Sunday, February 24, 2008

MLA Gregor Robertson launches campaign for Vision Vancouver mayoralty nomination

NDP MLA Gregor Robertson launched his long-rumoured campaign to win the Vision Vancouver mayoralty nomination this afternoon in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 250 supporters.

Robertson immediately took aim at the battle between Non-Partisan Association mayor Sam Sullivan and NPA councilor Peter Ladner, who is trying to wrestle the party's nomination away for the incumbent.

"We must end the culture of nasty and divisive partisan politics which have divided our city between insiders and outsiders, and made our city councilors and city staff voiceless in the face of an increasingly imperious Mayor’s office," Robertson told the crowd.

"From ego-laden pet projects to disrespectful labour relations, Mr. Sullivan has turned city hall into a source for problems rather than solutions. The NPA meltdown between Sam and Peter is the latest dysfunctional drama to unfold. Does this serve our city?" he asked.

Robertson immediately claimed the backing of two sitting Vision Vancouver city councilors, Heather Deal and Tim Stephenson. Another Vision councilor, George Chow, attended the event but told me he is "neutral at this point" but pleased at the interest in the mayoralty race.

Vision Vancouver's fourth councilor, Raymond Louie, was absent and has not declared if he will also run for the nomination but speculation continues that he may announce that intention soon.

Independent park board commissioner Al De Genova has joined Vision to also run for the nomination after a long political career with the Non-Partisan Association ended in a dispute with NPA mayor Sam Sullivan.

Robertson said he was encouraged to run for mayor by a wide variety of people but one recent incident made him decide to enter the race.

"I reached a turning point a few weeks back, on hearing news about a tragedy in my so-called affluent part of town," Roberston said. "A homeless man named Darrell Mickasko burned to death trying to keep from freezing on an icy cold night on the streets."

"Darrell died only three blocks away from the Lookout emergency shelter, which was full that evening. He died only 9 blocks from city hall."

"Darrell is one of thousands. And I know I’m not alone in wanting this state of emergency to end," Robertson said. "Collectively, we are letting this take place, in a city with enormous resources, with compassionate citizens. It’s time for profound change to deal with homelessness."

The full house featured a number of key Robertson supporters, including former Green Party Vancouver school trustee Andrea Reimer, federal Liberal backroomer and ex-NPA strategist Greg Wilson, Susan Heyes,an activist for compensation for Cambie Street merchants whose business has been devastated by the Canada Line project, Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15 president Paul Faoro, philanthropist and businessman Joel Solomon, environmentalist Valerie Langer, Strategic Communications president Bob Penner and a wide variety of community activists.

Robertson said he has four key goals: fighting homelessness with affordable housing, making Vancouver "the greenest city on the planet", making the city a "cultural capitol" and improving the quality of life for Vancouver residents, including ending unacceptable levels of property and violent crime.

Robertson also signaled he will not be afraid to use his past business background as one of the co-founder of Happy Planet juices to trumpet his approach.

"Our economy depends on keeping entrepreneurs thriving here at home," he said, adding that working together cooperatively is critical.

"My style, whether in business, politics or as an activist, has always been to mobilize the talent and leadership available to create change. To bring balance. To bring leadership without ego. And to get people working together towards solutions," Robertson said.

"These were the keys to building Happy Planet into a local success story. We attracted amazing people to work way too hard to build a business from which happiness flows. And will continue to flow – if you keep drinking our juice!" he concluded to laughs.

A nomination meeting has not been set by Vision Vancouver but is expected by June. The NPA membership will meet April 22 to decide whether to endorse the nomination of sitting NPA councilors and Sullivan or open up the process.


Budd Campbell said...

To what degree does Robertson think he's leaving behind a chance at becoming a provincial cabinet minister? Clearly, some will say the answer is that prospect has already disappeared because the NDP's chances of winning the next provincial election have gone to zero, and I find it hard to argue with that.

The "dumb and dumber" outburst alone was sufficient to ensure a BC Liberal win in the next general election, just as the NDP's opposition to building the Annacis Island Bridge cost it victory in the 1979 election.

The Liberals put a lot of energy into laying this trap for the NDP, not the least the role played by Liberal controlled "environmental" groups who conned the party into an anti-Port Mann position. Meanwhile, David Suzuki, whose Foundation was one of the key groups in the anti-Port Mann "Livable Region Coalition" pointedly refused to bug Campbell about the Gateway highways projects when he attended the Al Gore dinner with the Premier, saying he personally needed to keep communications channels open.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Gregor is doing the honorable and resigning his seat while he campaigns? Or is he living of our tax dollars while he hits the civic campaign trail?

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is that Gregor Robertson currently holds the provincial riding where Christy Clark lives. If Robertson vacates his seat to become Vancouver's mayor, that would open the door for Christy to return to provincial politics. I attended the Vision AGM, btw, and every Liberal I spotted there was somehow connected to Vancouver Quadra candidate Joyce Murray, including her campaign manager Greg Wilson.

Anonymous said...

To answer anons 1125 question about Gregor staying as a MLA while running for mayor. His leader has publically stated that her caucus accpets him in his position as a MLa at least until he gets to be the Vison Candidate and will review their position at that time.

Anonymous said...

One of the most disconcerting things about Robertson's run is the predominance of Liberals who seem to be directing his campaign.
The question still remains as to whether COPE still actually sees Robertson as their Great Uniter when his campaign is dominated by Liberals, former NPAers, and an assortment of hacks-for-hire?