Sylvester could play spoiler in Stewart’s quest to be Vancouver's next mayor

Things look lumpy for both the left- and right-of-centre this election

Note: This story has been updated since first published.

At this point it looks like Shauna Sylvester has the best chance of making sure that former two-term NDP member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart fails in his attempt to become the next mayor of Vancouver.

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Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think Sylvester has a chance of winning. She will simply be the effective spoiler on the left.

The most recent poll out this week — taken after Ian Campbell pulled out as Vision’s candidate — has Sylvester well back in third place at 17 per cent. Stewart has more than double that at 36 per cent of decided voters. The NPA's Ken Sim is at 25 per cent. Yes Vancouver's Hector Bremner, by the way, is pulling up the rear in that group at seven per cent.

And I should point out Stewart, who may be a bit too pink for you, is the most seasoned — which is to say the most competent — politician in the whole bunch.

This horse race could change as the campaign is now officially under way. And now there are certainly loose votes in the centre-left barrel. That’s because possible mayoral candidates have been bailing out at a great rate. I’m thinking there should be a cardiologist on call during the next election cycle.

Vision hopeful, a bright young man named Taleeb Noormohamed, pulled out as a result of a “sudden cardiac event.” The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) had their eye on UBC academic Patrick Condon as the guy they would like to head their ticket. He ended up having a stroke.

Then a few days before the deadline to get on the ballot, Vision’s mayoral candidate Ian Campbell imploded and headed for the door. News broke this week that he had a “stayed assault charge” related to an incident involving his common-law spouse that dates back to 2010.

It was, I’m told, a detail he failed to reveal in what he would later refer to as his “complicated personal journey” when asked during his pre-nomination screening by Vision lawyers. It was only thanks to an intrepid reporter from radio station CKNW digging around in court records that the news broke.

Add to that the decision, not surprising, that Vision councillor Andrea Reimer demurred when she was asked to re-consider leaving politics for a turn at Harvard and instead stand as Vision’s candidate.

And voila, supporters and elected officials of the party that has steered the ship of state for the past decade were on their own and without a paddle.

One had hardly enough time to catch their breath over that news when two long-time Vision councillors (and NDP members), Tim Stevenson and Kerry Jang, announced they were supporting Stewart.

The saving grace in all of this for the left is the fact that across the road, on the right of the spectrum, life is lumpy.

Bremner has been hopping from one foot to another while facing questions about who the deep pockets are — calling themselves “Vancouverites for Affordable Housing” — that have been funding those billboards pushing Bremner’s candidacy all around town.

(Actually if they really wanted to create a bit of havoc, they would be funding billboards supporting Sylvester.)

Meanwhile Bremner and the main guy pulling his strings, Mark Marissen, are at war with the Non-Partisan Association ever since their bitter divorce when the NPA turned down Bremner’s bid to run as their mayoral candidate.

NPA backroom guys suspect Bremner’s camp knows who is running the smear campaign against Sim. The latest allegation is that Sim has split from his wife. NPA president Gregory Baker insists that is just not so.

But then Baker is also convinced that, without a mayoral candidate over at Vision, some of those votes — federal Liberals, I assume — will go to Bremner.

And what about the issues, you may well ask. Well, most of the candidates across the spectrum are in agreement: affordable housing tops the list. No surprise there. In fact at this week’s council meeting, the last before we head to the polls, councillors were discussing that very matter, after the Courier’s press deadline, and the possibility of setting up a Housing Endowment Fund.

Finally, how can anyone with a life at all expect to make their way through the unprecedented dozens of independent candidates for council, school board and park board on a ballot that isn’t even in alphabetical order?

Well, between now and the time you head for the ballot box, what can I say? I’m from the Courier and I’m here to help.


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