Shauna Sylvester responds to claims that she’s Vision Vancouver’s candidate

Vancouver's Stupidest Politics Column

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Shauna Sylvester at the 2018 Glacier Media Vancouver mayoral debate. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Independent mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester is addressing – and will likely have to continue to address – claims that she’s too closely tied to the ruling-for-one-more-month party, Vision Vancouver. Mostly because she is.

Earlier this week at our mayoral debate the former Vision board member and longtime party ally was pegged by the NPA’s Ken Sim as being “part of Vision”. In response she patted him on the back (which appeared a lot like a pat on the head, symbolically) saying “Ken. 2011. Get over it.” It resulted in a healthy amount of laughter from the crowd.

One of Sylvester’s high profile supporters, former NPA mayoral candidate Peter Ladner, also seems to be encouraging people to laugh it off, or at least give her some leeway. He stated on Twitter this week that she’s “Vision-ish” but since she’s running as an independent candidate is not “beholden to Vision back-room deals, developer relationships, [and] flawed consultations”.

While it’s understandable that she’d want to distance herself from the party considering their dismal future scrawled on the wall in green ink, voters don’t deserve a pat on the head when asking about her involvement with the party on whose watch the affordability crisis happened.

Yesterday Sylvester did an AMA on Reddit and, as you would expect, the issue arose again.

In the exchange we’ve excerpted below, she finishes by saying that “It’s clear that anyone who tries to label me is serving someone elses’ political ends”. This seems to suggest she thinks that anybody trying to align her with her political past is a partisan hack looking to take her down. The truth is that people are not serving her by providing a label which she stitched herself.

We’ve heard something similar to this in the past. From Vision. It was a pat on the head/slap in the face to citizens, hand-delivered by mayor Gregor Robertson as he was caught referring to residents speaking at a committee as “f***kin NPA hacks“, not realizing his microphone was still picking up. It happened in 2010, one of the years that Sylvester served on Vision’s board.

Go figure.

The funny thing about her entrenchment with Vision is that working with them likely helped her be more connected with civic issues, and there’s no doubt she’s a policy whiz. At our debate she was the one candidate who seemed to be most informed about local issues, and she certainly has a passion for our city and helping solve our biggest problems. She also seems to be quite thoughtful.

However Sylvester’s (recent) past connection to the outgoing mayor and his party may prove to be her achilles heel. No matter how much of a smoke show she puts on, voters just might not think there’s enough distance between attending this year’s Vision AGM and checking her name on their ballots.

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beattyowl on Reddit asked:

Hi Shauna,

Pretty straight forward question that has been asked multiples times that you have refused to answer and frankly it shows you as disingenuous and not trust worthy.

1. You have promised (and so have Vision Vancouver Council Candidates – Tanya Paz) that you will build the Broadway Subway Line all the way to UBC, how are you going to pay for it?

2. You claim that you have no involvement with Vision Vancouver (in the debate you said that was so 2011) yet you were at the AGM in 2018 and you donated. I am asking again for all Vancouver voters: What is your involvement with Vision? Please keep in mind we have photos on the internet and the 2018 donor list.

Sylvester answered…

A few weeks ago someone from another party said, “we are coming after you”. I wondered, what could they possibly have on me…”you’re a Visionista,”she said.

So I’ve never denied I was involved in Vision and I served on their board in 2010 to 2011. I even help found Women of Vision, but that was when Vision was a big tent. I felt like it was a movement that embodied my commitment to the environment with a deep sense of social justice and a pragmatism over getting stuff done.

I’m not an ideologue. My work at SFU and as a social entrepreneur working in conflict zones means I need to work across differences and parties. When the movement started to become too exclusive (as most parties do), it stopped engaging in a way that I thought was authentic or was giving undo access to certain developers, I stepped away. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people in the party I know and love. And when asked to support individuals who were running, I generally did (as I do for most people I know personally who are putting themselves forward for public service, despite their party affiliation).

Vision asked me to facilitate a couple of meetings since 2011, a one-day retreat several years ago and their debrief of their 2014 campaign. They asked me to facilitate because I wasn’t actively involved anymore (my role as a facilitator is always to remain neutral and not offer my own opinions).

I work at SFU and when I heard they were hosting their AGM there I stopped by the meeting to pay tribute to Andrea Reimer, Tim Stevenson and Gregor Robertson who had indicated they were not seeking re-election. I was surprised when they didn’t pay tribute to them. You can see me standing by both doors as I moved in and out of the AGM. I believe there were also people from the NPA and other parties there as well.

To be clear, Vision did ask me to run as their mayoral candidate and I said no. They asked me several times and I have always said no. I recognize it is far more difficult to get elected as an independent candidate than to run under a party, particularly one that has the machine and voters list that Vision has. But I firmly believe that Vancouver needs an independent mayor – one who is skilled at bridging people from across the political spectrum.

I’m sure as you look at my platform you will see where I converge and diverge from each of the political parties. One of the reasons I’ve been so transparent in publishing my platform early is so that the people of Vancouver can assess me on my own merits.

It’s clear that anyone who tries to label me is serving someone elses’ political ends.

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This is Vancouver’s Stupidest Politics Column, bringing light to issues leading up to the October 20, 2018 Vancouver election. Check out the archive HERE.