partisan fight at the expense of the majority. The city would be a much nicer place if that were true."

Let's hope the Vision Vancouver folks over at City Hall are listening.

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For all that the more progressive forces in town tend to demonize the NPA as "that party of the right" — Vancouver's oldest (but still thriving) municipal party, the standard-bearer of civic governance for most of the past century — over the past two years, and more, it has proved to be NPA Park Board Commissioners John Coupar and Melissa De Genova who have emerged as the Park Board Commissioners who, as persons of conscience and integrity, have steadfastly stood up for the interests of Vancouver citizens on a range of important Park Board issues, their commitment to transparency of decision-making, and democratic input from all of us who live in Vancouver, hearteningly (and dare we say, joyously) consistent.

On the NPA website, Commissioners De Genova and Coupar have called for meaningful engagement with the public on "the controversial plan to pave a 12-foot wide swath of blacktop through Kits Beach Park and Hadden Park." Both NPA Commissioners will attend the Kitsilano Beach protest, De Genova tweeting out that she considers Sunday's rally a "public consultation."

Although we had written earlier that we felt it unlikely elected representatives of Vision Vancouver would attend Sunday's protest rally, sources claim that Vision Park Board Commissioners Trevor Loke and Constance Barnes have agreed to attend. Clearly, they'll not be in for an easy time of it — let's try and keep the dialogue respectful, though.

The Georgia Straight has published a letter from Kitsilano resident Jason A. Johns ...

I am writing to express my complete discontent with the bike lanes that are planned through Kits Beach. I'm a Kits Point resident and I am shocked that we knew nothing about the proposal.

While I approve of bike lanes, I can't support tearing up of precious green space on a beach where families come to barbecue, and where kids throw footballs, Frisbees, play volleyball, or just run around and play.

The proposed location is dangerous to park users who are mostly pedestrians. The lane goes directly through popular picnic areas.

It is amazing to me that politicians who want Vancouver to be the "greenest city on Earth" would support such a ridiculous plan. My 13-year-old keeps asking how such a plan could be approved when it goes against all the things she has been learning at school. Even she can see the potential new danger for children playing.

Margaret Partridge has created a protest petition at Change.org, which as of Saturday evening has garnered the support of more than five hundred concerned citizens, whose signatures and commentary express concern about an environmentally unsound paved Kitsilano Beach bike path.

sal-robinson-bike-path.jpg On the Keep Kits Beach Wild Facebook page, there's quite a discussion going on respecting the proposed bike route through Hadden and Kitsilano Beach parks. Perhaps the most poignant comment we've read in this whole brouhaha was written by Colleen Hardwick, "A tragic, destructive and unnecessary make-work project on the part of the City and the Park Board. Surely the irony of paving a park for a bike lane in the name of the "green" agenda, isn't lost on the voting public."

There's also quite a discussion going on at Voony's Blog — a blog covering transportation issues in Vancouver, and the notion of urbanism — on the attendant issues involved in the Hadden Park - Kitsilano Beach bike route.

For VanRamblings, the issue is, as always, democracy, respect for the people, the citizenry — the families of every description who make up this expressive world of ours. Most of those who are involved in organizing the protest rally on Sunday, or who have commented on the various Facebook pages, or written letters to the newspapers, or who signed the Change.org petition, are not "political", or have branded themselves as such, as if politics is a dirty word.

And, you know what?

Politics is a dirty word — when you have municipal parties like Vision Vancouver, the provincial Liberals or the federal Tories, each of which is given over far too often to the engagement of the politics of division, the politics of the big lie, the politics of personal destruction, the disheartening and ugly politics of malevolence and ill will, and most cynically, the politics of self-interest with which we have all become much too familiar, as we go about the daily conduct of our lives, struggle to make a living, put food on our table, care for those who are dear to us, and attempt to find joy, and — from time to time — locate oases of calm and tranquility.

Our parks are those oases of calm and tranquility, those meeting places where we connect, really connect, with our friends and our neighbours, with our families, and with those who live around us — who share our home with us — where we gain perspective on our lives, as we look across the grasses, through the trees, to the open ocean and the mountains beyond, and reflect on what it means to be us, as father, mother, sister, daughter, son and brother, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, disabled person, working person, retired person, transgendered person, gay, straight, lesbian, whatever our race or colour, whatever our heritage.

Early 20th century novelist Austen Tappan Wright, in his seminal work of fiction, Islandia, called this notion, tanrydoon, which he defined as ...

How we are attuned to the environment, and to all those around us, our love of place, but also of family as they are related to that place, the absence of selfishness or purely personal interest, which is supplanted by the long view of one's place and family across generations, the cultivation of the lands around us that become the project of generations, our parks and our open spaces as home, and the equivalent of great cathedrals, deeply tied to our love of the Earth, as an expression of our love for the natural environment, and for all those with whom we share the natural environment. We will always have the Earth, the rolling grasses and the sky, and the warmth of the sun.

If we lose the green space within Hadden and Kits Beach parks, in favour of an unnecessary and destructive paved bike path, we will lose a bit of ourselves, our history, and our legacy to the generations that are to follow.

At noon, on Sunday, October 21st, a few hundred good people will gather together at Kitsilano Beach to say, "This is our Earth, this is our natural environment, our green space, where we might enjoy the company of our neighbours and friends and family, our park as an oases of tranquility in our otherwise, too often, frenetic lives. We, all of us, do not want nor do we need a ragged, unforgiving asphalt bike path cutting through our park."


Photos of Hadden & Kitsilano Beach parks, taken by Elvira Lount, Oct. 13, 2013.


Colleen Hardwick takes a walk along Ogden Avenue, from Chestnut to Maple and through Kits park, showing the existing provisions for bicycles, as well as cars, school buses, dog-walkers, roller-bladers, and other park users. Oct. 18, 2013.

Hope to see you at Kits Beach, noon, on Sunday. At some point, we must take a stand. Sunday just may be the starting point of change.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:53 AM | Permalink | Save Kits Beach

May 15, 2013

BC Election 2013: BC Liberals Win a Massive Majority

BC Liberals win

VanRamblings is recovering from the New Democrats' devastating loss to the B.C. Liberals' incalculably unexpected (and undeserved) win at the polls on Tuesday evening, and their relentlessly negative, fear-based campaign.

Over the next 48 hours, we'll give some thought to what happened during the course of Decision BC 2013 that resulted in Tuesday night's disastrous loss for the interests of the majority of British Columbians, what it means for B.C. going forward, what the NDP must do to better engage the voters and actually bring them out to the polls to vote for Change for the Better (turnout at the polls was slightly better in 2013 than was the case in 2009, at just a titch over 52%), whether Adrian Dix — who we believe could have been the leader of a generation for British Columbia — should remain as leader of the BC NDP, what the NDP loss means for how political campaigns are run going forward, and more.

For now, though, we'll rest, while we attempt to recover from the deep feeling of loss we feel at what might have been.

One final thought for now: as we have aged over the years, VanRamblings has become more sanguine about the unfolding of the events which impact on our lives — still, we will not give up the fight, for we live to fight another day. Rather, at this time, we simply require a period of reflection to measure the impact of our collective loss, to put that loss into perspective, and determine for ourselves how we will proceed in the times to come to work for change, to continue our work towards a fairer and more democratic society, where everyone might feel engaged and empowered enough in their lives to become a part of the change that must be, to better represent our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations for ourselves, for our families, our neighbours, the province, the country and the world.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:01 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 13, 2013

British Columbia Election 2013: A Round Up of Predictions

308 final British Columbia election prediction, May 14, 2013
Éric Grenier's 308.com final British Columbia election prediction, May 14, 2013

Éric Grenier — the Canadian statistician, sabermetrician, psephologist, and writer — has developed a system for forecasting political party popularity, and during election campaigns, outcome predictions for provincial and federal campaigns. To that end, as of this morning, Monday, May 13th — employing all of the polling data from Abacus, Angus-Reid, Ipsos-Reid, Forum Research and all other pollsters sampling voter intent in the province during the Decision BC 2013 post-writ election period — Mr. Grenier continues to predict a 92.7% chance of an NDP majority government as the outcome of the British Columbia provincial election, even if by a slimmer margin than was the case at the outset of the current election period.

As Mr. Grenier suggests in his latest column for the Globe and Mail ...

"Despite a spell of new polls heading in different directions injecting a good deal of uncertainty into what to expect from tomorrow's election in British Columbia, the B.C. New Democrats remain the favourite to win and form the province's next government.

Based on current polling levels, Mr. Dix appears safely in majority territory with a projected 45 to 56 seats, above the 43 seats needed to form a majority government. Christy Clark's Liberals are projected to win between 26 and 40 seats, while up to four independents should be elected. These numbers are virtually unchanged from the last forecast, while the precise projection of 48 seats for the NDP and 36 for the Liberals (along with one independent) is the same.

For those who can't get enough of this, here is Angus Reid's election eve polling data — a poll conducted over the weekend for CTV and the Globe and Mail — indicating the NDP are holding steady, with a commanding lead.

Meanwhile, Ipsos-Reid has released their final British Columbia 2013 election polling data, indicating that the BC NDP currently has the support of 45% of decided voters in BC, maintaining an 8 point lead over the BC Liberals, who are at 37% support. The Green Party is at 9%, followed by the BC Conservatives at 6%, with all other parties / candidates coming in at 3%.

UBC's Sauder School of Business Election Prediction Market analysis
UBC's Sauder School of Business 2013 British Columbia Election Prediction Market forecast

Hedging its bets some, the Globe and Mail — which came out on Friday with an endorsement of the B.C. Liberal / Christy Clark administration, an endorsement The Tyee calls murky and error-ridden — also has the Sauder School of Business conducting an election prediction market, the results of which may be seen in the graphic directly above. Both the Sauder School of Business and 308.com predict a New Democrat majority government.

Milton Chan's Election Prediction Project projection, May 13, 2013
Milton Chan's Election Prediction Project 2013 British Columbia election outcome prediction

Meanwhile, Milton Chan weighed in on election eve, with his prediction of the outcome of the 2013 British Columbia provincial election. Mr. Chan, too, predicts an NDP majority government in Victoria, but by a relatively slim margin. By clicking on the graphic above, readers can access Mr. Chan's riding-by-riding breakdown for each of the 4 regions of the province — Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and the Interior.

As Decision BC 2013 draws to a close, there are more media, pundits and political watchers who are weighing in on the outcome of the election, and as is the case with the Election Prediction Project, providing a riding-by-riding analysis. Although the predictions below differ from Éric Grenier's riding analysis, there's just as much likelihood that any one of them could be as accurate, or even more accurate, than the esteemed Mr. Grenier.

  • First up, there The Tyee's predictions for ridings across the province where, according to the folks working on The Tyee's riding prediction analysis for B.C., "We have analyzed the polls, mulled over elections past, and peered into our crystal ball to bring you our predictions for which candidates will win which ridings. These calls are divided up into likely wins and definite wins, with some ridings deemed too close to call, the predictions no means set in stone." Too late — the election is almost upon up. At this point, one would have to consider The Tyee's latest set of projections to be their final riding-by-riding predictions for the outcome of the 2013 British Columbia provincial election.

  • Next up, there's Bernard Schulmaan's B.C. Iconoclast website. Mr. Schulmann weighs in with this riding-by-riding analysis, and following his careful analysis believes "the NDP will win 57 seats, the Liberals 22, independents 4 and Greens 2," a more hopeful analysis if you're an NDP supporter than any of the other prognosticators reporting out above.

  • Sacha Peter, at BC2013.com, predicts 59 seats for the BC NDP, 21 seats for the BC Liberals, 1 lone seat for the BC Conservatives, 1 elected Independent, and no elected BC Green Party members.

  • And finally for now, there's the indefatigable Alex Tsakumis, who believes, as do other pundits, that we are on the verge of an NDP majority government, as he predicts 58 seats for the NDP, only 21 seats for the Liberals, with 5 independents being elected to the legislature in Victoria, along with 1 member of the Green Party of B.C. Here is Mr. Tsakumis' riding-by-riding prediction, which he promises to update at 5pm on election day.

Well, that's what we've got so far, folks. We'll know final election results Tuesday night.

In keeping with VanRamblings' consistent exposition of our prediction of the outcome of the 2013 British Columbia provincial election, we continue to believe that the BC NDP will secure a majority government with 54 seats in the legislature, followed by the Liberals with 30 seats, with the final seat going to Independent Vicki Huntington in Delta South. Could be a few seats fewer for the NDP, could be a few more. We'll know Tuesday night.


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Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:41 PM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 11, 2013

British Columbia Election 2013: Final Weekend Wrap-Up Edition

Click on picture for CTV BC report on BC NDP's widening lead in BC provincial election
Final weekend of BC election, NDP widens lead: click on picture above to hear CTV BC report

A new Angus Reid Public Opinion survey released Friday suggests the B.C. New Democrats have stretched their previous seven-point lead to nine points, with just hours to go before the provincial election. Forty-five per cent said they either intend to vote NDP or already have at an advanced polling station, compared to 36 per cent hoping for another Liberal term.

Daniel Fontaine tweets about BC NDP lead in provincial election

Overall, 30% of respondents said Adrian Dix would make the best premier, an increase of 4% over the last poll conducted at the beginning of May, while 25% favoured Clark, an increase of 1%. The online poll was conducted on May 9 and 10 among 808 randomly selected B.C. adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. Another poll is due to hit on Monday, the day before British Columbians head to the polls.

As both Vaughn Palmer at the Vancouver Sun, and Gary Mason at the Globe and Mail write, "the NDP are likely to win on Tuesday."

And, if this Vancouver Sun editorial represents their final word on the 2013 British Columbia election, it pretty much amounts to an, albeit backhanded, 'endorsement' of the BC NDP, a recognition that the NDP's "Change for the better" message has even reached the beating hearts and minds of the otherwise conservative editorial board of Vancouver's newspaper of record.

Meanwhile, Eric Grenier at ThreeHundredEight.com, has continued crunching the numbers, accumulating all polling data published this past Friday from Forum Research, Ipsos-Reid, Hill + Knowlton and all other pollsters tracking the intentions of voters across the province of British Columbia, and has come up with the following, final weekend, pre-election chart respecting the popular vote projection, and how that will likely turn into seats for the two main parties following Tuesday's British Columbia provincial election.

Three Hundred Eight Election Prediction outcome, May 6 2013


Unless the bottom falls out of the BC New Democrat campaign over the weekend, or Christy Clark manages a Lazarus-like resurrection in the final hours of the campaign, British Columbians will be looking at a majority British Columbia New Democratic party government come Tuesday evening.

BC Election 2013: Ridings to Watch on Election Night

From Milton Chan at the Election Prediction Project to Doug Ward at The Tyee, and Eric Grenier at 308.com, reports on the ridings that will make the difference in who forms government come Wednesday morning, May 15th, have been rife. Eric Grenier has gone a step further than either Mr. Ward or Mr. Chan, and predicts riding-by-riding the outcome of Tuesday's election.

Employing Grenier's statistical data, here's a breakdown of both the ridings to watch on election night, May 14th — by region of the province — and the probable vote percentages for the candidates in each contentious riding.

Vancouverridings to watch Tuesday night

Vancouver Fairview. Current MLA: Liberal, Dr. Margaret McDiarmid.

Projection: A 70% chance that the NDP's George Heyman will claim victory on Tuesday night, taking the riding away from the Liberals, and incumbent, McDiarmid. 308.com projects 48.9% support for Heyman, leaving McDiarmid registering only 38.4% support in the riding. The NDP have long predicted a win in Vancouver Fairview for the former president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), and currently on leave from his job as executive director of Sierra Club BC.

Vancouver False Creek. Current MLA: Liberal, Mary McNeil.

Projection: According to 308.com, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan has a 73% chance of winning the riding, with a projected 44.7% of the vote, leaving NDP newcomer Matt Toner trailing with 32.1% support. The Green Party of BC will register a projected 17.6% of the vote, a better showing for the Green's Daniel Tseghay than is the case in any other Vancouver riding. If by some miracle, Vancouver False Creek should flip to the NDP on Tuesday evening, NDP headquarters will experience paroxysms of joy untold — not too likely an outcome, though.

Vancouver Fraserview. Current MLA: Liberal, Kash Heed.

Projection: Says Eric Grenier at 308.com, there's a whopping 83% chance that this riding will turn to BC NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu on Tuesday night, with a projected 52.7% of the vote against his B.C. Liberal challenger, parachute candidate Suzanne Anton's 33.5% support. Yiu, who lost to Heed by only 784 votes in 2009, questioned the fairness of Heed's election — in 2011, Heed's campaign manager, Barinder Sall, plead guilty to election overspending, receiving a court-imposed $15,000 fine, 1 year probation, and 200 hours community service. The incident caused Heed to resign as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in the Liberal cabinet.

Vancouver Langara. Current MLA: Liberal, Dr. Moira Stilwell.

