City folk

Last week, respected Pivot Legal Society lawyer David Eby announced he would be running for a Vision Vancouver council nomination. And he's not the only headlining British Columbian seeking a slot on that slate, rather than making a bid for provincial office as a New Democrat candidate. Also in the running are BC Society for Public Education chair Catherine Evans and former British Columbia Federation of Labour executive director Geoff Meggs. This, despite the fact Vancouver councillors make $55,629 annually - $20,471 less than a New Democrat legislator. So why did they choose to act civicly rather than provincially? The following are their answers.

Mr. Eby Speaking on Public Eye Radio, Mr. Eby said, "It's a good question. Beyond just the idea of moving out of Vancouver and transplanting my wonderful wife and our lives to Victoria or Ottawa, if you look at what (Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate) Gregor Robertson did and the challenges he faced as a backbencher in an opposition party at the provincial-level, that's really where my decision comes from. It's very difficult at those senior levels of government, I think, as someone in the backbenches to make a real difference."

Ms. Evans "There's two reasons: one is Vision, the Vision party itself. And it's a real attraction because of the kind of coalition it's trying to build on the political spectrum with people like me who are federal Liberals along with many provincial New Democrats. And I think that's an exciting alignment and something that eventually may - if we can make this work - be an important step for Canada in general. So that's really an important attraction is Vision."

"And, secondly," added Ms. Evans, "cities are really important and really have been getting a short shrift. And we really have to get sorted out how we're going to manage cities and how cities are going to manage the issues that they face. So I'm kind of excited about the municipal scene right now. And I think the previous federal government - the Liberal government - was very interested in cities. And it kind of understood and got it that cities are critically important and they need to be better served then they're being served right now by both senior levels of government. So I'm hoping we'll be able to reawaken some of that energy and enthusiasm for re-examining cities. And I'd like to be in a city and hoping to help define what it is they need in order to be the vibrant economic engines that they are."

Mr. Meggs "The main reason that I focused civicly is the experience I had at city hall" - as then mayor Larry Campbell's chief of staff - "and the sense that I'd learned a lot there and could contribute to finding ways forward on some of the things we worked on during Larry's administration that got stalled later. And the second main consideration for me was that my very successful MLA was Gregor Robertson. And I'm gender-challenged when coming to replace him" - a reference to the New Democrat's affirmative action policy.

Continued Mr. Meggs, "I certainly agree with your assessment that the field (of Vision Vancouver council candidates) is incredibly strong. And I think that's partly because people see more opportunity to learn and to make changes at the civic level right now then they can at the provincial-level where there's tremendous difficulties - particularly if you live in the city of Vancouver - to winning a nomination and then, even if your on the Liberal-side of the equation, finding your way to a place where you can make a difference - i.e. on the frontbench."

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