It is still early days in the upcoming Vancouver municipal election, but the whole scene has a certain frantic air about it, particularly when it comes to the question: Who will be the next mayor?
What we are witnessing is unlike anything that has happened in the past or what happens in other jurisdictions when a mayor steps down and political allies around the council table express an interest in the job. When Gregor Robertson announced he wasn’t going to seek another term, all the Vision council colleagues who were left appeared to have been struck dumb. In fact, the majority of them are leaving the business altogether.
Three of the four parties on the left of centre (Vision, COPE and OneCity) have been frantically searching for someone, anyone, who wants to give it a shot. (The Greens are supporting their councillor Adriane Carr. More on her in a moment.)
But they all fear that failure to come up with a candidate who will satisfy their supporters will open the door to the right-of-centre Non Partisan Association and — I can’t believe I’m even thinking this — rookie NPA councillor Hector Bremner.
Last week a poll conducted by Mario Canseco from his new perch at Research Co. found that 26 per cent of those polled, including Vision and NPA voters, selected Adriane Carr as a “good choice” for mayor. Jean Swanson, the antipoverty crusader who came second in the byelection, got 16 per cent. And Shauna Sylvester, who increasingly appears to be Vision 2.0, got eight per cent.
By the way, the poll also found 47 per cent hadn’t heard of Bremner and 54 per cent couldn’t identify park board commissioner, mayoral candidate hopeful and darling the of NPA establishment John Coupar.
But back to the left: Swanson says she won’t be running for mayor although she is considering a run for council.
Sylvester has told at least one reliable source that if Adriane Carr jumps in, she will fold up her tent and go away. We’ll see.
As for Carr, she accepted Vision’s invitation in their search for mayor candidates they could support. That deadline passed on Monday, the very day Carr penned a letter to the Vision executive expressing her interest. (She also sent the same request to OneCity, COPE and Swanson.)
According to Vision vice-chair Michael Haack, of the few people who have expressed interest by the deadline, Carr is the only one with any public electoral experience.
It is, however, not that simple. Carr will run only as a Green candidate, not as an “independent.”
In the tit-for-tat business of Vancouver politics, OneCity says it has problems supporting a Green mayoral candidate if for no other reason than what is going on at the school board, which has a Green chair. A recent motion was introduced by Vision trustee Allan Wong to change the name of the new Crosstown elementary school to honour Won Alexander Cumyow, the first person of Chinese ethnicity born in Canada. It was defeated when the Greens on the board sided with the NPA trustees.
On such details the future of the city hangs.
But there is another problem. As you may know, we a have a minority NDP government in Victoria propped up by a three-person Green caucus. That platform afforded to Andrew Weaver and his crew has definitely boosted the Greens’ public profile. There is chatter undeniably, seasoned with a sprinkling of paranoia, that having a Green mayor in Vancouver would be another blow to the NDP support, particularly in its urban stronghold of the Lower Mainland and may — who knows? — cause them to put pressure on their Vision farm team to put up a candidate to oppose Carr.
Meanwhile negotiations are continuing under the auspices of the Vancouver and District Labour Council to get the left-of-centre to work together. The specific task is to figure out a formula for populating the ballot by restricting the number of candidates each faction will agree to run.
Meanwhile the NPA mayoral nominating slug fest is still six week away and yet another person — Ken Sim — announced this week he is throwing his hat into that particular ring.
Like any number of those seeking to be mayor, when it comes to publicly elected experience, Sim apparently has zilch.