Saturday, February 16, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Popular City Councillor, Peter Ladner and NPA Colleagues, Korina Houghton, Ian Robertson, Marty Zlotnick, Heather Holden and Eleanor Gregory want to see democracy in their party and this past Wednesday, Mr. Ladner, Ms Houghton, Mr. Robertson and Ms Gregory met with the NPA board to relay this message.

The NPA Democracy group brought forward a clear message. They stated that there should be an open democratic nomination meeting where the membership is given the right to choose those who they want to see as candidates leading up to the Vancouver 2008 municipal election.

Councillor Ladner is pushing for a fair democratic process rather than a unfair one, which the NPA executive has previously endorsed. This unfair process appoints, green-lights and hand-picks favoured candidates and members of the NPA are quite unhappy over this.

Since the Wednesday private meeting, a number of Mayor Sam Sullivan's advisers have publicly attacked Councillor Ladner, claiming he is causing conflict in the party. What they or Mayor Sullivan appear not to understand is that democracy comes with inherent conflict. Achieving democracy isn't easy and it comes about when people demand it.

Councillor Ladner, is bringing forward the message that many supporters and members of the NPA are extremely unhappy about. The method chosen by the NPA board and Mayor Sullivan to have current elected officials rubber-stamped as candidates is not sitting well with NPA supporters and Mr. Ladner brought forward these legitimate concerns.

In response, Mayor Sullivan has allowed his people to begin shooting at the messenger which in this case is the popular Peter Ladner. This shooting-the-messenger is a tried and true tactic when you are unwilling to discuss or debate an issue. Instead you shoot at the messenger, hoping to isolate them or mistakenly thinking that this tyrannical approach will silence other critics.

Why Mayor Sullivan has given approval to political operatives such as George Higgens, who is supposed to be an impartial adviser to the entire NPA caucus, to publicly speak out against Peter Ladner is really dumb politics. Moreover, another Sullivan political hack, Chris Bennett, who lives in West Vancouver and isn't an NPA member, also began shootiong his mouth off. His personal attack against a well respected Councillor will not sit well with the NPA membership and supporters of Councillor Ladner.

The NPA caucus should immediately remove Mr. Higgens as the NPA Caucus liaison. His unprofessionalism, antagonistic and demeaning attitude displayed toward Councillor Ladner is completely unacceptable. Mr. Higgens is supposed to be representative of the entire caucus and with his disgusting attack on Mr. Ladner, clearly demonstrates that he is incapable of being fair, unbiased or professional.

In politics, generally speaking, parties market themselves as political brands. Within the NPA, there has been an executive board decision to market their brand for the municipal 2008 election as the Sam Sullivan and NPA.

Members and supporters of the NPA though are expressing discomfort and grave reservations around the NPA leadership and hence the Peter Ladner Democracy brand has quietly emerged as an alternative to the Sam Sullivan Backroom brand.

A showdown appears likely. A showdown as a result of Mayor Sullivan's own choosing.

The battle lines have been drawn. On one side are NPA Democracy members and on the other, NPA backroom operatives.

The Sam Sullivan Backroom NPA vs the Peter Ladner NPA Democracy Brand.

I'm on the side of Democracy.

Jamie Lee Hamilton