Monday, June 21, 2004


Underbelly of Vancouver
Downtown Eastside
Vancouver, BC

June 21, 2004


I am always amazed at the principled leader of CAP who was married to legendary popular City Councillor Harry Rankin. Connie Fogal-Rankin and I recently chatted over the state of affairs in our city and country.

Connie as many of you might know is a strong progressive advocate for the marginalized, downtrodden and poor. She is in terms of integrity, exactly like her late husband. She is most often associated with the expanded gaming issue. In the early 80's, Connie C as she is known among her close circle, served as an elected park Commissioner. When you look at Ms Fogal-Rankin's CV and accomplishments you see that she would be a dream catch for any major party. Millionaire NDP'er Bob Williams once said of Fogal-Rankin 'you have star power', and so you wonder why she is with a small party which has no hope of gaining seats.

To properly understand this, you only have to look back to the heady days of the 90's when Connie and her husband Harry Rankin were leaders of a small party COPE, which had enormous success in the 80's and early 90's. In 1993 COPE city Councillors Harry Rankin, Pat Wilson, Bruce Yorke and Bruce Eriksen were set to retire. COPE was about to lose 4 of its 5 sitting incumbents. Of course most observers assumed since Libby Davies wouldn't be retiring that she would lead the newcomers who would gain a few seats in the 1993 civic race. However, Libby Davies had other personal plans. At the worst possible time, Ms Davies decided to seek the Mayors' seat. To be fair Ms Davies though believed if she received the endorsement of the NDP, she had a chance of obtaining the Mayors seat. First though she needed the NDP machine behind her. To accomplish her personal goal, Libby Davies also needed the NDP's money and hence she encouraged and directed the NDP to take over COPE. Harry and Connie were extremely disappointed over this crass opportunism and opposed this move. Libby Davies though was successful in the NDP takeover, however she was not successful in her electoral bid losing badly to Philip Owen. Only Jenny Kwan was elected. For over a decade because of Libby Davies and her friends, COPE had no influence in shaping progressive civic policy in this city.

Moving ahead a few years, along came the issue of expanded gaming. The NDP was in power provincially and they wanted to put in a waterfront casino on the edge of the Downtown Eastside. Most organizations in the Downtown Eastside opposed Seaport Casino. Of course Connie and her husband fought alongside residents of the Downtown Eastside to prevent the casino from going in. I remember vividly, a straw vote was put forward to the COPE membership by Connie and Harry. Libby Davies, Jenny Kwan, Pat Wilson and Jim Green opposed the motion and since they were all NDP'ers or hacks of the NDP, they were successful in their moves. The AGM was stacked with provincial NDP members. It was needless to say, payback time for the money which the NDP had raised for Libby and Jenny. Guess what though, us little people from the Downtown Eastside won and we prevented the casino from being inposed on us. Not left out in the cold, Libby Davies, Jenny Kwan and Jim Green all received six figure incomes for their lobbying efforts to inflict the casino on us. Unfortunately, Harry passed away and Connie has reluctantly went on to lead CAP in this upcoming election.

To sum up, according to Connie Fogal-Rankin in her own words is this, "Libby always takes care of Libby first, she is nothing like her late husband Bruce Eriksen".

Thank You Connie for standing firm on issues of integrity. If only Ms Davies could do the same!!

Jamie Lee Hamilton