Tag Archives: Side Glance

Another Side Glance With Al Tee: Politics & Robo Kennedy

18 Oct

RoboKennedy (2)Kennedy Stewart wants to save us. He wants to save us from the NPA, Kinder Morgan, and big money influence at City Hall. I know this to be true because the four robo-calls I got from him said so. Kennedy Stewart also sent me a mailing, dropped off a handbill at my door, and opened a campaign office in my neighborhood. He really wants to save us.

Why?

Why does a guy who has represented Burnaby federally since 2011, now need to be our mayor? Has he solved all federal related issues in Burnaby South? Or will federal NDP leader Jagmit Singh – soon to be parachuted into Stewart’s Burnaby seat – provide a better level of understanding and representation for the issues facing Burnaby?  Kennedy Stewart has been around politically since he ran federally and lost to Hedy Fry back in 2004. But he’s never run for a civic position in Vancouver. Not School or Parks Board nor City Council.

For a guy who claims a long relationship with Vancouver, he’s been noticeably absent from city politics. Generally people who run and become mayor have some kind of political or civic involvement. I think the last guy that ran for mayor who didn’t have that connection was Bill VanderZalm. Come to think of it, didn’t Christie Clark try and run for Vancouver mayor in 2005?

To be clear, I am not comparing Kennedy Stewart to two often loathed former politicians. I’m just saying I find something about his whole candidacy improbable. I’m reminded of a guy angling for the nice corner office with a view.

But of course I’m wrong. I must be. A form letter included in my Kennedy package mail out, was from vaunted East Van political warrior Libby Davies. She says we need Kennedy’s leadership in Vancouver and that I should dig deeper to support him. How deep? How about $200?

Kennedy plans to build 60,000 units of various types of residences in the next 10 years. Anyone who’s ever been involved with any kind of home reno knows, it’s usually longer than you predicted and more expensive. Still, you got to applaud his problem solving confidence which he has according to one of his pamphlets because;

“ I know cities. “

You know who else knows cities? People who live in them. People who live in this city don’t like it when their garbage isn’t collected. They don’t like it when there’s problems with transit. They don’t like annoying neighbors who break by-laws or make by-law complaints. People especially don’t like it when the whole town shuts down because it never seems prepared to handle a dump of snow. People don’t like it when traffic speeds down their street cause the city refuses to put in a roundabout or a few speed bumps. People don’t like it that there’s less free parking on public streets.

It’s one thing to be in Ottawa putting up motions, it’s a whole other thing dealing with contentious building projects and people protesting outside your home. Not to mention the irate citizen with a tax beef who accosts you in the lobby of city hall.

Kennedy Stewart most likely will be the next mayor and maybe if I talked to him I’d see things differently. Unfortunately after 4 robo-calls I’ve heard enough. But in fairness to Kennedy, I did get 2 robo-calls from Ken Sim and one from one of those Vancouver parties. I won’t vote for them either.

By Contributing Writer Al Tee

Side Glance With Al Tee: Civic Election Edition – The Top Twenty?

17 Oct

AlTeeSideGlanceTopTwentyLess than a week away and there are enough candidates running for mayor on the random ordered ballot to stage a basketball tournament. In fact, that’d be my suggestion for whittling down the number of candidates for mayor. Divide them up into four teams, play some round robin hoop, and the team with the most wins is the 5 people who get to be on the ballot. Simpler for the voters and more entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to see Wai Young dish to Fred Harding who then dunks on Ken Sim? Of course my suggestion is not treating city politics seriously and this election is serious business. It’s Vancouver’s most important in a generation, or at least that’s what it says in the mailing I got from the Kennedy Stewart campaign.

Twenty, yes twenty people want to be your mayor. Are they the twenty smartest, most imaginative, learned, insightful people in Van City? The top twenty? You decide. The candidates run the gamut from front runner Kennedy Stewart to Roller Girl and among the things all 20 have in common is a solution to our affordable housing issues.

The problem is, what exactly is affordable and what does it look like? The livable wage – that which covers your monthly expenses – is $20.91 an hour in Vancouver. Assuming you’re fortunate enough to have full time work, and are only spending 30% of your income a month on housing, you’re still looking at a minimum $1,000 per month.