Projection: A 62% chance that Vancouver-Langara will be a BC Liberal win for incumbent, Dr. Moira Stilwell. 308.com predicts 45.9% for the Liberals, and 39% for BC NDP candidate, George Chow. NDP apparatchiks working within the riding reveal riding support for Mr. Chow is great; apparently, the polls indicate otherwise. If Dr. Stilwell goes down to defeat Tuesday evening, political observers will know that a BC NDP rout is underway.

Vancouver-Point Grey. Current MLA: Liberal, Christy Clark.

Projection: According to 308.com, NDP candidate David Eby has a 64% chance of defeating incumbent Christy Clark, the current Premier. Grenier's crunching of the numbers projects 46.9% support for Eby, and 39% for Clark, a decisive win for the BC NDP. Doug Ward, in The Tyee, writes ...

The NDP hasn't held this affluent riding since 1991, when Darlene Marzari was sent to Victoria in the Mike Harcourt victory. Former premier Campbell won four consecutive victories here, but his victory margins were moderate — except for the 2001 anti-NDP blowout. Eby nearly scored a shock upset win in the 2011 byelection, losing to Clark by only 564 votes. The NDP expects, based on the polling, to move beyond its usual base here of renters, left-wing university professors, and baby boomer professionals and retirees who attend the Vancouver Folk Festival. A former Campbell fundraiser in Point Grey was seen at a recent Eby dinner, which says something.

Of the Vancouver ridings, the BC NDP is projected to pick up all but two of the eleven seats up for grabs on election day, with the Liberals registering wins in only Vancouver-Quilchena and Vancouver-Langara. And even at that, contact from senior members of the Vancouver-Langara campaign teams over the weekend, from both main parties, suggest a win for the BC NDP in Vancouver-Langara is quite possible, as the race is close — regardless of 308.com's imprecations on the matter to the contrary, which would mean a win of 10 of the 11 seats in Vancouver going to the BC NDP.

BC NDP stand on Kinder Morgan pipeline increases support
Opposition to Kinder Morgan expansion, turning Vancouver into a major oil export harbour: BCNDP benefits from stand. Click on graphic for more info on Justason Intelligence poll

The BC NDP have employed a multi-pronged strategy in the 2013 British Columbia provincial election.

Where in 2009, under leader Carole James, the NDP rejected Gordon Campbell's carbon tax proposal, causing the NDP to lose both the environmental vote and the election, no such mistake is occurring this time around. For background, you'll want to read Charlie Smith's latest thoughtful commentary in the Georgia Straight.

From the outset, BC NDP leader Adrian Dix told voters that the NDP would challenge in every riding across the province, and they have, in the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and the North, in addition to their traditional metropolitan Vancouver and Vancouver Island strongholds. Dix was also clear that the NDP would go after the votes of those who traditionally stay away from the polls on election day: the largely disenfranchised ethnic and immigrant community, and the votes of those under the age of 30.

Even though we agree with our friend Mike Klassen that we'll likely see a voter participation rate at or around — and perhaps even below — 50% across the province — an even more likely outcome given the projected inclement weather, which almost always has a depressing effect on voter turnout — VanRamblings will still predict that in 2013 the young vote and immigrant community vote will hit record levels, as proved to be the case for second-term President, Barack Obama, in the 2012 U.S. election.

Now back to elucidating the provincial electoral ridings that are most in contention, from here on in, outside metropolitan Vancouver city.

Metro Vancouver / Fraser Valleyridings to watch Tuesday night

Burnaby Lougheed. Current MLA: Liberal, Harry Bloy.

Projection: Says Eric Grenier at 308.com, there's an astounding 83% chance that this riding will turn to BC NDP candidate Jane Shin come election night, with a projected 54.1% of the vote in the NDP column against neophyte B.C. Liberal challenger, Ken Kramer, who is set to register a relatively paltry 34.3% of the vote. In 2009, Bloy edged his NDP challenger Jaynie Clark by 696 votes, with just shy of 50% of the vote. Not this time. Count Burnaby Lougheed as another pick up for the BC NDP, on their way to a majority government in the province of British Columbia.

Burnaby North. Current MLA: Liberal, Richard T. Lee.

Projection: Another pick up for the BC NDP, say both Milton Chan at the Election Prediction Project, and Eric Grenier, at 308.com. In 2009,
Burnaby North was a tight race, with the Liberals' Lee eking out a 548 vote victory. This time, NDP challenger Janet Routledge, the Fight HST Burnaby co-ordinator, will register 51.4% to Lee's projected 38.3% of the vote.

Coquitlam-Burke Mountain. Current MLA: Liberal, Douglas Horner.

Projection: In 2009, Douglas Horner beat his NDP challenger, Heather McRitchie, by a healthy 3,251 vote margin, registering almost 60% of the vote. In 2013, 308.com suggests the race is much closer, projecting a win for Douglas Horner over NDP challenger, Chris Wilson, two-time World Cup Champion in wrestling, and current Executive Director of KidSport Tri-Cities, by a 44.4% to 39.4% vote margin. This time around, BC Conservative Shane Kennedy could throw a monkey wrench into Horner's plan for re-election, with the popular local businessman taking enough votes away from Horner to effectively award the NDP a win in this riding.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale. Current MLA: Liberal, Naomi Yamamoto.

Projection: Incumbent B.C. Liberal candidate Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education in the Clark cabinet, is in tough against popular four-term City of North Vancouver councillor, Craig Keating, who holds a PhD in History from McMaster University and is currently a professor of History at Langara College in Vancouver. 308.com says there's a 53% chance that Keating will eke out a narrow victory, garnering 41% of the vote to Yamamoto's 38.1%. The last time North Vancouver-Lonsdale fell into NDP hands was in 1991, when economist David Schreck won the riding.

Surrey-Panorama. Current MLA: Liberal, Stephanie Cadieux.

Projection: Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development in the Clark government, moved to retired BC Liberal cabinet minister Kevin Falcon's old riding of Surrey-Cloverdale, where a win for her will be assured. In 2013, the NDP's Amrik Mahil looks to take 45.9% of the vote against Liberal challenger, Marvin Hunt, a popular a 23-year Surrey City Councillor, who's expected to garner only 36.6% support in the riding. According to 308.com, there's a 68% chance that Mahil will place Surrey-Panorama into the NDP win column, contributing to a BC NDP majority government.

Surrey-Tynehead. Current MLA: Liberal, Dave S. Hayer.

Projection: When Hayer, a Liberal MLA since 2001, resigned his membership in the B.C. Liberal party condemning the party, and the Premier, for their role in the ethnic vote scandal, Amrik Virk stepped in to replace Hayer. Not good enough, according to Eric Grenier at 308.com: in 2013, the NDP's Avtar Bains sports a 78% chance of trouncing his Liberal challenger in Surrey-Tynehead where he's expected to pick up a whopping 53.1% of the vote. Another pick up for the BC NDP to contribute to their majority.

Langley. Current MLA: Liberal, Mary Polak.

Projection: Mary Polak, the current BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure in the Clark administration, is expected to retain her seat in the legislature come Tuesday evening, according to Eric Grenier at 308.com but just. Let's have Doug Ward over at The Tyee explain ...

"This one features a battle on the right between provincial Conservative Party leader John Cummins and BC Liberal Transportation Minister Mary Polak. Cummins' natural political constituency is Delta, which he represented for many years federally. But Delta South independent MLA Vicki Huntington took that away, so Cummins switched to Langley, where he now resides, in his bid to become B.C.'s first Conservative MLA in over three decades. The New Democrats took 35 per cent of the vote here last time. It's a long-shot scenario, but an even vote split on the right could flip this traditional bastion of small-c conservatism to NDP candidate Andrew Mercier."

Polak, Cummins, Mercier, who knows? — guess we'll see Tuesday night.

Abbotsford-South. Current MLA: Independent, John van Dongen.

Projection: This one's a dog's breakfast. Former Liberal cabinet minister Van Dongen is running again in Abbotsford-South, but this time as an Independent — where he's expected to take 27.2% of the vote. Where does that leave high-profile Liberal candidate Darryl Plecas in his bid to retain the seat for the B.C. Liberals? Potentially on the outside looking in, according to 308.com. Plecas, and NDP candidate Lakvinder Jhaj, are in a virtual tie, with 36% of the vote likely going to Plecas, and 36.7% of the voter support apparently headed in the direction of Jhaj. We'll see Tuesday.

Chilliwack. Current MLA: Liberal, John Les.

Projection: Count Chilliwack as another pick up for the BC NDP, although it's gonna be a squeaker. 308.com projects 33.5% of the vote going to BC NDP candidate, Patti MacAhonic — a former Executive Director of the BC Wildlife Federation, and recently Executive Director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce — leaving her B.C. Liberal challenger and former B.C. Conservative stalwart, John Martin, trailing with 31.4% of the projected vote. Like we said, this one's gonna be a squeaker, whoever emerges as the winning candidate on Tuesday evening. Here's what Doug Ward, over at The Tyee, has to say about the Chilliwack race ...

"The New Democrats won the adjacent riding of Chilliwack-Hope for the first time ever last year thanks to vote-splitting on the right. The NDP hopes to do it again in this Bible Belt riding, which they have also never held. The BC Liberal candidate, John Martin, had nothing good to say about his party last year, when he was the Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Hope. "The BC Liberals are in free fall," he declared last spring. But Martin has changed his tune in this contest, which pits the college criminologist against NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic, former executive-director of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, and Conservative Chad Eros. Again, the NDP will need a strong Conservative showing for MacAhonic to come up the middle.."

Politics in the Fraser Valley just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Chilliwack-Hope. Current MLA: BC NDP, Gwen O'Mahony.

Projection: On a Tuesday night that's looking more and more like the night of the big hurt for the B.C.Liberals, Christy Clark can take some solace in 308.com's forecast that 2012 Chilliwack-Hope by-election winner O'Mahony will lose the seat to her Liberal challenger, Laurie Throness, longtime Ottawa-based Chief of Staff for now retired Chilliwack Fraser Canyon MP Chuck Strahl. Throness should pick up close to 50% of the vote at the polls on election day, May 14th, leaving O'Mahony with only 39.4% of the vote.

Maple Ridge-Mission. Current MLA: Liberal, Marc Dalton.

Projection: BC NDP's Mike Bocking, who's run and run again in Maple Ridge-Mission, is set this go-round to claim victory, with a projected 46.7% of the vote against Liberal incumbent, Marc Dalton, who according to 308.com, will garner only 33.1% of the vote on election night. Another pick up for the BC NDP, another seat in the legislature to add to their majority.

After the jump, readers will find information on the ridings to watch in the Okanagan / Kootenays, the Cariboo-Thompson and the North, and over on Vancouver Island, all of which promise provocative outcomes.


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Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:19 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 10, 2013

BC Election 2013: 166 Reasons for Not Voting BC Liberal

Do we have to remind you which party says 'No' to 10x the tanker traffic along B.C.'s coast

BC Votes 2013 In terms of the latest poll results — the final poll results before Tuesday's provincial election — today's anticipated release of polling data by both Angus Reid (for CTV / the Globe and Mail), and Ipsos-Reid (for Global BC and the Vancouver Sun) are expected to tell the tale of where we're headed come election day, May 14th. But, really, do you honestly believe that even if the polls shows a tightening of the gap between the ruling BC Liberals and the hard-charging BC New Democrats, that the result of 28 days of 2013's headlong electioneering will culminate in a BC Liberal majority in the British Columbia legislature? Not bloody likely.

Still, because the gap is closing, as has long been expected would be the case, those of us looking for change — and VanRamblings believes we comprise a majority of British Columbians — will have to make damn sure that today and tomorrow, at the advance polls, or on election day, Tuesday, May 14th, that we get our tookeses to the polling station located nearest to us, and cast that decisive ballot for change. There is no sitting on your duff at home, no "migosh, I have so many more important things to do, the playoffs are on TV, blah blah blah." Whatever it takes, whether you bike to the polls, walk, take the bus, drive your car or get a ride with a friend, the 2013 British Columbia provincial election is a crucial election — never has it been more important for you to make certain that you get yourself, your family and your friends to the polls, and cast your ballot.

Make British Columbians happy, Christy Clark: resign

Geoff Olson, The Courier: 20 reasons why I'm not voting Liberal

Seems that it's not just the folks in the 801 Club, and former Chief of Staff to BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell, Martyn Brown, that want Christy Clark to resign, there's a columnist for Vancouver's Courier newspaper who's weighing in with a raft of maddeningly indisputable reasons that Christy Clark and her discredited BC Liberal party have got to go.

"The B.C. Liberals: 1) Ripped up legally binding, negotiated contracts in the public sector; 2) Closed courthouses; 3) Rolled backed employment standards legislation; 4) Introduced a $6 "training wage" at $2 an hour lower than minimum wage; 5) Introduced a bill for reducing the minimum work age to 12 years; 6) Expanded provincial gambling; 7) Closed hospitals, cut beds and shut long-term care facilities; 8) Laid off nurses and health care workers and privatized services, 9) Handed Pharmacare and MSP operations over to a U.S. firm, Maximus, which had been fined twice for failing to reach contractual targets; 10) Shut down or reduced funding for independent offices like the provincial Ombudsman, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Elections B.C.

Whew. Hang on, 10 more ....

11) Cut air and water quality protection; 12) Gutted the Forest Practices Code; 13) Lowered standards for wildlife protection; 14) Presided over the expansion of industrial fish farms; 15) Eliminated the Independent Office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate; 16) Broke the promise not to introduce the HST and withdrew it only after massive public outcry; 17) Unveiled under-projected, treasury-sucking megaprojects, from the $900 million Vancouver Convention Centre to the $560 million renovation and retractable Asshat for B.C. Place; 18) Failed to resolve questions about the B.C. Rail sale, including the $6 million payout for Basi and Virk's legal fees; 19) Failed to supply details on the funding cut to provincial drug safety evaluations by the UBC-based Therapeutics Initiative; 20) Recently approved a misleading print ad for 24 Hours designed to resemble a front page news story."

Now, Olson's 20 reasons for not voting BC Liberal in 2013 constitute a damning indictment of the BC Liberals, and offer 20 very good reasons why British Columbians must reject the BC Liberal party in this election. But ...

Olsen's 20 unassailable reasons for rejecting the BC Liberal party hardly hold a candle to indefatigable Victoria-based political columnist Laila Yuile's 146 reasons the Liberals have just got to go, as she writes ...

"The BC Liberals have fostered an environment of deception and secrecy in the BC legislature, one where the less the people know about what is going on, the better it is for their party.

Our current Premier, Christy Clark, played a large role in many of the most drastic changes to the province's most vulnerable citizens, while she was a young MLA mentoring under Campbell. It's important to remember that while Christy Clark has tried to rebrand the BC Liberal party as "new" and different from Gordon Campbell, how different and new can they be when all the same names, faces and donors are still there? Deals aren't made in the legislature, but in the back rooms of restaurants and behind closed doors.

British Columbians must not be fooled by cheeky smiles, glib responses and a well-oiled, big money campaign."

Hmmm. One is simply left to wonder if the opprobrium expressed by most of B.C.'s fourth estate, and informed political class, will have the intended effect on voters come election day? Let's hope so, for all our sakes.

C'mon back over the weekend, when VanRamblings wraps our coverage of Decision BC 2013, reviews the ridings to watch election night, points you in the direction of the reality checks conducted by the media on the election commitments made by the leaders running for office, and as always, more.

In the interim, readers who wish to catch up with VanRamblings' coverage of the British Columbia election over the course of the previous 23 days, simply have to click here for a full accounting of Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:01 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 9, 2013

BC Election 2013: Liberal Knives Are Out to Oust Christy Clark

As reported by Jas Johal on Global BC's evening NewsHour, an organized movement to oust Christy Clark as BC Liberal leader has already begun in the upper echelons of the provincial governing party.

Called the 801 Club — symbolizing 8:01 p.m., one minute after the election and the minute when the movement plans to begin the process of putting pressure on Clark to step aside, the club — made up of party members and business leaders — has already created 801 buttons, as can be seen in the video clip above, to signify the serious intent of the movement.

The 801 movement not only wants to rid the party of Christy Clark, but those that surround her, as well, including her brother, Bruce; ex-husband and BC Liberal organizer Mark Marissen; the 2013 Liberal party campaign chair Mike McDonald; and current Liberal party president, Sharon White.

Gordon Campbell's former chief of staff, Martyn Brown, says the scandals that the Clark Liberals have endured are self-inflicted and speak to Clark's rudderless and ethically-challenged leadership of the BC Liberal party.

"When you look at one thing after the next, it's just a bad series of judgements that fall directly in her lap," Brown told host Simi Sara, at 12:38pm, on her afternoon CKNW talk show.

"There is no escaping that, and this just brings it home in spades to people that it is the Premier's judgement that is at issue here."

Day after day, in the Georgia Straight and in The Province newspaper, Brown has challenged Clark's questionable leadership of the BC Liberal party, and her time in government as the unelected Premier of the province.

