Appeared in the North Shore News – September 5, 2011

WEST Vancouver mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones doesn’t strike me as the sort who jumps before figuring out where she’ll land.

So what I see in the flyspecked old crystal ball is that, maybe parking her good self temporarily in an attractive private enterprise or public advisory job until the propitious moment, she will run for the – wait for it – Liberals in Joan McIntyre’s West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. As suggested by her response to a question I put to her.

First, the lowliest Cold War cryptologist could read the tea leaves of her words in a CKNW interview Monday. Ostensibly euthanizing rumours old enough to have whiskers, Goldsmith-Jones told host Bill Good she “wouldn’t challenge” sitting West Vancouver MLAs for a nomination.

The slippery words are “wouldn’t challenge.”

If she were to challenge Ralph Sultan in West Vancouver-Capilano, she’d be too stupid for any political office, and she ain’t.

Sultan isn’t a fighter. Doesn’t need to be. The gentlemanly Sultan has friends, many and heavy, who work the political back alleys and Main Street for him, to crushing effect on all comers. If Goldsmith-Jones challenged him, the political rift in Liberal West Van would make mainstage legislature politics look like gentle taps under Marquis of Queensberry rules.

Incumbent McIntyre, though, is a very nice, uncombative soul who couldn’t find an opponent’s jugular with a road map. She’s a Gordon Campbell pick. She’s served two terms in a riding so Liberal that Minnie Mouse could win it. So if she’d be content to call it a political day – voila, an opening without a messy challenge for West Vancouver’s mayor, who lives in the riding.

Did she lie to Good? No. Just split a linguistic hair.

Now this: I asked the three North Shore mayors for reaction to the province’s proposal to oversee municipal budgets – a fighting issue.

Engaging answers. North Vancouver District’s Richard Walton, a chartered accountant and former auditor, is “not against the idea,” respects federal and provincial auditorsgeneral, but says the terms of any audit must be clear: “The broader question that the province might well ask is whether there needs to be 22 communities in Metro Vancouver. . . . Our concern is that the creation of a municipal auditor be politically-driven rather than value-driven.”

North Vancouver City’s Darrell Mussatto: The province’s intention is “misguided at best, a complete loss of judgment in reality. . . .

They are wasting their time and money and instead should be using the funds to audit their own financial mess.” And a little twist of the knife: “Perhaps the province is looking at the municipalities for sources of revenue now that the HST has met its demise?” Oh, stop straddling the fence, Mr. Mayor.

Stand by for Mayor Goldsmith-Jones’s response: “I plan to put this on our public council agenda (this month). In general, I think it is a good idea. I don’t entirely understand the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ objection.

I think (former Auditor General) Sheila Fraser and (Parliamentary Budget Officer) Kevin Page . . . at the federal government level provide a very valuable service. . . . The local level should also wish to broadcast its legislated balanced budget and should be secure in welcoming independent thirdparty scrutiny.”

I believe I can see the descending jaws of David Marley, Garrett Polman and other harsh critics of West Van town hall finances on discovering the mayor is on their side.

Exiting, Goldsmith-Jones supports a Liberal initiative denounced by the municipalities’ organization; in the bitter Eagleridge dispute, she lent a hand to beleaguered Transportation (now Finance) Minister Kevin Falcon – who owes her; her police board gave top cop Kash Heed a stopover and sweetheart termination pay deal during his run for the Liberals; etc., etc.

Am I accurately joining the dots? Or are those really fly specks on my crystal ball?

. . .

West Vancouver property owner Paul Marshall seeks a court order to shut down Brian’s Fruit Stand in front of his huge home, listed for $6.5 million. Brian’s was there first. Marshall built the house knowing it was there. Oh, and there’s the dusty park-and-ride and a train track squarely in front – also there first. Praise West Van planning director Bob Sokol for refusing to back him up. . . .

The reaction to Jack Layton’s death defied reason.

But I’ll try. First, the Lord Nelson effect: Legends are made of leaders (Canadian examples: Montcalm, Wolfe, Sir Isaac Brock) who die at the glorious moment.

Second, the emotion deficit: Vicarious love and death in film and video anesthetize us. Manufactured emotion drives out real emotion. We fear authenticity. “Closure” has invaded language and polluted natural grief. Formal funerals are in decline; either they don’t take place or are attended by “mourners” in shockingly casual dress. The tribe gave rare permission for individuals to elevate grief for Layton into a collective torrent.

Religion? “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. . . . Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than

fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”

The first is I Corinthians 13. The second is Layton’s deathbed message. The music is uncannily similar. The political Messiah spoke. And with worldly calculation, the orangeclad NDP disciples are zealously exploiting his death.

© Trevor Lautens, 2011

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