Gregor Robertson (politician)
|39th Mayor of Vancouver|
December 8, 2008
|Preceded by||Sam Sullivan|
|MLA for Vancouver-Fairview|
May 17, 2005 – July 15, 2008
|Preceded by||Gary Farrell-Collins|
|Succeeded by||Jenn McGinn|
September 18, 1965 |
North Vancouver[disambiguation needed], British Columbia
|Political party||BC New Democratic Party (provincial)
Vision Vancouver (municipal)
|Alma mater||Colorado College|
Gregor Angus Bethune Robertson (born September 18, 1965) is a Canadian politician who has been the 39th Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, since 2008. He was elected as part of the Vision Vancouver party slate. He served as an MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, as a member of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, from 2005 until his resignation in 2008 to run for the mayoral position.
- 1 Background
- 2 2008 Mayoral campaign
- 3 Mayoral term
- 3.1 Issues of marginalised people
- 3.2 Green issues
- 3.3 Transportation issues
- 3.4 Open microphone controversy
- 3.5 Gordon Campbell comments controversy
- 3.6 Bylaw changes
- 3.7 Vancouver charter amendment
- 3.8 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot
- 3.9 2011 Vancouver civic election
- 4 Family
- 5 Election results
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Gregor Robertson was born in North Vancouver in 1965. In 1982 he graduated from Carson Graham Secondary School and enrolled at the University of British Columbia, but later transferred to Colorado College, where he completed a BA in English and Biology. After graduating, he intended to become a medical doctor, but the University of British Columbia medical school denied him admission.
After some soul-searching, he cowboyed in the Cariboo and sailed the Pacific for 18 months, accompanied by his wife. They settled in New Zealand, where he was attracted to, and began, farming as a trade. After turning 25, he returned to Canada, where he purchased land in Glen Valley near Fort Langley, and made his living as a farmer there.
Robertson went on to co-found Happy Planet, a Vancouver-based company that produces and markets organic fruit beverages. He was named one of Canada's "Top 40 under 40" by The Globe and Mail. He was also a Tides Canada director from 2002 until 2004, when he entered politics with the provincial New Democratic Party.
He was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the 2005 election as a member of the British Columbia New Democratic Party having defeated the trade union leader Judy Darcy in a high profile battle for the party's nomination. He then beat British Columbia Liberal Party's Virginia Greene in the general election. During his time as the MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, Robertson served as the Opposition Critic for Small Business and as the Co-Chair of the Caucus Climate Change Taskforce.
2008 Mayoral campaign
In February 2008, Robertson announced that he would run for Mayor of Vancouver. In June 2008, Robertson secured the Vision Vancouver party's nomination as mayoral candidate, defeating Raymond Louie and Allan De Genova. Robertson soon announced his resignation from the Legislative Assembly effective July 15, 2008. His main rival was Peter Ladner of the Non-Partisan Association.
In November 2008, Robertson came under scrutiny after reporters discovered that he had an unpaid transit infraction fine from the SkyTrain system. While the public generally appeared willing to accept his explanation that the original infraction was a mistake, he was criticized by some for attempting to spin his failure to pay into a politically positive statement. Robertson ultimately paid the fine.
He was elected by a solid margin in the 2008 municipal election. Seven of the ten seats on Vancouver City Council also went to Robertson's Vision Vancouver party. "It was a hard-fought campaign," he told supporters gathered at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, "but there is far more that unites us than divides us."
Robertson's campaign received donations from at least two American supporters. Councilor Ellen Woodsworth, who ran as part of the coalition led by Robertson in the 2008 election, later called for a ban on foreign campaign donations such as those received by Robertson.
Issues of marginalised people
Mental health advocate position
During the 2008 campaign Robertson promised he would establish a mental health advocate position, as previously recommended by Vision Vancouver councilor Heather Deal. In September 2009, it was announced that there were no plans to do so, and that instead the task would be added to the responsibilities of city staff.
