A journalist who says he spent his life fighting government secrecy has officially launched himself into the mayoral race as the candidate for a Vancouver civic party hoping to regain former glory.
"I've devoted my career in journalism to asking the questions you want answered," said Kirk LaPointe at an announcement with the Non-Partisan Association, staged at Vancouver's spectacular Jack Poole Plaza on the waterfront. "I've fought governments that spin and hold secrets."
The 56-year-old Mr. LaPointe, who started working as a reporter in 1980 and was later a senior editor with The Canadian Press, Southam News, CTV, and Canwest's Vancouver Sun, is hoping to unseat Gregor Robertson of Vision Vancouver. Mr. Robertson is trying to win his third term this November.
Mr. LaPointe said he's going to create the most open government in Canada.
He also promised that his campaign is going to be free of personal attacks.
He said everyone on his team – candidates, board members, organizers – are going to have to sign a pledge they won't engage in that kind of behaviour.
"If they break that, I will resign as a candidate."
At an early pre-announcement coffee meeting with the city's regular city hall reporters held at the hipster Main Street cafe Kafka's, he outlined a list of problems with the current management of city hall that echoed what various citizen groups and the NPA have been hammering at for several years.
Among them, Mr. LaPointe listed: Vision Vancouver's cozy deals with developers, secret negotiations, a clampdown on access to information, questionable campaign financing, a promise to eradicate homelessness that has seen numbers of people on the street go up the past two years, community planning that doesn't allow residents a voice, poor relationships with the B.C. Liberals provincially and the Conservatives federally, and too much talk about issues the city can't do anything about.
But Mr. LaPointe didn't provide a lot of details about how he would change anything, saying his launch wasn't the time for a "policy reveal." He said more specific ideas would be rolled out later, although he did toss in near the end of his speech that he would bring in a tax freeze and free WiFi throughout the city.
Vision Vancouver instantly responded to Mr. LaPointe's launch by attacking him on an issue the party has been riding heavily – pipelines and oil tankers.
"Mr. LaPointe's refusal to oppose Kinder Morgan's oil tanker expansion in Vancouver's waters provides a clear choice for voters," said a news release.
The NPA chose Mr. LaPointe in a secret ballot among its board members in June after he had been approached in March. NPA president Peter Armstrong said the party thought it was important to "bring some new blood in and make sure we were positioned to win."
Mr. LaPointe won't be able to vote for himself, since he lives in a leasehold condo at the University of B.C. The campus is not in the Vancouver electoral district. His wife, Mary Lynn Young, a former director of the School of Journalism, is an associate dean at the university. Mr. LaPointe has also taught at the school in recent years, as well as being the CBC's official ombudsman for a couple of years. He is currently the editor-in-chief of Self-Counsel Press.
Mr. LaPointe positioned himself as an outsider and underdog who is going up against the well-financed Vision machine, although the NPA raised $2-million in the past mayoral campaign, with a significant amount from developers, just as Vision Vancouver did.
He also brought up details from his personal life, saying he was raised by a single mother who worked at Christie Biscuits in Toronto, never knew who his father was, and survived as a child on many butter-and-sugar sandwiches. That made him understand the importance of spending money wisely, he said.
And he obliquely made fun of Mr. Robertson's statement earlier this year that the NPA is a party of angry old white men.
"Many of us are young and we are in a very good mood."