Lots of insights here in Jeff Nagel’s coverage: TransLink referendum could sway civic election outcomes
The outcome of this fall’s civic elections across Metro Vancouver may be altered by holding the promised TransLink referendum at the same time, prompting an unusual surge of voters aligned with one side or the other.
… more likely, some watchers say, is a stampede to the polls of anti-tax voters who want to pay no more for TransLink and will help elect conservative councillors and mayors as a byproduct of defeating the referendum.
A Nov. 15 TransLink vote would boost the “notoriously low” turnout in civic elections, said political analyst David Schreck, but he added it might also sweep into power candidates similar to Toronto Coun. Doug Ford.
Perhaps that’s the strategy behind the referendum: to neutralize the Metro Region (I’m being polite) as a counter-force to the Province, and, as collateral damage, to neuter TransLink.
That was the Conservative strategy in Ontario when the City was amalgamated with the suburbs, giving the latter a chance to vent their displeasure with the so-called elites and the Ford-labelled ‘Gravy Train’ at City Hall.
It’s certainly gravy for Jordan Bateman and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to pursue their strategy.
“If I was a mayor in a community where TransLink is not popular but I’m proposing big tax increases to give TransLink more dough, I’d be very nervous about this election,” Bateman said.
So as a defensive strategy, even pro-transit mayors will have to come out against the referendum, denying any possibility of a united campaign to persuade marginal voters.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore, Metro’s board chair, nails it:
Moore predicts it will be difficult for residents to view the referendum as a vote on whether the region needs more money for transit and roads, rather than just a way to castigate TransLink for various shortcomings.
“That’s going to be a challenge for people to separate those two.”
As does Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin:
“It has the potential of pitting communities against communities,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin. “It also has the potential to dilute or push aside other local issues during the election campaign.”
This referendum could well be so destructive that the region as we know it will dissolve in a tide of vitriol, division and distrust – unable to forge the kind of consensus that has characterized regional decision-making in the past, whether to agree on cost-sharing agreements for major infrastructure or on strategic plans to shape growth.
We take this consensus-making for granted, and indeed discount it, repeating the shibboleth that municipal leaders are parochial and unable to come together in common interest. The dissonant noise of politics drowns out the soft chorus of agreement (as demonstrated at today’s Board of Trade meeting by the mayors of Surrey and Vancouver).
If in a backlash to the referendum, we elect a Tea Party-equivalent of anti-tax novices, the region will descend into dysfunction, unable to build on our past success – the region that mostly got it right – or offer much hope for the future.
Then we can get down to really hating each other.