Jim Green, an American draft dodger who went on to help define a generation of left wing politics in Vancouver, has died. The long-time housing activist and politician was 68. According to a statement by Mayor Gregor Robertson, Green was suffering from a recurrence of lung cancer when he passed.
Green was best known for his work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. But he also very nearly became Vancouver’s mayor in 2005. Green lost the race that year by a few thousand votes to eventual winner Sam Sullivan, whose single term in office was widely panned. Many blamed Green’s loss on spoiler candidate James Green, whose name appeared on the ballot above Jim Green’s and who drew more than 4000 votes, the most by any independent in Vancouver’s history.
From the Vancouver Province:
Green, 68, was a social activist, politician and, in recent years, urban planning consultant.
A fiery public speaker who knew how to win over a crowd, his oratory talents were credited with helping to build $100 million worth of social housing on the Downtown Eastside.
There was a political component to his activism as well. In 2002, he won election as a Vancouver councillor and three years later almost became mayor.
He always defied easy categorization. He was a hard-nosed advocate from the Downtown Eastside who adored the opera. Two men he worked with closely were NDP premier Glen Clark, seen as the embodiment of socialism in his time, and arch-capitalist and developer Rob Macdonald. He loved the business of building, worked as a longshoreman and taught anthropology.
He made many enemies. But, Mr. Green says, he never really cared what people thought of him.
“I’d rather house one person than please 1,000 critics,” he said.
And, on the whole, that has worked well in the end, he thinks. “In all honesty, I believe I’ve made the city a better city,” he says. “And it’s been such a pleasure for me.”