Homeless Emergency Action Team (HEAT)
Two of the shelters in a residential neighbourhood near a daycare centre and senior housing facility at the North end of the Granville Street Bridge were controversial. Community residents cited concerns with lack of public consultation, fights, public urination, defecation, public sex, and open drug use. British Columbia Housing Minister Rich Coleman cited the need for laying out rules of operation and the need for better community consultation. He called Gregor Robertson's bargaining on housing homeless people “amateurish” and later apologized for the remark. Robertson reached an agreement with Housing Minister Rich Coleman and came to a mutual decision to close one shelter and reassess another. The second controversial shelter shut down on August 5, 2009, as alternate housing was found. Later that year, Penny Ballem, the unelected city manager, notified council about a Federal proposal from the Mental Health Commission of Canada to address the homeless crisis by turning the 102-room low-budget Bosman's Hotel on Howe Street near Helmcken Street into an experiment designed to see if aggressive health treatment along with housing could help the same target population. Council will decide on the proposal in the Fall of 2009. Council member Kerry Jang was said to be behind the Vancouver portion of the project. On September 15, 2009, Vancouver city staff issued a report warning Mayor Robertson and the City Council that they should no longer expect the HEAT shelters to be funded after the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
On January 5, 2010, Mayor Robertson announced that the controversial shelter at 1435 Granville Street, in a predominantly residential neighbourhood, would re-open the following day without robust neighbourhood consultations. It is scheduled to close by April 30, 2010. The city is planning an open house approximately 2 weeks after re-opening the shelter.
Greenest City Action Team
On February 25, 2009, Mayor Gregor Robertson announced the members of the Greenest City Action Team in support of his campaign promise to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world. In April 2009, Robertson and the Greenest City Action Team released a report outlining quick-start recommendations to move aggressively on its green plan. The report focused on three key areas: jobs and the economy, greener communities and protecting human health.
China democracy controversy
In September 2010 on a trip to China, Robertson was questioned about working with an authoritarian regime by the CBC to which he responded, "You can question how worthwhile democracy is in a lot of countries right now." Upon returning to Canada he later admitted he was guilty of a "poor choice of words." 
Park board independence
In June 2009, Robertson and city councilor Raymond Louie were accused by Vancouver city councilor Suzanne Anton, a member of the opposition party, of attempting to destroy the independence of the park board by centralizing budget oversight. Aaron Jasper, a Vision Vancouver member of the park board, called on the city council to restore the decentralized budget control.
In September 2009 Susan Mundick, the general manager of the board, announced her retirement. Penny Ballem, the city manager of Vancouver hired by Mayor Robertson, stripped Mundick of all routine transitional duties. Ballem then stated she would help the park board choose Mundick's replacement, a selection process city hall traditionally had not been involved in. In response, Suzanne Anton urged Mayor Robertson and the city council to limit Ballem's control of the park board.
On September 1, 2009 Penny Ballem, the city manager of Vancouver, announced that Sadhu Aufochs Johnston, the former Chief Environmental Officer and Deputy Chief of Staff of Chicago, would be hired as Deputy City Manager to lead the city's environmental efforts. He is scheduled to begin work on November 2, 2009.[dated info]
Robertson was a strong supporter of Cambie Street merchants and spoke regularly about hardships from the Canada Line construction. He called the handling of the rail line construction an "injustice." On March 23, 2009 Robertson testified in a lawsuit brought by a Cambie Street merchant in the B.C. Supreme Court regarding damage to her business from the construction, a lawsuit for which the merchant was awarded $600,000 by the B.C. Supreme Court due in part to the fact that there was insufficient action to mitigate the effects of Canada Line construction on Cambie Street merchants. On the Canada Line opening day of August 17, 2009 Robertson said Greater Vancouver needed more rapid transit but the Canada Line was a "great start" and that he was a "Johnny-come-lately" to the project.
On September 17, 2009 Mayor Robertson called for adding a toll to the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the primary driving route between Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia; as well as to all major crossings of the Fraser River to help fund Translink. British Columbia Minister of Transportation Shirley Bond dismissed the proposal by stating that the Province has no plans to add a toll to the Sea-to-Sky Highway, and that the Province was not contemplating a change in tolling strategy.
