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Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's re-election once looked like a slam dunk. But the Occupy Vancouver situation may have eroded his popularity. (Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press)
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson's re-election once looked like a slam dunk. But the Occupy Vancouver situation may have eroded his popularity. (Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press)

Rod Mickleburgh

Robertson's re-election a slam dunk till Occupiers showed up Add to ...

On the eve of Saturday’s election, what’s running through the mind of Gregor Robertson, multi-faceted maestro of the tuba, bicycle bell, gavel and swinging sporran? And, oh yes, mayor of a tidy town where “the real Canuck fans” live.

For three years, he’s presided as “your worship” over a city that’s been, not perfectly, but pretty well run, with fiscally conservative budgets, some tough decisions under its belt, and a reduction in the number of people sleeping on the street.

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He’s even gathered an endorsement from former Non-Partisan Association stalwart Bob Ransford, who scathingly dismisses Vancouver mayoral challenger Suzanne Anton as a “reactionary leader …pushing hot buttons instead of thinking in a thoughtful way” and the NPA team as “a highly partisan group of inexperienced rookies.” Ouch.

Mr. Robertson’s re-election should be a slam-dunk. Indeed, a month ago, it looked that way.

Yet now, with a day to go, why is this man not smiling more? Why was he out at a lonely SkyTrain station in the drizzly, dark hours of Wednesday night for a Vision transit announcement? Why does he seem a mite taut?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind over there at the Art Gallery. Tents. Lots of them.

Although a well-constructed flow chart might be needed to follow her varying positions, Ms. Anton has been relentlessly pecking away for the past month at the ongoing presence of Occupy Vancouver on the mud and wood chips of the Art Gallery plaza, blasting the mayor for not having the right stuff to get rid of them.

Some polls indicate her attacks are paying off. The gap is said to be narrowing between her and Mr. Robertson, who has taken a more circuitous course to end the encampment by seeking a court order, rather than the cops, to proclaim: Abandon tents, all ye who enter here. It’s a measured response, but not a vote-getter.

One can’t help but wonder whether Mr. Robertson curses his fate when the mayoral head hits the mayoral pillow, decrying the manna from heaven that Occupy Vancouver has provided Ms. Anton and the NPA.

To whit: “Why me? We’ve got so many accomplishments and programs for the future, and all anyone talks about is those damned tents.”

Yet the fact Ms. Anton has scored at all with her erratic jabs underscores Mr. Robertson’s vulnerability. It’s not that he’s done a poor job. He hasn’t. It’s that the public has not really warmed to him. He hasn’t quite put his stamp on the job. He doesn’t turn voters on.

That’s not fatal, of course. The last mayor the city loved, Larry Campbell, flamed out after one term, while colourless Philip Owen served nine years in the mayor’s chair.

I wouldn’t put any money on it (see below), but if the last thing on voter minds when they cast their ballots Saturday is a tent and someone yelling “mic check,” look out.

Vote early, vote often, but vote.

****

Well, phooey, say I. Canada’s currency czars are leading us toward plastic money, and an end to pocket collections of crinkled bills.

Even worse, they’re changing, once again, the design of our paper money, just as I accepted being unable to read a single word of those minuscule quotations on the back. Grrr.

I remember the daze when a dollar was a dollar, bringing you 300 jujubes at the corner store, and Canadian bills were fun.

An array of horses rumps adorned the 50, if you knew where to look, you could find the devil in Queen Elizabeth’s curly hair, and, should you fold a certain bill in a certain way, you ended up with … er, never mind on that one (blush).

I also love the wintry hockey scene on the back of the current $5 bill. That’s doomed, too. The new plastic bill will depict Canada’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, aka Dextre. Zzzzz.

The first polymer bank note down the chute, worth 100 smackers, will continue to display, however, the stern, mustachioed visage of former Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden.

Prime Ministers for $100, Alex. His Conservative Party ran in B.C. under the slogan “A White Canada” and he approved the use of federal troops to put down the Winnipeg General Strike. Who is Robert Borden?

Bring on the stone money of Yap.

******

Chuck Davis’s History of Metropolitan Vancouver is now on sale. It is, in a word, magnificent. Kids, and even people my age (pictures and big print!), already love leafing through the masterfully designed tome to see what was going on in the big city the day or year they were born.

The weighty volume is chock full of facts and events, from those illustrating the sweep of history to tantalizing tidbits. One of my faves is a garage sale in North Vancouver, stocked by practitioners of the break-and-enter trade. The soon-to-be-arrested thieves’ sign read: “If it isn’t here now, it will be soon.”

Buy this book!

Follow on Twitter: @rodmickleburgh

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