Show Paul the money
I happened to catch the Geoff Meggs vs. George Heyman tilt Monday night at the Holiday Inn on West Broadway.
As regular readers/my Twitter posse/Courier website fans will know, I wrote about the meeting of the two men who would be the NDP’s candidate in Vancouver-Fairview earlier in the week.
It was hardly a tilt, by the way.
What I didn’t write about was an interlude during the debate by Paul Faoro, the vice-president of the Vancouver-Fairview riding. Yes, he’s the same Paul Faoro who leads Local 15 of CUPE.
It was Faoro’s duty to rally the troops—that would be the 125 or so largely older folks gathered in a stuffy room at the hotel—to volunteer their time in the campaign to knock off current Liberal MLA Margaret MacDiarmid, who is the province’s health minister.
Then came his second request.
“I know you know what I’m going to say—we need money,” Faoro told the crowd. “We are going to get outspent by the B.C. Liberals.”
In 2009, he said, the Liberals spent $145,000 in the riding to the NDP’s $107,000.
“I believe, and our executive believes, that’s one of the reasons why we lost in 2009. We’re not going to have the big bankrolling corporate machine. So, my friends, I’m asking on behalf of Vancouver-Fairview that we need you to open up your wallets.”
Every chair in the room had an envelope on it emblazoned with NDP leader Adrian Dix’s smiling mug on it. “Yes! I want to help build a better British Columbia!” was written in bold type across it.
Cheque, cash, credit card—whatever you have would be accepted, according to the details on the envelope. And hey, if you donated $400, that’s really $175 after a tax credit.
While Faoro was making his pitch, volunteers circulated around the room with white buckets to collect the contributions.
“I’ll throw in a hundred bucks,” Faoro continued. “C’mon, is someone else prepared to throw in a hundred dollars?”
A couple of people matched the offer. “We have no choice here, we need to do everything we can. Whatever you can do—if it’s simply volunteering, we’ll take your time.”
Those listening to Faoro’s plea included a few familiar faces. Vision Vancouver Coun. Tony Tang was there along with former Vision councillor George Chow and Mayor Gregor Robertson’s policy guy, Kevin Quinlan.
Like others in the room, they were there to take in the only debate between Meggs and Heyman. Meggs, of course, is a Vision councillor and Heyman is the executive director of the Sierra Club of B.C.
They’ll find out this Sunday—in the same room at the hotel—which one of them will be the riding’s candidate in the May 2013 election.
Apparently, there are about 650 NDP members in the riding. Heyman told me he signed up about 160 members. Meggs would only say he signed up “quite a few.”
Neither candidate expects all 650 members to show up Sunday.
“A turnout of 50 per cent is considered pretty good,” Meggs said.
As for raising cash in the riding, the union Faoro represents doesn’t seem to be shy of dollars, as previous contributions to civic campaigns show. Campaign disclosure documents filed at city hall for the 2011 election indicate Local 15 of CUPE donated $30,000 to Vision Vancouver.
Heyman’s former employer, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, where he was president for several years, gave $12,000 to Vision.
Both those sums would fill a lot of white buckets.