Tuesday, September 04, 2007

LACK of 20/20 VISION

Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


The opposition VISION party at Vancouver City Hall is looking for staff.

Need Not have 20/20 Vision as neither do we.

Please apply to any VISION City Councillor


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


In today's 24 hours, http://www.24hrs.ca/, being announced to the public is that NPA Park Commissioners are deeply concerned over what appears to be a decision by the NPA governing board to offer incumbency protection to their elected officials. Interesting is that Commissioners Heather Holden, Korina Houghton, Ian Robertson and Marty Zlotnik would all gain by this move, however, they have decided that it would be in the best interests of the party to have the 'best and brightest candidates' and strongly believe that incumbency protection creates the opposite.

Concern has been raised by many pundits regarding the NPA fortunes under Mayor Sam Sullivan. OK, we all agree that Mayor Sullivan has overcome many obstacles in his life, especially considering his physically differently-abled status in this world. He has gone on to make significant contributions to public life.

We all know that daily living, or serving in political office for those confined in wheelchairs must be extremely challenging. In Vancouver, we have been fortunate to have elected two gentlemen who rely on wheelchairs for their mobility. Tim Louis, who served on Parks Board and as a City Councillor for 12 years has also made significant contributions to public life and the betterment of this city. He has been a role model for others who overcame catastrophic injury. His place in our City, in my opinion, equals that of Mayor Sam.

Having said the above, it should also be noted that both these gentlemen went through hard- fought contested nominations to secure their rightful place in Vancouver' political history.

As Commissioners Holden, Houghton, Robertson and Zlotnik accurately state, nominations, if done transparently and in a fair manner do bring forward the best, at least in the minds of the electors who are instrumental in ensuring their preferred or favoured candidate(s) win. If there hadn't been contested nominations, it is entirely possible that citizens would not have had the opportunities of electing two men who are physically disabled.

In fact, in a nomination that I also sought and won in 1996 with the Coalition of Progressive Electors slate, I had to win the hearts and minds of the grassroots. Of course like other candidates, I signed up many members to secure a spot. This is what nominations are about. They actually showcase the potential candidate, their strengths and weaknesses. If a candidate demonstrates to their supporters what they are made of, they are usually rewarded and voters than have a glimpse of what to expect from a candidate if they are successful in achieving public office.

The NPA board though has other ideas. For some reasons only known to them, they prefer to offer incumbency protection. Most likely this is a result of a certain belief that your team is more likely to win electorally if you go into an election with your incumbents. Perhaps there is certain truth to this scenario in first-past-the-post elections but that approach only works from an angle of electoral success. It doesn't always serve the public interest, especially around shaping good public policy.

What the public relies on, or at least informed and engaged voters do, in elections, is a platform. Candidates or their respective parties showcase their policies on a variety of issues. This is even more relevant in municipal politics, especially with the NPA, who characterize themselves as being non-partisan in political life. They, clearly state their role is to bring forward the best candidates for Vancouver. If this is the case, you would think the NPA board than would want to make sure this process is carried out in a fair, transparent, open and contested nomination process.

No back-roomers or board should be allowed to determine who is ultimately chosen to represent the citizens. This is always best left to the party members. Democracy is about the people governing themselves. Wise strategists and smart back-roomers figure this out quickly. Egotistical ones do not and usually cost the political party and their fortunes in the election.

The NPA Park Commissioners have taken a courageous stand and should be recognized for this. In fact, this group of four, if they truly believe in what they are saying, which on the surface appears on-side with the public should even go further in their articulation to the NPA board. If the NPA board, which a few pundits claim, are being strategically out-manoeuvred by Mayor Sam Sullivan's supporters who desire incumbency protection for their Mayor, major problems will arise.

Because Mayor Sam Sullivan has been way out there on a number of key Vancouver issues since being elected, even former Mayor Philip Owen, who many admire for his courageous stand in support of drug addicts, has publicly stated the Mayor has gone too far and to fast. Mayor Owen is absolutely correct and when the public isn't behind your issues, this will create disastrous problems for the NPA in the 2008 election.

If the NPA board fails to heed the advice of Commissioners Holden, Houghton, Robertson and Zlotnik, they are quite possibly setting themselves up as a party which is out of step with the public. The NPA will come across as a party of the elite and voters will, as a result, turn away in droves.

This scenario
sadly, would benefit the opposition, Vision who has demonstrated time and time again, their impaired vision and I'm not talking about Councillor Tim Stevenson here either. Whether there is 20/20 vision in Vision is a whole other matter and best left for another post.

Commissioners Holden, Houghton, Robertson and Zlotnik really do hold the NPA fortunes in their hands. If the NPA board chooses to offer incumbency protection and this group of four bend to this, they will be seen as major flip-floppers. However, if they stand their ground and stay true to their convictions, they could quite easily be seen as the new political leaders of tomorrow. Ones who are centrist in their thinking and completely onside with democratic principles which citizens embrace.

If the NPA board follows through with incumbency protection, Commissioners Holden, Houghton, Robertson and Zlotnik should immediately sit as Independents and perhaps even form their own party similar to the The Electors Action Movement (TEAM), who rode into power in the 70's as a result of the public perception of the NPA losing relevance to the issues and hence credibility with the voters of the day.

This issue alone could be a defining moment in Vancouver's political history and would without question propel these Commissioners into quite possibly being Councillors. As a smaller group, they could even support an Independent Mayoral Candidate along the likes of popular Councillor Peter Ladner, who many citizens view as moderate, in-step with them, similar to their perceptions of former Mayor Mike Harcourt.

Are you listening Commissioners Holden, Houghton, Robertson and Zlotnik? Or what about you, the NPA board?

Jamie Lee Hamilton