Riot will serve as "case study" on how to dupe electorate
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and his council colleagues mark a special anniversary Friday at City Hall. But don’t expect to see colourful balloons or fanfare anytime soon. That’s because there are few civic politicians who want to talk about the events that led to last year’s Stanley Cup riot.
The genesis of Vancouver’s billion dollar public relations black eye can be traced back directly to Robertson. It was the mayor who personally directed city hall staff to set up special downtown fan zones complete with big screen televisions.
By Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, it was estimated the massive party on Georgia Street had swelled to more than 150,000 people. A large number of people were under 30 years old, drunk, and keen on some sort of public demonstration.
In the hours that followed the Canucks loss, the same people invited downtown for a big street party were now turning the city upside down. They burned, looted and vandalized their way onto almost every major newscast around the world.
In response, the Vancouver Police Department assigned over 70 officers to work full time on these cases. At a news conference, Chief Jim Chu told the media that so far police have recommended 674 charges against 225 suspects. In total, he anticipates 300 arrests will be made with over 900 criminal charges laid. “We believe this is the greatest number of people charged with a crime arising from one incident in Canadian history,” said Chu.
When added up, Robertson’s downtown party plans have cost B.C. and Vancouver taxpayers dearly.
In addition to the $2 million spent hosting the party, the city subsequently spent $7 million on police salaries plus an additional $2 million in related costs. Losses to individual victims, businesses and various government agencies total $3.7 million. As far as the provincial court system goes, the final bill has yet to be tallied – but it will likely be seven figures.
While the public purse has clearly taken a hit, there appears to be no political cost associated with the riot. Robertson and his team skillfully managed to ensure their fingerprints were nowhere to be found at the scene. In fact, Vancouver’s electorate actually rewarded them with an even larger majority.
I have no doubt that Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup riot will serve as a case study on how a politician can cause an unimaginable mess, and get away without a scratch.
- post by Daniel