Glacier Media's 2018 Vancouver Mayoral Debate took an interesting turn last night when Yes Vancouver candidate, Hector Bremner, decided to take on some hecklers.
On the stage for the evening were mayoral hopefuls Wai Young, Ken Sim, Golok Buday, Shauna Sylvester, David Chen, Fred Harding, Hector Bremner and Kennedy Stewart. They squared off for two hours on a range of subjects.
Debating in groups of two and three at a time, each candidate was also offered a direct question to answer on their own.
V.I.A. drew Yes Vancouver candidate Hector Bremner's name out of the hat, so we decided to ask him about the billboards and posters that are up all over town in support of him and his run for mayor. You've seen them, and maybe you thought they were coming from his campaign office? Not according to them. They were apparently funded and put up by some mystery PAC.
Our question was:
"Your team seems to have been the most shrewd in using campaign funding laws to its advantage, with your face showing up on billboards and posters all over town for weeks now. Yet both you and your organization claim to have no idea who’s behind it all. As if it’s some grand mystery. Would you encourage the people behind the ads to come forward and show their receipts or would you rather they remain shrouded?"
His answer, shown in the video below, was interesting.
At our mayoral debate, Hector Bremner responds to the question of whether or not he'd like the "mystery" donors behind his billboards to come forward and show their receipts. #vanelxn #vanpoli pic.twitter.com/pwRaEDUHEs
— Bob Kronbauer (@BobKronbauer) September 18, 2018
He starts by saying that the campaign laws were written by the NDP, supported by Vision and the Greens, and that "they created this PAC system".
He goes on to explain that "Our campaign did not ask for, did not collaborate with, and did not have any knowledge of this campaign. When it showed up, it was there."
It was there.
At this point someone in the crowd shouts "Oh, come on!", and Bremner decides to take the heckler head on.
"Where were you when Tides Canada was pouring tons of money into here just a few years ago?" he asks, referring to one of Gregor Robertson's chief fundraisers, Joel Solomon, who founded the charitable organization that issues grants to environmental groups.
He then says he would welcome the donors coming forward, and in the end engages with another heckler, stumbles and sort of trails off before his time is up.
So does Hector Bremner know who's funding the billboards?
The truth likely lies somewhere between what he and his campaign are saying, and what common sense would tell us as not-totally-stupid voters.
Someone within the party surely knows, and perhaps their strategy was to protect the candidate from having to say who's paying for them by not telling him exactly who it was. And by "who", you might assume a group with corporate interests in real estate.
Or, heck, maybe it's a group of generous, well-to-do renters who really like Hector and wanted to throw him some tens of thousands of dollars on the low in hopes that he'll get elected and help get more rental stock built.
It remains an absolute mystery.
This is Vancouver's Stupidest Politics Column, bringing light to issues leading up to the 2018 Vancouver election. Check out the archive HERE.