Year in review - The epic Burnaby political fails of 2018

Chris Campbell

The year 2018 was a tumultuous one in Burnaby politics.

And it had its share of epic political fails.

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We had a major betrayal when Burnaby South MP Kennedy Stewart quit on his constituents to successfully run for mayor of Vancouver. Now that city is facing a nearly five-per-cent property tax increase. (Nice one, Vancouver voters!)

Now, Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh – whose national poll numbers are so rock bottom they are right there with the popularity of getting a root canal – is running in Burnaby South when, or if, the prime minister gets around to calling a byelection. Singh’s solution to his party’s problems, according to one interview, is to “keep talking.” I’m starting to think that’s all he’s good at.

Burnaby’s biggest political story, of course, was the earthquake Mike Hurley set off when he curb-stomped Derek “Gold Teeth” Corrigan.

The fall civic campaign had its share of political fails, such as the entire Burnaby First Coalition campaign. I don’t know if anyone got paid for “organizing” this campaign, but they owe the BFC a refund if they did.

It was one long trainwreck. They were going to a mayoral candidate, until they didn’t. They were going to run school board candidates, until they didn’t. They were going to distance themselves from the borderline homophobic policies of the past, until one of their candidates signed the nomination papers for Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

It was bad. Like, really bad. Disorganized and unfocused.

The Burnaby Citizens Association campaign wasn’t that much better. It was clear they were panic mode as nearly all of their advertising was spent trying to make Corrigan look warm and fuzzy. The BCA council also flip-flopped on a number of issues – so many that I nearly got whiplash trying to follow them.

Things really fell apart when the Burnaby RCMP had to be called to a school board all-candidates’ meeting after anti-SOGI activists got into a yelling match with BCA trustee Larry Hayes.

But, no, even with all of this, I’m saving my political fail of 2018 for BCA Coun. Dan Johnston.

And it’s not for what you think it is.

I wrote just before the election about a dirty letter Johnston sent to BCA members, accusing Mayor Mike Hurley of all sorts of awful things.

That was definitely another low point of the campaign, but Johnston managed to top that idiocy with his behaviour during a November city council meeting in which he whined about his seating position being changed.

According to the story by NOW reporter Kelvin Gawley, Johnston “was surprised to find his seating position had changed from being nearest to the mayor at the centre of the crescent-shaped table to the furthest edge.

“Johnston said that, as the longest-serving councillor and top vote getter, he expected to retain his seat near the middle front of the room.

“Traditionally, those two things tend to have a little more sway than they seem to be having with the current mayor,” he told the NOW

“Moments before the meeting started, Johnston tweeted: ‘Extremely childish decision by #Mayor Hurley to move my Council seating especially to do so with zero consultation.’”

He immediately deleted the tweet, but you can see it in the original story we published.

I don’t care what the circumstances were with the tweet, but the only thing “childish” was Johnston’s behaviour.

We are in the midst of a housing crisis. We are in the midst of a homeless crisis.

That’s what Johnston should be focused on, not getting his diaper in a twist over the seating chart. The behaviour is the kind of thing that most citizens suspect lies behind the slick talk of most politicians – that they are there out of ego and not out of a sense of civic duty.

Dan, oh Danny boy, please be better.

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