Opinion Column

Feathers fly in Vancouver City Bird vote

By Steve Burgess

The YouTube video for the City Bird vote. 

The YouTube video for the City Bird vote. (SCREENSHOT)

Politics is a predatory business. The claws are sharp — it’s eat or be eaten. On the plus side, some of the candidates in the latest Vancouver election are good looking. And when it comes to the Vancouver City Bird 2016 vote, you will never hear prettier speeches.

Once again, locals are being asked to choose an official civic bird. Last year, the black-capped chickadee punched above its weight to take the title. This year’s candidates are the barn swallow, the barn owl, the Western grebe, and the peregrine falcon.

Much of the campaigning takes place, appropriately, on Twitter.

There are some obvious questions in this year’s vote. First, the barn vote. With both barn swallow and barn owl in the running, will they divide the farm demographic? Will the public accept a barn coalition?

Then there’s the residency issue. Much of the evidence in the ongoing Mike Duffy trial has focused on where the senator actually lived — Ottawa or PEI. Vancouver voters might raise the same question with both barn swallow and barn owl. If your primary residence is a barn, you’re certainly not living in Vancouver — nobody could afford that.

Are these birds really Albertans? Shouldn’t the official Van City Bird be the 600-Square-Foot Condo Owl? Or the Swallow that Lives With Three Other First-Year Fine Arts Swallows in a Rented Laneway House? (The Mom and Dad’s Basement Swallow is not on the ballot this year.)

The Western grebe is certainly an attractive candidate. But expect competitors to launch nasty attacks. There’s already too much corruption and grebe in politics.

Nonetheless, these objections pale when compared to the real threat — the peregrine falcon. Democracy only works when candidates refrain from pouncing on other candidates, shredding them into bloody Kleenex and consuming them. Even Stephen Harper frowns on that sort of thing. But not the peregrine. The Van City Bird Vote candidates’ debate would make Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street. Peregrines debate with their talons.

You can cast your vote here.

Incidentally, I’m sure all the candidates have great ideas for transit. But those plans just won’t fly.

Steve Burgess is a Vancouver-based writer and author of the novel Who Killed Mom? 


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