“I will not hesitate to stand up and fight for queer rights, for affordable housing, for empowering community,” Vision Vancouver’s mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson tells Xtra West, hot on the campaign trail.
“I will continue to be that kind of voice and leader, and expect the community to hold me to it.”
Oh, Gregor. You had me at hello.
Just kidding. I’m not that easy a sell, honey.
Although a comparison between Robertson and the NPA’s Peter Ladner leaves little contest in my mind.
It comes down to the difference between benign-enough neglect vs actively appreciating our community and seeking to nurture our growth and support our needs.
Asked, for example, if he would reinstate the city’s gay liaison position piloted by councillor Tim Stevenson under former mayor Larry Campbell, Robertson doesn’t hesitate:
“I think it was an important position connecting the community to city hall,” he says. “I would like to see that reinstated.
“I’m a big fan of more lines of communication and addressing issues, before they blow up, in a more proactive way,” he adds.
Contrast that with Ladner’s answer. Asked if he would reinstate the same position —a mayoral appointment made when he was on council too —he first disputes its existence.
“I don’t know that Tim Stevenson had any official capacity as the liaison to the gay community,” he says. “He was a self-appointed liaison to the gay community, and Larry would have gone along with that, sure.”
Ladner then pledges to listen to his party’s solo gay council candidate, Sean Bickerton, and make him a “first point of contact” on matters affecting the gay community.
Not a horrible answer, and certainly not a hostile one. But this is not a mayor who will get out in front and reach out to our community before things go wrong to seek ways to support our continued growth.
Ladner is more of a minimal-government kind of guy who primarily seems to value our community for its cash-flow generation. Which is not necessarily a bad place to start either, but I’d rather be valued and supported as more than just an economic boon.
Which is why Gregor Robertson’s got my vote on Nov 15.
So does councillor Tim Stevenson, who has always been actively committed to supporting our community and keeping our needs on city council’s radar.
I’m also going to vote for Ellen Woodsworth, COPE’s lesbian candidate seeking to return to council. While Woodsworth’s goals are often a little lofty for my taste, I think there’s room for idealism in a governing body and her ideals are generally in the right place.
In fact, I’d like to send a full Vision Vancouver/COPE slate to council this election. To a person, they all support helping The Centre find a new space, issuing a proclamation recognizing the Davie Village as Vancouver’s gay village and, of course, addressing the housing crisis.
I will also be casting my ballot for Jane Bouey for school board, along with the rest of the COPE/Vision Vancouver school slate.
COPE, and Bouey in particular, have done an excellent job leading the Vancouver School Board to implement groundbreaking anti-homophobia policies. Long before the BC government launched its half-hearted attempts to address homophobia in schools across the province, Vancouver’s school board was out in front, listening to gay education activists and passing policies addressing everything from homophobic harassment to gay-friendly curriculum.
As for the parks board, I’m going to vote for Jamie Lee Hamilton because every governing body needs a gutsy voice of dissent; Aaron Jasper, who has been a straight ally on the Save St Paul’s Coalition for years, and lesbian Laura McDiarmid, who has served us well as a parks commissioner before and strikes me as a solid, reasonable person.
But these are just my picks. What matters is who you choose to vote for on Nov 15 —and most importantly that you GO VOTE.
I know a lot of us are feeling pretty electioned-out right now, but that’s no excuse. From our Centre to our Village to affordable housing and homelessness, municipal governments affect our lives as much as any other level of government. Don’t leave it up to others to choose which decision-makers will affect your lives.