Why would Brown consistently position himself on the attack against Clark in everything he writes and tells any broadcaster or journalist that will interview him unless he is, in fact, one of the charter members of the 801 Club, working in concert with business leaders to ensure that a person who better represents the interests of the business community will replace Christy Clark after a resounding defeat at the polls next Tuesday?

Piling on today on—the increasingly beleaguered—Christy Clark, high profile BC Liberal Daniel Veniez, who writes in his Georgia Straight commentary ...

"I'm progressive, but not of the ideological left, and pragmatic, not of the doctrinaire right. I am a moderate and in the sensible centre ... I have never voted NDP in my life ... In British Columbia, voters have only two parties to choose from. On May 14, I am voting B.C. NDP. There are two reasons for that. The first is Christy Clark. The second is Adrian Dix.

Clark's gaffe-prone, content-free, divisive, and ethically challenged tenure as unelected premier of B.C. has been well chronicled.

The core of her relentless electioneering is anchored on a fantastical notion that B.C. will be "debt free" in 15 years through liquefied natural gas. This is based entirely on the incredibly dubious premise that the stars of a volatile and highly cyclical commodity business will align exactly as she predicts. The reality is that none of us — including those within the industry who would make these multibillion investments — has the foggiest clue whether any of this is fact or fiction. But common sense should tell us this: Clark has made a career out of smoke and mirrors ... the "debt free BC" slogan of her campaign is yet another whopper from Clark, whose entire government has been punctuated by advertising, gimmickry, and endless photo-ops, culminating in this election with a slogan that simply defies all credibility ..."

Dix is a refreshing change.

He's a humble and quiet man, not given to exaggeration nor to fits of narcissism. Not a "natural" politician, Dix is nevertheless obviously comfortable in his own skin. Well read and well briefed, Dix knows his files, understands the machinery of government, and has a great appreciation for what government can and can't do. Dix has tried to do politics differently and has waged an honourable campaign.

As premier, Adrian Dix will restore honesty and substance in Victoria.

He'll bring sober, deliberative, and collaborative leadership to the premier's office. He'll attract good people from across the ideological spectrum. He'll govern the province as he has his own party: by appealing to all of us to come together to solve the problems of British Columbia. He'll work hard to restore faith in our public institutions and trust in the competence and professionalism of government.

All of us want competent, honest, and accountable government that appeals to the best in all of us. Adrian Dix will do that. That's why the NDP is getting my vote on May 14.

If the voters don't do the job next week by ousting Christy Clark from her far from safe seat in the legislature representing the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey, while at the same rejecting her BC Liberal party at the polls, it is clear now that there are forces within the provincial, right-of-centre governing party that are well-prepared to do that job for us.

star.jpg star.jpg star.jpg

On the ethically-challenged front, Christy Clark scored a one-two punch on Day 23 of the provincial election campaign.

Early on Wednesday, Christy Clark's off-the-rails BC Liberal campaign released a pointed and misleading Adrian Dix attack ad, employing footage of the the televised debate. Only problem, though, is that the Clark campaign and the BC Liberal party signed a legal agreement with the broadcast consortium that organized the televised debate that her campaign, and the Liberal party, would not use footage from the debate in partisan political advertising.

The debate footage, it should be noted, is also the property of the broadcast consortium — CBC, CTV and Global — and, as such is copyrighted material. Les Staff, news director at CTV who was writing on behalf of the consortium, wrote a formal letter to the Liberal campaign ...

"The program was aired with a copyright at the end of the broadcast. The political parties involved agreed that no use of the copyrighted broadcast would be allowed for any political purposes," writes Staff.

"I have a good faith belief that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law," he continued. "Please have this copyrighted material removed immediately."

As of this writing, early on Thursday morning, Clark's ethically-challenged Liberal campaign has refused to remove the offending YouTube video.

To make matters worse, for the dirty-tricks-driven Liberal campaign, word was leaked on Wednesday that former senior advisor to Premier Christy Clark, one Kim Haakstad — yes, that very same Kim Haakstad who was forced to resign her what was supposed to be, non-partisan, civil servant position in the Premier's office, amidst allegations that she led a partisan BC Liberal initiative, paid for with taxpayer's money, to identify votes for Christy Clark and the Liberal party, in what became know as the "ethnic vote scandal" — is now "volunteering" on Christy Clark's campaign in Vancouver Point Grey. Martyn Brown almost had a coronary as he related his severe misgivings about how it came to be that Liberal party campaign chair Mike McDonald, and "her poor judgement knows no end" Christy Clark herself, had allowed the discredited and dismissed Ms. Haakstad to play a role in the re-election of the Premier, in her very own riding!

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So, let's see where we're at here in the waning days of Decision BC 2013.

Let's take a minute to review the election press coverage this week, and who it has favoured — in this, the final full week of the election campaign — and how that coverage is likely to affect the latest election poll results that'll be released tomorrow, and more importantly, how coverage of Christy Clark will affect the outcome of next week's crucial provincial election.

  • Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer reminds his 300,000+ plus readers of Christy Clark's central role in promoting the hated HST

  • The Vancouver Sun's Peter O'Neil suggests that a Premier Adrian Dix would have more in common with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, that they'd get along better than is the case with Christy Clark, and that the relationship would be more productive for British Columbia. To top it off, the Vancouver Sun provides sympathetic coverage of Adrian Dix's and the BC NDP's policy on eradicating child poverty

  • Former chief of staff to Gordon Campbell, and the fellow who ran the BC Liberal campaigns in 2001, 2005 and 2009—yes, Martyn Brown—hammers Christy Clark, column in and column out, in The Straight, The Province, and on any TV or radio station that will air his views on Christy Clark's "ethically challenged" BC election campaign

  • Prominent Liberal Daniel Veniez, in his commentary in The Straight, calls Christy Clark's tenure in government, "gaffe-prone, content-free, divisive, and ethically challenged"

  • With 5 days to go in the election campaign, Global TV runs a lead story telling it's 680,000+ dinnertime newshour viewers that not only the NDP, but the BC Liberals themselves, want Christy Clark gone

The writing is on the wall for the soon-to-be-ex Premier, Christy Clark.

Even the most apolitical British Columbian — for whom politics is a mere afterthought, or an intrusion — must now realize that we are on the verge of witnessing the bloody end of the Christy Clark era in BC politics.

Interested in reading VanRamblings' coverage of the British Columbia 2013 provincial election from Day 1 to the present just click on Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:39 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 8, 2013

BC Election 2013: Change for BC. One Practical Step at a Time

BC ELECTION 2013, UBC Prediction Market May 8 2013

The advance polls open today across British Columbia, in this most important 2013 provincial election. Wednesday through Saturday this week — in advance of Election Day, Tuesday, May 14th — from 8am through til 8pm (local time) each of the four advance polling days this week, Elections BC has provided to you the opportunity to exercise your franchise.

Don't know where to vote in your local riding? Simply click here for the location of the advance polling station closest to where you live. There is no more important role that you can play in the life of our society than casting a ballot for the candidate of your choice, enfranchising yourself, your family and your neighbours, by participating in the grand democratic engagement that defines what it means to live in a free society, in a country and a province where your vote counts, as you play your part in helping to determine where the province in which you live and prosper is headed over the course of the next four years.

BC Election 2013: Where BC is Headed Over the Next Six Days

As can be seen in the latest UBC Sauder School of Business Election Market prediction, above and to the right, British Columbia is headed to a majority New Democrat government, a change from 12 years of the corporate friendly policies of the BC Liberal party, to a more balanced NDP-driven economy, where the needs of working families — and the most vulnerable among us — are taken into account when determining public policy.

Change is always difficult. But in 2013, amidst near economic chaos across the globe, change is necessary in order that the priorities that best fit the needs of the vast majority of British Columbians are well-tended to, where your needs, and the needs of your family, your friends, your co-workers and your neighbours emerge as priority concerns to those whom we have elected to represent us in the seat of power in Victoria, as British Columbia moves fitfully, yet inexorably forward through the 21st century.

Martyn Brown, the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in the last three elections, has weighed in again on where he thinks British Columbia will find itself on election night, where we are now, and where we're going.

"The B.C. Liberals are still hovering in the low 30s, well below the NDP, with a week to go and little obvious room to grow. The NDP's strategy is sound and has worked to help put that party in the lead so far. I believe it will prevail ... (British Columbians) want a new type of positive politics that doesn't sink to the gutter. They want an approach that isn't all about running people down or that is utterly wedded to partisan hyperbole and fearmongering, as Dix used to engage in before he was the NDP leader, and which remains a defining feature of Clark's DNA.

If Dix can round out the last week by appearing more energized and more passionate in his drive to lead B.C. forward, he can show people a new dimension to his character that inspires trust and confidence in him. The latest polls should certainly give him new impetus for a heartfelt appeal that shows he's more of a fighter than most people have given him credit for being. Anyone who has watched Dix at his best in the Legislature over the years knows that he has the potential to be devastating, with wit, humour, and sheer political smarts.

If anyone should be feeling pangs of panic at this point, it should be the B.C. Liberals. They are still at least 10 to 13 points from any serious shot at winning, given the NDP's sizable lead, its more evenly distributed geographic support, and its more motivated voter support base.

As things stand, the NDP is unlikely to lose any of the 35 seats it won in 2009, with the possible exception of Cariboo North. The best the Liberals can really hope for is to hang onto seats they currently hold, at least half of which are all potentially vulnerable ... I like the NDP's odds, to put it mildly. Hopefully, the prospect of a horse race will help motivate all British Columbians to cast their ballots."

And thus we in British Columbia move towards a new government in Victoria, an end to Liberal governance, and an end to Christy Clark's reign of error, towards an NDP government representing the interests of all.

Canucks eliminated in four game sweep. Calls for change abound

The Vancouver Canucks went down to ignominious defeat in overtime, in the fourth game of Round One of their Western Conference Stanley Cup quarter final. As the headline on the Vancouver Sun reads, "Canucks swept out of NHL playoffs by Sharks, with likely sweeping changes to come." And so, change will come, not just within the Canucks beleaguered, playoff averse organization, but across the province of British Columbia, as well.

British Columbians do not want more of the same, whether it be Christy Clark and her far from merry band of tired, old Liberals, or the can't get it done Alain Vigneault, whose job is on the line. Don't expect Vigneault back with the Canucks next season. Don't expect Clark to take her seat in the legislature as Premier, post May 14th. Clark has as much hope of either retaining her position as Premier, or her seat in the legislature as representative for the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey, as Vigneault does of finding himself behind the Canucks' bench come September. Not a chance.

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Adrian Dix, BC NDP leader, campaigning in Penticton with candidate Richard Cannings

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix campaigning in Summerland with NDP candidate Richard Cannings

Where are the leaders campaigning today? Adrian Dix, B.C. NDP: Summerland, Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon, Armstrong, Kamloops; Christy Clark, B.C. Liberals: Maple Ridge, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey; John Cummins, B.C. Conservatives: Vernon; Jane Sterk, B.C. Greens: Victoria, Vancouver. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Full VanRamblings election coverage available by clicking Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:02 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 7, 2013

BC Election 2013: A Week Today We'll Know the Outcome

Three Hundred Eight Election Prediction outcome, May 6 2013


The inevitability of change looms large on the horizon.

As much as the pollsters want to turn the 2013 British Columbia election into a race to the finish line, in fact that's not what's happening at all. The people across this vast province of ours continue to hanker for change, whether that be adding a couple of Green MLA's to the ledge for the next term (Andrew Weaver and Adam Olsen), or a couple of Independents (Vicki Huntington and Arthur Hadland), plus a surfeit of NDP MLA's — including 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride' NDP candidate for Maple Ridge - Mission, Mike Bocking — but make no mistake, change is on the way.

As can be seen in ThreeHundredEight's graphic at the top of today's post, the BC NDP are looking at somewhere in the range of 48 to 56 seats, while the Liberals continue to trail with 36 to 42 seats, not in majority range, and out of contention for government. Sure, there's still six days to go in Decision BC 2013, but the writing is on the wall, Adrian Dix and the NDP have stepped up their game — finally deciding that it's time to hold the BC Liberals' feet to the fire — BC Conservative leader John Cummins has picked up his game in the waning days of the campaign, while BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk focuses on winning at least one seat in the legislature. Ms. Sterk knows that a portion of the Green vote will evaporate on election day, as many of her Green supporters will vote strategically, for the NDP.

Vancouver-Point Grey Becomes a Bellwether Riding in 2013

Vancouver's Point Grey riding has been represented by a Liberal premier for more than a decade, but that nearly changed in 2011 when the NDP's David Eby came within 564 votes of unseating Christy Clark in a by-election. Now, with Clark and the BC Liberals trailing in the polls, many believe the riding is Eby's to lose, offering a hint at how the rest of the province votes, too.

"It's a David and Goliath story of sorts, although I am much taller than Christy, so I am not sure the metaphor totally holds," says Eby. "It's challenging for me running against the premier. She's in the news every day, she's spent a huge amount of money on advertising. Our response has been—since we didn't have that kind of budget—to knock on as many doors as possible and talk to as many people as possible in the riding."

And so David Eby, the NDP candidate in Vancouver-Point Grey, and his legion of door-to-door canvassers who've knocked on every door in the riding in one mightily impressive example of the NDP's superior "ground game" — and let's not forget unprecedented mail-in ballot support from the many thousands of UBC students resident in the riding, as efficient and focused a campaign as VanRamblings has ever witnessed, with campaign manager Kate Van Meer-Mass in full control, with a first-rate voter contact phone bank co-ordinated by Sean Antrim that runs morning to night, and a volunteer organization by Gala Milne (not to mention, stalwarts Mary Tenny, John Yano and Indra Roodal, among many, many other volunteers working together in Vancouver's western most riding) second-to-none in our current BC election campaign — making the race to win the hearts and minds of the people of Vancouver-Point Grey, one to watch election night.

BC Election 2013: News of the Day Heading Towards May 14th

The story of the day, so to speak, on the campaign trail on Sunday night and for much of Monday, was the cynical re-emergence of adulterer and political chameleon, Gordon Wilson, a one-time leader of the BC Liberals, one-time head of the Progressive Democratic Alliance, then an NDP cabinet minister in the government of Premier Glen Clark, and now—apparently—a born again BC Liberal. The head just swims. You can watch Wilson's endorsement of Christy Clark (really?), at the end of the story in the link above, or better still you can hear BC NDP leader Adrian Dix's take on Wilson, and more importantly, the critical issues in the 2013 British Columbia election, by clicking on the link below, for an interview conducted by Rick Cluff, with Dix, broadcast yesterday morning on CBC's Early Edition.

Who knows what's going on at British Columbia's newspaper of record, The Vancouver Sun? First up, one week to go to election day, and we have Vaughn Palmer reminding his 300,000+ readers about the HST, and the BC Liberals' role in this boondoggle that brought down a Premier, quoting Martyn Brown, former Chief of Staff to Gordon Campbell ...

"The last thing British Columbians expected from the Campbell government, which had made personal income tax relief — and household tax relief — so central to its vision, was a tax shift that would increase their tax burden, especially in the midst of a recession," wrote the premier's then chief of staff Martyn Brown in a devastating analysis-cum-mea-culpa self-published last summer.

"The HST was an issue of such broad public importance that it should never have been imposed without any prior consultation, let alone only weeks after an election, and in direct contradiction to the governing party's stated position. It represented such a significant shift in the tax burden from businesses to individuals that it was not on a scale that would have ever been right to impose it as a done deal."

"No mandate. A betrayal of the electorate ..."

Next, The Sun's Peter O'Neil suggests that ...

Ideological differences notwithstanding, an Premier Adrian Dix-Stephen Harper relationship could be a productive one. Political insiders say there are many similarities between Harper and Dix that may help the two hit it off despite clashing ideologies. Both are bilingual and former Parliament Hill staffers who grew up during the same era in major multicultural urban areas. Dix, who turned 49 on April 20, is the son of a couple who ran an insurance business in Vancouver. Harper, who celebrated his 54th birthday on April 30, is a Toronto native and the son of an accountant.

Harper and Dix are knowledgeable sports fans with a deep understanding of Canadian political history. And while Dix is far less reserved than Harper, neither man could be mistaken for glad-handing extrovert politicians like their current principal rivals — Christy Clark and Justin Trudeau. And Harper, according to some of his former cabinet colleagues, respects straight-shooting politicians with clear and unwavering principles, and who approach relations in a business-like fashion. Dix has tried to telegraph to both B.C. businesses and his own party members that he'll advocate a moderate agenda with no big surprises.

O'Neil then goes on to write that BC Liberal leader Christy Clark ...

"has just as frequently frustrated the federal Conservatives, most recently on Sunday when she once again turned her nose up at two oilsands pipeline proposals to the B.C. coast that are considered by Ottawa to be in the national interest. If Clark manages a stunning come-from-behind victory on May 14, British Columbians can assume more of the same — continued federal-provincial tensions on the oilsands pipelines issue and occasional flare-ups like the Kitsilano Coast Guard closure dispute."

