Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

'I'd be asking for a criminal investigation': Larry Campbell

Former Vancouver mayors Larry Campbell and Philip Owen resuscitated the Olympic Village bailout story on Tuesday evening by holding a joint press conference at which they pleaded with reporters to let the story die.

“I’ve asked everybody to just disengage on this,” Senator Campbell told a large press scrum on a slow news day. “We’ve got to ratchet this down and we’ve got to get on with life.”

Campbell, a founder of Vision Vancouver who was mayor from 2002 to 2005, also said he regards the breach of confidentiality as a much larger concern than the loan.

“If I was mayor I’d be asking for a criminal investigation” into who leaked a secret city document to the press, Campbell said.

Owen agreed, and emphasized his view that Vancouver taxpayers are not at risk.

“This city is in good financial health. They can afford this,” said Owen, who was NPA mayor from 1993-2002. “They have title to the land. They have personal guarantees from these people. They’ve got opportunities to get the funds back if they have to... The city is not going to get burned in any severe way.”

When asked why the public has responded so strongly to this issues, Owen said, “Well, because they think its been a secret deal. And it’s not. It’s a standard process when you are dealing with property in the Property Endowment Fund.”

Both former mayors acknowledged that they knew nothing about what was discussed at the Oct. 14 in-camera meeting, at which Vancouver City Council reportedly approved up to $100 million in loans to bail out Millennium Developments and/or Fortress Investments.

And both insisted their joint appearance was intended as a non-partisan statement.

“It’s an election deal,” Owen said. “We’re faced with the same thing facing the United States. We had Karl Rove and we had Dick Cheney and we had all the negative ads, and I guess someone’s picked up on that and said, ‘Let’s start throwing some mud around.’”

“There isn’t just one party that’s doing this,” Campbell said. “It’s coming from all sides.”

In response to a question about why this issue has come to dominate the campaign, Campbell said, “I don’t think we had enough issues. I mean, obviously, homelessness isn’t big enough. Mental health isn’t big enough. The Olympics isn’t big enough.”

By speaking at 4 p.m. on Remembrance Day, the former coroner virtually assured that the Olympic Village story will survive until Wednesday’s newspapers are on the street. And with Fortress Investment Group, the struggling New York firm that had been bankrolling the project, expected to release its third quarter results early Thursday morning, it appears unlikely that this particular corpse will be laid to rest before Saturday’s election.

Monte Paulsen reports on Vancouver politics for The Tyee.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus