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Developer Robert Macdonald nixes NPA run

Journalist Kirk LaPointe courted by party
Robert Macdonald
Developer Robert Macdonald, seen here delivering a speech at the NPA’s recent fundraiser, has decided not to become his party’s mayoral candidate. Photo Matthew DeSouza

The leading contender to become the NPA's mayoral candidate has decided not to vie for the position while the party continues to court a former journalist who currently runs a publishing house and used to be an ombudsman for the CBC.

Robert Macdonald is out, Kirk LaPointe may be in.

Macdonald, a developer, told the Courier he was strongly considering the position when he made a mayoral-like speech at an NPA party fundraiser May 7 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. A recent visit to his doctor ended any thoughts of challenging Mayor Gregor Robertson for the top job at city hall in this year's civic election campaign.

“My cardiologist doesn’t feel I’m healthy enough,” said Macdonald, who heads Macdonald Development Corp and is the NPA’s vice-president. “He said, ‘Do you want to have another stroke?’ When I had the first one, I tell you it wasn’t very pleasant.”

Macdonald, 57, has had cancer, heart operations and a stroke. The stress of a campaign, which he believes would involve Vision Vancouver attempting to destroy his reputation, would be too much for him, he said.

“I’ve tried to have a good reputation, I’ve tried to be a good man but it doesn’t mean that everybody agrees with the way I see life,” he told the Courier Monday.

He didn’t specify what details might emerge during the campaign that would sully his reputation. But, he said, “there’s no question in my mind that the Vision folks would put some complete all-out assault and turn every good thing I’ve done in my life to dust.”

Macdonald has led the family-owned real estate development company since 1985. The company’s portfolio of properties includes apartments, hotels, shopping centres and office buildings in Canada and the United States. It also owns more than 10,000 acres of land for future development.

Since the 2011 campaign, various Vision Vancouver politicians have criticized Macdonald for his unprecedented $960,000 donation to the NPA in the last race.

Vision’s executive director Stepan Vdovine declined to comment on Macdonald’s statements regarding Vision Vancouver.

The mayor said recently that Vision planned to run a “relentlessly positive” campaign. But Macdonald noted Robertson made that comment during the same speech in which he referred to the NPA as a party of “angry, old men.”

The NPA is expected to name its mayoral candidate before the end of June, with longtime journalist and teacher LaPointe, who is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Self-Counsel Press, the rumoured favourite.

Reached Tuesday, LaPointe said he was approached by the NPA but he wouldn’t say whether it was to become the party’s mayoral candidate.

“I have to weigh whether I have the capacity to do anything and they have to weigh whether they’re interested,” he said, noting the party is still evaluating possible candidates. “It’s premature for me or for anyone else, for that matter, to say that I’m a candidate.”

But, he said, “quite a few people” are interested in his possible candidacy and he is “keenly interested in the future of the city.”

Added LaPointe: “I have spent my career observing, reporting on the political process and helping to define issues in communities. And the opportunity to consider how I can give back to my community strikes a chord at my age and stage.”