With summer almost here, the November municipal election is probably the last thing on your mind. Except if you are the NPA, Vancouver’s civic centre-right political party. They held their nomination meeting this past Saturday to fill their slate to run in the fall. Civic elections aren’t always the most exciting things, but the recent races in Toronto and Calgary, with their unlikely outcomes, had the whole country talking. Will Vancouver continue this trend? Only if the NPA has a real chance of beating Gregor Robertson and his team.
There is no lack of criticism against Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party. While taxes go up, council’s priorities are occupied with ripping out car lanes for bike lanes, re-zoning the city to accommodate backyard chickens and cultivating bee hives on the roof of city hall. The bungling of the Olympic village and high price tag to taxpayers has caused a lot of frustration.
Vision’s term in office is characterized by an obsession with bizarre, expensive pet projects and avoiding tackling the big issues.
Suzanne Anton is the NPA’s candidate for Mayor. She has been a councillor since 2005 and has established herself as a lone voice of credible opposition.
Anton has to present a different agenda for the city. She can only win the election on substance. If it is a contest between styles, Robertson will easily win since his strengths are in his charisma and political personality. If it’s a battle of ideas, the NPA can win, but if it’s a popularity contest, they don’t stand much of a chance.
It’s up to the NPA to drive the agenda and make this election about ideas and better policy.
To do this, they’ll need to focus on issues that matter to people’s everyday lives, like taxes, commuting and crime. While timely given the playoffs, Anton’s recent demand for funding from Ottawa and Victoria for street parties lacks this focus.
Anton will have to step out of the city hall bubble, replace her councillor hat with her candidate hat and start talking about voter’s priorities.
– Post by Kathryn Marshall. She is a writer and broadcast commentator on Canadian politics and current affairs. Kathryn has worked on political campaigns across the country at all levels of government. She is originally from London, Ontario and has also lived in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. Kathryn has a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of Western Ontario and is currently completing a Law degree at the University of Calgary. Before Law School she worked for the Fraser Institute, Canada`s largest think tank.You can follower her on Twitter @kvmarshall.
This column first appeared in 24 Hours Vancouver on Monday, June 6, 2011.