And in the newspaper's pièce-de-résistance for the day, The Sun quotes BC NDP leader Adrian Dix reminding British Columbians of the BC Liberals' failure to help suffering children during their dozen years in office.

"Eight years leading the country in child poverty and the Liberal party is offering nothing except misleading comments and attacks," Dix said of the province's child-poverty rate ... Here's what I find offensive. I say Yes to LNG. I say yes to mining. I say Yes to forestry. I say Yes to film and television. I say Yes to tourism. But here's what I say No to. I say No to doing nothing when children suffer."

Hmmm. Do you think that the folks over at the Vancouver Sun know something we don't? Like maybe, just maybe, Adrian Dix and the BC NDP are set to win a majority government next Tuesday, May 14th?

BC Election 2013: Where The Leaders Will Be Tuesday, May 7th

Christy Clark will spend the day campaigning in Fort Nelson and Kitimat, doing her level best to keep the North in the BC Liberal fold, while preventing the BC Conservatives from gaining party stature in the British Columbia legislature.

Adrian Dix has a morning rally in Sidney, over on Vancouver Island, as well as rallies in the afternoon (following lunch, of course), a roundtable, and in the evening, a bit of Round 1, Game 4 Vancouver Canucks vs the San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup playoff watching, first in Richmond, then in Vancouver, and finally in Delta. Guess we know what Dix will be doing between periods.

  • 8:05am: Sidney - Campaign announcement with candidates Lana Popham, Rob Fleming, Carole James, Maurine Karagianis, Gary Holman, Jessica Van der Veen & John Horgan, Tulista Park (5 St .& Ocean Ave.)
  • 11:40am: Richmond - Campaign event with candidates Frank Huang, Gian Sihota, Scott Stewart, Richmond campaign office (8980 No. 3 Rd)
  • 12:45pm: Vancouver - Chinese community luncheon with candidates Jenny Kwan, Gabriel Yiu, George Chow, Frank Huang at Yue Shan Society Headquarters (37 E. Pender St.)
  • 5pm: Surrey - South Asian media round table with candidates Bruce Ralston, Jagrup Brar, Harry Bains, Sue Hammell, Amrik Mahil, Avtar Bains, Gabriel Yiu, Sylvia Bishop, Nic Slater, Raj Chouhan at Grand Taj Banquet Hall-Queen Hall (8388 128 St.)
  • 6:45pm: Delta - Canucks Game with supporters and candidate Sylvia Bishop at one20 Pub & Grill (8037 120 St.)

BC Conservative leader John Cummins will campaign in the Okanagan.

  • 10am: Penticton - Announcement of support for region's health care facilities, with candidate Sean Upshaw, at Carmi Coffee House Salon and Spa (595 Carmi Ave.)

Green Party of BC leader, Jane Sterk, will continue her door-to-door canvass in her home riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill, as well as ...

  • 7:45am: Victoria - Rush hour wave, Cook and Pandora
  • 11:30am: Victoria - Nurses Appreciation Party, Royal Jubilee Hospital
  • 2pm: Victoria - Mainstreeting, Cook Street Village
  • 6:15pm: Victoria - Social Service all-candidates meeting at First Metropolitan United Church

Full VanRamblings election coverage available by clicking Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:23 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 6, 2013

BC Election 2013: Heading Into The Homestretch

British Columbia election polls, May 3 2013

Part Two: Don't Allow Decision BC 2013 Polls to Get You in a Tizzy

Have another look at the BC Election polls above, and the more detailed analysis we published on the weekend, and the following series of questions arise, "How do the poll results relate to the probable outcome of the British Columbia provincial election, how many seats is each provincial party likely to garner on election night, which ridings are in contention that will tip the election result one way or another and, finally, what does it all mean for British Columbia going forward into the future, most particularly between May 14, 2013 and the next provincial election, in the autumn of 2017?"

A few of the questions above were answered in VanRamblings' weekend post. We'll address the remaining questions in postings we'll publish over the course of the final week of the Decision BC 2013 election campaign. Stay tuned, cuz this is going to be one humdinger of a provincial election.

Know this: the BC New Democrats and the BC Liberals are running disciplined campaigns. Both campaigns will stay on message, and both Adrian Dix and Christy Clark will continue to hammer home the main themes their parties are promoting to voters (change vs more of the same).

In the final week of Decision BC 2013, neither of the main contending parties for government will move anywhere close to going off track, although there's a greater likelihood you'll see the NDP mounting an edgier campaign in the next seven days, as Adrian Dix raises issues involving the BC Liberals' sorry record of governance — of which example there are many — the Liberals' 12-year history of fiscal mismanagement, as well as their abject failure to govern in the interests of a majority of British Columbians.

Let's face it: there was never any question that the British Columbia election campaign would not tighten up closer to election day, May 14th. Not for nothing has VanRamblings consistently predicted 54 seats for the BC NDP in the legislature for the coming term of office, and somewhere around 26 - 30 seats for the BC Liberals. In the polarized political climate of British Columbia, we in this province have a history of only 3 per cent, or less, of the provincial vote separating the two main parties on election day.

The difference this time? As we say above, in 2013 the advantage goes to the BC New Democrats. The best the BC Liberals can hope for in 2013 is a decent showing at the polls on election night (30+ seats would be considered a massive win for this discredited party), leaving the BC NDP left only to ponder the size of their majority in the British Columbia legislature.

As Vaughn Palmer writes in his weekend column in the Vancouver Sun, the BC Liberals are still fighting an uphill battle, a battle "against the odds."

To conclude this discussion on the polls and their meaning for the outcome of the campaign for the government of British Columbia, from his commentary published in The Straight on the weekend, here's Martyn Brown, former Chief of Staff to BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell ...

"The Liberals' supposed 'surge' amounts to a few points at the NDP's expense, that still leaves them miles away from where they need to be to have a serious shot at forming the government. While the 'new horserace' narrative helps pollsters stay relevant, gives the media something interesting to report, and allows the two main parties' supporters to become more motivated, it's way overblown, in my view.

The NDP are still way ahead by any measure, especially in the Lower Mainland, where most of the seats are. If the Green and Conservative votes both collapse to some extent, as I expect they will on election day, the NDP will gain more than the B.C. Liberals will.

If the NDP regain even a couple of points from the Green Party, and if the B.C. Liberals gain even half of all current B.C. Conservative voters, it would still be a wipeout. The NDP would be in the mid-40s and the B.C. Liberals would be in the high 30s.

The NDP voters are more motivated to punish and change the government, and the NDP vote is more 'efficient' — meaning that it is more evenly distributed across regions than that of the B.C. Liberals vote, which tends to be more regionally concentrated.

Both of those factors give the NDP a premium of perhaps 3-5%. We saw that in 1996, when the NDP lost the popular vote, but still won the most seats. In an election that is tied, for example, with both parties at about 42 percent, the NDP would form a massive majority government."

Let's follow up on the reference made by seasoned political strategist Martyn Brown in the last paragraph of his commentary above, and get a bit more graphic about the 1996 British Columbia election result ...

1996 British Columbia Provincial Election result

In 1996, as can be seen in the graphic above, in a legislative house with 75 MLAs — with only 624,395 votes cast in their favour, amounting to 39.45% of the popular vote, Glen Clark's BC New Democrats maintained a comfortable 39-seat majority in the British Columbia legislature, even though Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals managed 37,534 more votes (BC Liberals' total: 661,929), for a 41.82% showing at the polls. As Martyn Brown says — by the way, Mr. Brown was campaign director for the BC Liberals and their massive win in 2001, as well as the BC Liberals' wins in 2005 and 2009, therefore, he should know better than most of the pundits out there commenting on the probable election night results come the evening of May 14th — "the NDP are still way ahead by any measure."

Cartoonist

Cartoonist Adrian Raeside comments on the state of health care in BC under the BC Liberals

See you back here during the course of the week. In the meantime, full VanRamblings election coverage is available by clicking Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:09 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 4, 2013

BC Election 2013, The Weekend: A Prediction Wrap-Up, and more

The story of the week in BC politics was the surge in support for the BC Liberals, who have risen from a desperate 26% in the polls pre the televised debate to a more comfortable 34%, according to the latest Angus Reid poll.

Even so, writes Martyn Brown — author of the new e-book Towards a New Government in British Columbia, former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell's long-serving chief of staff, top strategic advisor to three provincial party leaders, and former BC deputy minister of tourism, trade, & investment ...

"The only real hope for the B.C. Liberals, at this point, is for voters to abandon the NDP in droves, for the Conservative vote to completely collapse, and for the Green Party to retain virtually all of its current support. Fat chance. It would take a colossal screw-up by Dix and a sea change in Clark's approval numbers to make that happen."

"So chill out, New Democrats. The sky is not falling yet again, as it has in so many past elections. At 34 percent in the polls with a little over a week until voting day, the B.C. Liberals may be giddy with delight, given where they've been. But they are still staring into the abyss, with no real route to salvation in sight, especially if Dix becomes more passionate and aggressive."

Mr. Brown ends his commentary in the Georgia Straight, advising ...

"To the extent that voters believe that the NDP is still the runaway favourite to win on May 14, and if they remain focused on what they want their legislature to look like on May 15, they may find other motivations for voting than simply who will form the government."

"The important thing is to get out and vote, because the individual choices that voters make in each riding can still change the face of the government that our elected representatives will lead and deliver. Like the song says, "there's got to be a morning after ..."

This weekend, Milton Chan's Election Prediction Project, factoring in the latest polls, still has the NDP winning a whopping 45 seats, with only 16 seats guaranteed to the Liberals, and a further 23 currently up for grabs.

ThreeHundredEight.com — the Canadian equivalent of Nate Silver's prestigious and uncannily accurate FiveThirtyEight political calculus blog, which correctly predicted 50 out of the 50 states in the 2012 U.S. election, for Congress, Senate and for President — currently has the NDP at 46 seats to the Liberals 38 seats, with one more seat going to Independent Vicki Huntington in Delta South, still very much majority territory for Adrian Dix and the BC New Democratic Party.

The UBC Sauder School of Business and their generally right on the money BC Election Prediction Market, as of this weekend, projects that the BC NDP will take 52 seats in the legislature, the BC Liberals, 27 (a drop of 22 seats from their 2009 majority win), with another two going to the BC Green Party (likely, Oak Bay - Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands), two more projected for the BC Conservatives, with two Independents filling out the full legislative contingent in Victoria for the next four years.

On Friday, as Tom Barrett at The Tyee reports — and as you'll hear from Global BC's legislative reporter, Keith Baldrey, above — pollster Ipsos-Reid released the results of a BC Election 2013 poll conducted for BC's news leader — giving the BC NDP a 10-point lead (45% of the electorate indicating a vote for the NDP) — over the BC Liberals, at 35%, leaving the BC Conservatives at 7%, down four points, and the BC Green party at 10%. Other parties, including independents, are left with 3% of the vote.

British Columbians will know the results of Decision BC 2013 by 10pm, Tuesday, May 14th, if not earlier on that most important evening.

Part Two of VanRamblings' analysis of the polls results, what it all means for the BC NDP come election night, May 14th (hint: a majority NDP government), and more, here on Monday morning. See you then.

In the meantime, full VanRamblings election coverage is available by clicking Decision BC 2013, as we continue our daily coverage of the B.C. election.

We'll leave you for now with, perhaps, the most important poll of all ...

BURGER HEAVEN'S BUN-OFFICIAL BC ELECTION BURGER POLL
Click on the Burger Heaven poll above to read the bios of the leaders


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:20 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 3, 2013

BC Election 2013: All Hell Breaks Lose as Race Tightens

CTV BC video | Angus Reid poll | Just 7 points separate BC Liberals and NDP

Click on the picture above for CTV BC video: "Just 7 points separate BC Liberals and NDP"

Forum Research's wacky BC Election 2013 poll

Is there any person in British Columbia, be s/he pundit or average citizen, who believes for one bloody moment that Christy Clark and her discredited B.C. Liberal party are on track to catch up to Adrian Dix and his surging New Democratic Party? Is their any rational person in British Columbia - who cares about B.C., and who follows B.C. politics - who doesn't believe that the electorate are hankering for change, who doesn't believe that a vast majority of British Columbians want to see the backside of the B.C. Liberal party, and their harebrained governance under the quizzical non-leadership of the thoroughly discredited Christy Clark? Puh-leeze. For all that Canada's national right-wing rag might have their in-house Forum Research pollster engage in fantasy-filled projection on their behalf on the outcome of the May 14th British Columbia election (see graphic above), that publisher PostMedia deigns to report such on the front page of their near financially bankrupt national newspaper, there is nothing about the poll above that bears any semblance to the political reality felt by British Columbians in the dying days of the Decision BC 2013.

Yes, the Decision BC 2013 race is tightening up, both the Conservative and Green votes appear to be in freefall, and the BC Liberals are seemingly picking up some of the slack, but will they form government for a fourth consecutive term of office when election results are announced the evening of May 14th? Not bloody likely unless Dix stumbles, and he ain't gonna.

Somewhere between the 48% for the NDP and 26% for the B.C. Liberal party that Angus Reid reported in their poll released earlier in the week, and their poll conducted for CTV BC on May 1 and 2, and released today (see video above) — not to mention the 70 to 12 seat majority the Vancouver Sun projected yesterday — and the National Post's way-out-of-right-field Forum Research poll, above, lays the reality of where we'll end up on election night. As VanRamblings reported yesterday, the race will probably continue to tighten up some in the remaining 9 days of Decision BC 2013, the Liberal Party may yet climb to 35% in the polls, as the Conservative and the Green Party vote continues to collapse, but make no mistake, the BC New Democratic Party are on track to form government post May 14th.

When you have longtime Vancouver Sun legislative columnist Vaughn Palmer reading the political tea leaves — and realize he has access to the internal polls for both of British Columbia's main parties — when Palmer advises the B.C. Liberals to "keep your chins up", as he did in his column yesterday, as the discredited current government heads toward certain defeat at the polls in 2013, you know that this is a race that, although it's tightening up some, is a race headed in one direction and one direction only, with the all-but-inevitable outcome of a majority BC NDP government set to guide our province over the course of the next four years.

Pundit David Schreck tweets on BC Election

For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:02 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 2, 2013

BC Election 2013: The Races Tightens, but Only Somewhat

BC ELECTION 2013, UBC Prediction Market May 2 2013

With only a handful of days left in Decision BC 2013, as most pundits had predicted, the campaign race has tightened some this week over last, with the BC Liberals gaining 3% in the polls, as the Green Party and Conservative vote begins to collapse. The NDP vote has remained steady at 44.2%, though, enough to catapult BC's long out of government centre left political party to victory on May 14th, with a projected 56 seats in the British Columbia legislature, a gain of 21 seats, and 34 more seats than the floundering BC Liberals.

VanRamblings has told friends that we believe the NDP will garner 54 seats in the house come election night, May 14th, a perfect number for the BC NDP, and leader Adrian Dix — enough to appoint a cabinet of 24 - 26, with another 24 - 26 parliamentary secretary appointments, as well as an NDP house leader, party whip, Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House, thereby keeping any idle NDP electeds from possible mischief that could hurt the party, and also affording increased salaries for each NDP member in the legislature, newly-elected and sustaining. We'll see come May 14th.

VANCOUVER SUN BC ELECTION TOOL PREDICTS MASSIVE NDP WIN

To throw a monkey wrench into the whole election prediction game, according to Chad Skelton, at the Vancouver Sun, if one takes into account the most recent Angus Reid poll, an online seat prediction tool created by The Sun newspaper "predicts the NDP winning a whopping 70 seats and the Liberals just 12, with another two for independent candidates and one for the Greens." Again, we'll just wait to see what occurs on May 14th.

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Given the figures expressed in the polls above, in his latest column for the Vancouver Sun, longtime legislative reporter Vaughn Palmer writes that the B.C. Liberals are simply trying to keep their chins up, and hang on.

Looking to the current campaign, NDP leader Adrian Dix is fighting to win everywhere, though his party denies (not all that persuasively, in my view) that he means to crush, crush, crush the Liberals the way Campbell did the New Democrats in 2001.

The Liberals, in fighting against the odds to turn things around, are also serving the dual purpose of trying to save as much as they can of their seat complement to establish a sizable opposition beachhead for the next four years. Plan B, one might call it. And unless the gap between the two main parties drops to the single digits very soon, I expect it will become the operative one for the Liberals as election day approaches.

Has Palmer had a look at the Vancouver Sun poll above? Must be, cuz he seems to be writing off the Liberal's chances with 12 days still to go.

