Last week BC Premier Gordon Campbell resigned with his approval ratings at around 9% – lower than Nixon’s during Watergate! By contrast, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s approval ratings have soared to the giddy heights of 43%. According to the pollsters, that’s astonishingly high. Apparently it’s rare for a Canadian politician to score over 40%, so Gregor is a kind of politician-rock star.
Most people agree that Campbell’s fatal mistake was the much-hated HST, slammed down the throats of British Columbians without a mandate, and despite overwhelming protest. On the other hand, some would have you believe that three little bike lanes are Gregor’s fatal mistake – introduced despite furious protests from a handful of downtown business people who didn’t want to give up a few parking spots. Countless internet correspondents have gleefully warned that Gregor’s support of cycling will get him kicked to the curb.
Certainly accepted political cynicsim would tend to predict that Campbell was safer than Gregor, given the sides they picked. But these approval ratings, IMO, fly in the face of accepted cynical common sense about politics.
Campbell was transparently pro big business, yet he has been unceremoniously deposed. Gregor has taken the road less travelled by espousing the unpopular cause of keeping cyclists alive. According to many people who regularly comment on Vancouver news, cyclists have no money, no jobs and no houses. Supporting them would be tantamount to supporting homeless people, for heaven’s sakes!
Where’s the political capital in that?
From a politically cynical point of view, Gregor should be the one kicked to the curb, while Campbell should still be straddling the pinnacle of BC power. But the situation is reversed, and that’s a really exciting thing. It makes me think there may be hope for our future here in BC – a lot of hope.
Or am I just a hopeless dreamer? .
Just this past weekend I was discussing with someone about Vancouver’s upcoming municipal elections (2011 right?) and wondering how Gregor would fair. With all the comments I read on CBC or The Province it would have seemed to me that Gregor wouldn’t have been all that far behind Campbell.
Perhaps with such high numbers he should throw around the idea of a congestion tax for entering the downtown core?
David Miller threw around the idea of one a few years ago. Since the suburbanites vote for Toronto’s mayor he had to drop the idea immediately as just the thought had people enraged.
As for Campbell and the HST…Good for the people of BC. Ontarians whined on the radio for about two days, then just took it.
I find it funny because 7-years ago when McGuinty was elected premier of this province, he ran on “no new taxes”. Since he has been in we have had a dozen new taxes slapped on us…Sad thing? Next year he’ll probably be re-elected because of how bad the alternatives are.
I was on board early with Gregor. I joined Vision so I could support his run to be the Mayoral candidate (I signed up at a Critical Mass ride) and have supported him since. Sometimes I feel he’s too cautious but after seeing what went on in Toronto’s recent civic election, I worry… a lot. I know that “Toronto proper” didn’t vote for Ford; that it was the suburbs, but we have our own horde of knuckle draggers around here and I fear it would be folly if their vitriolic sabre-rattling was completely discounted as just a lot of hot air from Surrey.
Rob Ford was not created in a vacuum… unfortunately.
His out-and-out fear and loathing of all things cycling is not just regrettable, to my mind it’s categorically chilling. That he can make statements like, “My heart bleeds when some (cyclist) gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day;” that he can run and win a mayoral campaign in a major city in part because of his abhorrence for downtown bike lanes and those who would use them declaring, “cyclists are a pain in the ass,” and that he can affirm his palpable hate-mongering with scant criticism and wild support from the suburbs, leaves me gobsmacked.
The weak and hoary assertion that roads are built for cars, trucks and buses and that they’re funded exclusively by motorists encourages the Rob Fords of the world to decry that cyclists, pedestrians and other non-motorized road users are freeloaders who not only lack the same right as they to use public roads, but have even less claim to a piece –no matter how minute– of the infrastructure tax pie.
Of course the evidence contradicts this cock-and-bull story, but the Rob Fords of the world will never let a little thing like the truth get in the way of their opinions. Let’s make no assumptions about Gregor’s chances next time. He will still need all the support he can get.
Could not agree with you more, bentguy. If ever there was a time to get off one’s butt and support someone, this is it. I plan to drag myself out into the cold to support Gregor next time around. If he loses, we could lose everything we have gained – even though we so obviously deserve to have even MORE infrastructure, NOT less.