12th and Cambie: Bash and blame

Now they're talking.

With the civic election campaign over, candidates who were either allegedly muzzled by their parties or chose not to drop any critical bombs while on the hustings are opening up.

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NPA council candidate Sean Bickerton wrote a thank-you letter on his blog to friends, supporters, donors and volunteers. But there was no deference for his party.

"Together, we have done everything possible to make voters aware of the issues I believed were important in this campaign," Bickerton wrote. "But the voters have spoken, decisively rejecting a mayoral campaign based on puerile, sophomoric, gotcha-style attacks and trivial wedge issues."

Puerile? Sophomoric?

Wow.

I take it he was referring to the negative tone of the NPA's campaign, although NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton has said the party's campaign concentrated on some positive initiatives for Vancouverites, including a downtown streetcar.

Anton appeared on CBC Radio Monday morning and refused to comment on Bickerton's characterization of the NPA's campaign, which saw only two of its council candidates, Elizabeth Ball and George Affleck, elected; Bickerton placed 18th with 43,289 votes.

Bickerton, don't forget, was the same guy who was a key voice in the coalition that formed earlier this year to combat a bid from a Las Vegas-based company to build a mega casino adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium. Bickerton's position was in stark contrast to that of Anton, who said she would have approved 1,200 slot machines in the proposed complex.

Over at COPE, which was all but obliterated except for the re-election of school trustee Allan Wong, council candidate Tim Louis finally opened up on the deal COPE struck with Vision to run a so-called coordinated campaign. Louis finished one spot ahead of Bickerton with 43,926 votes. "The deal was, 'You say one word that is out of line and we won't file your papers at city hall,'' said Louis, whom many point to as one of the people responsible for the COPE split in the 2002-2005 term that led to the creation of Vision Vancouver.

What's considered out of line?

"Anything that would be inappropriately critical of Vision."

Both COPE's executive director Alvin Singh and Mayor Gregor Robertson told me Monday that Louis was not muzzled as part of the agreement.

Louis, however, contends he was threatened to be kept off a union-endorsed slate because of favourable comments he made about one of the city's newly formed fringe parties.

"The Visionites have such a tenacious and indescribable hold on COPE that even if a COPE person says something positive about a party other than Vision, you're excommunicated, or threatened with it," Louis said.

Louis was one of three COPE council candidates. The others were incumbent Coun. Ellen Woodsworth and newcomer R.J. Aquino. Longtime COPE stalwart, Coun. David Cadman, was left off the ballot and watched Saturday's results from home.

Unlike Louis, Cadman supported the deal between COPE and Vision. "Strategically, some people have learned that we cannot win by ourselves," Cadman said. "We need to be part of-and working with-a coalition that really gives us the ability [to get elected]."

Apparently, that didn't work Saturday.

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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