In an April 2008 speech to a Critical Mass rally, Robertson requested the assistance of Critical Mass riders to help get him elected. He took part in the April 2008 ride by illegally riding without a helmet to show his support for the protesters. However in July 2009, after he was elected, he expressed that he was "pissed off" at Critical Mass because organizers had not announced the route for the next ride and would not participate.
In July 2009 Robertson's Burrard Bridge bicycle lane trial was initiated to determine whether creating a new protected bike lane is a viable solution to increase the safety and comfort of cyclists and pedestrians while maintaining an effective flow of traffic. This was done over complaints from local merchants that cited lack of consultation and a negative impact on their businesses. According to city statistics, in the weeks following the bike trials start, cyclists increased by 30%. Despite widespread media speculation that the trial would be a failure, the trial turned out to have a relatively smooth start. Three days into the trial, a local merchant reported a 46% drop in sales. The first three unaudited weeks of pedestrian, cycling and vehicle traffic data from the trial show cycling and pedestrian traffic has remained steady and vehicle traffic has continued to drop compared to pre-trial levels. On August 24, 2009 the Vancouver Police Department announced a sharp increase in bicycle theft, with the first 3 weeks of August experiencing a 53 percent increase in thefts over 2008, but VPD spokesperson Constable Jana McGuinness has said there was no link between this rise in theft and the lane reallocation trial. Six weeks into the trial another local merchant reported a 25% drop in sales, and a local restaurant reported a 30% drop in sales. An independent study was made to examine the impact to businesses along Hornby. After many attempts only 32% of the merchants responded and only 4 of them would show them proof. The impact was much less than claimed. Vancouver Separated Bike Lane Business Impact Study Spacing Vancouver Meanwhile the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition started a program called "Discover Downtown by Bike" as part of their Business for Bikes outreach program.
Open microphone controversy
In July 2010, Robertson was caught on an open microphone referring to speakers from the public at a council session as, "Who are all these fucking...who are these hacks, man? Are they...they NPA hacks?" Robertson and Councilors Tim Stevenson and Heather Deal went on to mock and laugh at the speakers who had called for greater transparency in the selection of a 12-person committee that will advise council on rezoning.  Robertson's tirade became a YouTube sensation, which led to him making a public apology. Representatives of the speakers felt that the profanity was not the issue, but the disrespect of citizens who were attempting to voice their concerns.
Gordon Campbell comments controversy
On March 30, 2009 Robertson gave a glowing introduction for Premier Gordon Campbell, the leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party. On April 9, 2009 a member of Robertson's Vision Vancouver caucus, Geoff Meggs, stated that Robertson regretted the language he used as being "unguarded" and that it was intended to build a relationship with the governing provincial party. However Robertson lost support from a former Vision Vancouver executive board member, who resigned from Vision Vancouver on May 7, 2009 and stated he was encouraging other members to do the same, based on his claim that Robertson had not responded to a message the member had sent regarding his concerns about the Campbell remarks. The member was concerned that Robertson had not publicly addressed concerns or explained the issue to Vision Vancouver members. The member accused Robertson of "tremendous disrespect" and "an incredible lack of leadership and a respect for your colleagues." Robertson stated, "I was over-exuberant in introducing the premier to an international audience...There were almost no voters there. I wasn’t thinking politically...But given that we’re so close to an election, some of my comments were misconstrued by people." On May 19, 2009 Robertson sent a congratulatory letter to Campbell with a handwritten note that started with "Congrats" and continued, "looking forward to a very productive run-up to the Games and a strong partnership for Vancouver’s future!"
