Carole Taylor -Vancouver Mayor ?Thursday, September 27, 2007
My first direct involvement with politics happened in 1966 when with a Mauser on my shoulder I watched President Arturo Illía go home in a cab. Since then I have taken democracy very seriously. As soon as I became a Canadian citizen I began to vote municipally, provincially and federally. I don't quite understand Canada's parliamentary system. Nor do I understand how the Prime Minister has so much authority to appoint such positions as the Supreme Court Justices without any form of parliamentary check or approval. During an assignment for a local business magazine to cover a Socred convention in Whistler some years past, I was flabbergasted to see how politicians who were not getting the votes that they expected, would "cross the floor" (they had to do this physically and it was patently humiliating) to give support to someone they had loathed and spoken ill of in their speeches.
But I have admired and enjoyed the freedom that our politicians have to move around at will in our city. In his worst moments of unpopularity I waited for Premier Bill Vander Zalm to photograph him with a buddy from Holland (who was into trains) as they inspected CP's rail yard behind the old CP Train Station. Vander Zalm arrived, parked his Volvo across the street on Cordova and before he crossed the street to meet me he put coins into the meter. He was dressed in a smart black leather jacket. There was not one security man in sight.
I enjoy discussing politics with my friends Mark Budgen, Ian Bateson, Abraham Rogatnick and Sean Rossiter. Occasionally my right-wing friend, ex Fraser Institute David Hanley surfaces and he adds to my mix. The first thing I do in the morning when I pick up my Vancouver Sun is to look for Section B to read about Vancouver politics. In Wednesday's Sun I did not find one reference in Section B on the fact that we are living through a long city strike.
To my amazement I read in Allen Garrs'column, titled, Ladner Courted for provincial run, in my Wednesday Vancouver Courier, that there is a big chance that our next mayor will be Carole Taylor. She would not run provincially and her provincial seat would go to the miffed and ignored (Garr was precise in saying that any reference he made to our lofty loonie was not a reference to ",....His Worship") NPA Councillor, Peter Ladner.
This sort of news would make banner headlines in any other big city daily in any part of the world, (It is becoming hard here not to break my rule of never ranting in this blog!) or it would have been mentioned on CBC Radio.
So with Courier in hand I went to get a haircut with my local Kerrisdale hairdresser. I told Richard Jeha what I had read in the paper. He was astounded. Could it be that only in Vancouver would the hairdresser be the last person to hear such news? And, even after this badly uninformed citizen of Vancouver?
Thankfully I could be worse informed. My friend Mark Budgen is a shrewd observer and knows much more than meets the eye. When I called him one day to ask why it was that Allen Garr, an avid bloodhound at the heels of the NPA, had only marginally slapped Ladner's wrist for writing a column about the city strike for the Vancouver Sun (and the Sun should have at least featured a column my a union member to counter Ladner's) he explained to me about the relationships that reporters have with their sources. It sounded like spook speak to me. Budgen said that a reporter's duty is to protect his or her sources, but at any given moment a reporter should be able to let go and burn his or her source when absolutely necessary, if editorial independence is to be maintained. This is why reporters on a city beat (like the Vancouver Sun's Frances Bula) should be re-assigned. If they linger in their beat they lose their independence and become PR pipe lines for their sources. It is Budgen's theory that Ladner is Garr's source at City Hall. Garr was then unwilling to burn Ladner when Ladner wrote that Sun column.