Appeared in the North Shore News – May 27, 2011
A current profile in a slick magazine might as well have said it with sky-writing: “We love this candidate! We’re hyping her for the coming election!”
The story is in Vancouver, one of those magazines devoted to restless consumers who find their perfectly OK bathrooms unsatisfactory and replace them with more fashionable ones at monster prices.
A full-page photo reveals an attractive, smartly coiffed politician “with a Jackie Kennedy flair.” (Think about that.) She’s charming but with a toughness (used sparingly), personally progressive but firmly consensual; she envisions a community where you can “have a glass of wine and head to a gallery, after 7 o’clock . . . that would be marvellous,” but cursed with a fuddy-duddy citizenry the writer describes as “obsessed with tax freezes and public-purse parsimony.”
The candidate who is the subject of this shrewdly timed puffery is, you’ve guessed if you haven’t read the piece, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.
But — candidate for what: (a) Third term as mayor of West Vancouver? (b) Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano? Choose (a), or (b), or (c) — both.
If (b), there is a stumbling block if she sets foot on the road to greater political glory in Victoria. He is Ralph Sultan. The incumbent. And he has a lock on the riding that would make any politician weep envious tears.
Last time out of the gate Sultan drew almost two and a half times more votes than his five rivals combined. (One riding over, in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, Christy Clark top loyalist and former TV personality Pamela Martin is a prospective challenger to Joan McIntyre, who also easily won in 2009.)
So if Goldsmith-Jones, backed by the laying-on of hands of Premier Christy Clark, challenges Sultan, the decisive election would be for the Liberal nomination.
Expect one of the most bitter, divisive, loyalty-testing political battles that the broader public will never see — closed doors, among the almost 2,000 party constituency members.
There’s the age thing. The mayor is reportedly 49, which sounds so much younger than 50. Sultan, brain still in fine working condition, turns 78 on June 6.
Granted, it would be an uphill fight against a Jackie Kennedy flair, and wine and a gallery visit after 7 p.m., but he’d have to make do with a record including a Harvard economics degree, teaching at Harvard, private business experience, and chief economist for a major Canadian bank.
Timetable: Months ago the mayor said she’d reveal her electoral plans in July. Municipal elections are in November. Clark, not on firmest ground herself after her narrow byelection win, and heiress to the HST mess, is wrestling with the timing of a general election — and whipping (almost literally, an insider says) her caucus to prepare as if it’s in September. Seems more than a dry run. If so, and if Mayor Goldsmith-Jones tried and failed to step up, she’d still have a job and the opportunity to keep it two months later. That’s the (a), (b) and (c) of it.
If this scenario doesn’t materialize, it won’t be my misreading of the tea leaves. It’ll be because Clark — and likely Goldsmith-Jones too — will catch the signals and decide that West Vancouver-Capilano is a boat not to be rocked.
The big signal being: Even if Goldsmith-Jones persuaded Liberal constituency members to desert the popular Sultan (don’t bet on it), he would not go gently into that good night. My infallible agent XJR707 reports that barring a health or other unforeseen problem, Ralph Sultan’s name will definitely be on the ballot in the next provincial election.
He’d run as an independent.
The vote-splitting potential would be huge. Throw in a credible Conservative candidate, and the heaven-guaranteed certainty of a Liberal victory in West Vancouver-Capilano would look less certain.
And coincidentally — a genuine coincidence — Coun. Michael Smith soon retires from his business, and has quietly mulled running for mayor. Nor has former councillor Vivian Vaughan ruled herself out. The year of the parsimonious fuddy-duddies?
– – –
Credit where due: The Interested Taxpayers’ Action Committee, its prominent spokesman David Marley, and ITAC’s council sympathizers including Michael Lewis, merit praise for the modest 1.1 per cent rise in your West Van property bill you’ve just received. Compare that with the nearly 10-per-cent rise in Gregor Robertson’s crazed, left-wing Vancouver.
– – –
You’ve gotta see the wild spoof, Bike Lane Nazis, on YouTube — a raving, frustrated Hitler, magically relocated to Vancouver, fulminating to terrified flunkies who admit they’re losing the war on bicycle lanes, which drives the Fuehrer (further) nuts. A must-see for fans and foes alike of Mayor Robertson’s bicycle panzers.
© Trevor Lautens, 2011