What do these 20 good people, who feel you should pay them to sit in the big chair at 12th and Cambie, think a minimum $1,000 should get you? Six hundred square feet? Four hundred square feet? A half a shipping container? A studio in a forty story rabbit hutch beside a Skytrain station ?

My suspicion is that in the end affordable, presuming you’re making a livable wage, is the market rate.  Just once I’d like to hear a candidate say;

“ It’s too late. We need to focus on transit. Improve transit cause
people have to live farther out. “

Of course any candidate for mayor who would say that, would never make the top twenty.

By Contributing Writer Al Tee

Side Glance With Al Tee – Why You Should Vote For Stuart For Parks Board

5 Sep

StuartMackinnonI am one of those cynical types who harbors deep skepticism towards politicians. I have never voted for a major political party’s candidate and often vote Communist or Marxist-Leninist as form of protest. Civically I generally mark an X on my ballot for the fringe and the extreme, be it Jamie Lee Hamilton or Cowboy Bob Ellis. I am telling you this so you’ll know I’m not easily swayed, and therefore genuine when I say you should vote for Stuart Mackinnon for Parks Board.

Mackinnon is a two term Parks Board Commissioner and current Board Chair who is seeking to continue to advance his belief that Vancouver’s parks pitches and pools should be places where citizens play, relax and explore. Places that allow people and nature to exist in balance. Now sure, you could argue that every candidate for Parks Board says that. But not every candidate is:

  • Still a fan of the Canadian Football League.
  • Follows Everton in the English Premier League.
  • Spent seven years teaching at the indigenous community of Nemaska in James Bay, Quebec.
  • Fought off the Vision-ista plans to close the Bloedel Conservatory in 2009.
  • Believes that the city’s parks and community centres gave him a magical childhood that everyone else’s kid should have too.
  • Has close to three decades in teaching, two of those decades as a Vancouver High School teacher. (surely a testament to one’s patience when working with groups).
  • Grew up in a conservative household – his grandfather was an MP in the 40’s and his mother once worked for House Speaker John Fraser – and came away from it with an ability to appreciate while not necessarily agreeing with the other guy’s point of view.
  • Is not out to change the name of Stanley Park or any other park in the city. His Colonial Audit merely seeks to identify places that originally had indigenous names and then let the public decide.
  • Has, unlike many Parks Commissioners before him, no political ambitions. (former Parks Commissioners have gone on to be 4 city councilors, 3 provincial cabinet ministers, 1 city mayor and one Federal MP).
  • Wears a kilt on special occasions.

This Fall’s civic election will feature a lot of first timers (including the mayor) and possibly a lot of one termers (including the mayor). Doesn’t it make sense to retain an experienced commissioner on the Parks Board?  One who not only has the political experience, but also the experience of a true Vancouverite. I’m talking swimming outdoors at public pools like New Brighton, picnicking at beaches like Spanish Banks, and walking the sidelines of pitches like Clinton Park on dreary rainy Saturday mornings. I’m talking Stuart Mackinnon for Parks.

Contributing Writer: Al Tee

Side Glance With Al Tee – White Pins: What They Mean For Housing In Vancouver

29 May

WhitePinAlTeeThey first appeared on the Westside. Then slowly migrated to EastVan and now they are everywhere. You’ve seen them in your neighborhood and on your street. They are the symbol of everything that is the housing debate. They are, those white surveyor pins. Harbingers of destroy and replace. That old rancher? Coming down. Faded Vancouver Special? Bulldozer bait. Hundred year old Craftsman? Just keeping the lot warm until that 3500 square foot stack of shipping containers-looking box is approved.

It is to the point that the pins go in, the house comes down, and you can’t even remember what was there. Walk through any East Van neighborhood and you can predict which house is next to sprout the white pins. The pins are like an invasive species. Nobody was paying attention, nobody took them seriously, now they can’t be stopped. There’s no natural predator or pesticide and they’re pretty much impervious to social activism. In fact they’ll be around long after all of us because of what they consume and excrete. Money.

This city, as I’ve said before, has always been about money. George Vancouver didn’t drop anchor in Burrard Inlet to further His Majesty’s geographical knowledge. The heroes of Vision ran this city for 10 years and they weren’t financed by citizens riding Mobi bikes to council meeting eithers.

