It was the Non-Partisan Association’s annual fundraising dinner tonight, even though that fact went unrecorded by all media but me as far as I can tell. Time was it was a routine item for coverage. (Remember three years ago when Sam Sullivan apologized to the banquet crowd for his misjudgment in letting a drug user smoke crack in his van?) Now, between media downsizing, a federal election, a disinclination to publicize the event, and I don’t know what else, it wasn’t even on anyone’s radar.
Which is too bad, because it’s always good to see what message the leader delivers to the home team just before the election. So here are the highlights that mayoral candidate Peter Ladner delivered to a crowd of, I’m told, about 600 at Floata.
The scary warning: “This is not a slam-dunk election. This is not a sure thing. We are up against a well-oiled, well-financed team with a lot of experience and party members. They think they’re smelling blood.”
The slogan: “Together Let’s Get It Done.”
The speech: Starts off positive about how he wants a better, more affordable, greener, job-producing city for his kids, but then turns into a series of jabs against inexperienced newbie Gregor Robertson. (Doesn’t have a voting record at city hall, doesn’t even have a decent relationship with his own party leader let alone anyone else in Victoria, is in bed with anti-Olympics loonie lefties, just moved to Vancouver from Cortes three years ago, yada yada.)
The line that got a collective ooh-you’re-so-bad groan from the audience: “Overseeing a $900-million budget is not the same as running a juice stand.”
Other details: Acknowledges that people feel a sense of “unravelling” in the city and are impatient with city hall and want to see action. (Hence the slogan). Acknowledges that he experienced “some frustration” in his time on council and that the council will now have a more collaborative approach.
Delivery: More forceful and theatrically effective than anything I’ve seen in the past, but he’s clearly still working on it. Occasional awkward pauses and timing miscues, as people try to applaud and he keeps talking.
Strange moment of the night: A videotaped message from Mayor Sam Sullivan, who is off to New York to lobby for Vancouver to be included in the major-league soccer circuit, and Switzerland, for a meeting of Olympics mayors, followed by a hearty thanks from Ladner for all his energetic work. That would be the mayor who just got ousted from his job by Ladner. The experience was like having to attend a function with a divorced couple who are trying to pretend they’re getting along.