The end of something wonderful and the start of something new

Lailaheadshot2It’s a bit cliché to say that all good things come to an end, but it is true. It is not without a touch of wistfulness that I’m here to share the news that I’ll be leaving The Duel column with Brent Stafford.

After more than two years and countless weekly columns debating nearly every issue under the sun, after some extensive soul-searching I called my publisher a couple of weeks ago to have an important conversation.

It’s not that I haven’t fully loved my column and the opportunity – it’s been incredible – nor was it that I didn’t enjoy my readers – you’re the best part! And I feel it’s important that you know why I chose to leave.

Over the last couple of years writing here on my blog as well, I’ve noticed things have been changing. More people than ever seem to be completely disconnected from the political process at a time when it’s more important than ever, for them to be engaged. 

What’s turning them off?

In my opinion part of it is how left out people feel-like their input doesn’t count – and there seems to be a lot of cynicism out there among the electorate that it really doesn’t matter if they vote or not because every politician is the same. ( not true)

However, what I see over and over again is a complete polarization between left and right that turns  many people right off. 

And representing the left only, in a debate column where the entire premise is the difference between the left and right, made me realize I was a part of that problem. Being pigeon-holed doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for moving beyond that and sometimes it’s about doing what is right, not what is ‘left’ or ‘right’. The truth rarely lies entirely on one side or the other-sometimes it’s right in the middle.

I knew I could no longer do the Duel justice.

Back to the phone call with my publisher. She was surprised, yes, but she understood completely where I was coming from and that I felt strongly I could no longer continue with the Duel if I wanted to move the conversation in politics forward in a way I felt was meaningful. And she asked if I would consider taking over the City Hall column as Kathryn Marshall moves on, leaving big shoes to fill.

It didn’t take me long to say yes because it was yet another incredible opportunity to engage people at the civic level, which might be a starting point to turning things around.

Starting next week, every Thursday I will be bringing you a new column covering the civic affairs of Vancouver or one of the cities across the region, holding municipal councils accountable for their actions. The beauty of the column is it’s not about right or left or centre – it’s about how civic leaders of all stripes do their jobs.  And maybe there will even be some bold news ideas or initiatives that can benefit everyone!

I’d like to wish Brent all the best as he continues in the Duel with a new partner after the May long weekend holiday next Monday – pick up a paper to find out who it is! It’s not easy writing a debate column like this and sometimes our weekly conversations in deciding what to debate would have made great material for a tv segment- we really have argued at times, made up and agreed. We’ve shared a lot of laughs along the way and I’ve learned a lot from him.

I hope you’ll join me in this new venture in 24Hrs Vancouver and I look forward to continuing and developing the relationship we have together. And for all of my regular long time blog readers, I’ll still be blogging here too of course! There is a lot to come….

( … and if you have any story tips for the new column, send it along via the confidential contact page at the top of this page! )

31 thoughts on “The end of something wonderful and the start of something new

    1. Thanks Naida! I look forward to the challenge and hope you continue to enjoy the new columns! It will be a bit weird getting into a new schedule and the weekly calls with Brent… although I think we’ll still be chatting!


  1. From reading your column I can see that you understand how I felt after our brief communications earlier this year and I can also see that you harbour the same hopes and desires that I brought to our conversation…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You did an amazing job Laila. I rarely missed reading the Duel . I totally get the reasons you feel you need to stop. The debate in BC should be right/wrong more than right/left.

    Best of luck

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad you are moving on, I was finding the duel harder and harder to read. I agree, time to move on to more productive conversations. Best wishes with your new beat!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you everyone, for your support. It was not a decision made quickly or without much consideration. But it was the right move. To have a column in a paper read by a couple of hundred thousand people is an incredible opportunity, but I also owe my readers the best I can give.

    I will continue to write on my blog and be active on social media as usual – nothing changes.

    The things I hold valuable and true still remain so and I will continue to raise awareness of the same kinds of things I do now. I haven’t suddenly stopped believing in everything and every column I’ve written holds my opinion- I cant put my name on it if I don’t believe it.

    Secondly, while of course left and right exist at the municipal level, it’s far more under the radar with the public in many if not most cities except Vancouver.

    What many on the left and right fail to do and what I feel is so frustrating to many- is to look at the world from an outsiders position. And by outsider, I mean those people who don’t belong to a party. That makes a huge portion of the population!

    Partisanship will never disappear, but blind partisanship is taking over too many political arena’s and it is my opinion that is very detrimental to the process of engaging the non party members who often decide an election, and the course of a city,province or country without realizing it.

