Are conservative think tanks aiming their big guns at Vancouver City Hall?

Are the Fraser Institute and the Manning Centre doing their bit to campaign for a conservative take over of Vancouver City Hall?

The well-funded organizations champion right-wing ideology and conservative causes from their perches in Vancouver and Calgary, and the newest municipal manoeuvre against progressives comes via the Fraser Institute.

Calling out the City of Vancouver this week with a bogus claim of a debt problem to try and derail Mayor Gregor Robertson's re-election bid followed the campaign kick-off of Kirk LaPointe, their conservative candidate of choice. LaPointe is running under the misnamed banner of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) against Vision Vancouver.

The Fraser Institute, of course, declined to point out that Vancouver's debt issue was triggered by NPA governments dating back to legal agreements signed years ago related to Vancouver's 2010 Olympic projects.

Over at the Manning Centre, the organisation tasked with building Canada's conservative movement has been ramping up its municipal organising over the last few years. And the NPA has tapped Dimitri Pantazopoulos, the Project Manager of the centre's Municipal Governance Project, to be their pollster and key strategist for their 2014 muncipal campaign.

Pantazopoulos, a conservative pollster with credentials dating back to the Reform Party, was in the news last fall, when a leaked video of a private meeting of developers surfaced, exposing a plan to train right-wing candidates with pro-developer credentials to take on councillors who weren't conservative enough. (Calgary developer Cal Wenzel was caught on tape boasting about how 11 developers had coughed up $100,000 each to donate $1.1 million to the Manning Centre to train candidates.)

Here's Pantazopoulos at the 2014 Manning Networking Conference in March explaining why conservatives need to up their game to get right wingers elected at the municipal level:

 Photo: glaciertim. Used under a Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0 licence.