Opinion
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Municipal Politics

Best Bet to Win Wild Race? Wai Young by a Powdered Nose

She’s Vancouver’s next mayor predicts Dr. Steve, as voters beg... Please advise!

By Steve Burgess 26 Sep 2018 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

This is shaping up as the most wide-open Vancouver civic election in memory. Who do you think will be the next mayor of Vancouver?

Signed,

Popping Corn

Dear PC,

Wai Young. She’s your winner. The signs are as obvious as a flapping tube man at a used car lot. Take it from Dr. Steve — go all in on Wai Young. Push in your chips.* (*Dr. Steve assumes no legal responsibility for financial losses resulting from his advice.)

The Vancouver civic election field is indeed wide open thanks to the vacuum left by the absence of most incumbents from the ballot. It turns out incumbency is a huge advantage in politics, until it isn’t. After dominating municipal politics for several terms Vision Vancouver found itself possessing a record that included targets for everybody. Reactionaries sneered at “Mayor Moonbeam” and his designated lanes for hippies, while progressives decided that Vision was just another cabal of opportunists co-opted by wealthy developers. Also, Mayor Robertson didn’t end homelessness like he promised. Time to bring in someone whose ill-advised promises will bear more fruit.

Enter Wai Young. She wants to rip out the bike lanes. It’s “Build the Wall!” but in reverse. Enough with the unrealistic utopian goals — it’s time to replace them with ludicrous reactionary schemes.

Young has been hit by scandal. She recently had to deal with the embarrassing revelation that she had failed to make a court appearance on a distracted driving charge. The former Conservative MP claimed it was a mistake, saying the officer thought she was holding a phone but it was actually a makeup kit. If she’s right it could be a legal milestone — the first time we’ve seen a defendant make up a true story. It also helps explain why Young is not fond of bikes. Ever try to ride around the seawall while applying mascara?

So Young comes off as rather, let’s say, regressive. Fine. Maybe someday the UN General Assembly will snicker when she boasts of her achievements, just as they laughed at Donald Trump. That’s Donald Trump, who is currently the president of the United States, by the way. Meanwhile Doug Ford is premier of Ontario. That would be Doug Ford, whose younger sibling Rob transformed Toronto into a reality show called Little Brother; Doug Ford, whose greatest professional accomplishment was allegedly in the field of contraband leisure time supplements; Doug Ford, who would probably invoke the notwithstanding clause to park in a handicapped spot; Doug Ford, who at this very moment is probably drafting legislation intended to get back at all the girls who said “no” to him in high school.

So unlikely populist candidates can win. But can Young prevail on the housing issue? Polls say it’s the top public concern. Maybe so. The problem is the housing issue is a bit of a wash, since everyone can express concern about it with equal vigour. And while candidates have put forth different ideas to help people in crisis, no one currently on the civic ballot has figured out a viable antidote to global capitalism. To Vancouver voters, one idea is probably sounding pretty much like another.

Meanwhile what else is there to talk about? Bike lanes, for one. Dr. Steve advises you not to underestimate that issue.

Maybe few people identify bike lanes as key. But the ones who do tend to be unhinged about it. For a lot of people bike lanes stand in for a lot of other stuff. Robertson’s derisive “Mayor Moonbeam” tag was most likely a response to bike lanes. The idea that an activist council is stealing pavement from regular folks who just want to get to work and handing it over to a bunch of sanctimonious assholes who think they don’t have to follow the same rules as normal, four-wheeled people is a message that can have real traction in some quarters. And some quarters are all the quarters you need when the mayoral ballot contains 21 names.

Even the distracted driving scandal fits the pattern. Trump’s Access Hollywood tape didn’t kill him because it played to his supporters’ idea of the man anyway. For Young supporters the most important aspect of the distracted driving story is probably that Young was driving as God intended, not weaving in and out of traffic giving decent people the finger.

Perhaps Dr. Steve is overselling Young’s chances. It’s just that sometimes in the prediction business one goes on omens and intuition, like a fella at the racetrack who sees a picture of Bill O’Reilly and bets it all on a horse named Old Yeller. Dr. Steve simply feels that based on recent trends, the candidate who draws the most media derision ought to become the odds-on favourite. In the Vancouver race, that would be Wai Young. Watch your backs, you bicycling brigands.  [Tyee]

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