A couple weeks after I won my nomination, some bloggers started posting a monologue from my Fringe play. The monologue is a frank and funny take on the sex life of a single person and the ways single people can feel isolated in our culture. It also talks about masturbation. The monologue is certainly not the most frank or explicit piece of sex-positive work I have published or performed, but some bloggers had a heyday, and I was told this was just the beginning.
Trish Kelly, a prominent member of Vancouver activism and a self-described sex-positive" and "queer" resigned her nomination as a candidate for park board in the city's upcoming municipal election, because of the surfacing of a humorous and risqué Fringe Festival video she made about masturbation from way back in 2006. As a male, I struggle with the guilt that something like that would not be nearly as damaging to my public figure.
I felt compelled to see these protestors in person. A younger, more angsty self would have wanted to mock and troll them, literally ride circles around them and ring my bell. But I'm older and more chill now, and really I just wanted to see if they were real, if their hearts were in it or if they were just NPA hacks, and if they were as homogeneously old, white, and wealthy as they appeared in pictures.
If local campaign spending is obscene, it only follows that candidates need to fall back on contributors with obscenely large wallets to pay the bills. And fall back they did. In the 2011 elections, the single largest donation was $960,000 courtesy of local land developer Rob Macdonald to Vancouver's NPA. To put that sum into context, it's more than double what Naheed Nenshi spent on his way to winning the mayor's chair of Calgary in 2010. Calgary has nearly a quarter of a million more voters than Vancouver.
Vancouver City Coun. Geoff Meggs, considered to be a slam dunk to win the Vancouver-Fairview nomination lost badly to former union boss and Sierra Club executive director George Heyman, creating online buzz thanks to its unexpected outcome. What is perhaps most interesting about Sunday's vote, however, is the way it illustrated both the close ties and competing agendas of Vision Vancouver and the B.C. NDP.
We've heard the discussion about how Vancouverites suffer from a reported epidemic of loneliness and isolation. This notion (of which I am a firm skeptic) has triggered a policy initiative from Vancouver's ruling Vision party. So what does civic engagement actually mean to the party? Sadly for Vancouver, it already equals less access to city hall, reduced citizen involvement in shaping our city, and a top-down approach to decision-making.