Malcolm and the MPs

Friends of Malcolm Brodie, this is for you. Anyone, feel free to eavesdrop.

Lately this blog has reminded readers about some promising visions for the Garden City Lands in the ALR. The next one we will add soon has terrific potential, but the Richmond city government will need to work with the senior governments with the help of Richmond MPs and MLAs. For that, we need certain council members to stop fighting old battles against the MPs the citizens elected.

In this post, I’ll focus on a letter from MPs Alice Wong and John Cummins as a prime example of the attitude we need, along with a letter from Mayor Malcolm Brodie as an example of what I’m hoping will change. (You’ll find them in a December 2008 council agenda package, pages 20–23.)

Citing their constituents’ overwhelming views, the MPs wrote on November 17, 2008, “it is our intention to work with the Minister responsible for Canada Lands to return the Garden City lands to the Crown so that plans may be made to secure the lands in perpetuity for our constituents.” I only learned about that letter just before it was presented to council, but I can essentially support it. The appropriate time for the federal government to act like that was considerably later in the process than some people wanted, but the help of the MPs and the federal government would have been needed if council hadn’t brought the process to an end far before that point.

Nine days later, Mayor Brodie wrote to the federal minister responsible for Canada Lands Company, which held the title to the Garden City Lands. His letter said that the Garden City Lands agreement had been “under constant threat by rumours and statements about the federal government’s position with regard to the lands.” His letter than implied that the MPs’ letter was part of the “threat.” On top of that, it  asked whether the federal government was planning “to undo the agreement” and whether the MPs had represented the government’s position. The premise of the questions misrepresented the MPs, so there was no genuine question.

In his reply, the minister just brushed the questions aside. But no doubt the minister and Canada Lands Company got the message. It’s in the nature of an implicit message that one can rarely express it precisely, but the implicit idea was something like this:

The Richmond council doesn’t like the MPs. Don’t work with them on this. We won’t cooperate.  We won’t thank you. If they come to you, tell them to go away. Sha na na na, na na na, hey hey-ey goodbye.

Unfortunately, we have learned from the MPs that the City of Richmond has made no effort to work with them on the Garden City Lands issue for a long time. I also got the sense from the mayor’s questions to me at the March 8, 2010, council meeting that he was looking for political mileage from the MPs’ supposed inaction.  Sad.

There are times coming up when the mayor will again have the chance to collaborate with the senior levels of government. That would include the MPs, the people the community elected at the federal level.

Perhaps surprisingly, I still think that Malcolm Brodie is a capable mayor in many ways. Maybe I’m as naïve as a six-year-old who still wonders how Santa Claus gets down the chimney safely, but I still believe it’s very possible that he will use his considerable talents (the mayor, not Santa), in collaboration with the MPs and others, to bring about a great ALR future for the Garden City Lands.

Friends of Malcolm, any way to encourage him? (Bring back Steven Colbert?)

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