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Should the Mayor of Vancouver Resign over the Riots?



I had a little time to chew on the international humiliation that Canada suffered via the Vancouver hockey riots. I went to the drug store to pick up a few things today and the clerk, who knows me casually asked what I thought of the hockey game last night. 

Living in Texas my accent gave me away long ago, I told her I was Canadian years ago and we chat politely when she works. She is not a sports fan of any kind. I just shook my head in shame at her question on the hockey game. No one was waiting in line and so she proceeded to make a few comments along these lines.

"I had no idea Canada was like that, is it always that dangerous?"

"We never go into Mexico anymore but Canada looks worse" 

"Hockey is kind of like soccer isn't it, you know with those soccer riots in Europe"

The last comment really stung and what was I to say, how was I going to defend what she had recently seen either on T.V. or the Internet. I just looked at her and said sadly, "It really isn't like that. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world." I felt hollow when I said it and I am sure my words rang just as hollow to her. 

I think something further has to be done this time because it is a second failure and in some ways that makes it worse than 1994. The incident is international, it has touched people all over the world who for the most part may see no other reference to Canada for years. 

Accountability for the incident has to be assigned and someone has to be fired and that someone is Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver. The stark contrast in leadership is ironically illustrated here in a Boston sports blog that belittled its own Mayor and praised Vancouver of course this was 6 hours before the riots started cont…

Kudos and credit given to Dirk Hoag for his article on the same topic, which got the gerbil wheel spinning for me. Required reading, especially the June 6th CBC link that illustrates that Robertson actually opened up more streets and expanded the number of people into the core. 

Robertson should be called upon immediately to resign for failing Municipality Management 101. The first rule should be Safety First – Party Second. The second rule – Hope for the best, plan for the worst. 

Gregor Robertson and Premier Christy Clark are now embarking on a pathetically embarrassing blame game. One that started with saying it was "anarchists" and a very small group to now  calling them out as losers, likely on the advice of their political spin doctors. 

Derek Zona over at Copper & Blue led the charge on the fact these were hockey fans with his article. It is a tough video to watch but if you can stomach it, the absurdity of Robertson's claims of "anarchists" and a small group of thugs is laughable. 

The National Post drew similar conclusions in two separate articles here and here. 

But lets get down to brass tacks on the issue here.

This is simply not acceptable for so many reasons I can't even begin to list them all. In a democracy political leaders are held accountable for exactly this type of thing. This is NOT a crazy Canadian hockey thing. The Calgary police cracked down on the Red MIle events after 2004. Edmonton had a burning pallet in 2006 but nothing even remotely close to what Vancouver had this year. Ottawa had its own calm trip to the Cup final in 2007. All three teams lost in the Finals just as Vancouver did. 

Don't tell me there is not a playbook out there for how a municipality should handle a large sporting event. Is there not a "Municipal Safety during Sporting Events for Dummies" book to pass around?

This went international and is an embarrassment to all Canadians. The New York Times has a take. The BBC does too right here. MarketWatch is reporting the financial impact that the hit to Vancouver's reputation may take here. I could go on and on with these links from media sources all over the world. Even Aljazeeram had a story here.

I don't have to think too hard about Gary Bettman's take on this and the NHL overall given the mandate to grow the game in the United States. 

This is bugging me now. The friggin clerk at my drugstore in Texas now thinks Canada is a dangerous country. Think about cancelled vacations to Vancouver and Canada overall, think about questions of stability in the business community that may arise and why? Hello, Investments Vancouver?

God forbid Vancouverites, consider your property values falling. Businesses that were damaged may consider suing the city for not taking reasonable due diligence to ensure public safety. 

Oh wait, it is Canada, that won't happen. 

I am not sure how one can overlook the poor municipal leadership and preparation here. Political figures resign over these kind of fiascos. Vancouver already got a free pass in 1994, their failure to learn from it is simply not acceptable the second time around. The era of the internet, twitter and social media is upon us and this is no longer something you can keep a lid on like 1994. I think action has to be taken. 

The resignation of the Mayor would be a signal to the world that Vancouver and Canada do not tolerate the kind of chaos the world saw on June 15th. Political figures pay with their careers for such mismanagement. It isn't going to put the spilt milk back in the glass but it is an attempt to save face internationally. 

That's my take – please vote in the poll. I'm curious to see where others stand. 

by M Smith