Oppal gets a kick out of $17.5-million soccer centre
Attorney-General Wally Oppal’s fight for his political life got a $17.5-million bailout Saturday.
Oppal, locked in a do-or-die battle with Independent Vicki Huntington, smiled as Premier Gordon Campbell promised, if elected, to build a state-ofthe-art National Soccer Development Centre in Delta.
Oppal took one for the Liberal team when he gave up his safe VancouverFraserview seat for a run in Delta South, where Huntington has galvanized community opposition to controversial projects such as new overhead transmission lines.
At the entrance to Saturday’s announcement, 15 protesters and 11 striking paramedics were evidence that all is not well in Delta for Campbell’s Liberal machine.
“Wally Oppal doesn’t have a hope-ful in this riding,” rhymed protester Cliff Hoffman, 58, who just lost his job as a shipbuilder. “They promised us no power lines in 2005. Then they turned around and gave them to us.”
Transportation planner Eric Doherty was quite a sight in a dinosaur outfit wearing a sign, “Gateway to Extinction,” a reference to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, another Liberal project that’s raised hackles locally.
“I’m here because the Gateway highway expansion is greatly increasing greenhouse gases,” said Doherty.
“It’s taking us on the road to extinction.”
After Campbell, flanked by nine Whitecaps players and half a dozen Liberal candidates, announced the $17.5-million soccer fields and training centre, Oppal conceded he’s in a tough fight.
“It is close,” said Oppal. “We’ve got a lot of people supporting us. “I’m very hopeful.” Oppal said he doesn’t have any second thoughts about giving up his relatively safe Vancouver seat.
“Not at all — I live here, my kids go to school here, I coach basketball here,” said Oppal, one of the most outspoken of Campbell’s cabinet team. “I don’t have any regrets at all.” Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, a political veteran, said the Delta South race is too close to call.
“My dear, I don’t know,” said Jackson. “It depends on the day and what happens.”
Delta North NDP MLA Guy Gentner said the Liberals were announcing a project that hasn’t been signed or sealed just to score some badly needed political points.
“It’s cheap politics,” he said. “There are loose ends — there is no deal.”
Gentner, a former Delta councillor, said local politicians didn’t know the announcement was coming.
“Many of the councillors are shocked,” he said. “The devil’s in the details.
“I think Gordon Campbell and Wally Oppal should get red-carded and be thrown out of the soccer game.”