Frances Bula header image 2

Vancouver’s two main political parties plan the future

April 29th, 2010 · 45 Comments

My assignment: Compare and contrast the annual general meetings of Vancouver’s two major political parties, the Non-Partisan Association, once all-powerful, now hunting for its way forward, and Vision Vancouver, the new ecocapitalist party, still riding high on its 2008 win.

(Someone once said being a journalist is like having homework the rest of your life. How true.)

Vision Vancouver: West End protesters outside the downtown BCIT building, handing out pamphlets claiming darkly that “huge subsidies are being offered to private developers” as they continue their battle against two towers proposed under Vision’s ambitious STIR program. For those who don’t recall, that’s the program Vision brought in quickly after being elected, aimed at boosting the stalled construction industry while creating some permanent (as opposed to investor condo rentals) rental apartments in the city.

Inside, about 200 people all feeling the love. As Jeremy Osborne said, when he made his pitch to be elected to the executive, “I’ve been getting more excited about the city since Gregor’s elected. When I see all the stuff that’s going around on Facebook and Twitter, that makes me proud.” Someone posed a gentle question to the mayor about the STIR program, which has generated significant opposition in the West End, and he said there were going to be community consultations set up. End of dealing with difficult issues.

Gender breakdown: Hard to get an exact count, but I’d say women represented slightly more than half.

Over at the Museum of Vancouver, it was nothing but painful issues, as the 80 people at the NPA meeting struggled with whether to initiate a search for a new name and whether to go out into the community and talk to them about possible NPA policies that should be developed.

The room was split on both issues, both of which prompted heartfelt speeches about whether the NPA is a dead brand that needs to be changed if the party is going to have any hope of winning an election again or whether it’s an honourable brand that has a long history and, yes, maybe needs some refreshing, but shouldn’t be abandoned.

In the end, the group voted to strike a committee to look at possible new names, some with the same NPA initials and some without. But voters rejected the idea of going out to talk about policy with communities, because, they said, that would violate the spirit of the NPA founded in 1937. The party has never really been a party, said the faithful. It’s a group aimed at nominating the best possible candidates, fundraising for them, and running an election campaign.

Sample quotes:

“I question whether the brand is something we should move forward on.” Cindy Burton

“This party has elected 11 of the last 17 mayors. We’ve been up and we’ve been down. I don’t think we should be so quick to throw out that legacy. It is the most successful, longest-lasting civic party in Canadian history.” Sean Bickerton, NPA council candidate 2008

“We’ve got more media attention for this name change than we did for anything else we did in the in the last 18 months. My marketing mind says this is good.” Mike Klassen, political organizer, one part of the two-man team at citycaucus.com

“I have to tell you, I have some trouble figuring out what we are selling as the NPA.” Mike Davis, NPA president, public-relations specialist

“If we pass this, we’re essentially saying the NPA is going to change as an organization. We’re going to be a policy-debating organization and then there will be all kinds of arguments about whether we’re in line with the NDP or the Liberals.” Manjot Hallen, NPA vice-president

“I’ve got a news flash. We got trounced in 2002, squeaked through in 2005, and got trouned in 2008. We’ve got to change and we are a party. We vote as a bloc. Let’s admit that and stop trying to kid ourselves.” Peter Ladner, former councillor, defeated mayoral candidate 2008

“We need to be looking forward to young people. They can’t subscribe to an ideology. We can communicate ourselves as a multi-partisan party.” Simon Jackson, environmental activist

“One of the things I have valued most is my ability to say in a highly politicized environment is to say I am non-partisan. But how do we reach out to the public with that principle in mind.” Carol Gibson, NPA school trustee

“A surprisingly large number of people think we are a party. Worse still, they think we are the Republican party.” Michael Geller, development consultant, NPA council candidate 2008 (For his analysis of the meeting, go to his blog.)

And, the capper from former city councillor B.C. Lee, who made the best political speech of his life that I’ve heard.

“The next election is coming within months. We should be focusing on what is the new substance for the next election. Our energy should be going into what should we present to the citizens. If every time we were defeated, we changed names, I would have changed my name two dozen times already. We should be be going out saying ‘I am not who I am but I am who I am.'”

Gender breakdown: Out of the 75 people I counted in the room, 13 were women.

What did I think of it all?

