*This column has been updated with a comment from Mayor Derek Corrigan.
Someone should’ve yelled “fore!” before posting a new attack ad so supporters of Burnaby’s ruling civic party could at least duck before it hit them.
With just two weeks until the election, things just escalated.
I was scrolling through my Instagram feed today and up popped a photo of Mayor Derek Corrigan holding a golf club.
Under the photo it read: “Demand from your mayor If you think politicians should prioritize soccer fields for families over green fees consider signing our petition.” (Yes, it’s missing a period after “mayor” and a comma after “fees” – attack ads should use proper punctuation, but I digress.)
It’s a promoted ad from the IAFF Canada – AIP, a union that represents firefighters and is backing Corrigan’s rival, Mike Hurley, for mayor of Burnaby.
Under “learn more” it takes you to a website called fieldsnotfees.ca.
If you’re wondering about the golf reference, it all started with a Burnaby NOW story from Oct. 3, 2014 that uncovered how much in golf fees were being waived for people, including Corrigan.
“In a breakdown obtained by the NOW, 18 current and former city officials and one freeman used the city’s complimentary pass system to waive $41,904.59 in charges, including green fees, at the two Burnaby golf courses,” the story read. “Mayor Derek Corrigan had the highest golf usage out of all of city council, charging $5,717.65 to the city for some tee times. He did not respond to an interview request by the NOW.” (Corrigan has a habit of not responding to media requests for story subjects he doesn’t like.)
Other Burnaby Citizens Association council members were on the list, including Coun. Colleen Jordan ($4,674.20) and Coun. Paul McDonell ($2,633.40). You can read the full story here.
Once you go to the Fields Not Fees website set up by the IAFF, it reads: “Some politicians put their constituents first. Some politicians would say no to taxpayer funded golf. Some politicians ask ‘what does my community want?’ Some politicians would put soccer fields for residents before free golf for themselves. But some politicians aren’t Derek Corrigan.”
It then asks people to fill out some sections to “send a message” to Corrigan about this issue.
The NOW’s story about golf fees came out before the last civic election and didn’t hurt the BCA, so I’m not sure if it will make a difference bringing up the issue again.
Corrigan apparently agrees, based on the comment he gave the NOW Saturday afternoon after the mayoral debate.
“I think it shows how little there is to criticize about me as mayor if they’re dredging up stories that the Burnaby Now covered years ago and expecting, after election after election where I’ve been re-elected, that that’s going to be the issue that determines whether I’ll be mayor, it’s really quite absurd,” Corrigan said. “It shows, though, that they’ve gotten to a very petty level, one which attacking personally or putting up personal photos is the level of their debate. I’m not going to bring myself to that level – I’ve been the mayor now for 16 years and I take great pride in the image I portray on behalf of this city and the example I set for the kids in our community and the young people in our community about how a mayor should act."
However, a new poll – commissioned by the IAFF – did claim that Corrigan and Hurley were in a virtual dead heat. You can read the poll results here.
I’m always skeptical of election polls, especially after the Christy Clark-Adrian Dix debacle, but who knows.
This reminder could be just one more thing that sways people who are on the fence right now. It could rile up people against the mayor or annoy people who don’t like negative ads.
It will be interesting to see if the BCA comes up with a negative ad of their own. Right now, my social media feeds are flooded with videos about the folksy side of Corrigan.