But, there’s an election coming in November, and the people seeking your vote aren’t beholden to money and have a solution for the white pin proliferation. Whether it’s Burnaby MP Kennedy ‘How about I drop in and solve your problems?’ Stewart, hereditary Squamish Nation Chief Ian ‘cash in on all that white guilt’ Campbell, neophyte politician Shauna ‘what happened to being the  frontrunner?’  Sylvester, tech entrepreneur Taleeb ‘lost twice federally’  Noormohamed, or popular favorite Adrianne ‘don’t want to be the tallest weed’ Carr, they have a plan. Maybe.

What is certain, is that no matter who is in power enacting their “plan”, your rent is going to continue to go up. Moving to a larger more affordable space will continue to only be an option if that space is in Harrison Mills. The price of the faded Vancouver Special you pass by every day is not suddenly going to be reasonable, and the white pins will continue to dot the East Van landscape.

However it’s not all gloom and doom especially if you like a little schadenfreude. Watching Hector Bremner cry over the NPA rejecting his mayoralty candidacy has been pretty entertaining.  Bremner is the same guy who won his city council seat because the progressive vote was split into five but still thinks he earned it. The same guy that said after he won his council seat that Vision was done. The same guy who said he’d donate his councilor’s pay to charity. Now he alleges that he’s a victim of racism. Shocking! The poor man. Course if you believe that, I’ve got a Vancouver Special you can have for its original price. Plus it’s on a street free of those white pins.

By Contributing Writer Al Tee

Side Glance With Al Tee On Vancouver’s Next Mayor

21 Feb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe late Venezuelan populist Hugo Chavez had a phrase he would use when elections and referendums didnʼt go his way;

Por Ahora

Roughly translated it means for now or for the moment. I have been thinking of that phrase ever since our own populist Mayor Gregor Robertson, announced in early January that he wouldnʼt be seeking re-election. Gregor said he was declining to run again in order to; “ …make space for new voices and leaders.

Personally I am not much bothered by Gregor and his legacy as mayor. Despite having good intentions and the guidance of his Tide Foundation comrades, Gregor never solved this Cityʼs problems. Then again, what Mayor would have solved them? Kirk Lapointe? Meena Wong? Peter Ladner? Suzanne Anton? Marc Emery? Those were some of the other choices for mayor during Gregorʼs reign. What I do find amusing though is Gregorʼs departure from elected office after considerable soul searching with family. Sure. He isnʼt done politics. Given that between 1973 and the end of Gregorʼs tenure, there have been 7 other mayors, two of whom became premier, one became an MP one an MLA and one a Senator, Iʼd say Gregor will find some other political position. He is only leaving higher office por ahora.

So who is going to come sweeping into City Hall with “their fresh ideas and soCityHallPeanutlutions? “A lot of names have been bandied about as future mayor but no one has mentioned a return of the greatest candidate ever; Vincent “ Mr. Peanut “ Trasov. Certainly the City would be no worse if Trasov dusted off his Mr. Peanut suit and ran for mayor like the time he did in the 1974 election and got 2600 votes, a ton of press, and the endorsement of Beat Generation poet William S. Burroughs. As to who may actually end up warming the big chair at 12th and Cambie, it is like coaching changes for the Canucks. Only a few of the names should be taken remotely serious.

The Early Scouting Report

Libby Davies:

A veteran East Van political warrior, Davies sat on City Council from 1982-1993 then graduated to the big leagues and represented Vancouver East in Ottawa from 1997-2015. With a fine taxpayer funded indexed pension, why ever would she want to get back into the contact sport of civic politics? Also she ran for mayor in 1993 and lost to Phillip Owen.

Don Davies (no relation to Libby):

He has been the MP for Vancouver Kingsway since 2008 and generally is the perfect politician. Meaning, he has not said or done anything stupid and quietly goes about his business. Why would he give that up so he can be harangued about a missed garbage collection or neighborhood parking?

