Gregor Robertson has a way of reassuring me, even when my trust in him falters. He speaks well, considers his words carefully, supports the gay community, seeks our advice on how best to serve us, keeps cyclists safe and throws a damn good street party.
So what if he’s willing to shut down freedom of expression when it risks embarrassing him in front of Olympic sponsors, Chinese diplomats or an electorate that is hopefully too intelligent to fall for his opponent’s shameless barbs.
I’m still going to vote for him.
He’s not perfect. His convenient attempt to separate his support for the Occupy movement from his decision to evict the protesters from their “squalid” camp in front of the Art Gallery, due to his sudden concern for everyone’s safety, smacks of desperation to alienate the fewest number of voters possible.
Free speech is messy, sometimes annoying and often an eyesore. But it’s still essential. The movement for gay rights started largely in front of the Art Gallery, too. I sometimes forget that, privileged as I now am to have a voice and a mayor who listens to the advisory committee he implemented for us at city hall.
We should use our newfound access to remind our imperfect mayor that even the messy voices deserve a chance to be heard and that all revolutions have to start somewhere.
Better to work with Robertson than to start from scratch with his whiny, self-serving, antagonistic opponent whose idea of a mayoral campaign is to endlessly swipe at Robertson’s leadership, rather than demonstrate any of her own.
Seriously, Suzanne Anton? You think we should vote for you because you seized an opportunity two years ago to score an easy point by supporting The Odyssey’s move when all your opponents voted against it?
You were also the sole councillor to vote against the creation of our community’s advisory committee — the one your party refused to create when it was in power. Get real. You’ve done nothing to earn my trust and everything to squander it. Giving the NPA too much power on council has never served us well.
The only NPA candidate I’m voting for this election is Sean Bickerton. He’s sincere, intelligent and capable. He has fresh ideas and, I think, a genuine determination to serve our community well.
I believe Bickerton will keep his promise and push for beat cops to prevent gaybashings, a civic event designation for Pride, and a plan to revitalize the Davie Village. He also has some innovative ideas on how to increase this city’s scarce rental stock.
I still want to see Vision Vancouver win a majority on Nov 19, but a bit more intelligent opposition would be a welcome and healthy change. As Bickerton says, “Ideas need testing to reach their full potential.” I’ll be disappointed if he’s not elected to council.
I will also be disappointed if Vision’s Tim Stevenson isn’t re-elected. Stevenson was behind the implementation of the city’s gay advisory committee. He’s been a consistent advocate for our community for decades, both provincially and on city council. Imagine what he, Bickerton and COPE’s Ellen Woodsworth can do together, implementing fresh ideas for our community across party lines.
I often think Woodsworth is the conscience of our council. Though her idealism sometimes leaves me rolling my more pragmatic eyes, I’ve really appreciated her consistent defence of freedom of speech this term to colleagues too willing to compromise it.
I’m also voting for Woodsworth’s COPE colleague on the Vancouver School Board, Jane Bouey, who has represented us well for years. With Bouey’s encouragement, Vancouver has led the way on anti-homophobia policies for school districts across BC.
I hope my neighbours will be equally supportive of their school board trustees on the Burnaby Citizens Association, who had the courage to implement their own anti-homophobia policy in June, despite opposition from “concerned parents” who have since formed Parents’ Voice just to un-seat them.
And finally, a nod to Trevor Loke, the 22-year-old gay man running for Vancouver Parks Board. He’s young and has a lot to learn, but he seems sincere, competent and committed. Remember when MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert started on parks at 24? Maybe Loke will follow in his footsteps. He’s got my vote to try.