UPDATE: He’s on Twitter! And apparently following Bill Gates and Bill Vander Zalm. oh boy.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’ve been asking it around town for a week and a half, and no-one can answer: Who the hell is Francois Nantel?
This municipal election we have no less than four people running for Mayor. Besides the Incumbent, we have Vance McFayden, a long-time resident and community builder, and we have Citizen Advocate James Crosty, and you all know who he is. The mystery to me is Francois Nantel.
Notably, last time Francois was on a ballot in New Westminster was the federal election of 2000, I was living in Illinois (the only Federal Election I have missed since the one a couple of weeks after my 19th birthday when I was living in the crappy apartment on Royal Ave…), but he ran for the federal Green Party! I’m not trying to suggest I am all things “green” in New West, but if I don’t know who this guy is, he has a serious name-recognition problem.
I spent several years serving on the local Green Party EDA (but am not a member of the party any longer… another post, another time), and I have helped the campaigns of Carrie McLaren, Marshall Smith, and Rebecca Helps, but I don’t remember him being at any of those meetings. A couple of friends I have are attached to the Provincial Party, and they have no idea who he is. He isn’t “friends” on Facebook with any of the Green Party Candidates in New West over the last 10 years. So, I guess his ties with the Green Party are pretty severed.
What about community groups? The New Westminster Environmental Partners have been at the forefront of numerous environmental issues in the City over the last few years, from the UBE to solid waste to community gardens, but I don’t remember Francois ever taking part. Neither do the members who started the group before I got active.
There are several citizen committees in New West, but I don’t see his name listed on any of the committees in 2010 or 2011. As a resident of the West End, he is a member of the West End Residents Association, one of the most active in the City, who post their minutes on-line. Mr. Nantel’s name is conspicuously absent .
I asked one of the longer-serving City Councillors on Friday night, and he said “I think he popped up about 10 years ago, angry about Wal Mart, but I don’t know where he has been since…”
I searched the minutes of every Council Meeting in 2011, and I did not find one reference to Mr. Nantel: no delegations, no correspondence. I assume he watched a few of them on TV! If he has any opinions about what he saw, he sure didn’t share them, as searches for “Nantel” of both the News Leader and the Record come up with only a few hits, all of them from the last two weeks, and all little more than mentions that he is running for mayor.
The record article is most concerning. Apparently, this run for Mayor is just a “stepping stone” to bigger, better things in Federal Politics. Yikes. Not a good sign for local leadership.
You know, I have been asking candidates two things this election: don’t go negative, and show me your vision. So I am going to avoid being negative, and accentuate the positive here. I am happy Francois Nantel has shown us what his vision for New Westminster is: a stepping stone in his rear-view mirror as he flies off to Ottawa. Bonne chance, mon frère.