BC Election 2013: News from Here, There & Everywhere

As is the case with the mainstream media, VanRamblings has pretty much ignored the travails of the BC Conservative campaign, and whatever machinations it's deer-in-the-headlights leader, John Cummins, performs each day on the campaign trail. In an April 30th story, the Vancouver Sun's Mike Hager reported that the Conservative party had failed to file the proper paperwork by last Friday's nomination deadline for four of its candidates — Vancouver-Quilchena's Bill Clarke, a former Progressive Conservative MP; Burnaby-Lougheed's Christine Clarke; Burnaby North's Wayne Marklund; and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows' Manuel (Mike) Pratas. As a consequence, the candidates will run unaffiliated. Oh sure, the four 'quasi-semi-sorta-but-really' non-Conservative candidates — who won't have their affiliation made official on the ballots — will still campaign as Conservatives, using party paraphernalia like lawn signs and logos, and the like, but they won't be - like, y'know - official Conservatives. Poor John Cummins, he's running a provincial campaign where the wheels keep coming off the bus.

And then there's this story about the ...

... triumvirate of candidates dropped by the B.C. Conservative party in the past week over their controversial online comments, who have pledged to continue running as independents. Ian Tootill announced he will be running in Vancouver-False Creek after party leader John Cummins took offence to several of his comments made on Twitter. Two other Tory candidates dumped by the party for their controversial comments, Vancouver-West End's Ron Herbert and Boundary-Similkameen's Mischa Popoff, will also run as independents.

The wheels on the Conservative campaign bus go click, click, clack ...

THE TYEE'S BC ELECTION 2013 COVERAGE

We're not sure why, but for some reason or other VanRamblings has quite consistently neglected to steer readers in the direction of The Tyee's otherwise superior coverage of the 40th British Columbia provincial election, an oversight we'll attempt to remedy, at least to some degree, now.

  • In this Tyee story, one of the NDP's most prominent candidates, labour opposition critic and caucus chair Shane Simpson, said he's "not 100 percent sure" his party will achieve B.C.'s 2020 climate target if elected to lead the province.

  • Tyee reporter Pieta Woolley wonders why it is that during the course of Monday's debate, no party leader made a peep about fixing British Columbia's clearly broken foster care and child protection system.

  • Then there's The Tyee's "scroll in and find your riding, or information on any other riding in the province" BC Election 2013 Map and Guide.

  • There's a great deal more to learn about the issues of concern respecting Decision BC 2013 that may be found on The Tyee's front page, as well, if you care to take a gander.

Well, that's it for VanRamblings May 2nd coverage of the BC Election.

For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:35 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

May 1, 2013

BC Election 2013: Congratulations, Premier Adrian Dix

BC ELECTION PREDICTION PROJECT MAY 1, 2013

Barring any last minute fumbles by Adrian Dix (as unlikely a prospect as one could possibly imagine), as we head towards E-Day on May 14th, the son of parents Ken and Hilda, immigrants from Ireland and Britain, respectively, fluent speaker of both of Canada's official languages, graduate of UBC in History and Political Science, husband of Renée Saklikar, a poet and writer, longtime resident and two term MLA for Vancouver's Collingwood district (the riding called Vancouver Kingsway), one morning very soon you will be waking to the news that Premier Adrian Dix will be sworn into office in the early part of June — along with a cabinet comprised of dedicated, hard-working New Democrat MLAs who Mr. Dix believes can help to right the course for British Columbia, create jobs and opportunity, manage our health care sector for the good of all, ensure that our children are provided with the resources necessary to learn in our public schools, and more, so much more — to become British Columbia's 36th Premier.

As you can see from the graphic at the head of today's blog post, Milton Chan, over at the Election Prediction Project, stipulates that the New Democratic Party of British Columbia is guaranteed to win a minimum of 45 seats in the house, two more than is necessary for a majority government, and currently 30 seats greater than the increasingly moribund BC Liberals, a rise of three seats for the NDP over last week's prediction, and a loss of one for the Liberals. As we've written previously, too bad, so sad, ain't sure it's been all that great to know ya, don't let the door whack you on the behind on your way out, better luck next time, we thank you for your efforts in governing British Columbia (however misguided were many of your policies), but the time has come when the citizens of our province are aching for change, and so you are gone, as the Adrian Dix era hath arrived, thoughtful, methodical, humane, policy-developed, slow, sustaining and incremental change for the better. The clocks will not be turned back.

Adrian Dix, BC NDP leader

Adrian Dix, leader of the BC NDP and next Premier of the province of British Columbia

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The four leaders are back on the campaign trail, hard at it, Adrian Dix working to increase an NDP majority in the legislature, Christy Clark doing her best to avoid an unrecoverable drubbing at the polls for her BC Liberal party, John Cummins doing his level best to elect a handful of Conservatives in the Interior, and Jane Sterk striving hard to not only get the BC Green Party message out to voters, but ensure that at least a couple of her candidates are elected on May 14th (Oak Bay - Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands are identified as the best bets) to represent their constituents in the British Columbia legislature.

Where will the four leaders of British Columbia's political parties spend their time in the remaining days of Decision BC 2013?

BC NDP leader Adrian Dix spent most of Tuesday in Prince George, where he pledged to the B.C. Mayors' Council that an NDP government would create a stand-alone ministry for local government and hold annual roundtables with mayors from across the province. Wednesday morning, Adrian Dix had breakfast in Quesnel, where he also attended a campaign event with NDP Cariboo-North candidate Duncan Barnett, who also traveled with the BC NDP leader to a 2:05pm campaign stop in Barkerville.

BC Liberal leader Christy Clark launched a three-day, 10-city campaign tour on Tuesday, hoping to capitalize on the exposure from Monday night's comme ci, comme ça leaders' debate. This morning, Ms. Clark had breakfast with supporters in Penticton, after which her campaign bus headed down the road to the offices of Boundary-Similkameen BC Liberal candidate, Linda Larson, a riding the Election Prediction Project's Milton Chan is now calling for NDP candidate Lakhvinder Jhaj, a pick up for the NDP over the Liberals from 2009. At 3:30pm, the soon-to-be-ex Premier made a stop at the Sanderson Fruit Stand in Keremeos, before she headed down the road to Princeton, for a tour of the Copper Mountain Mine.

BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk spent Tuesday visiting the editorial offices of Vancouver's two major dailies before traveling home to Victoria. Bright and early this morning, Ms. Sterk had breakfast with party supporters before heading over to Victoria's CFAX radio station for a one-on-one with morning host, Al Ferraby. At 10:30am, Ms. Sterk was off to participate in an all-candidates forum at the James Bay New Horizons Centre, in support of her candidacy in Victoria-Beacon Hill, where she hopes to defeat former NDP leader, Carole James (an unlikely prospect). At 12:30pm, Ms. Sterk was interviewed by CBC Almanac host, Mark Forsythe. Tonight, at 6:30pm, it was another all-candidates forum at the New Horizons Centre. Tomorrow, Ms. Sterk is scheduled to set out across across Vancouver Island in support of candidates running under the BC Green Party banner.

Yesterday, Conservative leader John Cummins began what he's calling his pick-up truck tour, where he made stops at the many Interior communities that dot Highway One — Hope, Boston Bar, Lytton, Spences Bridge, Merritt and Ashcroft, among other small towns and villages — before finally arriving at his Kamloops destination, where he spent most of Wednesday plumping for local BC Conservative candidates, Ed Klop and Peter Sharp.

VanRamblings will leave you with the following Christy Clark message ...

For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:25 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 30, 2013

BC Election 2013: The Campaigns Move in to the Homestretch

GlobalBC video, April 29, 2013: Jill Bennett provides a post Leaders' Debate analysis

Global BC Leaders' Debate poll

With last night's Leaders' Debate complete, Decision BC 2013 heads in to the homestretch, with less than two weeks til election day, on May 14th.

With no so-called 'knockout blows' landed by any of the party leaders, as can be seen in the Ipsos-Reid post Leaders' Debate poll conducted for Global BC, last evening's debate emerged as pretty much a draw, with BC's NDP leader finding somewhat more favour among British Columbians than did his BC Liberal party counterpart, the beleaguered Christy Clark, who drew much of the fire during the course of Monday evening's debate.

Vancouver Sun legislative columnist Vaughn Palmer weighed in on last night's debate in today's edition of B.C.'s newspaper of record ...

(John Cummins) had the most telling comment of the night, however, with his devastating observation off the top that "nobody" expects Christy Clark and the Liberals to win the election and folks probably tuned in "to see what Adrian Dix would look like as a premier."

If so, then what they saw was a leader who remains a bit awkward and evasive here and there, but who is a master of his chosen material, with growing confidence overall.

If any of the other leaders laid a glove on him in Monday night's debate, it didn't show up in my notes.

The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter and Ian Bailey write that the party leaders traded punches during the course of the election's only televised debate, while columnist Gary Mason felt that "Dix won on points, as he delivered the most important performance of his political career." Meanwhile, Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith opined that, "It's hard not to feel that all four provincial leaders are insulting voters' intelligence."

And, of course, Charlie is right. Last night's Leaders' Debate was, for the most part, an 'issue free' zone, with virtually no discussion by the party leaders of the major policy issues of concern to British Columbians: transportation, education, and housing, among others. Yes, it may be that Christy Clark's gaffe in barreling through a red light at 5:15 a.m. offers a metaphor for her approach to governance, but to be the first question that was posed to her by debate moderator Jennifer Burke? C'mon now. And so the night went, parry and thrust, personal attack followed by more political invective, and nary a mention of some of the critical issues that a new government in Victoria will have to face in developing policy that best meets the needs of British Columbians across the vast expanse of our province.

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Today, then, it's back onto the hustings for the four leaders, with Premier Christy Clark spending the day in the Kootenays mainstreeting, before travelling to Cranbook for a 5pm Liberal party rally.

Following an early morning, so-called Breakfast of Champions campaign event with Vancouver-False Creek NPD candidate Matt Toner, BC NDP leader Adrian Dix will hop on a plane heading for Prince George, where he'll issue a policy announcement at the College of New Caledonia at 3pm, after which he'll attend a Rally for Change with candidates Bobby Deepak and Sherry Ogasawara, at the Prince George Civic Centre.

BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins — who didn't fare all that well in last night's debate, with his deer-in-the-headlights performance — will spend the first part of the day in Vancouver before traveling to Kamloops for a BC Conservative fundraiser. Meanwhile, BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk — who wasn't as strong in last night's debate as she was on Friday — will spend her day doing media (e.g. interviews with the editorial Boards of the Vancouver Sun and The Province), before heading out to Surrey this evening for an all-candidates debate at South Park family school.

Three Hundred Eight Election Prediction outcome, April 29 2013


As can be seen from the latest ThreeHundredEight.com statistical compilation poll above, heading into the final 12 days of Decision BC 2013, as most pundits predicted the race has tightened up some, the Liberals are up 2.8 points, the NDP down a couple — all of which means not a whit to the election outcome May 14th, other than the prospect that the election result will not prove a complete wipeout for the BC Liberals.

VanRamblings will return tomorrow with more, probable, election outcome predictions, a review of Decision BC 2013 mainstream media coverage and, perhaps, a bit of insight into BC's 40th provincial election. For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 11:19 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 29, 2013

BC Election 2013: Leaders' Debate a Pivotal Campaign Day

BC Leaders' Debate 2013, televised province-wide tonight, 6:30pm-8pm

Well, this is it folks — the big day, the make it or break day for Decision BC 2013. Tonight at 6:30pm, broadcast on the three major television networks across British Columbia, as well as radio stations throughout the province, the four leaders of the main political parties in our province come together for the televised Leaders' Debate, the only opportunity British Columbians will have to assess the cut and jib of the provincial party leaders who are vying to become the Premier of our province for the next four years.

Ostensibly, the purpose of tonight's leaders' debate is to provide British Columbians with a keen insight into the policies and political belief structure of our provincial leaders. Premier Christy Clark has the most to gain or lose, as she is the one leader who will face an audience that is primed to give her a thumbs-down review on both delivery and substance.

Adrian Dix steps in front of the cameras tonight the perceived front-runner in the May 14 election. All Dix has to do is keep his powder dry, appear reasonable, engaging and perhaps even avuncular while presenting his, and the NDP's, plans for British Columbia through 2017, and the next provincial election. BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk acquitted herself well on CKNW's Leaders' Debate on Friday — will she perform as well again tonight, as she attempts to paint herself as a reasonable alternative for voters?

And, finally, Conservative leader John Cummins, who thus far in BC's election campaign hasn't gained much traction, even given his ridiculing of the balanced budget legislation that forms a central raison d'être plank of the Liberal platform. By Wednesday, when the major pollsters release the results on their post-election sampling of the public's reception of the four leaders, we'll know who the leader will be that will enter the final 11 days of the campaign with the most forward momentum headed toward May 14.

GlobalBC video: Premier Christy Clark taken to task for blowing through a red light

One of the "issues" that will almost certainly come up during the course of tonight's Leaders' Debate will revolve around the poor judgement Premier Clark displayed in blowing through a red light at 5:15 a.m. one morning this past week, her son Hamish and Vancouver Sun reporter Jonathan Fowlie in tow. As former Chief of Staff to Gordon Campbell writes in The Straight ...

"Even if Clark was banking on the incident not being reported or captured by a red light camera, it is illegal. 'Fun' or not. No matter how empty the intersection was or how early in the morning it was, it displayed a wanton disregard for the law and common sense. It sends a horrible message that, metaphorically, too closely approximates her approach to governing.

In Clark's world, rules are meant to be broken. It is a message that is endemic to her Office and that has been reflected by her example and by her most senior political staff. Whatever you can get away with when you think that nobody's watching is A-OK ... This Premier stops for no one. She's cool with "pushing the envelope" with actions that she assumes will never be held to account.

Note that when Clark ran that red light, it was no accident. She didn't run a yellow light that turned red before she could stop at the intersection. She deliberately chose to go through the light because it was red. Because she could. ... It speaks volumes about her troubled leadership and government."

And thus the metaphorical issue that best describes Christy Clark's reckless and wanton approach to government rears its head in the final weeks of the British Columbia election campaign, in this 'do or die, on the line' election for Clark's governing BC Liberal party. Premier Clark's decision to run a red light, when she knew full well a reporter was sitting right next to her in her car - as research for a profile piece he was writing on her - was a blunder.

A blunder on top of one blunder after another — from the so-called ethnic vote scandal that served to alienate British Columbians across the province, to the failure of her government to respond to the heartbreaking protests of parents over the Liberal party's unconscionable cuts to services for their developmentally disabled children (all the while, promoting her disingenuous "families first" agenda - parents with disabled children apparently seeming not to fit into Premier Clark's ruddy definition of family), from the utter lack of ethics displayed by senior government officials in her office who engaged in partisan activity to identify the vote for her Liberal government, to the iconic wooden office building scandal respecting the partisan efforts of Ministers in her government respecting the bid process — has defined her time as Premier of the province of British Columbia. Just as is the case with a marriage, it is rarely 'one big thing' that destroys a marriage, but rather it is the litany of 'little things' that when added together prove to be the most consequential in the final, heartbreaking decision to end a relationship.

And so, the 12-year reign of a BC Liberal government that lost the favour of the voting public with the implementation of the much-despised HST, through Christy Clark's reign of error since winning the leadership of the Liberal Party on February 26, 2011, must come to an end. As the defining line of the BC NDP campaign says, "Change. One practical step at a time".

Update: For VanRamblings' coverage of Monday's BC Leaders' Debate click on BC Election 2013: The Campaigns Move in to the Homestretch.

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BC Election 2013: A Wrap-Up of News from the Mainstream Media

We'll wrap today's post with a review of print and online press coverage.

  • Georgia Straight. As we've reported previously, editor Charlie Smith is on a roll. In his latest commentary, Smith tackles the BC Liberals for neglecting to pay attention to the tenor of politics in the western world, their failure to recognize that "the winds are changing", and for their decision to campaign to the right rather than as a moderately progressive party. Smith also writes that the NDP are poised to add many new seats if the polls hold, suggesting he believes they will. Also in The Straight, Vancouver-False Creek Liberal candidate Sam Sullivan writes that marijuana prohibition is a failed policy. You'll find more Georgia Straight coverage of the provincial election here.
  • Globe and Mail. Andrea Woo writes a profile on 'underdog' Vancouver Fairview candidate, Geoge Heyman. Mark Hume travelled north to write a riding profile of Peace River North, one of the ridings to watch on election night, with Independent Arthur Hadland on track to defeat Liberal incumbent Pat Pimm. Guess we'll see in 15 days.

C'mon back tomorrow for VanRamblings' take on tonight's Leaders' Debate, and other election-related news of the day.

