Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The Globe and Sam

with 9 comments

I was praising, not so long ago, the decision by the Globe and Mail to open up its web site. Now you can read the opinion pieces as well as the news. But in the case of Gary Mason maybe that is not such a great gift. In today’s piece he spends a lot of space to say that he does not like Sam, but does not know why. And he projects that onto the people he says he talked to. Not exactly insightful analysis.

Perhaps he should have looked over the shoulder of his colleague on the news desk Rod Mickleburgh who writes down what people say to him.

NPA Park Board Commissioner Ian Robertson

“People kept telling me they had supported the NPA in the past, but they weren’t going to support the party in the fall if Sam was leader. He just disappointed people. He didn’t deliver on their expectations.”

Urban planner Michael Geller, a new NPA council nominee

“I do believe Sam would not have won this fall,” Mr. Geller said. “I don’t know why, exactly, he didn’t do better. Some of the people around him may have been giving him bad advice.”

Which actually doesn’t get us much further.

Mason does point to some of his blunders – but mostly it is about attitude. Sam doesn’t listen – not to the people around him or the people who will not vote for him. He is convinced of his own rightness. He needed to bear in mind that famous Oliver Cromwell quotation “Consider the possibility you might be wrong.” Mason says he “flip flopped” but surely it was his determination (I was going to write “pig headedness” which is bit unfair) that gets him into trouble. EcoDensity was something he tried to patent for himself – and he got tied into knots when people said they did not trust developers. He was unable to accept that Vancouver citizens have been accustomed to being consulted about what happens in their neighborhoods and it worried them that they would not be in future. The cancellation of the trial of bike lanes on Burrard Bridge is also a good indicator of someone who does not want to be proved wrong. He would not let experience show that his assertions were wrong. But most of all the slogan “Sam’s strike” – fair or not – stuck. It went on for far too long, and Sam was blamed for that. Even though he had recognised that his early comments weren’t helping and he had backed off and left it to the negotiators, as was right and proper.

I think he will show up again before too long. The BC Liberals need some new blood in the leg after the retirement of a number of senior people. I cannot imagine Sam as anything but a politician, and he has been scandal free, so there is no reason why he would not take another run at a seat somewhere else. Just as long as he doesn’t try to copyright the word “plucky”.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

9 Responses

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  1. I just learned from a reliable source that the Vancouver Police Department held a little “simulation” at the VCC/Clark Station this past weekend.

    Apparently, they’re preparing for radical environmentalists to take over a Skytrain car. Had a SWAT team, the whole nine yards…
    The “organizers” taped the windows of the car over to prevent any gawkers and were nice enough to let the “terrorists” negotiate for pizza, among other items.

    Somebody in the media should call the VPD and ask why they feel “radical environmentalists” are a threat to the Skytrain…


    June 10, 2008 at 12:53 pm

  2. Probably isn’t as worrisome t the public as actually saying “terrorists”. The same tactics would probably be used no matter what they labelled the “terrorists” in the drill.

    Ron C.

    June 10, 2008 at 5:25 pm

  3. I don’t have a problem with police conducting a wide variety of drills, especially when they can do so without inconveniencing the public too much.


    June 10, 2008 at 5:42 pm

  4. I think the trend toward military-style police equipment and tactics is a little disturbing.


    June 10, 2008 at 7:15 pm

  5. I find it curious and concerning.
    Why “radical environmentalists”?

    I recall a few months back when a military plane flew over the downtown area on successive days and the media more or less let it go…

    I love the fact it’s simply blown off as a “mind your own business” news story…

    I’m concerned about what and why the police are preparing for specific actions. Aren’t transit cops armed? How inept are they? How retarded or unfamiliar with police procedure do you have to be to taser some poor dumb bastard who wants to avoid paying a fare?
    If the VPD is aware of something like this, shouldn’t the public be warned?
    Or are they simply playing around and denigrating the environmental movement as a whole by the impllcation they’d do something like this?

    Seriously – when has anyone *ever* heard of an environmental organization taking hostages to have demands met?

    Name *one* single time.
    Environmentalists are being slandered and positioned publicly as being “radical”- no matter how reformist or moderate they may actually be. Buying green is *NOT* an environmental ideology, but that seems to be the only publicly acceptable means to people to participate in changing the way we do things. And buying shit changes NOTHING.

    The way the media portrays and governmental agencies act on organizations and their aims has consequences for anyone considering joining any group that describes itself as being “environmentally conscientious” – don’t you think?

    Maybe next time the VPD could have the board of Directors of Ford Motor Company hold employment opportunities hostage until a government agency coughs up some money.
    *That’s* a demonstrable reality we’ve all seen before.


    June 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm

  6. The Civic City project really turned me against Sam, and it looks like Ladner supports this ‘use the law to make people right’ approach. Already a downtown pub where there’s no history of trouble has had to perform metal detector sweeps and will retain the identity of every person who comes in, under the orders of Civic City. This security culture is a hallmark of Sam’s approach to scrub Vancouver clean of everything he didn’t like in time for the Olympics, where he expected to find himself waving the flag.

    More to the point of the ‘my way’ attitude, and Civic City, early into Sam’s term his office deked around city staff to launch an online-only poll that was loaded with questions slanted to make Vancouver feel like Gotham City, and then flogged the results as both statistically valid and proof that Civic City was needed.

    In the end, the NPA is better off without him. An insider at city hall told me to get a bag of popcorn and watch the chaos come election time, were he still running, with the expectation that we’d see all kinds of variations of the Sam Sullivan name on the ballot. Apparently the memories inside city hall are long, and not very forgiving.

    Todd Sieling

    June 11, 2008 at 8:30 am

  7. In the recent four hour re-make of The Andromeda Strain (please don’t bother watching it, it is terrible) a group of radical environmentalists take over what is essentially an oil platform in the Atlantic ocean. They storm it with weapons and take hostages etc. That bit has nothing to do with the main plot and is never revisited.

    The original book was written by Michael Crichton, and he surely must have been involved with the writing of this teleplay. He doesn’t like environmentalists. Michael Chrichton: environmentalism as religion, Michael Crichton: The case for skepticism on global warming.

    Regarding Project Civil City, I remember that poll. It was ridiculous. Not wearing a bike helmet was in the same category as public urination if I recall correctly.


    June 11, 2008 at 10:00 am

  8. Environmentalists are being slandered and positioned publicly as being “radical”-

    I wouldn’t readtoo much into it. The same can be said of the media’s widespread use of the term “Islamic fundamentalists” or “Islamic extremists”. “Radical” or “extreme” is an adjective and meant to modify the noun – i.e. these are not ordinary environmentalists or ordinary Islamics.

    Ron C.

    June 11, 2008 at 11:22 am

  9. Charlie Smith in his Straight Blog has some interesting history on how mayor’s are disposed of here – he reruns the Philip Owen story (he wasn’t knifed by his own party) and also ties it all neatly into the current BC Liberal issues. They say they are “non partisan” but we know they aren’t. And suppose Campbell needs a more winnable seat now he has pissed off the golfers of Point Grey?

    Stephen Rees

    June 14, 2008 at 1:36 pm

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