Robertson sells out Westin Bayshore and compares his NPA rivals to Eeyore

Pessimistic, gloomy and depressed: NPA. “It’s a mentality that reads Winnie-the-Pooh and see’s the character of Eeyore and says hey, ‘that’s a role model for me,’” Robertson said of the philosophy of his NPA detractors at last nights fundraising gala. “It’s a mentality that sees calamity in a new bike lane, that sees apocalypse in a chicken coop.”

2011 Vancouver Municipal Election: Even with the house lights on and a legion of banquet servers circling the room at 10:00 p.m. patiently waiting to wipe the tables clean, the 1000-plus guests and volunteers at the sold-out Vision Vancouver fundraiser at the Westin Bayshore last night were unmovable. Positive, friendly and well into the complimentary wine and cash bar, the multicultural crowd mingled seamlessly between labour, business, arts, activists, income brackets and neighbourhoods. Even the handful of protesters outside seemed reasonably welcome until removed by Bayshore security. A guest at a table reserved for COPE members proudly sported an Occupy Vancouver pin.

“I know you came here from neighbourhoods across Vancouver, from Kits, from Killarney, from Strathcona, South East False Creek, Marpole, Mt. Pleasant, Kerrisdale, Collingwood, Dunbar, Davie Village, and the Downtown Eastside and that is what has changed in Vancouver. City Hall is working with all the people in this city and uniting our neighbourhoods. It was a much different feel three years ago,” Mayor Robertson said at the start of his address to crowd.

For $250 dollars a plate, guests were treated to a multiple course dinner, gourmet desert, the music of a Juno award-nominated musician and all the Vision candidates they could ask for. From 22-year-old Parks Board candidate, Trevor Loke, and his rookie counter part, Niki Sharma, to veterans like Tim Stevenson and Raymond Louie, all were on hand with their vote patrol in full swing. Gregor Robertson, like most of his Vision team, spent much of the evening surrounded by a scrum of admirers except for when on stage or in the few moments of respite to eat.

“I really hope Vision gets another three years because I think they need to build on what they’ve already created,” said Cindy Reid, Managing Director of The Cultch and niece of famed British Columbian artist Bill Reid.

Reid was one of dozens of artists sponsored by Wall Financial to come to the event. Big league Vancouver developers like the Aquilini Investment Group, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, were also on hand to support the Juice Man – the new pet name for the mayor which has been embraced by the campaign.

The night started by recognizing Vancouver’s aboriginal history and with an official welcome by an indigenous elder. After that, a comedy-host duo took the stage and took some friendly jibes at the common confusion over the spelling of Mayor Robertson’s first name. Then the crowd was treated to a spoof NPA attack ad on Gregor and Vancouver's new food carts, which the NPA has slagged over the past year.

“Before Gregor Robertson, it was easy to buy a hot dog on any Vancouver street,” an ominous voice said over top of images of food carts projected on stage.  “But thanks to his radical taste agenda, Vision Vancouver has littered our streets with food carts that don’t sell hot dogs. Choice is good, as long as it’s a choice between different kinds of hot dogs. So next time you're being forced to eat a salmon taco instead of a delicious pre-packaged hot dog, remember Gregor Robertson is responsible.”

Drawing attention to what they consider to be negative campaigning by the NPA has become a central part of Vision’s electoral strategy.

GETTING THE VOTE OUT

Last night’s event marks a new phase for the Vision Vancouver team as they prepare for what they consider the toughest and most crucial weeks of the race. And while the mood was  light for the most part last night, Robertson and other Vision candidates did not take their front-runner role for granted.

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