(Find the latest VanRamblings election coverage at Decision BC 2013)

(As the 'story of the the April 18th Kitsilano Community Centre AGM continues to generate interest, readers will find VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas wrote about the KitsCC AGM, her article to be found here, along with a Letter to the Editor in response to Thomas' article. In related news, The Courier's Bob Mackin writes that Kate Perkins, Trout Lake Community Centre President, and Chair of of the community center Associations Presidents Group — currently involved in a sensitive re-negotiation of the operating agreement that defines the relationship between community centres and Vancouver's Park Board and City Council — is, in fact, as she describes herself, a "mole" for the office of the City Manager, and Dr. Penny Ballem — at best, questionable conduct as well as a conflict of interest for Ms. Perkins, and unethical behaviour on the part of Vancouver's City Manager, if in fact Dr. Ballem made promises of employment or favour to Ms. Perkins in exchange for her duties as a "mole")


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:22 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 27, 2013

BC Election 2013, Weekend Edition: NDP Still Much in the Lead

Angus Reid poll, BC election, April 26, 2013

Despite the finest efforts of Premier Christy Clark to wrest control away from British Columbia's New Democratic Party in Decision BC 2013, polls remain grim for Ms. Clark and her discredited and about-to-be-turfed Liberal party, as Adrian Dix and the BC NDP appear set to take the reins of government in Victoria — in what will likely prove to be a smashing electoral victory on May 14th.

According to the pollsters at Angus-Reid, across British Columbia 45 per cent of decided voters and leaners (unchanged since mid-April) would cast a ballot for the BC NDP candidate in their riding if the provincial election were held today. The B.C. Liberals picked up three percentage points of support since the last poll in April, putting them at 31 per cent, according to the poll which was conducted this past Wednesday and Thursday.

Pollster Mario Canseco says support for BC NDP leader Adrian Dix and British Columbia's New Democratic Party has not fluctuated since the start of the election campaign on April 16th.

"The NDP keeps comfortable leads in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and maintains a good retention rate from the last election," said Canseco. "Across the province, 59 per cent of respondents believe it is time for a change in British Columbia and would like to see a different provincial party elected into power, while 25 per cent would rather have the B.C. Liberals re-elected."

Barring a major (and extremely unlikely) misstep by Adrian Dix, or the BC New Democrats, in the final two weeks of Decision BC 2013, British Columbians will get what they're hankering for come May 14th — change.

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BC Election 2013: Right-wing pit bulls drag out anti-NDP scare tactics

No, the NDP will not bring in a reign of totalitarian communism"NDP government = socialism", say many pundits and media mavens. Horse puckey, we say.

Despite the BC NDP's continuing dominance in the polls, there are those in the mainstream media who would seek to temper their pending victory.

Earlier in the week, Global BC's Jas Johal conducted an interview with the despicable Philip Hochstein, President of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., where Mr. Hochstein accused BC NDP leader Adrian Dix of being a bully, going on to say in the interview that Dix is "trying to bully the business community", and that an NDP government would set a course to "kill the business climate in British Columbia" should they be elected come May 14th. If anyone believes that hogwash, there's a bridge that's going for a great price they might be interested in.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe reports that with Adrian Dix and the Dippers in power over in Victoria, "Canada's Pacific gateway under an NDP government is apt to become the country's drawbridge," as she sets about to elucidate just exactly how the NDP will kill business ...

  • Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline? Forget it.
  • Expansion of Kinder Morgan's TransMountain Pipeline? No way.
  • Tanker traffic off B.C.'s north coast? Never.
  • Coal exports out of West Coast ports? An abomination.
  • A new Raven coal mine on Vancouver Island, or a Prosperity gold copper mine in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, or BC Hydro's Site C dam near Fort St. John? No, no and no.

Ms. Yaffe continues in the same vein for 988 words of peerless 'scare tactic' prose, as if all that BC New Democrats are intent on is destroying the British Columbia economy, with designs on thrusting tens of thousands more beleaguered British Columbians onto the unemployment rolls.

And, let's not forget about Business in Vancouver columnist Trevor Lautens, about whom blogger Alex Tsakumis expresses gaseous disdain on his blog. Mr. Lautens refers to Liberal leader Christy Clark as principled and noble, while describing NDP leader Adrian Dix as "a consummate actor who's been impersonating a moderate. He's foxed the media. Never doubt: He's the strategic front man for the big-state, anti-business, neo-Marxist NDP heavies in the back rooms."

Let's allow Mr. Tsakumis to reflect on Mr. Lauten's musings in BiV ...

"To describe Lautens' severely disfigured logic as ultimately flawed is to understate the case by a country mile. Perhaps in his zeal to hail a victory over the socialist hordes at the gate — a tired (and tiresome) canard to which he alludes, Lautens missed the multiplicity of factors that preclude such a result, inclusive - at position one - of the train wreck performance that is the failed, discreditable leader currently infesting the Office of the Premier."

"In what I can only describe as the single worst column I've read in years, Lautens demonstrates that he not only can no longer read the tea leaves, but too, that he's thoroughly lazy."

As Mr. Tsakumis writes, "the far right has gone completely sideways."

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BC Election 2013: Report on Issues Raised by the Mainstream Media
Some sources in the tank for the Liberals, some not quite so much

Media rakes Dix over the coals for how and when he came to a decision on Kinder Morgan

Vancouver Sun legislative columnist Vaughn Palmer apparently finds covering Decision BC 2013 just no fun when the outcome seems such a forgone conclusion. Ssssoooo, why not raise a little hell? Mr. Palmer reports with all of the authorial voice he can muster that not only did Adrian Dix not acquit himself well yesterday morning on CKNW Leaders' Debate, but that the BC NDP leader is flip-flopping on the Kinder Morgan pipeline (so-called flip-flopping is a big no no in politics, don'tcha know, can't have that sober second thought / considered opinion thingy happening, no siree). The weight of Palmer's columns have the potential to influence the discourse on this election, to the benefit of the Liberals and the detriment of the NDP.

Of course, you can watch the video above to determine for yourself whether the questioning of Dix appears to you as just discourse, or whether the media are losing touch with reality, need to get their ears checked, are relying on bad information ("No," says Globe and Mail legislative reporter Justine Hunter, "Adrian Dix did not enunciate a position on Kinder Morgan when I interviewed him on January 10th"), or are otherwise attempting to generate "an issue" when there is no issue of contention that is readily apparent to you, me and thee.

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Well, that's it for our weekend report, folks. We'll be back bright and early on Monday morning, with a pre-televised debate humdinger of a posting. Readers will find the latest coverage of the election at Decision BC 2013.

(If, by happenstance, you've arrived on VanRamblings looking for coverage of the April 18th Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — it weren't pretty, folks — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM is here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:15 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 26, 2013

BC Election 2013, Day 10: A Slow Day on the Campaign Trail

Click on video to watch full CKNW BC Election 2013 Leaders' Debate, broadcast earlier today

As per the heading of today's VanRamblings post, why was Thursday, April 25th, and why will today both prove to be slow days on the campaign trail?

Easy answer that.

This morning, veteran CKNW broadcaster Bill Good hosted an exclusive BC leadership debate on AM980 (see video above). The much-touted Leaders' Debate included BC NDP leader Adrian Dix, Liberal leader Christy Clark, Green leader Jane Sterk and Conservative leader John Cummins.

Where were the leaders on Thursday, and where will the leaders be over the weekend? In preparation. Thursday was preparation day for the make-it-or-break-it election opportunity that a leaders' debate provides to the four hopefuls running to become Premier of British Columbia. For any politico out there worth her or his salt, CKNW 980 was the place to be Friday morning. Full video of the CKNW Leaders' Debate may be found above.

Monday's April 29th leaders' debate, to be broadcast both on the three big television networks (CBC, CTV and Global), as well as on radio across the province, is the real make-it-or-break-it pivot for Decision BC 2013. All one has to do is look back at the impact then Liberal leader Gordon Wilson had on the electorate in 1991, and where many decided to park their vote.

The 1991 leaders' debate was supposed to be a clash between the NDP's Mike Harcourt and Social Credit's Rita Johnston. But Liberal leader Gordon Wilson surprised everyone by getting in the best shots, as he scolded the bickering Harcourt and Johnston. "This reminds me of the legislature and here's a classic example of why nothing ever gets done in the province of British Columbia," Wilson told the television home viewing audience.

Although the New Democratic Party went on to win an astounding 51 seats in the house, the Socreds were decimated, finished, done like dinner — winning only 7 seats — while the Liberals went from zero to 17 seats in the legislature. Not winning the debate was one of the few flaws in what was considered a great campaign for NDP leader and new premier Mike Harcourt.

Leadership debates can have a profound effect, as they did in 1991 in BC, or on the national stage, when in 1984 Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney confronted a deer-in-headlights, newly-elected Liberal leader John Turner — Mulroney pouncing on Turner's patronage appointments and thunderously rejecting Turner's leadership in a heated exchangedevastating Turner in a one-on-one debate, in the process taking the Conservatives to an unprecedented 211 seat victory in Parliament.

Whether it's this morning's leaders' debate on CKNW, or Monday evening's televised leaders' debate, how the four leaders perform could very well emerge as a determining factor in who wins government on May 14th.

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Although the ad above is a bit dated (it came out in Nov. 2010, prior to newly-elected Liberal leader Christy Clark announcing a rise in the minimum wage, which now sits at $10.25 an hour), the ad nonetheless speaks to a core constituency of the NDP, in a resolutely non-cynical manner.

In a month of Sundays, the provincial Liberals could never hope to achieve a connection with the youth in our province because, let's face it, the provincial Liberals — even with the bright, relatively young face of Christy Clark at the helm — are the party of the old fuddy duddies, the party of the corporate elite, a provincial political party that believes in stasis over change.

The New Democratic Party speaks to, and for, most youth who reside in British Columbia. Whereas to the provincial Liberal party youth are just kids, kids who don't get out to vote, and thus whose interests are unworthy of concern or interest, to be roundly ignored while on the campaign trail and, more particularly, while holding the reins of government.

Take a moment to consider the unemployment rate among youth in British Columbia — an astounding and unforgivable 14.5%, the highest youth unemployment rate in Canada. And just what have the Liberals done to address the problem of unemployment among our province's young people? The answer is a simple one: BC does not have Canada's highest youth unemployment rate because the Liberals gave a damn about this British Columbia constituency (or their worried parents, for that matter).

If what VanRamblings has observed while volunteering in the offices of Vancouver Point Grey NDP candidate David Eby offers any indication on where the youth vote will go in Decision BC 2013, and how many of our youth will plug in to this year's provincial election — as we've witnessed an unprecedentedly well-organized, daily outreach campaign to youth, and the many thousands of students at UBC — the BC NDP are set to gain an unprecedented portion of the youth vote come election day, May 14th.

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C'mon back to VanRamblings over the weekend, when we'll continue to provide dense coverage of Decision BC 2013, as we link to reports in the mainstream and alternative press, point you in the direction of interest group involvement in the election, and otherwise attempt to provide you with the information you may have missed while leading your very busy life.

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:50 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 25, 2013

BC Election 2013, Day 9: Campaign Race Finally Starts To Heat Up

BC ELECTION 2013, UBC Prediction Market April 24 2013

Announcements, firings, former Chief of Staff to Gordon Campbell calling it for the NDP, sale of BC Place and maybe the Convention Centre pending a new administration in power post May 14th, Vancouver Point Grey on the verge of sending Premier Christy Clark on a permanent vacation — who says that British Columbia politics is dull?

If you take a look at the UBC Sauder Business School Market prediction to the right, you'll see that the Liberals are in worse shape than they were last week: the NDP up from 54 to 58 seats, the Liberals down to 19 from 22. Too bad, so sad, the Liberals are going on a long, long vacation, as Vancouver Sun columnist writes that "Adrian Dix's election strategy is to crush opponents and avoid the one-term blues."

In other words, "Hello the Right Honourable Adrian Dix, forever more Premier of the lush, thriving Province of British Columbia."

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BC Election 2013: Media Coverage from here, there and everywhere

We are trying for pithy in today's edition of our always informative Decision BC 2013 coverage, so let's get right down to it, shall we?

  • Vancouver Sun. British Columbia's daily paper of record has ramped up it's coverage of the election big time this week. Wednesday kicked off with this story from two of The Sun's campaign trail reporters, Jonathan Fowlie and Tracy Campbell.
    An NDP government would attempt to sell the newly renovated BC Place Stadium, and possibly the Vancouver Convention Centre, to help cover the significant losses at both publicly owned facilities, Adrian Dix announced Wednesday.

    "When the operation of a facility draws tens of millions of dollars in public subsidy every year, and has left taxpayers with a mountain of debt, I believe we have to take a close look at whether that's a business we should be in," the NDP leader said while standing in front of BC Place.

    "If the private sector can do a better job running BC Place, freeing taxpayers of millions of dollars in losses and reducing public debt, we've got a win-win, and we'll pursue that."

    Dix said any sale would have to protect the future of both the B.C. Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps, who use the stadium as their base of operations.

    Elsewhere in Vancouver Sun coverage of Decision BC 2013, their April 24th editorial strongly urges British Columbians to get out to vote — "It's your own future you will be helping to decide. Not voting will only ensure somebody else decides it for you." Well worth reading the entire, well-crafted editorial.

    The Vancouver Sun's Gordon Hoekstra, in a Prince George riding profile, writes that Liberal Attorney-General Shirley Bond, and neophyte Liberal candidate Mike Morris, a former RCMP north district commander, are in for the fight of their lives in this bellwether riding.

    Lori Culbert, Chad Skelton and Gordon Hoekstra report that "the NDP raised just under $1 million from corporations in 2012, four times what they collected from the corporate sector in 2011." Fortis B.C., a natural gas supplier, gave 30 times more money to the Liberals than the NDP from 2005 to 2011, but in 2012 made heftier donations to the NDP ($24,500) than to the Liberals ($18,000). Ah, ain't that sweet.

    And finally from the Vancouver Sun, the BC Conservative Party dumped their oleaginous Vancouver False Creek candidate, Ian Toothill, with Liberal candidate in the riding, former Mayor Sam Sullivan (an equally oleaginous fellow), and neophyte NDP candidate Matt Toner dancing a metaphorical jig. Vancouver False Creek will be one of the ridings to watch election night. With his name recognition, and a plethora of conservative voters in the riding's Yaletown precinct, Sullivan could eke out a victory. Toner's chances are probably somewhat diminished with Toothill out of the race. Still. Guess, we'll just have to wait and see how much of a nail biter this one'll be.

  • Georgia Straight. Charlie Smith is really feeling his oats these days, and that's a good thing. In this editorial, the estimable editor of The Straight writes that "the B.C. Liberals will be punished for the disgusting attack ads on Adrian Dix," arising from soon-to-be Premier Dix's heroic efforts on the campaign trail despite suffering the rigours of Type 1 diabetes. A very good piece, and well worth reading.

    Talking about estimable people, former Chief of Staff to Gordon Campbell, Martyn Brown, continues to drive nails into Christy Clark's candidacy for Premier, and the Liberal's chances for anything akin to a phoenix-like victory come May 14th.

    And finally from The Straight, a commentary from Vancouver Point Grey candidate, David Eby, who writes about "investing in our youth, and improving access to higher education." Yep, that's the same Dave Eby who's running again Christy Clark, our soon-to-be ex-Premier. Yeah, that one. Full disclosure. I'm volunteering on David's NDP campaign, so maybe I'm just a tad more enthusiastic about David's candidacy than some, but you would be, too, if you knew him.

Well, there's more to report but, really, how much more can you read? There's a tune being sung here, and it ain't a changin' anytime soon.

BC Liberals bail on beleaguered soon-to-be-ex-Premier, Christy Clark

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:16 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 23, 2013

Day Eight: NDP Step Up to the Plate on Earth Day

BC ELECTION PREDICTION PROJECT APRIL 23, 2013

We'll check in each week with Milton Chan and his Election Prediction Project, to track where pundits and those on the ground believe Decision BC 2013 appears headed, riding-by-riding, as we approach E-day, just three weeks from today, on May 14th, 2013. The change this week from last, a pickup for the NDP's Gabriel Yiu in Vancouver Fraserview, third time lucky it would seem for the affable Mr. Yiu. Otherwise, third time around, Maple Ridge-Mission NDP candidate Mike Bocking, former Union Prez from VanRamblings' days working at Pacific Press (when NDP Provincial Secretary Jan O'Brien was the Union's Business Agent) appears set to find himself spending a fair bit of time in British Columbia's 'high tea' capital, as well.

Earth Day

On Earth Day, while campaigning in Kamloops (the quintessential bellwether riding), the increasingly well-travelled BC NDP leader Adrian Dix made a dual campaign announcement: his administration would dissolve the Pacific Carbon Trust, and deploy at least some of the carbon tax revenue to fund transit or other green initiatives. The surprise second-part of the green campaign announcement was this: the BC NDP are opposed to an expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which would turn Vancouver into an oil port if the proposed twinning of the existing Kinder Morgan pipeline was to be approved. The announcement was met with huzzahs by environmentalists, and skepticism by the always quizzical Vancouver Sun provincial affairs columnist, Vaughn Palmer. And it was ever thus.

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BC Election 2013: Wrap Up For The Day

On Monday, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals attempted, unsuccessfully and in a woeful fashion, to defend the indefensibile, that the budget presented by Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong in the legislature, back in February, would move British Columbia towards a balanced budget. Yeah, sure, right, said the bond-rating agencies. So much for that gambit.

