LAUTENS: Death-threat graffiti has unintended consequences

Methinks the death-threat graffiti threatening Mayor Mary-Ann Boot backfired like my 1931 Chev Sports Coupe.

Unintended consequences: If you share my take on it, it foiled the small-brained and crudely amateur graffitist by generating sympathy for Mayor Mary-Ann Booth. In sporting terms: Advantage, Mayor Booth.

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First, West Vancouverites normally indifferent to municipal affairs impulsively felt supportive of Booth and contempt for the coward’s “Kill Council” graffiti that indiscriminately smears all councillors and implicitly the voting system.

Second, Booth’s heated (including some over-heated) critics could distance themselves from the graffiti – good – and pull back from voicing perfectly valid citizen opposition to Booth’s mayoral performance to date – not good. Free expression needs regular exercise and a healthy diet. Advantage, Booth again. (Thus some dismissible gossip that a cunning Booth backer was the graffitist.)

Critics of Booth and her council supporters have coalesced around Nigel Malkin, upstart political neophyte leader and tireless organizer. The West Vancouver Community Stakeholders movement began with strong resistance to TransLink’s clumsy B-Line Bus extension plan, highlighted by a rousing, unprecedented protest march on Marine Drive – thrashing a complacent town hall on the issue – and has become an aggressive unofficial civic opposition party.

 Malkin’s response to any suspicions about the graffiti’s authorship: “This action was not from anyone in my group and we would never stoop to any form of threat. This being the lowest of the low. ... I have always remained polite and dealt with council in a professional manner.

“I believe that district staff and our council need to take a long hard look at why this would ever happen,” Malkin said. “How desperate is someone to take it upon themselves to do this?  Why is there such a level of discontent in West Van?”

Coun. Craig Cameron quickly reacted to the  graffiti: People should be looking at the faces in the mirror. I pitched several questions, including “Whose mirror, whose face?” A vigorous exchange too long for this space, with Cameron concluding: 

“I do feel that certain individuals have helped create an atmosphere where local elected officials have been unfairly targeted and stigmatized and an atmosphere where acts of this nature are more likely. …  

“Quite frankly, I feel you have also contributed to this negative atmosphere. From the beginning, you have had it in for Mary-Ann and have rarely passed up an opportunity to write about her in a dismissive or derisive fashion.

“As I’ve told you … you really have misread her – she is hard-working, bright, kind and truly committed to her community,” Cameron wrote. “More importantly, she has far more integrity than others on whom you lavish praise. Unfortunately, your words help shape the public narrative.”

(Note: Cameron wrote the above privately, not for publication, but to his credit sanctioned running it here.)

My response to Cameron ended:  “… That said, I much admire your forthright conviction, loyalty and willingness to put it all on the line in light of the recent graffiti.” 

• • •

The Pride organizers’ high-handed outing of the University of B.C. and the Vancouver Public Library for declining invitations to join the parade must have alienated many citizens – but most importantly, some thoughtful LGB people themselves (example, a gay man’s letter in last Saturday’s Vancouver Sun). They need no lessons about intimidation and squashed freedom of expression, and what history teaches about the bullied becoming the bullies.

• • •

Even if a decision is announced before this appears in print, the mystery will linger: Why the long delay by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country Liberals in nominating a candidate to succeed retiring MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones?

I asked the usual well-informed suspects. All were puzzled too. The party’s downtown headquarters didn’t respond. Even a highly placed provincial Liberal was in the dark and phoned around, asking. Desperation theory: They can’t attract nominees – nobody wants the job, the constituency being a geographical monster to service.

Over a tomato juice, top Agent yK3qt6, with gold-plated credentials, named a prospect outside of the political pool who was wooed – and chuckled at the idea. An excellent, business-savvy, well-respected challenger to all comers, I’d say. But no dice.

• • •

Price of principles: Journalist Eli Sopow reports the Liberals poured $246,201.17 into Jody Wilson-Raybould’s successful 2015 campaign. Pressured by government apparatchiks, demoted from her attorney general role for upholding the law, then expelled by Sunny Days, she’ll be lucky to raise a tenth as much as an independent candidate. Canada’s political class would benefit from trips to Hong Kong for lessons in democracy.

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