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Politics is for the birds Add to ...

On the eve of tallying the votes, the final debate takes place with each of the candidates in the Vancouver Civic Bird Competition making one last-ditch push for votes. We join the debate, already in progress:

Tony Parsons: Welcome back to Civic Bird 2014. You’ve just heard from all of the candidates, now I’d like to open up the floor for some lively debate. Each of the six candidates will have an opportunity to ask a question of the others. All of you may contribute as you see fit. I ask that you speak one at a time and remain respectful of your opponents.

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During the break we drew straws to determine the order of questions.

We begin with Black-Capped Chickadee.

Black-Capped Chickadee: Thank you, Tony. My question is directed to Pileated Woodpecker. Mr. Woodpecker, you claim that over the past three years you have created 1,600 new units of housing, yet the most recent homeless count shows that homelessness among the bird population across the city continues to rise. How do you explain that discrepancy?

Pileated Woodpecker: I’m glad you asked, Chickadee. The fact is that no one has created more housing for birds than I have. Yes, many of the nests were created as a result of me pecking for grubs and insects, but the results can be found in trees and stumps across the city. These are comfortable sheltered holes where birds of all kinds may build nests and raise families. Could we do more? Of course. Has it been disruptive? Sometimes it has. But if we want to accommodate the growing population of birds in the region, we need to take bold measures. This, combined with efforts to plant thousands of new trees, and prevent the trees we have from being cut down, has resulted in opportunities for all.

Tony Parsons: Yes, Varied Thrush – your question.

Varied Thrush: My question is directed to Black-Capped Chickadee. You accuse Pileated Woodpecker of being disruptive, but your predawn warbling has done more to destroy the quality of life in this city than any bird here tonight.

Northern Flicker: Yeah, you sound like Nelson from The Simpsons

Black-Capped Chickadee: You’re one to talk, hammering away at streetlights…

Northern Flicker: Hey, I was looking for a mate…

Black-Capped Chickadee: They’re made out of aluminum!

Tony Parsons: Please, let Varied Thrush finish his question.

Varied Thrush: No, that’s it. Oh, and rehab was amazing!

Tony Parsons: Pacific Wren – go ahead.

Pacific Wren: I know I’m the outsider here, and I’m fine with that. I may not eat out of people’s hands like Black-Capped Chickadee, or be as showy as Anna’s Hummingbird, but do we really need to elect another panderer or a bird that is simply attractive? My opponents have referred to me as “an angry old grey bird.” I can’t do anything about my colour, and being old means having experience. As for angry, anyone who’s been listening to this for the past 90 minutes should be as angry as I am!

Tony Parsons: Northern Flicker…

Northern Flicker: Thanks, Tony. With respect, my question is for my cousin, Pileated Woodpecker. You’ve done everything you can to promote flyways across the city – sometimes at the expense of everything else. But it’s clear to me the only birds using them are the East Van Crows. How do you justify committing so much airspace to such a small minority?

Pileated Woodpecker: Since we introduced flyways, capacity on them has increased by 180 per cent per year. You’re right, the flyways on the east side of the city are busy, but I think that means they’re a success.

Northern Flicker: Aren’t you just giving in to the birds that caw the loudest?

Tony Parsons: A lively exchange indeed. I’m sorry, that’s all the time we have for this portion of the debate. Coming up after the break, closing remarks. You’re watching Civic Bird 2014. We’ll be right back.

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 88.1 FM and 690 AM in Vancouver.

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