The BC Conservative Party, meanwhile, named Allan Molyneaux as their new candidate in North Vancouver-Lonsdale, who replaces the disgraced Jeff Sprague, who stepped down amidst allegations of impaired driving.

And that's the kind of day it was on Day 7 of Decision BC 2013.

BC ELECTION: LIBERALS SET TO LOSE BIG ON VANCOUVER ISLAND
The Liberals are set to lose big on Vancouver Island

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:05 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 21, 2013

Day Seven: 22 Days Remaining in Lackluster Decision BC 2013

308 BC Election Provincial Projections by region

Following a rather sleepy weekend, Decision BC 2013 heads into the final three weeks of British Columbia's 40th provincial election.

Thus far, nothing has taken the NDP off message, and no issues of burning concern have arisen that have caught the public's attention. As Globe and Mail BC columnist Gary Mason writes in today's newspaper ...

Liberal Leader Christy Clark and her party did not have the opening week for which they were hoping. It wasn't that it was particularly bad; they just didn't get the kind of clear win they needed to start gnawing away at the NDP's lead in the polls. Now Ms. Clark and her team have one less week in which to start making those critical inroads.

For Mr. Dix, the challenge will be to avoid taking the kind of hit that gives the electorate second thoughts. For Ms. Clark, the task is more complicated. If she enters the debates sensing she needs a big, gravity-defying moment, she might overreach and end up portraying herself in a way that is not at all beneficial.

As the latest ThreeHundredEight.com polling indicates, the NDP maintain a solid lead heading in to Week 2 of Decision BC 2013.

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First Peoples' Cultural Council

In important news, culturally sensitive news, news that you're not likely to see reported elsewhere, unless you make a habit of visiting the darkest regions of the provincial NDP website, in an announcement made last week, the BC NDP committed a new NDP provincial government to support for the preservation of Aboriginal languages in British Columbia.

"B.C. is home to 60% of the First Nations languages spoken in Canada, but many of them are in danger of disappearing," Scott Fraser, the NDP candidate in Alberni-Pacific Rim, and New Democrat aboriginal affairs critic during the last legislative session told the media on April 18th. "As a matter of respect for First Nations peoples, we need to work together to prevent that from happening."

"Language is a critical part of First Nations history, culture and identity. If a language is lost, traditional oral histories in their original form are also lost. We will work with First Nations to help save at-risk languages."

Scott announced that an NDP adminstration would provide The First People's Cultural Council, a crown corporation run by First Nations, with an additional $1 million in funding, dedicated to support the preservation and revitalization of First Nations languages, arts and culture in British Columbia. Fraser said the loss of language is largely attributable to federal residential school policies which took children away from their families, and punished them if they spoke their own language.

"Most fluent speakers of aboriginal languages are over 65 years old," said Fraser. "Only 1.5 percent of fluent speakers are under the age of 25. Clearly, now is the time for action to begin to bring change for the better to First Nations communities."

A responsible government responds not only to the big ticket items like health care and education, but dedicates itself to meeting the needs of the broadest cross-section of the British Columbia electorate, in every region of the province. And, in the case of the announcement directly above, most particularly, the often neglected priorities of language and culture.

BC Election 2013: A Round-Up of News from Elsewhere

Truth to tell, we're hard-pressed to come up with a lot of reporting by the mainstream press, but here goes ...

  • Vancouver Sun. How much does the Vancouver Sun not like federal NDP leader, and how in the tank are they for any party but the NDP? All you have to do is take a look at the photo of Tom Mulcair at the top of this story. Editorialize in your photo choice much, Vancouver Sun editors? Anyway, back to matters at hand: federal New Democrat leader Tom Mulcair joined the BC election campaign this past Friday (while we were still recovering from the shenanigans at the Kits Community Centre AGM), telling a cheering crowd of 350 people gathered at the Vaisakhi event in Surrey that a provincial NDP victory on May 14th will serve as a warm up for a federal NDP win in 2015."

    Next. We would take a moment to editorialize on the Vancouver Sun's shakedown story but, really, why bother? And, oh yeah, don't forge to read - or not - Vaughn Palmer's barely even-handed wrap-up of Week One of the provincial election campaign.

  • Alex Tsakumis. BC's resident political shit disturber publishes his usual, but interesting and readable, online report taking the apparatchiks in the Christy Clark administration to task. The allegation this time? According to Tsakumis, the BC Liberals are waging an all out war on Global TV legislative reporter Keith Baldrey, and his beleaguered wife Anne Mullens, for failing to be in the tank enough for the BC Liberals. And here, all along, VanRamblings thought that Baldrey was all but bought and paid for by the BC Liberals. Apparently not, if the snide rumour the BC Liberals are spreading around — that Baldrey will be leaving the employ of Global TV to take a job as Communications Director for NDP leader Adrian Dix, post election night victory, May 14th — is true, which is doubtful at best. Those Liberals.

  • The Straight. The folks at The Straight have created their very own BC Election page, replete with news respecting NDP campaign announcements on lower fees for infant and toddler care and reducing child poverty (which First Call, the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coaltion, called pathetic), as well as a commentary by Vancouver Langara NDP candidate (and good guy, as it happens), George Chow.

Well, that's it for today, folks.

By the way, you're probably looking at a sparse Decision BC 2013 posting Tuesday, as VanRamblings will attend (and speak at, it would seem) tonight's regularly scheduled and always contentious Park Board meeting.

For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:53 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 19, 2013

Day Four: Dull Early Days in Decision BC 2013

THE TYEE ELECTION MAP & GUIDE

Should you click on the graphic above, you'll be taken to The Tyee's B.C. election map, which provides a breakdown of B.C.'s 85 electoral ridings, who the candidates are in each riding, riding related news and other bumpf.

The early days of Decision BC 2013 are, necessarily (as the headline above suggests): dull. The media is barely engaged, the election is hardly on the electorate's radar as the more prosaic matters of daily life take precedence, and with polls suggesting a smashing victory for the BC New Democrats, a goodly portion of those who are even remotely engaged all but tune out, expecting that sweeping NDP victory May 14th. Liberals in power for 12 years, the thinking goes, it's time for a new government. Barring any major missteps, or a terrible performance by Adrian Dix in the leaders debate on April 29th (which NDP campaign manager Brian Topp will never let happen), the election will bring what the gods have writ: a near smashing victory for the all-but-inevitable and soon-to-be BC New Democratic government.

Post the leaders debate on April 29th, interest will ramp up; that's when the real campaign will start. You just have to look at the last federal election. Going into the leaders debate, with just two weeks to go in the campaign, then federal NDP leader Jack Layton was mired at 13% in the polls. The word was he was sickly, and on his way out of politics. Following the leaders debate, though, in which Layton's 'performance' was deemed to be engaging by a public hankering for a touch of humanity in its politicians, the NDP catapulted to 31% in the polls, and opposition in the Canadian Parliament. Following the BC leaders debate, there'll be two weeks left in the BC election campaign — it'll be anybody's game from that point on.

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VanRamblings spent the day getting smucked at the Kitsilano Community Centre, where we had our tookus handed to us on a platter at the AGM. Migawd, we couldn't even manage to secure a position as a member-at-large. Maybe next time we'll have to leave our devil horns at home.

Sad to say, dear and constant reader, that you're going to have to put up with VanRamblings in something of a foul mood (youse just can't cover up these kind of things, y'know?). Hell, maybe the writing's even better.

Or, maybe not (that's a bitter tear trickling down my cheek, by the way).

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So, what went on in the big bad world of BC politics on Thursday?

  • Early in the day, over in Courtenay, in the First Student Bus workyard, of all places (I mean, really, a virulently anti-Union company staging ground?), BC NDP leader Adrian Dix committed an NDP government to spending $372 million over three years to improve public education in B.C. (a good thing, a needed thing), and another $100 million over three years to lower costs and increase child care spaces for infant and toddler care (the proverbial drop in the bucket, and hardly the $10/day Child Care Plan advocates have been demanding for months).

    In this Vancouver Sun story, you'll find a particularly nasty exchange between CTV's Rob Brown and Adrian Dix, where Adrian acquits himself well. Let's hope he brings the same cojones to the leaders debate.

Otherwise, that's about it, folks. Not much coverage of the election in the Mop and Pail. There's always this, though: The Province giving the beleaguered John Cummins, leader of the BC Conservatives, a bit of coverage, even if it's only a 166-word CP wire story. Ah well.

Not to be mean (because we don't believe in the politics of personal destruction), but we simply can't help ourselves. Hey, the Raeside editorial cartoon is not ours, but y'know what, I bet there are a few people out there (including BC Liberals) who agree with the sentiment.

Christy Clark, Raeside cartoon

That's all she wrote, folks. Til tomorrow.

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:09 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 18, 2013

Day Three: Decision BC 2013 Continues March to Election Day

UBC Sauder Prediction Market

The University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, once again in 2013, will run their Election Prediction Market, having succeeded in 2009 in quite accurately predicting the results of British Columbia's previous provincial election. For the duration of the 2013 election, the fine folks out at UBC will provide daily updates to the Globe and Mail, with their up-to-minute projection of popular vote share and legislature seat share predictions. VanRamblings will continue to provide you with links and graphics, although you may want to bookmark the Globe and Mail page.

Otherwise, it was a rather quiet day on the hustings on Wednesday, April 17th — so, without further ado then, we'll just jump right in to the media coverage of Decision BC 2013 for the day.

Vancouver Courier. Andrew Fleming posits that we'll see at least three new MLAs take their seats in the British Columbia legislature following May 14th, suggesting in his article that newly-minted Liberal candidate, multi-hyphenate doctor / lawyer / Rhodes Scholar, etc. Andrew Wilkinson remains an absolute lock to take Vancouver Quilchena, while the odds favour former BC Civil Liberties Executive Director David Eby in Vancouver Point Grey to defeat Premier Christy Clark, with Sierra Club BC Executive Director George Heyman set to take Vancouver Fairview away from physician and BC Liberal Minister of Health, Margaret MacDiarmid.

The Tyee. Meanwhile, Natascia Lypny encourages us to meet the youngest candidates vying for a seat in the legislature: a delivery driver, a bank staffer, a restaurant manager, and a grocer, viable candidates all.

With an average age of 24, BCNDP candidate for Langley Andrew Mercier, Green Party of BC Victoria-Swan Lake candidate Spencer Malthouse, Liberal candidate for Port Coquitlam, Barbara Lu, and BC Conservative candidate in Nanaimo Bryce Crigger (gotta love that 'stache) are the youngest candidates from each of the four main parties in this provincial election.

GlobalBC / Glacier Media. Keith Baldrey writes that the NPD are favourites in 50 of the province's 85 ridings, identifying 40 strong and 10 NDP-leaning ridings, 8 strong Liberal and 14 Liberal-leaning ridings, with14 toss-up ridings, while suggesting that Independents, incumbent Vicki Huntington in Delta South, and Arthur Hadland, in Peace River North will likely emerge triumphant election night.

Globe and Mail. Éric Grenier updates the ThreeHundredEight.com poll VanRamblings published on Tuesday, writing in BC Votes 2013 that ...

"Adrian Dix's New Democrats remain heavily favoured to prevail on May 14 ... the New Democrats would take 48 per cent of the vote, the B.C. Liberals 30 per cent, the B.C. Conservatives 12 per cent, and the B.C. Greens 9 per cent. With such a large margin over the Liberals, the NDP should be able to capture between 57 and 73 seats to form a majority government. The Liberals would be reduced to between 10 and 27 seats, while as many as four independents could be elected."

Bleak numbers for the Liberals, indeed, as Mr. Grenier suggests.

In their Day 2 wrap up story, titled "Confident Clark taking aim at NDP territory", Justine Hunter and Ian Bailey cover Liberal leader Christy Clark's day on the hustings. The story's headline seems misleading, though, given that Clark spent most of her day in traditional Liberal territory, while NDP leader Adrian Dix spent the entirety of Wednesday encroaching on Liberal turf, visiting ridings throughout the traditionally unfriendly Fraser Valley.

For those of you who haven't read it, the Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter has written a standout piece on Adrian Dix that is well worth reading.

Georgia Straight. Editor Charlie Smith opines that housing as an issue is getting short shrift by the four main parties, reporting that the Greens pay the most attention, the NDP hasn't released their platform position on the issue as yet, and the Liberals "brush over housing in their 84-page platform document." Earlier in the week, Charlie posited five unusual scenarios that could yet make Decision BC 2013 a barn burner interest grabber — the first couple of days of the campaign have emerged as anything but. Interest oughta wax high, though, following the leaders debate (6:30pm - 8pm, April 29th) — which we hope will be more about substance than style.

Yolanda Cole interviewed $10/day Child Care advocate Sharon Gregson, who pretty much called the BC Liberals' proposed child care registry useless, while The Straight's Carlito Pablo reports that the Green Party of BC remains the only provincial political party that has as a tenet of their platform that they would legalize and tax marijuana.

Vancouver Sun. Reporter Francois Marchand interviews Ryan McCormick, a director of the Vancouver-based non-profit Safe Amplification Site Society (Safe Amp) - an organization dedicated to creating a permanent all-ages music and arts venue in Vancouver - as Safe Amp injects itself into Decision BC 2013 by calling for an overhaul of BC's antiquated liquor laws.

In a Canadian Press story published on the Vancouver Sun website, Christy Clark is reportedly attempting to shore up support in bellwether ridings where the Liberals currently trail the NDP.

News from other places. In Andrea Klassen's Kamloops This Week story, Kamloops-South Thompson BC Liberal candidate Todd Stone seems to be doing everything he can to distance himself from the BC Liberal label, with Klassen suggesting in her article that the argument for Stone's Decision BC 2013 candidacy "sounds a lot like 'Stone, not Liberal.'"

Castanet, the Interior online newspaper and magazine, reports that disgraced, now former NDP candidate for Kelowna-Mission Dayleen Van Ryswyk will run as an Independent, Twitter all agog with speculation that she could actually hurt the candidacy of Liberal incumbent Steve Thomson with her racist, intolerant views.

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BIKE TO VOTE

The healthy advocates over at the BC Cycling Coalition urge you to bike to vote and exercise your pedal power on May 14th, suggesting that "through the simple act of pedaling to the polls, you can play your part in actively decreasing traffic congestion, while making our streets and neighbourhoods safer, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving time and money, all of which salutary effort will result in improving our collective health and well-being." We're putting our helmet on now, and heading out for a ride along the beach, all in preparation to bicycle to our polling station on E-Day.

BC Election 2013: What the Parties Were Up to Wednesday

What platform positions did the four main parties release on April 17th?

  • The British Columbia New Democratic Party committed to freezing ferry fares while a newly-elected NDP government awaits the results of an NDP-mandated audit of the financially troubled company. BC NDP leader Adrian Dix also announced that an NDP government would invest $40 million in skills training and $100 million in a student grants programme, annually, as part of the NDP's plan for jobs and growth.

    Adrian Dix took the fight to Liberal Finance Minister Mike DeJong's Abbotsford riding on Wednesday, where he NDP told supporters he felt Abbotsford West was an eminently winnable riding for the NDP in 2013.

    You may click here to see the entire 2013 BC NDP candidate team.

  • The BC Liberal party campaign: as we reported earlier Christy Clark spent most of her day shoring up support for her trailing party by spending time in Surrey, the Fraser Valley, Chilliwack and Kamloops, before traveling further north in the late evening.

    The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter asked the question, "What will happen to the B.C. Liberals if they lose?"

    "What happens to the Liberals after the polls close at 8pm on May 14? It is treasonous talk, not out in the open. But if the governing party is reduced to a rump — a fate many in the party seemed resigned to — then their focus is on saving seats and resources to rebuild in the election aftermath. Liberal party headquarters is cooking up ways to win back voters. But those pessimists in the party who don't see that succeeding are already trying to identify the likely survivors to decide who would best lead the coalition so that the NDP victory doesn't last more than a single term. It is a reason that some candidates in the B.C. Liberal campaign seem to have distanced themselves from Ms. Clark. If her name appears at all on campaign signs, it is in small print. While Ms. Clark is focused on a comeback strategy, some in her party are running a parallel campaign: A comeback in 2017".

    A "what if" scenario that VanRamblings has been told Ms. Clark has pondered herself in the days leading up to 40th provincial election.

    You'll find the entire BC Liberal team here.

  • The BC Conservatives are pretty much off the radar in Decision BC 2013. We're seeing no coverage by the mainstream media, apart from this call by provincial Conservative leader John Cummins to jettison the Pacific Carbon Trust, which he says is nothing more than a scam and corporate welfare system. One suspects that the BC Conservatives are running a stealth campaign in those Interior ridings where they think they've got a fighting chance at winning a seat in the legislature. Mainstream media coverage of Mr. Cummins and the BC Conservatives will likely improve after the April 29th leaders debate, with only two weeks to go from that date til election day.

    You'll find all of the BC Conservative candidates here.