In July 2009 Robertson led the Vancouver City Council to pass several bylaw changes—including security checkpoints, closed-circuit cameras, prohibition of "disturbance or nuisance interfering with the enjoyment of entertainment on city land by other persons", and prohibition of commercial flyers at celebration sites—which were controversial for some civil liberties advocates who argued that they "make it more difficult to exercise [the] fundamental constitutional rights to free speech, peaceful assembly and free expression." As part of the changes city manager Penny Ballem, an unelected official, was given special powers that were referred to by Coalition of Progressive Electors councilor Ellen Woodsworth as "wide open carte blanche." Robertson defended council's position, explaining the bylaw changes were necessary given what Vancouver is expected to achieve in February 2010. According to Robertson, "It is our ultimate obligation to ensure the safety and security of people who are in our city and this, I think, addresses a lot of the concerns proactively on that level while respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This is a temporary set of changes we're putting it in place for a special event."
Vancouver charter amendment
On January 12, 2009 Robertson requested an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to allow the city to borrow $458 million to fund the completion of the 2010 Olympic Village in False Creek without seeking approval from taxpayers in an election-day plebiscite. Robertson said this was due to extraordinary circumstances. The amendment was passed on January 18, 2009 in an emergency session of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
Vancouver Stanley Cup riot
On June 15, 2011 the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot occurred after a Vancouver Canucks loss in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Robertson attributed the situation to "a small group of troublemakers". Bob Whitelaw, author of a report into the 1994 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot, indicated that authorities had made several mistakes in the planning for the crowd—among them allowing parked cars near the screens and leaving newspaper boxes nearby which could be used as projectiles. It was later claimed by Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu that Bob Whitelaw was not a contributor to the final report, and that all recommendations of the final report had been followed. Robertson admitted to not having read the 1994 report. Suzanne Anton dubbed the riot as "Robertson's Riot", a moniker which was picked up by some media outlets Robertson later accepted some of the responsibility for allowing the riot to occur.
2011 Vancouver civic election
In the final days of the 2011 civic election it was alleged that Gregor Robertson received substantial financial donations from Canadian charities and foundations controlled by American charities and corporations. Robertson went on to win re-election.
Robertson, his wife Amy, and their four children Hanna, Jinagh, Satchel and Terra live in a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) home in the South Cambie neighbourhood of Vancouver with a single tenant and a cat. He is also a tuba player; he and his former MLA colleague Nicholas Simons performed on country-punk musician Slim Milkie's 2010 album Silverado.
|British Columbia general election, 2005: Vancouver-Fairview|
|New Democratic||Gregor Robertson||13,009||46.59%||$138,500|
|Sex||Patrick Gallagher Clark||121||0.43%||$100|
|Central Party||Scott Yee||102||0.37%||$110|
|Work Less||Malcolm Janet Mary van Delst||95||0.34%||$100|
|Total Valid Votes||27,920||100%|
|Total Rejected Ballots||206||0.74%|
- January 7, 2009 (2009-01-07). "Twenty Questions With Mayor Gregor Robertson : Scout Magazine". Scoutmagazine.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- Robertson to lead Vancouver into 2010 Games, CTV News, November 15, 2008.
- "Pursuit of Happiness", BC Business, December 1, 2006.
- "Gregor Robertson, Sustainability's Superman", Today's Vancouver Woman, July 30, 2007.
- "City Profile", City Award,
- Palmer, Vaughn, "NDP faces prospect of losing its 'catch' to civic politics ", Vancouver Sun, January 9, 2008
- Loxam, Erin, "Gregor Robertson is Vision Vancouver's candidate for mayor", News 1130, June 15, 2008
- "It's Robertson vs. Ladner for mayor", Vancouver Sun, June 16, 2008.
- "NDP MLA resigning seat to run for Vancouver mayor", CBC, June 19, 2008
- "Robertson drops fare fight, pays up", Vancouver Sun, November 6, 2008
- "Robertson is Vancouver's Olympics mayor", The Globe and Mail, November 16, 2008.
- "Union of B.C. Municipalities resolution could turn off U.S. cash taps for Vancouver elections", Georgia Straight, September 24, 2009.
- "Opposing viewpoints", Vancouver Sun, November 14, 2008.
- "Mentally ill need advocate: Councillor", Vancouver Province, February 24, 2008.
- "Vision breaks promise on mental health advocate", Vancouver Courier, September 9, 2009.
