Caucus peace one of the hallmarks of Vision’s success

These wo former competitors have since formed a strong working relationship within City Hall, giving Vision peace within the caucus.

The landscape of BC politics right now is like nothing that observers have ever experienced before.  A Premier has just stepped down, and his party is now at the beginning stages of what should be a hotly contested leadership contest.  The stakes of this race are huge, as the winner becomes the new leader of the province, and the one tasked with pulling the BC Liberals out of the toilet.

Far be it for the ridiculous New Democratic Party to take an advantage of such a situation, as they are embroiled in a partial caucus revolt against their own leader.  The dissidents are determined to push the envelope until Carole James walks out the door, which might happen soon with a leadership review likely coming in the new year.

If we turn our attention to the municipal scene in Vancouver, even the NPA continues to struggle with factions within their party, even as they try to rebuild the organization back into a competitive force for next year’s election.  The recent party fundraiser saw Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson and his silent supporters draw a line in the sand between them and the Sam Sullivan loyalists, while delivering a speech that showed he was most definitely going to take a shot at being the party’s Mayoral candidate.  Meanwhile, Councillor  Suzann Anton continues to cling to the Sullivan faithful for her base of support, making a showdown between the two an inevitability, and rehashing of all the nastiness that ensued between the Peter Ladner and Sullivan forces back in 2008.  This is of course just the latest episode in a party that for many years has cannibalized its own in the name of personal politics of ambition.

Which brings me to Vision Vancouver.  For a party that continues to grow as a coalition of progressive forces, the caucus has been one of the most peaceful that Vancouver’s civic political scene has seen in several terms.

Philip Owen was deposed by one of his own Councillors.  Larry Campbell hated the majority of his caucus and started his own party.  Sam Sullivan was also taken on by one of his Councillors intent on carrying the party’s banner into battle.

Gregor Robertson, however, has presided over a caucus that is not only personally friendly with each other, but extremely loyal, both publicly and privately.

Raymond Louie, Robertson’s main competition in the 2008 Vision Vancouver Mayoral nomination battle, has been relied upon by Robertson and his crew for his experience and know how of how City Hall runs.  The working relationship between the two is solid and without political backbiting.

And while each member of City Council has their own portfolios, the way in which Councillors collaborate together (Jang and Meggs on Olympic Village and Social Housing, Reimer and Louie on the Greenest City Action Team, Chow and Deal on business development and creative capital initiatives) is a model for political peace.

As an example, what happens when one member of the caucus goes public with their budgetary concerns?  Well, it is an exchange that is handled with respect, class and non-aggression:

“Park Board stretched thin

Penny Daflos

The Park Board isn’t happy about what it has to do to help balance the budget.

Chair Aaron Jasper says after shedding more than one point six million dollars from their budget in the first round, it’s tough to find another million dollars in savings to help balance the budget, “This is really starting to eat into our core operations. We’re asking Council to reconsider that and that’ll be our job. My job as the Chair of the Park Board and my colleagues as Commissioners, to make the case. I would hope Council is open to that discussion.

Jasper says some public washrooms may have to close and lawns will go longer between cuttings as a result. He adds that in general, he supports keeping property taxes down, but the Board can’t cut much further.

City budget balanced?
Penny Daflos


A month after City staff whittled down Vancouver’s 2011 operating budget to 21 million dollars, City Council has squeezed it down to zero.

Councillor Raymond Louie says a spending review found 13 million dollars in savings and they’ll only raise property taxes by two percent to raise the rest along with some service increases.

He’s not sympathetic to Park Board complaints they’re not getting enough money to run their services, “It’s sort of like when you’re running household finances and your income isn’t there to match the service needs of your household; you really do need to rationalize and make hard choices on what’s necessary.”

Louie is confident no jobs will be lost since last year’s budget had similar savings and no one was fired as a result.”

In terms of the internal party workings, caucus peace has been one of the strongest features of Robertson’s reign as leader, which when compared to other political entities, is a real accomplishment in a time of political egos and selfish political in-fighting.

With the NPA likely headed for a leadership showdown between Ian Robertson and Suzanne Anton, the old cleavages that destroyed the party 2 years ago are going to come bubbling to the surface once again.

And in a climate where the NPA as an organization has lost its ability to raise money, attract volunteers and entice talent to be a part of their team, this race could be the death knell for the party’s chances in November, 2011.

I have a feeling that party solidarity is going to give Vision Vancouver a decided edge as civic political forces gear up for next year’s campaign.

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