    In a role that is designed to highlight the differences between the two leanings, it’s very hard to move the conversation forward in a meaningful manner and I felt like I was encouraging the polarization. I loved the duel, but I love moving that conversation forward more.

    Sometimes the left is wrong ,and the left isn’t inclined to talk about that. Same holds true for the right.

    But both sides fail to get to those people in the middle and those who are disenchanted with both because they both claim to be right all the time. It’s a competition for the parties, but in the process the people get left out.

    For some reason, I seem to connect with that group of people who are feeling left out and I strongly feel it’s time to step up and away from being pigeon-holed into a label that many people stop listening to once they see it.

    Municipal politics is something that impacts everyone directly in their own city. Municipal councils have to work together regardless of leaning and when they don’t it becomes apparent pretty darn fast, although many people not realize it is because of that.

    I hope people can respect where I am coming from, and find value in my civic affairs column. Municipal affairs is something that really goes under the radar for many cities outside of Vancouver, but of course Vancouver always has a ton of things to examine and get into too!


    1. Aww Rafe, don’t be sorry. I know you want to see change just as much as I do. And you know what I am talking about when I say the blind partisanship that prevents anything from moving forward- it’s become rampant in some arena’s and it makes people sick.

      I want people to get involved in politics or at least to damn well vote and that’s not happening right now.It hasn’t been happening for years and you have been writing for a heck of a lot longer than I have!

      ‘Preaching to the same choir’over and over again,doesn’t engage new people and if you want new people to get engaged, you have to get them to listen.

      Well people have been listening in my column,and they listen here. But because of the label I wear in the column, many people would just automatically discount it as ” leftie rhetoric” And that further confuses and pushes people away who might otherwise have paid attention.

      How does that help anything? It doesn’t. It’s not engaging the people who need to become aware, and become involved.

      It touches me deeply that someone who I have looked to for inspiration in following this road, would feel inspired by anything I have written or done. And whether people agree or disagree with you,you soldier on and keep at it.

      Don’t stop believing Rafe, and don’t be sorry about this move. Trust me on this one,ok? Love back to you and courage.There is much more to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not surprised that you would look for change because through the last years that I have been following you and anything you write, I know that you will always aim for something more exciting and fulfilling not only for you but for your readers. I can only hope that delving more about Vancouver politics won’t take you away from writing and taking on Surrey scenes as well, you know that we can’t loose someone like you here! All the best as always, Laila!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Narima- It’s not just a Vancouver city hall column, but all cities within the metro Vancouver area, and the regional government body of Metro Vancouver Regional District as well. 🙂 And from the number of tips coming in already, it’s clear there isn’t a city in it that doesn’t have some taxpayers upset! 🙂


  6. I don’t see it as a loss at all. The duel was NOT my thing simply because Brent was almost always wrong! Or, better put: you were always mostly right. And, as long as No Strings still shows up, it is simply MORE Laila, not less. Plus I am happy to see you get a ‘bump’ in income (assuming). Just remember what an old hooker friend of mine once told me (after she had gone straight and had a normal job and then got fired)….”Oh, hell, nothing’s changed. I was looking for a job when I found this one.” Jobs come and go.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Something tells me municipal politicians and bureaucrats on the lower mainland had better buckle up their chinstraps. The game is about to start.

    All together now…Go Laila, Go! Go Laila, Go!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for the education and entertainment that your “duel” provided us all Laila.
    Civic politics are grist for my mill, and I am certainly looking forward to your new column.
    Civic politicians beware!
    If I may I’d like to challenge your comment “all politicians is the same. ( not true)”
    Oh indeed they certainly are.
    Unless the Party Whip isn’t fulfilling his/her job.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Onward and upward. The Duel wasn’t my thng either and I never felt I missed much if I didn’t read it. Seemed more like a headline debate rather than practical analysis of issues from either side.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the well wishes everyone. I still look forward to reading Brent and his new Duel partner and clearly it’s a hit with many – personally though I knew what the right path was for me.

    But gee… now the pressure is on!! 😉 Feeling blessed by such supportive readers and ones who clearly feel welcome to share their opinions whether we agree or not. Thank you.


  11. You are wonderful and you had given me hope when the NDP blew the last election. I have not lost faith and Notlry makes me think that Cooperate crooks still don’t rule the world. Keep up the good work.
    Cheers, Fred


  12. […] But I’ve also lost some admittedly youthful naiveté and more than a handful of illusions about democracy and journalism. I’ve changed and grown and so have my views. In a world that’s recreating itself faster than the human mind can sometimes accommodate, the ability to adapt and move forward into new, progressive ways of thinking and dealing with challenges is essential. And that was why I left the Duel even though I had developed an incredible relationship with our rea… […]


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