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I went to the Vision Vancouver debate--there was love-there wasn't no hate-(that's it)
  May 24, 2008

I went to the Vision Vancouver debate last night. It was outa sight. (Joplin sings “that’s it”).
David Beers, the editor of the Tyee-and his associate Lisa arranged tickets to the Vision Vancouver debate for me.. A Brahma Bull—I phoned twice for tickets—I phoned the Tyee and I phoned Gregor Robertson and his promoter Brad Zubyk.-the wrong protocol for a public opinion pollster. I seldom ask for anything from anyone—I wanted the tickets.
I am a public opinion pollster---one who a lot of people don’t know or pretend they don’t know---but I know many read my work. They ought to—it can make a difference. ROBBINS polls aren’t the gospel of public opinion AND if there is a gospel—and I’m obviously bias here—I think we’re it.
One ticket was for me, one for my main Canadian polling sponsor, and friend, Jim Van Rassel. Jim lives on a large spread…I am a Saanich BC kid living in Vancouver for 30 years. I am 6’2” or so---230 lbs.---big//Jim is 6’5” and 245 lbs---big. We ought to have stood out at the Vision Vancouver event as the happy shiny people moved about-- but the intensity in the room was so powerful---nobody noticed us. That’s neat---a room full and everyone just fits in.
If there’s somebody better with money than Jim Van Rassel--- it’s--- probably 60% of the people at the Norman Rothstein Theatre (please no calls from HRT)—but seriously folks…the Vision Vancouver debate.
The theatre was packed. No air conditioning. An eclectic mix of people stocked the debate. It was late starting…more because the 100 or so people in the lobby were trying to get into a theatre choked full with 400 plus people. Fashionably late people had to fight for a seat. And justice for all.
Young people, old people, people with expensive hair, crazy hair, no hair-(San Francisco---------) Monied people…poorer people…all in this hot theatre.
I met Bill Tieleman. Jim and I are old school quasi hillbillies---he isn’t crazy about the city---I am always seduced by it. My wife and kids love to shop on Robson. My good friend Harold ‘the Bear’ Hamilton, a young millionaire-after 22 years of hard work- from Salmon Arm recently invited us to their suite at the Wedgewood and dinner at Joe Forte-Vancouver is a very sexy city---it’s hummmms.
Jim and I don’t know Bill Tieleman---but we like him. His history is NDP and labour—but is he part of the quiet revolution of Conservative Democrats growing everywhere in the province? We introduced ourselves to Tim Stephenson. I like him. Will he take on Arthur Griffiths Jr. son of the former owner of the National Hockey League team-in the next general provincial election? I wanted to ask---but my cool side thought much better of it.
If you’re out of town reading this I will tell you something. If you come to Vancouver in the summer time----you’ll cry when you have to leave. Same with Victoria across the water.
The debate was outstanding. The journalists asked questions which were so brutally tough and straightforward—Jim and I blew a gasket. “I thought you were tough” Jim said to me---“I am”---I responded---“Well (I mumbled) I know I could ‘take’ both the male journalists but the gal from CTV might be a problem.”
I met Gregor Robertson on the way in. He is Hollywood good looking. My gut instinct told me he would not be as ‘good’ as his polling numbers or his reputation. He definitely is that or better. While my practical Dutch treat partner Van Rassel was extolling the greatness of Raymond Louie---I said to him “Can’t you see this drool hanging off my chin?” “No” he said---“Well”--- I responded”---“This Gregor Robertson is the prototype politician of the future—he’s fabulous, brilliant, funny, smart---I cursed myself momentarily for being heterosexual.” (Gregor Robertson is hetero). “He talks but doesn’t say too much” argued Van Rassel.” “He’s a politician”—I said my voice now riddled with anxiety. “He needs to message—to show leadership”. “I like Raymond Louie” snorted Van Rassel---“Sorry”.
“Why are you sorry?” I asked. “Well, I know you think all of the candidates are good—but maybe don’t want Louie to win.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he’s Asian.” said Van Rassel. “Are you kidding me?” I responded, “Why would I give a shit what race, gender or anything else---you know me—best argument wins—best candidate should win”. “Okay” said Van Rassel---“Why did you get angry and call that fellow Wang Chung the other day?” “Because of his Gordon Campbell 1980’s attitude” I retorted—hoping Van Rassel wouldn’t see me gulping---'outed'—un peu.
Gregor Robertson is nearly good enough to run for Prime Minister of the country let alone the mayor of Vancouver. I’m not kidding. He was really impressive.
Raymond Louie is every bit his equal---and a little bit of me wondered about what Van Rassel said. Because there were moments when I thought just for a second---that maybe Raymond Louie was holding back a bit---not wanting to show all he had---and he has all the tools, the smarts, the heart, he is a real impressive politician. Like all the candidates—he knows Vancouver—has a vision for the city—and my instinct told me if Louie were mayor Vancouver were come out on top. His problem---Gregor Robertson is nearly perfect—and that’s what was bothering Van Rassel. “Don’t worry Jim” I said---“Robertson’s skill has made me very comfortable---he can pull off the job---the show—he’d be great for Vancouver.”
But is Raymond Louie holding back some of what he has-because he secretly believes that some voters might be prejudiced against an Asian mayor? I hope not-- he’s damn good. One of my favourite business associates was long time politico Christie Jung—whose father Douglas Jung was Canada’s first Asian MP many decades ago—and now has a downtown building named after him.
“Jim I understand why you are so impressed with Raymond Louie…he can win.”
What about Al De Genova? He was dynamite---both Jim and I agreed that for three-quarters of the debate---he was equal or ahead. I was rooting for him. His off the cuff comments, his strategies, his vision and ideas (an outstanding pirouette to his chair) and his confidence were so infectious---I liked all three---I bought into all three candidates.
The level of skill was so high at the Vision Vancouver debate that Al De Genova made one mistake—enough to put him third in our opinion—what did he do? He read his closing statement—and it killed him on a night when the margin for error was small-paper thin.
Vision Vancouver is a hybrid—Democrat-Liberal-Green—certainly progressive. I would like to see the NPA—and COPE—but Vision Vancouver is hot---really hot.
David Beers of the Tyee—thanks for the tickets---your capabilities as a moderator were excellent—amidst some of the passion, the pressure, and the near perfection of the evening your mild sarcasm and wit was edgy enough—like your paper---to make me wonder if at any time---you might go Monte Python. (I was kind of hoping you would---Snap---that was the buzz in the room on debate night).
The Tyee-24 Hours mix fits well. It fits my polling readership---it fits the Obama demographic. Hmmmmm.
Anyhow-politics is a serious but very exciting business. If you have an open mind, the ability to listen well—it will be the most fun you have ever had---and the best sport—except (accept) women’s ski jumping—(unless you’re Euro-male and prefer women barefoot and in the kitchen).
If you get a chance to go to a local debate—don’t be shy. You’ll be delighted you went.

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