Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


The new party on the Vancouver municipal scene, Vision, is touting its increase in new instant members as a reflection of voter dissatisfaction with Mayor Sam Sullivan and his NPA team.

No question Vision mayoral candidates should be congratulated on their prowess in signing up members to support their respective mayoral bids, however, whether this translates to electoral success where it really counts--at the polls--will be determined by voting citizens of the City on election day.

Leaving out for a moment that Vision has these new sign-ups and as much as municipal affairs reporter, Frances Bula of the Sun continually gushes on about these large number of new members, I believe Vancouver voters are an engaged group, much smarter and savvy than media portrays them and we tend to be responsible in our voting decisions.

A party's membership numbers does not reflect how Vancouver's citizens will vote. In fact in 2002, the NPA had 9,000 new members, the largest yet in modern municipal history, yet they were decimated at the polls by the voters who chose a civic party of the left to represent them. That party of course was COPE

Citizens will be factoring in a number of issues when they actually go to the polls on November 15, 2008. Past voting records of candidates, how the candidates and parties measure up against one another, does the candidate or their party reflect the voter's values and whether the candidate or party will bring a fair, balanced, accountable and responsible approach to their governance and decision making will be paramount on the minds of voters.

Other issues at play in the election campaigns which instant new members doesn't address are municipal matters which the wider electorate deem important.

Issues which will likely emerge as key campaign issues and really important to voters include housing affordability and lack of housing options for families, younger citizens and our vulnerable senior citizen population.

Safety and security is a major concern for voters, especially with the increased violence happening in the City and another primary concern for voters is the City's plan to densify. How this proposed density will affect citizens lives and the neighborhoods in which we live are questions which remain unanswered.

Public trust and leadership will be another important issues and voters if they tend to vote party slates will be asking themselves which slate best embodies, in their opinions, these important qualities.

Older established slates like the NPA and COPE will have an edge as they both have longstanding histories in the City, whereas the new Vision party doesn't have the same history. How this lack of history will impact the election will be determined by the voting citizens and not just party members.

Bulk membership sign-ups in parties do not reflect voter preferences and the public even though the media has been bombarding us with premature electioneering well in advance of potential candidates stepping forward in September, unfortunately, this presents a skewed view of the election. Fortunately for us, citizens will not be fooled into making premature choices until they are presented with an accurate reflection of the full compliment of candidates running and the stances these candidates take on campaign issues.

While focus has been on Mayoral hopefuls, Peter Ladner, Sam Sullivan, Raymond Louie, Gregor Robertson, Allan De Genova and their respective campaigns for party slate nominations, how this plays out won't be fully realized until September as the unsuccessful Mayoral nominees may be enticed by supporters and voters alike to continue with their Mayoral aspirations. Moreover, municipal slates like COPE and the Green party who have elected municipal experience have yet to decide on whether they may run Mayoral candidates.

So while the media are enjoying themselves and speculating endlessly on which party has the most members, providing citizens though with incomplete & partial lists of candidates is irresponsible. While the media can't be blamed entirely for their premature electioneering coverage, after all they need to sell news-copy, whether their idea of what constitutes as fair and balanced election news coverage at this time leaves a lot to be desired.

Until all candidates are in place and party slates present their election platforms, I encourage citizens to enjoy the summer, spend quality time with friends and families and enjoy the moments that the summer season brings.

Soon enough you will be bombarded with the various campaigns and actual election news which leave you ample time to make those wise decisions which are always best left in your hands.

Jamie Lee Hamilton