TAYLOR EXITS - LADNER ENTERS?
TAYLOR EXITS - LADNER ENTERS?
Its a sad time for supporters of BC finance minister, Hon Carole Taylor, who today officially announced her intentions not to seek the office of Vancouver Mayor. Ms Taylor is hugely popular and her decision not to run has created a political tsunami in Vancouver politics.
What the Taylor decision means is a number of prospective Mayoral candidates can now draw a deep sense of relief, since her decision opens the doors for their anticipated candidacies.
Mayor Sam Sullivan must be feeling a huge weight lifted as a result of Ms Taylor's decision. However, Mr. Sullivan shouldn't rest easy considering many contenders want his job. Moreover, many voters seem completely dissatisfied with his performance as Mayor.
Voter dissatisfaction with Mayor Sullivan is significant since the negativity rose fairly quickly after his worship was elected Mayor. Mayor Sullivan, hasn't even reached the two year mark in his term, when grumblings of his lacklustre political leadership awoke the city. Across the political spectrum, there is deep concern about his political ability.
Here is what Ms Taylor had to say about Mr. Sullivan and I think it is significant and needs repeating, "I don't get it that someone in political office can personally trademark an idea and then use it as the driving force in the city. I don't get that. And I don't get how you can raise money and not disclose all the people who are funding your campaign. I don't get that."
In all my years of watching municipal politics, I have never seen so many citizens grow disillusioned as quickly as they appear to have with Mayor Sam. Being an incumbent, one would think this would afford him popularity with Vancouver citizens. The opposite though is true and Mayor Sullivan and the NPA party must be deeply troubled over this.
While Vision Vancouver must be rejoicing that Ms Taylor has bowed out of the Vancouver Mayoral race, they shouldn't jump for joy yet as the public may be unwilling to accept New Democrat MLA, Gregor Robertson as their choice for Mayor. Mr. Robertson has strong NDP credentials for sure and I'm not certain Vancouver citizens prefer politically partisan Mayors.
If Mr. Robertson can demonstrate his non-partisanship, he will be viewed as a legitimate contender. To win, should Mr Robertson decide to run, he has to pick up soft or disaffected NPA support. If he comes across as too partisan, this feat will be impossible.
Of course, a Robertson candidacy is deeply concerning to the Raymond Louie faction in Vision who believe Councillor Louie as the more natural Mayor-in-waiting.
Mr. Louie hasn't ruled out running for Mayor and has hinted that he may possibly challenge for the Vision nomination. Mr. Louie's style can be best described as feisty. He mixes it up in Council and often draws out council meeting's way way longer than necessary. Often cited as an irritability of Mr. Louie is his yappyness. Whether this type of behavior will endear him to voters is uncertain.
Vancouver Mayor's must exhibit a sense of diplomacy and citizens seem to think that Mr. Louie still has in this regard, a lot of growing to do.
Vancouver municipal history has shown that voters prefer their Mayor's being somewhat Independent. We have seen this repeatedly with the elections of Mayors Art Phillips, Michael Harcourt, Philip Owen and Larry Campbell.
Citizens have balked when highly partisan candidates ran for Mayor and they let their feelings be known at the ballot box. Those candidates who lost badly and were known as highly partisan included New Democrat, Libby Davies and Socred, Bill VanderZalm.
Since becoming Mayor, Sam Sullivan has made no secret of his Conservative party affiliation. In fact, this was witnessed when former Mayor Philip Owen, a non-partisan Mayor rebuked Mayor Sullivan's cosiness with the Stephen Harper Conservatives. Mr. Owen had previously been front and centre in supporting the campaign of Sam Sullivan.
The municipal slate to which Mr. Sullivan belongs--the NPA--has long had a history of being free of provincial or federal politics. Since becoming Mayor, Mr. Sullivan has attempted to steer the NPA into what a confidential source claims to be " the Conservative farm team".
Many stalwarts in the NPA since Sam Sullivan took office--departed the NPA. Reasons vary but from what I've heard, its mainly due to his cut-throat style of politics and his super-sized ego-centrism. Actually those less diplomatic believe Mayor Sullivan to be a narcissist. Hard to imagine this for a guy in a wheelchair but that many voices saying the same thing is very real.
So where does all this municipal maneuvering leave COPE?
There has been an ongoing attempt by first the Friends of Larry Campbell group, then Vision Vancouver to push COPE to the margins. Leaders from COPE haven't helped matters with their insistence on an electoral alliance with Vision.
Vision has a number of times stated publicly that they are not in favor of a formal alliance with COPE, yet the current crop of leaders at COPE , acting like battered wives, keep pushing to be taken back. It is really quite sad to watch this. If COPE doesn't get on with forming other alliances, I'm not certain COPE will have much influence in the November 2008 election. If they attempt to hitch themselves solely with Vision, a political wipe-out most likely will occur.
So what happens with the NPA?
Popular Councillors such as Peter Ladner and Suzanne Anton, who enjoy wide support across the political spectrum, know the NPA is in big trouble with Sam Sullivan at the helm. In a poll which was apparently done for anonymous sources, Mr. Sullivan trailed both Ms Taylor and Mr. Robertson. Certainly, not a glowing endorsement.
This poll I suspect, has shocked Ms Anton and Mr. Ladner, but they have heard continuous grumblings about the leadership of Mayor Sullivan. The NPA board made a questionable decision to protect its incumbents, thereby, making a nomination challenge to Mr. Sullivan difficult, however, whether Councillors Anton and Ladner want their political careers sunk and what to about Mr. Sullivan is a top priority.
Remaining mute is not an option.
Mr. Ladner and Ms Anton are astute politicians and I doubt whether they wish to sit in opposition, especially with Vision forming municipal government. It would be like a nightmare on Elm street for these Councillors, especially if Mr. Louie sat atop the Mayor's seat.
The only re-course is that Mr. Ladner consider challenging for the Mayoral nomination. Party members can overrule the executive decision and Mr. Ladner has widespread support within the NPA to do this.
Confidential sources within the NPA believe now is the time for those forces opposed to the leadership of Mr Sullivan to get behind Mr. Ladner and begin the process to challenge the executive decision at the AGM in April.
Moreover, a number of these sources claim Ms Anton must stop defending Mayor Sullivan and start listening to the concerns of party members, unless, of course, she is willing to sit in opposition for three years and god forbid at the mercy of a Mayor Louie.
With the departure of Ms Taylor this opens the door for Mr. Ladner and he must now step up to the plate as the chorus for strong leadership beckons.
Are you listening Councillor Ladner?
Jamie Lee Hamilton
Coming soon What is happening with the Vancouver Municipal Greens