– The NPA has been going round in circles on this “should we have more clear-cut policy, should we re-brand ourselves” for eight years now and I don’t see any movement beyond this. It all feels like a waste to me. Whether they like it or not, most people see them as a party. Their own principles from their 1937 consitution says they believe in basic things like the following.

  • Municipal levels of government should act for the benefit of the people and should allow every individual the freedom of worship, assembly, opportunity and initiative.
  • Individuals have the right to enjoy the fruits of their labour, and to own private property, and individual enterprise is generally preferable to government intervention.
  • Civic progress and stability can only be achieved by upholding the law, accepting social responsibilities, and accomplishing change by intelligent planning.
  • Elected civic representatives should make decisions based on the viewpoint of many individuals and organizations, and not be under obligation to policies or platforms of political parties.

They need to get on with the real issues. Instead of pretending that they’re not a party and that their party doesn’t primarily appeal to people on the right and centre-right, they should accept what they are and get to the work of figuring out what being centre-right means these days and how to sell their ideas to the public.

They can stay with the same name or ditch it, they’re still going to get the 30,000 faithful right/centre-right voters. But they need to figure out if they have anything to say to people beyond that group. It’s time to end the academic discussions. And the white guys in suits thing has got to go.

As for Vision, well, it might have been nice to hear a real debate there, some discussion about what Vision does actually see itself standing for, besides being the biggest green non-profit in the city. There are a lot of confused people out in the city, wondering if Vision is actually COPE Lite or whether it’s really NPA Lite. It wouldn’t hurt to have a painful discussion about who they are.

The biggest danger ruling parties always have, in my centuries of experience here on Planet Earth, is that they tend to hear from two groups.

One is the people who absolutely love what they’re doing and encourage them to continue down the same road (“Great the way you busted up those unions, buddy” on one side; “I love the bike trial on Burrard. Why don’t we close the whole downtown to traffic” on the other) and the other is the people who loathe what they’re doing, who tend to get dismissed as a bunch of out-of-touch cranks.

What ruling parties don’t hear much of is people who say “I sort of like what you’re aiming for, but I have to wonder about some of the decisions you’ve made” or “I support you but this was totally the wrong thing to do” or “You’ve really turned me off.”  Those people stay quiet. Or they’ll say polite, evasive things, rather than piss off the guys in power. They only realize how many of those people are out there when they lose elections.

The people who turned out to the Vision meeting look like an intelligent, diverse bunch capable of having a challenging debate about their party. I’d like to hear that.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • A rebrand without a big shift in policy or perspective is the marketing equivalent of admitting you are out of touch, disliked, pandering to the flavour of the month club… or all of the above.

    The NPA would be crazy to change their name. It’s not going to get them any more voters and it’s likely to tick off loyalists.

    Their best chance is run on their record, promote the idea they aren’t a ‘party’ (people are really getting sick of bloc voting) and get themselves a Gregor, ie someone with a clean slate municipally speaking. It worked for Larry Campbell and for Robertson. A new face, esp. one with significant entrepreneurial experience would give them the appearance of rejuvenation, modernism, and a lack of obligations to vested interests.

    A catchy slogan wouldn’t hurt either:

    “Campaigning as a team, Voting as individuals!”

  • Tim Latanville

    “We’ve got more media attention for this name change than we did for anything else we did in the in the last 18 months. My marketing mind says this is good.” Mike Klassen, political organizer, one part of the two-man team at citycaucus.com

    So, aside from a profoundly naive statement to ponder, Mike Klassen comes out of the closet as an NPA member at the AGM? Interesting, since he professes to be a journalist to all other media. Any bets on when he’s going to announce that he’s running for the NPA in the next election?

  • IanS

    So, from your description, we have one party which is paralyzed by navel gazing, trying to decide what they are and what they are calling themselves and another party which doesn’t really stand for much of anything and isn’t really much concerned about it.

    Great.

  • spartikus

    Domino’s Pizza didn’t rebrand. They just admitted their pizza sucked and then did something crazy – they started making better pizza.

    Mike Klassen was Sam Sullivan’s webmaster. Daniel Fountaine was Sullivan’s Chief of Staff.

    I think it says more about the state of our current media for often failing to mention this to their listeners/viewers than anything else.

  • I understand Frances’ frustration – it’s shared by more than a few members.

    But it misses the point. The real question journalists should be asking, is who gets to make policy, the Board of Directors, who operate behind closed doors, or the elected officials who are in touch with the public?