Adrianne Carr:

Everyone in this City who makes even a minuscule attempt at recycling considers themselves Green. So why not Adrianne Carr, the Green Party City Councillor since 2011, as Mayor? Sure she seems nice enough, but she hasnʼt exactly been the tallest weed on City Council. I couldnʼt tell you one thing sheʼs said or done. Maybe Iʼm just not paying attention. But certainly one has to be a little skeptical about the Green Party given itʼs non-stand on the Site C project. Youʼd think a hugely expensive and environmentally questionable power project would be right up Greenʼs alley. Either way my preferred Green mayor would be Stuart MacKinnon on the Parks Board. He seems interested engaged sincere and occasionally wears a kilt.

Spencer Chandra Herbert:

A former Park Board member from 2005-2008, Chandra-Herbert has represented the West End as an MLA since 2009. Currently his talent is being wasted as a back bencher in Hulk Horganʼs government. If I was going to cash in my scavenged empties and donate to anybodyʼs campaign for mayor itʼd be Chandra-Herbert.

Hector Bremner:

I havenʼt figured out if this freshly minted by-election winner. Is he incredibly naive or way too enthusiastic? A former assistant to the BC Liberals own Jabba the Hut (Rich Coleman), Bremner ran as a Liberal MLA for New West in 2013 and lost. The beneficiary of low voter turn out and dissatisfaction with Vision in winning the recent City Council bye-election, Bremner claimed; “ Vision is done. “ Does this guy not watch sports? Doesnʼt he know you donʼt talk about the shutout mid-game and you never bad mouth the first place team? Bremner also claimed he would donate his councillorʼs pay to charity saying heʼd give it to; “ Whatever worthy cause. “

Raymond Louie:

Heʼs been a City councilor since 2002. Thatʼs right five terms. He also lost the Vision nomination for mayor in 2008 to Gregor. Iʼm sure Louie feels either heʼs part of the solution or not part of the problem.

Those are all the names of interest por ahora.

A Side Glance By Al Tee ‘Voting’ Was It Worth The Cost?

23 Oct

VancouverVotesOn Tuesday October 10th while heading to see the new Blade Runner – half hour too long not noir-sh enough but one really good scene – I tried to do my civic duty and vote early at City Hall. But there was a line-up and I was not going to wait. After the movie, I tried again and there was still a line-up. Really? Donʼt by-elections usually have low voter turnout? How could this interference with my plans be happening? Turns out there ended up being only 11% participation by eligible voters.

This leads me to the question of why exactly was this expensive democratic exercise necessary? Okay, I know Councillor Geoff Meggs went off to Victoria to take an easy cash gig. But rather than spend the million plus the City dropped to elect a replacement, why didnʼt they just go down the list? Think about it. Meggs came in 10th in 2014, making him the last one on board council. Why not just give the job to the person who came in next. In 2014, Ian Robertson of the NPA was the 11th. Given that the winner of this election was Hector Bremner of the NPA, would it have made a difference? Tell me there is a difference between Bremner and Robertson? If Robertson werenʼt available, the next four closest were also NPA candidates. So in essence Meggs should have just saved us the money and trouble and picked somebody from the NPA to replace himself. The same goes with the School Board. They were fired, so just rehire them. Their term was only one more year. We are doing all this again in 2018. The money spent on the by-election could have been used for something more purposeful rather than reminding us that nobody gets elected without money. The kind of money that only comes from hitching a ride from a name brand political party. So, sorry Judy Graves and Jean Swanson. The last independent to win a council seat was Carole Taylor 30 years ago, and she was heavily connected and financed. Same thing goes to you Mary Jean Watermelon and thanks for the Robo-call. Are those really effective for getting the votes?

This by-election also has me pondering how come, with all our enlightenment and gender neutral washrooms, we have still yet to elect a transperson? Specifically how come the money parties wonʼt offer a ride to Jamie Lee Hamilton? This gal has been running forever. She deserves to be elected just for her persistence. Sadly this by-election is also a reminder that COPE the once mighty vanguards of Vancouverʼs progressive politics are on the verge of extinction. Twas self-destructive infighting that caused their decline.

But there are some positives in all this. One City, a neophyte progressive party, managed to best the money parties and steal a seat from them. Plus more Green Party seats. Keep the City green. Seriously, can we put something green in the school curriculum?  Because the school annex a block over from my place, those kids need to learn to recycle. They are our future.

By Contributing Writer Al Tee

Photo: City of Vancouver

%d bloggers like this: