The 2018 civic election campaign in Vancouver is steadily ramping up. At last night’s Mayoral candidate debate, we saw a fascinating exchange between a reporter, a candidate and the audience.
The subject was Mr. Bremner’s continued insistence that neither he nor his campaign has had anything to do with the billboards appearing around town in recent weeks. The exchange is shown below in video, with thanks to Justin Fung.
It is worth noting that in my opinion, the audience response was much louder than appears on this video clip (there was no audience mic). It was strikingly impolite for a bunch of Canadians.
For those of you who can't get enough of @hectordbremner squirming and looking uncomfortable when questioned on who is behind the shadowy group funding billboards, posters and FB ads supporting him and attacking other candidates. #vanpoli #VanRE #LetsFixHousing #TheFixIsIn pic.twitter.com/A49U7J7Qr1
— Justin Fung | 馮凱威 (@jhwfung) September 18, 2018
It seems to me that we are seeing a test of character in this issue, and it’s not going well for Mr. Bremner or his backers. It does not inspire trust.
Several things come to mind:
1. Mr. Bremner’s continued defence (“we had nothing to do with the billboards; we don’t know who did”) rings hollow and disingenuous. In fact, it borders on showing contempt for the electorate and contempt for the media raising the question. How hard would it be to find out? Maybe phone the number on the billboard?
2. The people behind the billboards, presumably backers of Mr. Bremner, are quite content to leap through a loophole in the campaign finance laws. It does not speak well for their concern for the niceties of civic life. “Hey, we can get away with it: let’s do it”.
3. The billboards have been visible, and reported upon (HERE too), for several weeks. While perfectly legal, (due to the gaping loophole henceforth known as “Bremner’s Free Pass”), these fail the smell test and have become an issue. The issue has gotten away from Mr. Bremner and his campaign team. Not a good sign for someone who will need to deal with delicate and difficult matters amid a probably divided and partisan city council in a city of widely divergent communities where tea leaves get read with great care.
4. During the several weeks that this issue has been public, Mr. Bremner and his campaign team have not come up with a satisfying answer; a plausible answer; or even a well-spun answer. Again, not a good sign for a person who will have to handle a fistful of issues every day amid a rapidly-changing city and environment.
5. Mr. Bremner’s instinct was to attack the audience when challenged. Surely not a good sign at all.