    In Vision’s case, they have a large, bureaucratic central party apparatus and PR machine that work in lockstep with the Mayor’s office to ensure one message, one voice, one policy and one vote for all councillors. They vote in lock-step and do what they’re told by party central.

    In the NPA, it is the candidates and elected officials which set the policy and platform for each election, not the Board of Directors. No one tells any of our school board or park board officials how to vote, unlike Vision, which does everything by central fiat.

    It doesn’t make for nice, neat formulaic standins for provincial and federal politics, which would be easire and less nuanced to cover – hence the media’s dislike of our refusal to go along with the model they like best.

    But it serves voters very well. The NPA has elected 11 of the last 17 mayors, and the city we see around us – green, vibrant, thriving, with one of the most livable downtown cores in North America – is the result. Even if credit is properly shared with others, it’s a remarkable accomplishment.

  • Tim Latanville

    Dominos still makes lousy pizza!

  • Mr. Bickerton: It might be instructive if you provided voting records at the council level, because if I remember correctly there have been more than a few in which the Vision caucus split.

    It would then be interesting to compare this council’s voting record with the previous council’s voting record, and see how they compare.

    Then, if the data show that Vision do in fact vote more as a bloc than the NPA did under Mayor Sullivan, you might have a case. But I’m skeptical.

  • But it misses the point. The real question journalists should be asking, is who gets to make policy, the Board of Directors, who operate behind closed doors, or the elected officials who are in touch with the public?

    This is an interesting point, and one that makes a lot of sense at the municipal level. The implication is that voters should vote for the person, not the party, which I support. I wonder, though, why the NPA exists at all, if this is the case. Is it simply a fundraising tool for candidates that wouldn’t otherwise be able to advertise?

  • Marcella

    Frances — the first rule in politics is, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

    Vision party members are very engaged with our councillors, park and school board reps, and the Mayor. We have a vital party, and elected representatives that are working hard on a clear agenda we all agreed upon before the 2008 election.

    You know I have the highest respect for you as a journalist, and I know how deeply you care about the City. However, I am utterly clueless about why you think we need to “have a painful discussion about who [we — Vision] are.

    We are clear about who we are, and what we stand for — balanced, progressive leadership for the city. We set very clear policy goals in the last election — on housing and homelessness, on the environment, on arts and culture etc — and we’ve stood by them.

    Are our people going to be right or perfect 100% of the time? No, of course not. No one is. Are all of the citizens in Vancouver going to agree with the direction we take? No again. However, we are hardly a party under siege as you are suggesting.

    I feel like after COPE blowing up after 2002, and the NPA imploding in 2008 when an incumbent Mayor was turfed, you are kind of nostalgic for drama from the governing party. As far as I can see and feel (and I’m not living in the City Hall bubble) there really isn’t any.

    MM

  • MB

    The NPA could elect one “Gregory Robertson” as leader. That’ll grab at least 4,000 extra votes.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Day

    “How to teach a new dog old tricks? Ask an older dog for advice!”

    Chris, your first two paragraphs, complete agreement. But this one:
    “Their best chance is run on their record, promote the idea they aren’t a ‘party’ (people are really getting sick of bloc voting) and get themselves a Gregor, ie someone with a clean slate municipally speaking. It worked for Larry Campbell and for Robertson. A new face, esp. one with significant entrepreneurial experience would give them the appearance of rejuvenation, modernism, and a lack of obligations to vested interests.”
    That’s exactly how the present mayor was elected and Larry da Vinci too. Based on exact that; point by point. And look what complete disasters they both are (were). I’m not falling for this Ponzi again! I’m just saying.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • landlord

    @ Frances : “…the white guys in suits thing has got to go”.
    Speaking as a white guy who owns four suits I object to being tossed so cavalierly on the trash-heap of history. I pay taxes, I vote, I keep abreast of Council decisions (and when I say keep abreast I’m not talking chickens). Is there no political party or association for me?
    Damn. I guess I’ll have to keep relying on the influence which my campaign contributions buy.

  • Tim Latanville

    Frances, I agree with Marcella…you only seem happy when it rains. Vision does seem stable, thoughtful. You seem to say it’s boring, but City Hall can use a steady, boring government for a while after six years of goofiness in my opinion. The disharmony doesn’t seem to exist yet within Vision and that’s a good thing for the city. But i guess it’s bad for you business.

  • Frances Bula

    I’m surprised that people would take my observation that Vision could do with a little soul-searching as some kind of call for a bloodbath, so that I can make a fortune from selling stories of the carnage. FYI, I doubt I could sell even a single story about a thoughtful discussion at a Vision meeting. Or even a feisty one. The only topic that years of newspaper research has shown sell stories is the death of Princess Di or an earthquake. An argument at Vision doesn’t even come close.

    And I’m surprised that people aren’t willing to admit even the tiniest little hint that some of those who voted for Vision have been perplexed and dismayed by certain decisions Vision has made or not made. I didn’t know that admitting a desire for some discussion of that marked me as a person who is “only happy when it rains.” I thought the nature of all healthy relationships, careers, life decisions is to talk about things that are going wrong in order to figure out what to do differently.

  • Tim Latanville

    Frances,

    I meant no disrespect. I love your reporting and appreciate so much your blog. But your comments about soul searching don’t really resonate that much is all. I was at the Vision AGM admittedly and felt it was an interesting and diverse room and admit it was a tad boring. But then that’s the nature of an AGM, there has to be the nuts and bolts of things getting done, a little boring. I felt the Mayor was responsive and listening to people, not only at the podium, but in the discussions in the crowd. I’m not sure I feel that there’s any shying away from discussion on what to do when things go wrong. In fact, all the reporting out seemed pretty open about what the weaknesses were and what needed to be done, in addition to all the trumpet blowing of what’s been done. I would like to see more policy discussion on issues and debate but I think that can come at a different and more focussed time. We’ll see if Vision gets organized enough to facilitate that type of meeting and discussion, I hope so. But at the moment I don’t really get the sense that there’s a groundswell out there of voters that are unhappy with the Mayor, quite the opposite in fact. I would love to see some polling soon on how real people out there think about Robertson. All the insider assumptions I always find to be lacking and not really grounded in any evidence, just gut sense which is usually off base in my experience. So we’ll see.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Bill Smolick

    Vision probably does need some soul searching. There were vastly more successful than even the most optimistic person might have predicted. You can fall as quickly as you rise, and it would be good to keep that in mind.

    Klassen’s comment about his “marketing mind” made me chuckle. Politics is not *supposed* to be about marketing. It’s about governing. Obviously there’s a marketing aspect, but as has been pointed out above changing the name without more meaningful change is not real change.

    Klassen always was an abrasive vocal guy. Maybe he’s just shooting first and aiming later in this case.

    Having said that, the “non-partisan” part of the NPA has never really made any sense, given that they most definitely do have a “party line” and those who have not stuck to it have often been cast aside.

  • Brad

    Tim Latanville said: “I would love to see some polling soon on how real people out there think about Robertson.”

    The only polling that I have seen so far is from AGT’s site today:

    “Gregor Robertson is only hovering around the 60% approval mark, wth a VERY STRONG disapproval rating.”

    I would also like to see more detailed polling results.

    Nevertheless, politics is all about optics and perceptions and from what I hear those AGT polling results may make sense because of perceived council priorities in terms of:

    1. Closure of the MacBlo Conservatory and Stanley Park children’s zoo;

    2. Vegetable gardens on the lawn of city hall;

    3. Backyard chicken coops;

    4. $20,000 chicken homeless shelter;

    5. Honey bee hives on the roof of city hall;

    6. Overtly expensive social/rental housing at the Olympic Village;

    7. Other goofy social engineering;

    I don’t know about you but this image of Vancouver council is beginning to come across as pretty flakey to many Vancouverites

  • Really? A few small experiments in local food production constitute the bulk of peoples’ criticisms of the mayor? If that’s the big problem at City Hall, we should count our blessings.

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us petty.

  • spartikus

    7. Other goofy social engineering;

    Such as…?? Seriously, what does that even mean? Are we being sent down to the countryside?

    Just to second Chris, if that’s what you got, you got nothing. It sounds like some dinosaur shaking his fist on his front stoop, complaining about “dirty hippies” completely oblivious to the fact the dirty hippies long ago became grand-parents.

    There are some substantive criticisms that could be levelled at VV – for example in the name of controlling costs we are in the midst of a centralization of city services that could have a profound effect on their effectiveness.

    But the opposition, it seems, is more horrified about chicken coops and vegetable gardens.

    Call me when you can gather more than 5 people for a protest of a community garden.

  • spartikus

    “Gregor Robertson is only hovering around the 60% approval mark, wth a VERY STRONG disapproval rating.”

    Any politico would KILL for a 60% approval rating. By way of reference, other than during moments of war or crisis, 50-60 % is considered an excellent number for a sitting US president.

    A disapproval rating of 30+% should give an elected politician pause. It’s not unusual, but it’s an “indicator” that could turn in to something.

    AGT, of course, doesn’t post that number or even where he got these numbers, and speaking from experience there’s probably a reason why. Such as it doesn’t support his point. But I could be wrong and, as always, I invite Alex to elaborate with actual data.

    The only numbers I have so far found online is this one of business leaders, and business leaders only, from February:

    Opinions on Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson’s administration are equally divided: 37% approve, 36% disapprove.

    Despite Robertson’s seemingly low level of support, it represents a 10% increase compared with the approval rating of former mayor Sam Sullivan’s administration, which garnered only a 27% approval rating in the 2008 BIV/Ipsos poll.

  • Although I think the assignment was flawed in that there are three not two main political parties at the civic level in Vancouver, I think Frances’s comparison of the NPA and Vision AGMs is both informative and useful.
    Unfortunately I could only give it a B+. For me to give it an A, Frances’s observations and comments regarding those in attendance would need to go beyond gender and class (women and suits). Even if there was no difference in the ethnic diversity and youthfulness of those in attendance, which I suspect there was, I think this is important information when contrasting political parties in a city like Vancouver.
    Although I didn’t lower the grade I gave above for not including COPE in the comparison, because that wasn’t part of the assignment, I think this could have been a more useful and informative piece if COPE had been included. It is after all a civic political party with a 40 year history in Vancouver, which has more incumbents than the NPA, and is not even considering a name change.

  • Mayor Robertson was voted in with a landslide, so he began with record-high popularity. On top of that, every post-Olympic Mayor in Canada has enjoyed an enormous boost in popularity.

    If Mayor Robertson, who began in the stratosphere and just oversaw one of the most successful, popular Olympics in Canadian history, is only at 60% now, that doesn’t presage well for the last part of his term, during which Mayors traditionally lose lustre in the public eye.

    Why is Vision in trouble? Hubris.

    They had such an overwhelming victory they didn’t bother to reach out to the large percentage of voters who didn’t vote for them. If they had, if Mayor Robertson had sought to unite the entire city, if he reached out to those disaffected voters and worked with the opposition occasionally instead of trying to ostracize them, he would have far broader support at this point in his term.

    But sadly he missed his opportunity to be the Mayor for the whole city. And once lost, that kind of opportunity never comes around again.

  • Higgins

    Sukitraps and Chris,
    You guys never stop to amuse me. I know that defending the great socialist cause of yours probably makes you feel like going back in time. To a time when you went back to school with your big brother to beat the other little guy from your class, the one that beat the crap out of you for being a liar and a bully. That’s your first social engineering experience, right there, fist in mouth, only using a bigger fist coming from a bigger guy. Say what you want, Robertson is a puppet and a fluke and it shows; he doesn’t know how to talk, he has no clue why he is mayor and what his job description really is. All he does is ‘mingling’…rubbing shoulders…shaking hands…organizing hockey days… and preparing hampers of goodies for the mayor of Chicago from where we recently got most of their refuse. One other thing, I don’t believe in polls. They are damaged goods, manufactured to sound ‘good for you’ the same way the Benson & Hedges, McDonalds burgers and Coca Cola ads sounded yummy. BTW social change, justice, engineering all this social crap that you guys are pushing here, backed by/ financed by capitalist American/ Hollycock money it’s Bullshit dressed up in a multicolored overcoat. It doesn’t make any sense. Only once in the history of the human race there was a time when the rich gave to the poor. So to make them equal. But they were dead at that time and it was taken from them. Call that time communism. Vancouver Vision fronted by their man Gregor are backed by MONEY and have policies reminding of the Reds ( observe only the KGB style sacking at the Hall). Money buys elections, populist slogans buy votes, the guys behind the curtain want more for themselves and less for you. Wait and see. City Hall should have been about CITY ADMINISTRATION and not about PETTY POLITICS!

  • spartikus

    Mayor Robertson was voted in with a landslide, so he began with record-high popularity.

    Which was…?? Every leader – at any level, in any country – who wins always has a post-victory honeymoon, and always come down to earth after a few months.

    There’s a really easy way to prove your point though: post a chart for Vancouver Mayors like I posted for U.S. Presidents.

    Providing the actual number for the disapproval rating would really help your case too.

    I know these numbers exist. And I know a lot of them aren’t public – but you’re an insider. Surely you have access to them?

    What’s the internet good for if you can’t leak polling data.

  • Higgins:

    I don’t mind you calling me a socialist. We’re all socialists now, from Stephen Harper to Hugo Chavez. It’s just a matter of degree and honesty with ourselves.

    But, the implication I’m a liar or a bully, or that I consider physical violence an acceptable means of solving problems, simply because I don’t share your viewpoint is a bit much. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for you to reconsider your remarks.

    thanks,
    CK

  • “On top of that, every post-Olympic Mayor in Canada has enjoyed an enormous boost in popularity. ”

    There’s only been two. When ‘every’ = ‘both’ I think it might be a bit of a stretch to assume ‘twice’ must also equals ‘always’ Further, post-Olympics it seems to me a bit of the blush came off Drapeau’s rose.

    cheers,
    CK

  • whosnumbers

    People are believing AGT’s numbers….oh god. I have not looked at his website because I generally don’t like blog who just trash all the time– that being said who did the poll? What’s the margin of error? When was is conducted and by whom? I wouldn’t believe agt’s numbers unless they were done by a reputable firm– since he has been quiet open about his hate of vision vancouver and gregor.

  • Jason Gordon

    Higgins is closer to the truth than Keam. Redistribution, while not always violent – by definition is forced and prejudicial.

    Robertson brings a high road, can do optimism that is easy to underrate. When the greater Vision is focused on bettering the city and not partisan politics they can and have generated good if not excellent results.

  • WTF?

    I haven’t even mentioned wealth redistribution Jason. Please actually read what people post if you are going to add your two cents.

  • spartikus

    VV is continuing the NPA policy of shifting taxes from commercial properties to residential-property owners.

    Meanwhile, cuts to services have been favoured over increases to those residential tax rates.

    If there is any “redistribution of wealth” going on – it’s in favour of the wealthy.

    Personally, I find it very difficult to talk of such things on the municipal level with a straight face. But that’s just me.

  • I second Chris Kean’s request to Higgins to reconsider his remarks and find myself in agreement with spartikus.

  • Jason Gordon

    Mr. Keam you seemed comfortable being called a socialist.

    The whole political spectrum wants a better society, but isn’t the one differentiating point..or defining trait of socialism the willingness to subjugate the core human right of freedom, aggressively profile a group of citizens, take from them – and redistribute, under the guise of their better ideas?

  • spartikus

    aggressively profile a group of citizens, take from them – and redistribute

    Such as that time when a group was “aggressively profiled” and had their rent increase 73%?

    The Invisible Hand: always fair, always infalliable!

  • MB

    @ Frances Bula: “I’m surprised that people aren’t willing to admit even the tiniest little hint that some of those who voted for Vision have been perplexed and dismayed by certain decisions Vision has made or not made. ”

    A lot of us are still a jittery from the decade+ of media storms created by Sullivan and Campbell, not to mention the backstabbing of Owen, and just welcome some calm.

    That shouldn’t be an excuse for some Alexandric hissing about lavender tea rubbed behind Megg’s ears.

  • Mr. Hanson:

    Your description has a tiny shred of validity… if you’re talking about the most extreme examples of socialism from about a hundred years ago, but then we’d have to compare that with the most extreme forms of capitalism from one hundred years ago too right? And much the same criticisms could be leveled at that system too. No doubt you are familiar with the predatory business practices of the ‘company store’ back in the day. You’ve probably also heard the old saw: “Communism is man exploiting man, capitalism is the reverse.”

    Outdated hyperbole is well-tilled soil, but I don’t think it will bear much fruit if you are serious about discussing political viewpoints in twenty-first century Vancouver in a productive fashion.

  • MB

    Jason, I think you’re confusing democratic socialism with totalitarian communism. There’s a difference between Layton and Stalin, you know. In some ways the practice of totalitarianism makes the division between the extreme right and left practically invisible.

    Let’s not be too harsh on Higgins. S/he needs VV just to keep the blood pressure high enough to avoid articulating a vision of his/her own.

  • I got Jason’s last name wrong. My apologies. That’s what I get for trying to be formal.

  • spartikus

    Jason, I think you’re confusing democratic socialism with totalitarian communism.

    Oh, I don’t think even that. “Subjugate the core human value of freedom”? What does that even mean??

    Is freedom a core human value? As opposed to, oh, survival? Security? Shelter? Food? Reproduction? William Wallace didn’t actually yell “Freedom!!” before the Battle of Stirling Bridge, you know.

    What’s this “subjugation”?

    It’s certainly true during the Russian Revolution wealth was violently redistributed – it was redistributed from one set of elite to another. And “serfs” were renamed “zeks”, though their rags stayed the same.

    And when the Tsar was shot, the core human value of freedom was subjugated.

    But I get the idea Jason is part of the “taxation is theft” crowd. Unlike any other law you break, if you don’t pay your taxes, men with guns will come and arrest you. But if you break a business contract, as opposed to the lowly social contract, you should definitely go to jail.

    How this directly applies to the politics of the City of Vancouver, I don’t know.

    Atlas Shrugged makes an excellent paperweight, btw.

  • I only embraced socialism because I thought there would be socialites!

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mactivist

  • Higgins

    Dear Chris K. and… Sean B., huh?!?
    OK… Now, my thumb and forefinger are rubbing together.
    Hear that music?
    It’s coming from the world’s smallest violin, and it’s playing just for you.
    Now that we are agreed to disagree, both of you, please, get over yourselves and find someone else to patronize. All right, ladies?
    And Chris, wouldn’t be nice for you to have your own slogan, to end your commentaries?
    Check this one out:
    “My name is Chris. LudiChris.”

  • Higgins:

    Every time you attack me it just increases what tiny amount of notoriety I might possess. I couldn’t ask for a better result. If you ignored me I’d be a nobody… but when you consider me worthy of your rants chances are all you’ve done is make somebody more likely to actually read what I’ve wrote. So, food for thought.

    Also, I’m not going to stoop to your level. Good luck with that. I’m here to read what other intelligent, informed people have to say about civic politics and throw in my perspective from time to time.

    Finally, if you are as tired of petty politics as you claim, you could always lead by example and drop the sniping comments that add nothing productive to the discussion.

  • Higgins

    Not since the Pope and his followers declared themselves experts on celibacy, I’ve found a group so full…of advice (on subjects that you most likely have no clue about) like the one I came across in here. The fact that you guys take it personally amuses me, ’cause it’s nothing personal. I don’t know you, I don’t want to know you, so… go figure. What does not amuse me is the fact that you guys have gathered together a little posse (you may include MB in here as well) and went after my comments in a similar way a former politburo’s arm went. You wouldn’t know that because you most likely never encountered such a thing, but I did. IMO, personal living experience beats the crap out of you reading about it in books, attending lectures or watching it on CTV. When they teared down that Berlin wall in 1989 I was there! Where were you? This Vancouver Vision Commie train comes directly at you. You are sitting right in the middle of the railway tracks. Right in in the middle of the Tunnel. The reason you are oblivious to it, is because you chose to cover your ears and to wear glass tinted goggles. I’m looking straight at the locomotive. You guys, are looking straight at me instead. By the time you’ll be able to hear the whistle or see the front beam light it’s going to be too late. BTW, don’t turn around. It’s easier that way.

  • “The fact that you guys take it personally amuses me, ’cause it’s nothing personal. I don’t know you, I don’t want to know you, so… go figure.”

    Dude, you named specific individuals and labeled them as liars and bullies without a shred of evidence to back up your assertion. Now you’re surprised people are calling you off-side?

    You’re actually trying to weasel out of taking responsibility for your remarks by playing the victim and whinging like some misunderstood teenager? Too funny.

  • Higgins

    Sorry guys. I do apologize. I must have misread your posts. You are definitely not standing on the railway tracks, in the middle of the tunnel, in front of the train. Nope. I have to give credit where credit is due. You are, riding the train! Chris is the conductor, MB plays with the whistle and Sean… I dunno he must have been kidnapped or something. How is this for funny?

  • Tessa

    Do not feed the troll.

    But to get this conversation back on topic, I would like to second an earlier call that COPE be included in this. Maybe they didn’t have an AGM at the same time? I don’t know. If they did, though, I would like to hear about it.

    As for the whole debate on socialism, i find it disappointing when people insert their own biases about a particular ideology into another person just because they identify with that particular ideology, when it may mean something completely different to them. Ask questions and find out before making assumptions, please.