  • The Green Party of BC has found itself surprisingly successful in gaining coverage, most particularly because of the opportunity Andrew Weaver, running in Oak Bay - Gordon Head (a riding to watch election night), has to become British Columbia's first elected Green Party member in the provincial legislature.

    Green Party of BC candidates? Yep, they're all here.

We'll leave you with Global's BC1 Decision BC 2013 coverage.

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)

Note: Coverage of Decision BC 2013 tomorrow will likely be somewhat more sparse than you've witnessed the first three days of the election cycle.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:16 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 17, 2013

Day Two: Politics in British Columbia a Blood Sport

BC Election 2013 Seat Prediction

The 2013 British Columbia provincial election can hardly be said to have commenced on a high note, thanks to the BC Liberals who dragged out years old comments by BC NDP candidate for Kelowna-Mission Dayleen Van Ryswyk, who promptly resigned her abbreviated candidacy when asked to do so by BC NDP leader, Adrian Dix. The BCNDP will announce a new, better vetted candidate for the south Okanagan riding later in the week.

How much the beleaguered Ms. Van Ryswyk's aborted candidacy will impact the BCNPD remains to be seen, but as is obvious from the BC Election Prediction Project graphic at the top of this blog post, the BCNDP are a lock for 40 seats in the legislature, just three shy of a majority (85 seats are up for grabs this time around), which would seem to negate most arguments that this "misstep out of the gate" will have much impact at all.

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BC Election 2013: Who To Follow on Twitter

As we've written previously, for breaking news, for up-to-the-minute reporting, for insight, cogent analysis (which comes with the links provided) and not a little wit and humour, as well as a fair bit of tête-à-têtes, there is no better forum through which you might keep yourself informed and engaged with what is going on in this crazy world of ours than Twitter.

On Twitter, the commentators you'll want to follow are (click on the links): Globe and Mail reporters Rod Mickleburgh, Ian Bailey, and Justine Hunter, not to mention, columnist Gary Mason; the Vancouver Sun's legislative reporter Jonathan Fowlie, as well as columnist Vaughn Palmer; and, let's not forget Victoria Times-Colonist columnist, Les Leyne; 24 Hours columnist, Laila Yuile; CBC legislative reporter Stephen Smart, Global TV's Keith Baldrey, CTVBC's Ed Watson, and CKNW's Sean Leslie. For a partisan NDP take, there's David Schreck, for Liberals there's Alise Mills, and for a barely less partisan approach, you can follow BC Election 2013. In the coming days, VanRamblings will provide further insight into / direction to Twitter accounts dedicated to British Columbia's 2013 provincial election.

Oh yeah, you might as well check in each day with the provincial party Twitter accounts themselves, to see where the leaders are traveling, and to gain some partisan insight into the "messaging" of each of BC's steadfast political parties, each one vying for your all important vote: the BC NDP, Today's BC Liberals, the BC Conservatives (who seem not to have caught on to this new thingamajiggy called Twitter), and the Green Party of BC.

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Former Chief of Staff to Premier Gordon Campbell, Martyn Brown - who last year published the e-book Towards A New Government In British Columbia, and has since emerged as a regular, verging on virulent, critic of the Christy Clark-led BC Liberals - has found a regular forum to publish his musings, in the Georgia Straight. Here are a few of his recent columns ...

One imagines that the loquacious Mr. Brown will continue to publish throughout the 28-day election period. Well worth checking out on a regular basis. Good on The Straight for publishing Martyn Brown.

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BC Election 2013: News from Here, There & Everywhere

The mainstream media had their say on BC Election 2013's opening day ...

Elections BC

These are early days in the 40th British Columbia provincial election. The parties are out on the hustings, the candidates are out door knocking, across BC there'll be burmashaving galore (in Canada, the word burmashaving is used to describe politicians holding signs and waving to traffic by the side of the road, a common sight during election campaigns), you'll be inundated with suppertime newshour ads, and with more robocalls than you'll probably be able to handle.

But you can thank your lucky stars that in Canada you are afforded the opportunity to exercise your democratic franchise free of intimidation from the state, and that thanks to the efforts of the good folks at Elections BC - who are doing everything in their power to ensure that come May 14th (or at the advance polls, May 8th through 11th, 8am til 8pm) - you can cast your ballot in peace. Voter, and voting, info may be found here.

(For the latest VanRamblings election coverage, click on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:06 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

April 16, 2013

The Writ Has Dropped: British Columbia Election 2013 Underway

BC Election 2013 Vote Percentage and Seat Prediction

As of 10 a.m. this morning, the writ was dropped by British Columbia Premier Christy Clark on the 2013 British Columbia provincial election.

Over the course of the next 28 days, British Columbians will be given the opportunity to exercise their hard-fought-for, and much cherished, democratic right to engage in the life of their society by challenging the provincial political parties, and those vying to represent them in the British Columbia legislature, on the future direction of British Columbia, before the final decision will be taken as we cast our critically important ballot to choose the next government of British Columbia, on Tuesday, May 14th.

As is illustrated in ThreeHundredEight.com's graphic at the top of this blog post, the 2013 British Columbia election is the BC New Democratic Party's to lose. With an almost insurmountable 18% lead in the polls, the tired and unpopular British Columbia Liberal party would appear to be headed toward ignominious defeat after 12 years in power. And, with a revived and resurgent British Columbia Conservative party challenging the Liberals on their right flank, and the Green Party of BC slated to take as many votes from the Liberals as they will from the New Democrats, BC's Liberal party will be hard-pressed to retain power come late evening May 14th.

But as if often said, "one day in politics is like a year in the real world." Who knows what issues will arise between now and May 14th, what core issues of concern will emerge that will be of critical concern to British Columbia's electorate, or what the response of the public will be to the party leaders following their scheduled Monday, April 29th BC leaders debate?

In the interests of keeping you informed on the political life of British Columbia, over the course of the next 28 days VanRamblings will post regularly on the issues of interest and concern that arise each day between now and May 14th, the various platform announcements by BC's political parties, and coverage of British Columbia's 2013 election by the mainstream press, blogs and social media weighing in on BC politics, as we attempt to provide you with a nuanced appreciation of those issues of paramount concern to you and your family. Hope to see you back here often.

(Full, and the most up-to-date, coverage of the 2013 British Columbia provincial election is available by clicking on Decision BC 2013)

(For those of you who arrived here looking for coverage of last week's Kitsilano Community Centre AGM — as sorry an example of untoward democratic engagement as you're ever likely to witness — VanRamblings' coverage of the KitsCC AGM may be found here. The Vancouver Courier's Sandra Thomas has written about the KitsCC AGM, as well, her coverage of the delirious, anti-community meeting to be found here.)


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:11 PM | Permalink | BC Politics

October 27, 2012

Weekend Post: Fracking, the BC NDP, and Promised Land

Matt Damon stars in Gus van Sant's new movie, 'Promised Land'

British Columbia's New Democratic party, under the leadership of Adrian Dix, has enunciated a policy position in favour of fracking, a dangerous, environmentally unsound, and wholly unsafe natural gas extraction process.

In 2010, Josh Fox's Gasland, a Special Jury Prize winner at Sundance, documented the health concerns of citizens affected by the fracking industry, and featured a flammable water scene which caused quite the stir.

The Huffington Post published this story last April ...

"The feasibility of protecting the health of Americans while conducting hydraulic fracturing operations is debatable. Dimock, Pennsylvania has been at the heart of this discussion. The small town's wells were tainted by fracking operations, and the drilling company and the EPA have (at times) delivered clean water to the residents. According to ProPublica, recent EPA tests of Dimock's water reveal "dangerous quantities of methane gas" and "dozens of other contaminants, including low levels of chemicals known to cause cancer and heavy metals that exceed the agency's "trigger level" that could lead to illness if consumed over a period of time. The EPA's assurances suggest that the substances detected do not violate specific drinking water standards, but no such standards exist for some of the contaminants and some experts said the agency should have acknowledged that they were detected at all."

We would imagine that should recently-nominated Vancouver-Fairview NDP candidate George Heyman be elected to government next May, that inside the NDP caucus, Mr. Heyman will emerge as a powerful voice against the destructive environmental practice. Fracking arose as an issue dividing the two candidates seeking the NDP nomination in Vancouver-Fairview. Candidate Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs didn't rock the boat ...

"The party position is we will allow fracking," Meggs explains. "I personally don't like it. I wish we would examine and study it. But I accept that our party has taken a position on it. George [Heyman] is saying he wants to change the party's position. And while I might prefer a different position, I'm not campaigning to have it changed."

Meggs' opponent in the race, George Heyman, has this to say ...

"I'm not proposing that we don't sell any gas," says Heyman, who is currently the Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. "I am proposing that we stop the expansion of new frack wells until we have an appropriate public study on the health impacts, the community impacts, the water impacts, and the climate, greenhouse-gas-emissions impact."

Note should be made that Heyman quite handily won the contested Vancouver-Fairview nomination. A shot across the bow to the more conservative interests in the provincial NDP, a message to the party elite that in a democracy it is the members of the party who direct policy, not the electeds divining policy from on high, ignoring the wishes of the people?

Sometimes, though, if reason fails to convince, film has the power to transform political positions, that despite all evidence to the contrary, are wrong. Film can inform, and cause a person / political party to change an enunciated — and, perhaps, not fully considered — position on an issue.

To that end, for the first time since 1997's Good Will Hunting, actor Matt Damon and director Gus Van Sant have re-united, this time to produce a screenplay written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski, based on a story by Dave Eggers. The film Promised Land tracks the work of two corporate salespeople who visit a rural town in an attempt to buy drilling rights from the local residents, in order to commence a fracking operation — although the salespeople are not upfront about the consequences of the 'rights' sale by farmers — a decision that would destroy the townspeoples' livelihoods.

Promised Land will be released in the United States in December — in New York and Los Angeles — in order to qualify for Oscar consideration. The film is set for wide release, opening in Vancouver, Friday, January 11th, 2013.

star.jpg star.jpg star.jpg

RebelMouse

Earlier in the week, and we can't remember how, we became aware of RebelMouse, a social media aggregator that connects your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts all together on a dynamic and very graphically pleasing web page — created absolutely free-of-charge by the folks who both created and operate RebelMouse.

Ben Popper, from The Verge, writes ...

Paul Berry is famous in tech and media circles as the brains behind The Huffington Post's incredible success with social media and search engine optimization. On June 6th of this year, he took the wraps off RebelMouse, a social publishing platform that hopes to replicate that success on an individual level. "People are getting very good at Twitter and Facebook, but they are embarrassed about their personal websites," says Berry, when we visited him recently at Soho Labs. "RebelMouse takes all the content from your social streams, and transforms it into a dynamic homepage."

Users sign up for RebelMouse and connect it to their Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, the service pulling all photos, text and links from these feeds. The page updates with each new social media post, arranging the posts in an easy-to-read format. RebelMouse also affords the user the opportunity to rearrange, edit items, or remove them entirely if that is their wish, the editing not restricted to the 140 character limit often placed on social media forums, such as Twitter.

Here is our RebelMouse page, a compendium of our recent Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds. Convenient, gorgeous: you may want to try it.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:11 PM | Permalink | Cinema

November 14, 2011

WERA All-Candidates Debate, Sunday, November 13, 2011

COPE candidate for Vancouver City Council, Tim Louis, and 20 other candidates from the other political parties currently running for office in the 2011 Vancouver civic election, spoke out at the West End Residents Asssociation's All-Candidates debate, on Sunday, November 13th, 2011.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:38 AM | Permalink | Vancouver

November 10, 2011

2011 Vancouver Civic Campaign, Observation of the Day

2011 Vancouver Municipal Election observation of the day


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

October 24, 2011

Occupy Vancouver: What We're Fightin' For, and Fightin' Against


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:41 AM | Permalink | Vancouver

April 18, 2011

The View from Vancouver's Granville Street Bridge, Plus Politics

The weather on this third Monday in April was sunny, chilly and blustery.

Even so, after a long day's work on the Downtown Eastside, VanRamblings decided to walk the 11 kilometres home, through downtown Vancouver, over the Granville Street Bridge, through Kitsilano, and then home.

Of course, we were waylaid.

We stopped off at former City Councillor Tim Louis' place (to talk about a website we're creating for his upcoming COPE candidacy), and somehow found ourselves at David Eby's NDP campaign launch for the May 11th by-election in Vancouver Point Grey, where David impressed (as always), and newly elected provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix gave a rousing speech — how wonderful to finally have a leader of the NDP who is passionate, informed and articulate about the issues!


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:11 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

April 7, 2009

UBC's Great Farm Trek '09, 3:30 p.m. Today. Save the UBC Farm.

The UBC Farm has been an integral part of UBC since the Point Grey campus was founded in 1922. The UBC Farm is 24 hectares and is located on UBC Vancouver's south campus. It is the last working farm in Vancouver and an irreplaceable resource for our future that once gone, is gone forever. The farm provides a unique centre for innovative teaching and research about sustainable food systems, food security and health.

The UBC farm serves as an important educational resource to members of the academic and non academic community, including a wide variety of aboriginal groups, school children and others. In addition, the UBC Farm is a complex ecosystem and home to many species such as coyotes, frogs, eagles, owls, snakes and over 70 species of birds.

Why is the UBC Farm in crisis?

UBC may use the farm land for other purposes. Students and community members have worked very hard in the past year to preserve the farm. UBC has acknowledged that the farm needs to be considered in their planning process; however, we still need the University to commit to: keeping the farm at its current size and location, providing stable funding, and including key users in determining the farm's future

HOW YOU CAN HELP save UBC Farm

Come to the Great Farm Trek '09 today, Tuesday, April 7th. The Trek will gather at the Student Union Building at 3:30 p.m. and trekkers will walk to the UBC Farm for a celebration with food and music, and a ceremonial planting. Free parking is available at UBC Farm anytime. A free bus shuttle, originating at the SUB, will take participants to and from the Trek, which will be in progress between 3 p.m & 6 p.m. We'll see you at the rally today!

Sponsored by UBC Alma Mater Society, and the Friends of the UBC Farm.


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Vancouver

April 3, 2009

Grand March for Housing - 12 noon, Saturday, April 4, 2009

GRAND MARCH FOR HOUSING


The Citywide Housing Coalition's march to end homelessness, build social housing, and raise the minimum wage takes place this weekend.

Muster stations are located at Thornton Park (due west of the bus depot / train station), Hastings and Main streets, and Peace Flame Park (at the south end of the Burrard Street bridge). Marchers will walk peacefully (but noisily, we hope) from the march starting points to the Vancouver Art Gallery, meeting in front of the Art Gallery, on Georgia Street, at 1:30 p.m.

Given the failure of the federal government to step up to the plate and build affordable housing for Canadians - when many across Canada are experiencing a housing crisis - is unconscionable. We need a renewed, affordable, well-funded and effective co-operative housing programme, as well as the construction of special needs housing (for women, and for single parent families, for the homeless). Housing is an issue which affects us all.

Let's make this a march for change, for a renewed commitment to social agency, and to programmes benefitting the most vulnerable in our society. Let's march to encourage government to bring in programmes to protect renters, and construct social housing for the homeless and for families in Vancouver, throughout British Columbia, and across our great country!


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 2:38 PM | Permalink | BC Politics

March 20, 2009

A Fever Dream or Wishful Thinking: The Fate of the BC Liberals

OUTCOME OF THE 2009 BC PROVINCIAL ELECTION

With a provincial election just around the corner (May 12), and the pollsters reporting a current BC Liberal government lead of 16-points in public confidence, the results of the upcoming election would seem to be a forgone conclusion.

Still and all, given that it's BC politics we're talking about here, and with just shy of two months to go before the election, an accurate prediction as to the outcome is, really, anyone's guess.

With the above in mind, there's one person who seems to know what the future has in store for British Columbians, at least as far as the political scene is concerned. Going way out on a limb, savvy astrologer Lasha Seniuk writes in this week's issue of the Georgia Straight ...

Gordon Campbell's astrological chart reveals him to be a cunning negotiator who works tirelessly to achieve his goals. While publicly congenial, privately he is capable of unusual political methods. Campbell is, however, a skilled and passionate leader. Astrologically, he will be the victor in the upcoming election. But not by much and not for long.

Carole James, a resourceful and shrewd politician, will also be a permanent fixture in British Columbia politics. After the election, she will use her hard-won street smarts, energetic appeal, and social altruism to challenge Campbell's slender power advantage. Within three months, her influence will be undeniable.

By mid August, a financial controversy or political mutiny from Campbell's back benches will trigger a crisis of leadership. The fight will be fierce, dramatic, and painfully public. Before the end of December, James and the New Democrats will win leadership of the house.

So, is it possible that the May 12th provincial election will be that close? Will Gordon Campbell and his merry band of corporate capitalists emerge victorious in a third consecutive provincial election, only to lose it all this summer, only six months away from his cherished 2010 Winter Olympics?


Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 1:53 AM | Permalink | BC Politics

   



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