Clark trumps the pundits . . . and Trump trumps Vancouver

Tony Wilson
Boughton Law
Well, the big news in British Columbia last month had to be Premier Christy Clark making Ipsos-Reid, Angus Reid, and the entire political polling industry look like blithering idiots after she handily won the May 14 provincial election.
In fact, the pollsters may have looked more like characters out of Monty Python’s famous “Election Night Special” sketch from 1970.

In that sketch, pollsters and TV pundits go completely ga-ga about the swing, the swong, the Silly Party, the Sensible Party, and candidates with names like Jethro Q. Walrustitty and Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel.

During our own Election Night Special, while I flipped channels between CBC and Global, I was waiting for at least one pollster to explain why the B.C. Liberals won when their industry led almost everyone in the province to think the NDP couldn’t lose even if party leader Adrian Dix “kicked a dog.”

I was hoping someone would say: “Well, the election went largely as I predicted . . . except the Liberals won. I think this is largely due to the number of votes cast.”

A month before the election, the captains of industry and the senior partners of Vancouver’s legal and accounting firms broke bread and canapés with shop stewards and union leaders in the massive Pacific Ballroom of the Hotel Vancouver, not only to hear Dix speak, but to ensure they were at least in the room seeming to be seen seeing Dix speak, and hoping Dix and his people would see them seeing him. It was like an episode of Veep.

Dix was trumped by many things. I suppose as the toiling masses collectively aged over the decades, they married, had a couple of kids, bought a house, and took out a whopping mortgage because there was enough work to “live the dream.” Maybe they wanted to save up for their retirement and their kids’ education. Maybe they wanted to buy a condo in Mexico or a place on the water.

But all this depends on the availability of continuous work doesn’t it?

So when Dix nixed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline that ships oil from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C., ostensibly because of environmental concerns (and to win back environmental New Democrats who were leaking — if not gushing — into the Green camp), his campaign may have run aground, and his comments may have angered members of the B.C. and Yukon Territories Building and Construction Trades Council, who were counting on the union jobs that the project would create.

Dix nixing the Kinder Morgan pipeline may well have threatened the aspirations (and credit worthiness) of what was once called the working class but might now be called the “mortgage paying” class.

Clearly, any politician who campaigns on a platform of “Let’s not build stuff anymore” might as well be campaigning on a platform of “Let’s not hire workers to build stuff anymore” or even, (at the risk of overstatement), “Private sector jobs that build stuff aren’t as environmentally nice as public sector jobs that don’t.”

Maybe the voters in growing regions in and around Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, and Chilliwack have become the real centre of B.C.’s political culture, the east and west sides of Vancouver mattering less with each election.
And post election statistics have revealed if the Green vote had gone to the NDP in marginal ridings, the NDP would have won.

But there you have it; the unbearable lightness of being green and a New Democrat. When the NDP campaigns for the green vote, workers will vote for their jobs.

But that’s May’s news. The big news in June is that The Donald was in Vancouver! Yes, Donald Trump was in town announcing he’s lending his name (and a tiny part of his ego) to a 63-storey tower on Georgia Street in the heart of the downtown core which was originally going to be a Ritz-Carleton before the crash.

“It will be one of the great buildings, not only in Canada, not only the United States, but anywhere in the universe,” he said. “It’s going to be that good.”

I won’t take potshots at Mr. Trump. He did a pretty good job of that himself in the last U.S. election with tweets like: “This election is a total sham . . . more votes equals a loss. . . we are not a democracy . . . we should have a revolution in this country.”

Of course, I can’t do nearly as well as Seth Meyers did at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. With a cool Barak Obama sitting next to him, Meyers mocked Trump’s fixation on money and birth certificates and imagined how good a press secretary Trump could be: “Kim Jun Il is a loser — his latest rally was a flop. I feel bad for Ahmadinejad — the man wears a windbreaker, he has no class. I, on the other hand, sell my own line of ties. You can find them at Macy’s in the flammable section.”

Trump went home that night to his billions and his young supermodel wife, fuming mad. President Obama went home to the White House, and presided over Seal Team 6 taking out Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
But I won’t hold any of that against Trump. In fact I’m sure I’ll visit Vancouver’s Trump Tower from time to time for a drink or a meal or to admire now deceased architect Arthur Erickson’s magnificent “twisting” design. After all, Arthur Erickson designed it, not Trump.

But I’ll always wonder… should I bring my birth certificate?

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