Sunday, 25 September 2005
The NPA primary ends, the election begins
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - With the NPA primary, if you will, over, and long-time city councillor Sam Sullivan victorious over Christy Clark, we can concentrate on the race in November between he and Jim Green, the Vision Vancouver candidate.
Clark, the former provincial cabinet minister from Port Moody, had promised to move to Vancouver should she be so nominated. She had looked for a place to live, and it is reported that a home was found in the Mount Pleasant area. One wonders what'll happen now that she's without a starring role in the forthcoming election, and whether she'll actually abdicate from the tri-cities area.
Municipal politics is hardly sexy. Sewer bylaws and zoning applications are hardly scintillating subjects. The outgoing mayor Larry Campbell's decision to bow out of a re-election bid, had as much to do with council's interminable meetings, as did the appointment to the Senate. It was wondered how Clark had she been nominated, would cope with having to sit through the umpteenth tabling of a bylaw amendment, let alone have any time with her young son, the young son who was the reason for her departure from provincial politics last year. The race between Clark and Sullivan, and the possibility of a race between Clark, the former BC Liberal, and Green, the one-time NDP candidate, actually injected some interest in November's civic races. Sullivan was right when he said that if Clark were nominated, municipal politics at Cambie and 12th would degenerate into retread provincial battles.
On the surface, the battle between Clark and Sullivan was civilised if not unbearably polite. Sullivan and many long-time NPAers were smarting over the fact that Clark, an interloper, carpetbagger and whatnot, was actually using Vancouver as a springboard for whatever greater political ambitions she may have. It's no secret that she's a possible successor for Gordon Campbell, should he ever decide to retire. Clark brought with her the so-called Liberal machine, helped no doubt by her husband, prominent organiser for Paul Martin, Mark Marissen. Countless NPA memberships were signed, and thanks to the Liberal machine's tactics, often seen in local constituencies when the Martinites were pulling the proverbial rug from under Jean Chrétien. Sullivan and Clark stumbled over one another praising each other for the other's gumption, their looks, their dedication to democracy, yada yada.
In the end, Sullivan, who was praised all around for his achievements away from politics, and his dedication to civic service, defeated the political machine. One wonders if this aborted civic race does any damage to Clark, whose rising star has been touted for greater leadership, in Victoria or even Ottawa. One suspects that she's a bit battered, having not the chance to do as a couple former mayors did, going on to become premiers-Mike Harcourt and Gordon Campbell. One former candidate, another suburban trespasser, who long ago lost the race for mayor did get to be premier eventually. It's doubtful however that Clark would want to imitate the garden path taken once by Bill Vander Zalm.
Admittedly, the race between Green and Sullivan will provide for some navel gazing this fall, and though it has the possibility for some sparks, it will not be the dirty battle had Green squared off with Christy Clark. What a Green-Sullivan election will do however is provide a good opportunity for Vancouverites to evaluate the proposals put forward by either candidate. One suspects they've got differing views, and perhaps they could seize upon the opportunity to provide a substantive debate on where to take this city in the next decade. Is it possible that the two less than colourful personalities could provide the small segment of the population actually interested in civic affairs, with two robust and remarkable visions for the city? Probably not. Expect ranting and raving, and all the requisite political fisticuffs to ensue.
It was chuckle-worthy to hear Sullivan talk about his east side roots when he was campaigning against Clark. He promised her a good scrap, and frankly, he won, so he must have done something right. But with Green, once considered a champion of the downtown eastside, and Sullivan, who hails from east of Ontario Street, who knows what'll happen. However, isn't it a bit of a slur on those who live west of Boundary and east of Ontario to be considered a tad less genteel than those who say, live in Kerrisdale or Kits?
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