- "Robertson promises 200 new shelter beds". Toronto.ctv.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Vancouver emergency homeless shelters filled to capacity during winter storms", News 1130, January 6, 2009.
- ["Controversial homeless shelter to shut down Aug. 7"], Vancouver Sun, July 30, 2009.
- "Decision on HEAT shelter closure likely today", Metro Vancouver, July 29, 2009.
- "B.C. housing minister apologizes to Vancouver mayor for calling city’s tactics on homeless ‘amateurish’", Vancouver Sun, June 29, 2009.
- "Howe Street shelter shuts down early", Province of British Columbia News Release, June 29, 2009.
- "Vancouver to launch new shelter project downtown", Globe and Mail, Thursday, August 27, 2009.
- "Federal project will examine possible solution to Vancouver’s homeless problem", News 1130, August 25, 2009.
- "Now, THAT's an agenda!", News 1130, September 18, 2009.
- "City of Vancouver Administrative Report", City of Vancouver archives, September 15, 2009.
- "Controversial homeless shelter reopens". Cbc.ca. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Vancouver to open temporary homeless shelter on Granville"[dead link]
- Jill Drews / Treena Wood (2010-01-05). "City of Vancouver re-opens emergency shelter on Granville Wednesday". News1130.com. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Start now to make Vancouver the world’s greenest city, report urges", Vancouver Sun, April 27, 2009.[dead link]
- "Greenest City 2020". Vancouver.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Vancouver to move aggressively on its green plan: mayor - British Columbia - CBC News". Cbc.ca. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- [dead link]
- "Gregor Robertson: "you can question how worthwhile democracy is..."". CityCaucus.com. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- Canada (September 20, 2010). "Lessons learned from the greening of China". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Mayor Gregor Robertson blamed for park board cut", Georgia Straight, June 11, 2009.
- "Outgoing park board manager proud of accomplishments", Vancouver Courier, September 18, 2009.
- "Mundick stripped of duties", 24 Hours, September 18, 2009.
- "NPA councilor says park board losing independence", CKNW, September 19, 2009.
- "Vancouver hires U.S. expert to make city greener", Vancouver Sun, September 1, 2009.[dead link]
- "Chicago mayor's whiz kid becomes Gregor Robertson's", Globe and Mail, September 2, 2009.
- "Vancouver mayor testifies in Cambie merchant lawsuit", CBC News, March 23, 2009.
- "The long and troubled road to the Canada Line", CTV News, August 17, 2009.
- "Ex-Cambie merchant's court victory linked to defendants' failure to mitigate effects of Canada Line", Georgia Straight, May 28, 2009.
- "Vancouver's Canada Line starts up", National Post, August 17, 2009.
- "Gregor Robertson: Tolls could fix TransLink's money problems", News 1130, September 18, 2009.
- "Sea-to-Sky toll pitched by Vancouver mayor", Vancouver Province, September 17, 2009.
- "Mayor-to-be Gregor Robertson addresses Critical Mass", You Never Bike Alone/YouTube, April 2008.
- "Hysteria reaches Critical Mass In Vancouver ahead of 2010 Olympics", Georgia Straight, July 31, 2009.
- "Robertson used Critical Mass for political gain", City Caucus, July 31, 2009.
- "Mayor seeks meeting with Critical Mass organizers to reduce tension", Vancouver Sun, July 31, 2009.[dead link]
- "Burrard Bridge bike lanes make Hornby Street merchants anxious", Vancouver Sun, July 3, 2009.[dead link]
- "Plant store owner calls Burrard Bridge bike-lane trial 'nail in the coffin'", Georgia Straight, July 16, 2009.
- "Bridge statistics - lane trial traffic volumes". Vancouver.ca. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
- "Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Trial Starts Smoothly", Vancouver Province, July 14, 2009.
- "Shop's business plunging due to Burrard Bridge bike lane, owner says", Vancouver Sun, July 15, 2009.[dead link]
- "Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Trial Starts Smoothly", Vancouver Province, July 14, 2009.
