As I’ve written in years past, there are two big “leftie” parties in Vancouver that have a certain gravitational pull on the social scene here. The first one, usually the first weekend in December, is organized by one group and tends to bring out a few more union/standard NDP types.
The other is organized by the Renewal Partners/Stratcom/Convergence Partners nexus. It attracts many of the same people, although with more attendance by people whose job titles I can’t quite comprehend, possibly because I am an old linear-thinking fart. (I asked one guy this year what he did and he said he works on “agreement building.”)
They’re both deafeningly loud and must-dos for a certain crowd. They were popular again as usual, but the second one this Saturday night was certainly the gathering of the new power clan in Vancouver, since its hosts — Joel Solomon’s Renewal Partners (along with the many businesses he invests in), Mike Magee’s Convergence Communications, and Bob Penner’s Strategic Communications — form a pretty tight circle around new Mayor Gregor Robertson.
The party spread out over the two rooms and three floors of the cool and arty Canvas Lounge (former Sugar + Sugar) in Gastown, providing a Tom Wolfian-style gathering of the New Green/Enviro/Socially Conscious Capitalists and their associates.
Among those in attendance in the eclectic gathering: theatre owner Leonard Schein, who has supported Renewal and its associated businesses for years; the peripatetic Michael Geller, recently defeated NPA candidate and urban thinker about town, and his daughter Claire; CUPE union leader Paul Faoro; many Vision pols and candidates, including Mayor Gregor, of course, Kashmir Dhaliwal (also with his son along), Heather Deal, Geoff Meggs, George Chow, Andrea Reimer, Aaron Jasper, Heather Harrison, and who knows who else I missed in the crowd of 400 or so; COPE’s Rachel Marcuse, people from Smart Growth, people in social housing, people in real estate, and a few media types such as myself pretending to party but really waiting for people to get loaded so we could pry information out of them. (No luck — I couldn’t get a thing out of any of them, even after holding them down and pouring vodka straight into their gullets, about who might be next on the chopping block around city hall. They just kept trying to tell me about citizen empowerment.)
Lots of talk about Vision’s aggressive new agenda and the previous day’s switcheroo of city manager Judy Rogers for former deputy health minister Penny Ballem. LOTS more talk of why Judy just had to go, no two ways about it.
BTW, the prevailing theory among the NPA or Judy-supporting types is that Geoff Meggs, former chief of staff to Mayor Larry, former B.C. Fed guy, was the driving force behind Judy’s ouster. But, from what I heard at the party, it was a pretty united front on the subject from all and sundry.
And, a sad note I noticed as I went out the door into the falling snow sometime after midnight, a table full of candles in memory of Ben Banky, the natural-foods entrepreneur who was killed at his company’s Christmas party on Friday. Banky had been a supporter of the Robertson campaign.