The Campbell-Robertson coalition a marvellous thing to behold
Published Wednesday, December 17, 2008 1:11PM PST
It was the strangest thing yesterday to be at the news conference with Premier Gordon Campbell and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and see how chummy they seemed to be with each other.
After all the accusations from the Non-Partisan Association during the election about the likely inability of the former NDP MLA to work with the party he used to sit in opposition to, I guess even I, a person who tries to look on the bright side of life, didn't think they'd be able to warm up to each other.
I could see why former mayor Larry Campbell and Gordon Campbell formed a rapport, which extended to meeting for regular coffees in the Point Grey neighbourhood they both lived in at the time. Mayor Campbell was, after all, a pretty centrist guy and an extrovert.
Robertson is not at all a Larry Campbell. He's kind of introverted (watch him at a party and he'll spend the whole night talking to the four people he already knows there) and he's a lot more committed to a certain leftie/greenie perspective on changing the world than Campbell was.
So even when Campbell and Robertson had their first personal meeting the Friday after the election at the cabinet offices in Vancouver, which some people thought was earth-shakingly significant, I didn't pay much attention. Just a routine "premier says hello to the new mayor" protocol meeting, I thought.
But the news conference yesterday showed they really can -- and want to -- work together. And more than that.
And when it ended and people were packing up their cameras to go, the premier and the mayor went out into the hallway, where they said a goodbye, complete with lots of shoulder-touching and hand-shaking.
To me, that WAS significant.
I wrote a profile of the premier a few years back where I observed that, when he's with people he feels attuned to and comfortable with, he's way more physical, often touching them while talking as a way of cementing the bond.
That was certainly going on yesterday.
The premier also expressed a fair degree of enthusiasm for the mayor's willingness to jump in and act, as I noted in my Globe story today. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081217.BCHOMELESS17/TPStory/?query=bula
Campbell likes people who get things done, in general, and he showed it. Apparently, the whole shelter deal, which the Vision team has been racing to put together for the last week, was concluded late Monday night, with telephone calls and emails flying between the premier, Housing Minister Rich Coleman in New York, allegedly celebrating his birthday, and Robertson until midnight (3 a.m. New York time).
By the way, I've since heard that the $500,000 donation from the Streetohome Foundation's "two anonymous donors" were from mining magnate Frank Giustra and John Mackay, the president of Strand Properties and a member of Robertson's new homelessness emergency action team. Both are also on the foundation board.
In the end, what happened wasn't just a life-saving gift for the homeless. It was also a nice advance Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza present for all of us, to see our political leaders and others actually working together.