- "Vancouver seeing spike in bike thefts: police", CBC, August 24, 2009.
- "Bike theft in Vancouver rides high cycle", Globe and Mail, August 25, 2009.
- "Bike trial still a bust for business", Vancouver Courier, August 28, 2009.
- "'There is no excuse,' says mayor", Vancouver Province, July 14, 2010.
- "Robertson reveals himself as ignorant, arrogant", Vancouver Province, July 14, 2010.
- "Irritable Vancouver mayor drops F-bomb over live mike", National Post, July 12, 2010.
- "Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson drops F-bomb while disparaging council speakers", Georgia Straight, July 12, 2010.
- "Civility takes a backseat", The Province, July 16, 2010.
- "Vancouver mayor taped in expletive-laden tirade", Toronto Sun, July 12, 2010.
- "Microphone on as Gregor Robertson swears over speakers after meeting", Vancouver Sun, July 12, 2010.
- "Gregor Robertson's open mike, word for word", Vancouver Sun, July 13, 2010.
- "Profanity-laced tirade by Mayor Robertson ruffles feathers", 24 Hours, July 12, 2010.
- "Vancouver mayor apologizes for F-bomb", CBC News, July 12, 2010.
- "Mayor's gaffe prompts apology", Globe and Mail, July 12, 2010.
- "Robertson and the F-word", Victoria Times Colonist, July 14, 2010.
- "Vancouver mayor's gaffe slows city trust-building efforts", Vancouver Sun, July 14, 2010.
- "Mayor Gregor Robertson "regrets" that he praised Premier Gordon Campbell", Georgia Straight, April 9, 2009.
- "Former Vision Vancouver executive quits party", Public Eye, June 1, 2009.
- "What Gregor has to say about Gordon Campbell now", State of Vancouver, April 16, 2009.
- "Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson still palsy-walsy with 'Gord'", Georgia Straight, July 9, 2009.
- "Rights go out the window to create a seamless 2010 circus", Vancouver Sun, July 21, 2009.
- "City manager to lead Vancouver during Olympics", The Tyee, July 23, 2009.
- "Vancouver passes temporary Olympic Bylaws", CBC, July 24, 2009.
- "Vancouver seeks charter change to borrow $458M for Olympic Village", CBC, January 12, 2009.
- "Legislation lets Vancouver borrow for Olympic village", The Daily News, January 19, 2009.
- "City gets its emergency borrowing bid", Vancouver Province, January 18, 2009.
- "Vancouver police arrest nearly 100 in riot". CBC.ca (CBC News). 2011-06-16. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
- Boesvald, Sarah (2011-06-18). "Vancouver Riot: Police made mistakes, says author report on 1994 mayhem". nationalpost.com. Retrieved June 18, 2011.
- "Vancouver police chief fires back at critic". CBC News. June 21, 2011.
- "Mayor Robertson did not read the 1994 Stanley Cup riot report". CKNW News. June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Vancouver mayor ducking riot responsibility: rival". CBC News. June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Mickleburgh, Rod; Hunter, Justine (June 20, 2011). "Riot 'review’ falls short of formal inquiry". Toronto: Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- "Mayor Robertson says police, city hall, province and lawbreakers responsible for riot". Vancouver Courier (Vancouver Courier). June 20, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2011.
- Gregor Robertson wins second term as Vancouver mayor, Globe and Mail, November 20, 2011.
- "Gregor Robertson and family", Westender, November 13, 2008.
- "NDP MLA Nicholas Simons strikes hardcore gold record". The Georgia Straight, September 3, 2009.
- "Vancouver mayor will downplay Bethune link on Chinese trade mission: A distant relative of the revolutionary hero, Gregor Robertson realizes Beijing is all business now, Globe and Mail, September 6, 2010
Gregor Robertson played his hand at spinning records when he DJ'd at the Biltmore Caberet on December 17, 2011.
|Order of precedence|
Dean Fortin, Mayor of Victoria
|Order of precedence in British Columbia
as of 2008[update]
Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chancellor of University of British Columbia