Appeared in the North Shore News – November 7, 2014
Where to start? How about in November 2018 – when, let us pray, some tough opposition group coalesces to take on Weegie?
Ah, Weegie’s just my private name for the West Vancouver Citizens for Good Government, run by a tiny core of self-proclaimed civic do-gooders, heavy on implementers of the development industry. It’s a one-party town, a kinder version of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR, minus the gulag and the show trials. Website is a joke – its email address doesn’t work, and no phone number.
Glaring omission from its slate (endorsed council candidates pay $900 for the precious Weegie nod): Coun. Mary-Ann Booth. Why? Smart lady. Very West Vancouver. Ambitious.
Likely future mayoral candidate. But she had to recuse herself from the Grosvenor debates and votes, her husband being a lawyer for a firm hired by Grosvenor – otherwise, wild guess, she’d have backed it. So Mayor Michael Smith had to sweat to get the precious tie-breaking approval vote. Make no mistake: Now twice acclaimed, Smith’s vision implicitly endorsed, this is his town. (Credit where due: His council kept tax rises under one per cent.)
How about Agent Y3nPg6’s claim that three prominent political hitpersons are gunning for Couns. Nora Gambioli and Craig Cameron?
Their supposed sin: They voted against the Grosvenor development, thus proof they’re anti-development. Weegie-endorsed Cameron seethes: Says he’s no such thing, just sought a smaller project. Had the jam to admit changing his mind about the ridiculous Ferry Building extension.
As for Gambioli, she let the feline out of the Gucci when she said WV council battles behind closed doors because “Realtors, land investors and developers have sent us many emails voicing their rather livid concerns about these plans to debate reductions to new home volumes.” Surprised? Cue George Bernard Shaw (see his Saint Joan at the Stanley): The best-kept secrets are the ones everybody guesses.
It all fits: With Booth, now a Kremlinesque Weegie non-person, and Gambioli hopefully exiled, the Weegies have sent into the lineup pinch-hitters Peter Lambur, Joanna Baxter and Jim Finkbeiner. Impressive careers. Zero political experience. No accident, says my theory. The Weegies want, possibly sought out, reliable neophytes. They’ll be beholden.
Hey, no dirty works. Conventional politics. Just like in Ottawa or Victoria. Team player, or out. Smith needs a council majority.
Otherwise, why Baxter, nice woman, shaky speaker, and why Finkbeiner, who recites his c.v., empty of content concerning WV politics?
Story making rounds about Finkbeiner: Early on, he asked where town hall is. Whaaattt? His explanation: “No, I was just kidding a couple of people. We have good friends who live right around the corner of the municipal hall.” His brochure boasts two pages of nationwide accomplishments – and no contact info. (Hastily reprinted, now added.)
Intermission, light relief: Clear winner of Most Unlikely Former Oakalla Prison Guard – svelte, stylish and smart council candidate Christine Cassidy. Yes, briefly, after graduation. Today a stockbroker, and passionate fund-raiser. A voice for slopitch development.
Coun. Michael Lewis’s campaign launch featured big backers, including Smith, former mayors Ron Wood and Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (who I believe don’t exchange Christmas cards), and former B.C. attorney general and councillor Russ Fraser.
However different politically, Lewis (again) disdained Weegie endorsement. Also Terry Platt, an actual working person and New Democrat and thus hardly a fit councillor for West Vancouver anyway.
Lewis is a strong future mayoral candidate – and his quietly successful repeat defiance of Weegie’s blessing brings hope before 2018 of a fresh political alignment challenging this stuffy little clique. Otherwise Lewis is no rebel, certainly not anti-development, a rubbery term. Platt (thrice, not twice as I recently reported, an unsuccessful provincial candidate against ageless Ralph Sultan) is a platform favourite.
Coun. Bill Soprovich – West Van’s all-time election champ, perhaps? – is a populist who personally trots around to listen to any aggrieved citizen, but Sop, as he’s fondly known, can’t be categorized as anti-development. Nothing is so black and white. Newcomers, oldcomers, we all live in developments. Hold the hypocrisy.
Personal regret: In the 2011 elections I blandly declared that Carolanne Reynolds, tireless chronicler of council meetings and defender of heritage, was more valuable outside council than in. Bad me. That shouldn’t disqualify her. Few know more of our town.
At this writing no council candidate proposes any means of stopping neighbour-insensitive bloated houses like Dong Biao Huang’s and Catherine Zhao’s on Kensington Crescent.
Does your reps’ wealth interest you? Fascinating public information: Return-match candidate Michael Evison holds stock in 38 companies; Finkbeiner in 29 (he evidently likes Supreme Pharma, 100,000 shares); Cassidy in 65, including 521.636 in Fidelity Northstar Fund and 812.056 in Manulife US Large Cap. Well, sure, she’s a stockbroker – the Oakalla prison guard gig rather far behind her.
And then some candidates declare no investments at all. Why do I cynically suspect that the spouse evasively holds the shares?
© Trevor Lautens, 2014