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2017 Vancouver By-Election: Bitterly Low Electorate Turnout

2017 Vancouver civic by-election final Councillor vote

2017 Vancouver civic by-election School Board vote

PART ONE: THE NPA, JEAN SWANSON and CARRIE BERCIC

In this 2017 Vancouver by-election wrap-up, VanRamblings will address the elephant in the room. Why did the Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) not poll as well as VanRamblings had predicted in our Friday post?

Hector Bremner, Vancouver Non-Partisan Association (NPA) candidate wins Vancouver City Council seat

The NPA: Saturday morning at 1:28am, VanRamblings received the following brief note from a senior official in the NPA campaign ...

"Read your VanRamblings column calling for an NPA victory later today. Me? I think either the left split guarantees Hector's win, or we finally see the lack of a machine within the NPA laid bare."

In conversations throughout Saturday's voting day with members of a surprisingly none-too-happy NPA crowd, there were several messages received by VanRamblings, the key points that were being made including the fact that ...

  • Mark Marissen (Christy Clark's ex, a mover and shaker in the B.C. Liberal party, and de facto NPA by-election campaign manager) — despite everything VanRamblings had been told throughout the by-election campaign — ran a disorganized, untargeted, underfunded and generally confusing / losing campaign for Council / School Board. Most NPA folks who weighed in would rather have had Greg Wilson and his Purple Mafia — the political racounteur par excellence who ran Vision Vancouver's successful 2005, 2008 and 2011 campaigns, before he saw the light, pulling a reverse Bob Ransford and joining the NPA — who were the more experienced winning team, with better political instincts and a track record that many NPAers looked upon favourably. So, what happened?

  • A philosophical split within the ranks. Half of the members of the NPA fashion the party as the New Progressive Association, this group made up of younger, non-partisan, nominally right-of-centre folks (think: former Park Board Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung): bright, educated, driven, democrats to their core, folks who want power for the public good that can be done. Many of these folks are populist, Trudeau-style Liberals.

    The other half of the NPA membership: Stephen Harper acolytes, decidedly right-of-centre, traditionalist Conservative / Reform party supporters, who believe less government is better government, folks who think God broke the mold after former provincial Finance Minister Mike de Jong and current B.C. Liberal party interim leader Rich Coleman were born. Never the twain shall meet, it would appear (there's the same push-pull going on in the B.C. Liberal leadership race, with Todd Stone targeted as a 'liberal' ... a nasty thing many B.C. Liberals believe).

    Internal political warfare within the NPA cost them votes, as did their lack of a get-out-the-vote machine on voting day, October 14th — all of which saw Hector Bremner eke out a bare victory for the vacant Council seat, and saw two outstanding candidates in Christopher Richardson and Rob McDowell go down to defeat at School Board, as the last returns were reported to the Chief Electoral Officer at Vancouver City Hall.

    The one bright light on the NPA campaign, and a person everyone in the NPA was enthused about: Mike Wilson, Hector Bremner's longtime friend and political associate and Bremner's 2017 Vancouver by-election campaign manager, about whom freelance journalist Bob Mackin has written, "Bremner is vice-president at veteran BC Liberal backroomer Norman Stowe's Pace Group and has Mark Marissen and Mike Wilson in his backroom. Marissen is the ex-husband of ex-Premier Christy Clark and was on the inner-circle of the party's disastrous 2017 campaign. Wilson is the former business partner of veteran BC Liberal and Vision message maker Don Millar at the FD Element advertising agency, which scored several no-bid contracts from Robertson's office and set-up a pro-Vision blog called Civic Scene." All said, Mike Wilson emerged as an NPA star-on-the-rise during the course of the 2017 by-election, and is a person whose career B.C. politicos will be sure to follow going forward.

A bitterly low voter turnout of 10.99% didn't help matters for the NPA, either. Once a poll-by-poll breakdown is completed by Vancouver City Clerk Janice MacKenzie (who was also the Chief By-Election Officer), results will likely show a depressed voter turnout in the traditional NPA strongholds of Arbutus Ridge, Yaletown, Dunbar, Kerrisdale, Shaughnessy and Point Grey.

Independent 2017 by-election Council candidate Jean Swanson almost emerges as victor

There were several good (and a few not-so-good) results and stories in the 2017 Vancouver City Council and Vancouver School by-election.

Let's start with the two most important outcomes of the by-election ...

Jean Swanson, independent 2017 by-election candidate for Vancouver City Council

Jean Swanson, the socialist, housing activist, revolutionary candidate running for a seat on Vancouver City Council, the only non-neoliberal candidate who put their name forward for the vacant Vancouver City Council seat, the candidate who ran on a platform of free transit, a rent freeze and a mansion tax that would raise $200 million annually to build housing for the most vulnerable among our citizens nearly took the prize on Saturday night, or the whole mcgillicuddy (as VanRamblings' mother used to say), reliant on a message of real, palpable change for the most vulnerable among us (renters, seniors, habitués of the DTES, the working poor, single parents), with the single most energized, organized, vibrantly alive, directed, enthusiastic, broad cross-section of activists election team — constituting everyone from humanist intellectual and community activist Daniel Tseghay, the heart-filled 'gets things done and always remains positive, directed and action-oriented' DTES activist Wendy Pedersen, to the good folks long involved on Vancouver's 'left front', as principled a group of folks as you'd ever want to meet and work with (Tristan Markle, Maria Wallstam and Nathan Crompton, just to name three key activists), former rabble.ca editor and current editor with the non-sectarian, progressive Canadian journal, Richochet, the co-founder of the late, lamented, Vancouver-based Seven Oaks magazine (with his best friend, the entirely tremendous writer, author, comedian, University of British Columbia writing instructor, and incredibly articulate and heart-filled, clear-minded political activist, Charles "Charlie" Demers), father and husband and means-to-make-a-difference Derrick O'Keefe, as well as Riaz Behra — longtime Vancouver political activist and VanRamblings friend and political associate, a co-founder of The Left Front Collective, and another person who means-to-get-things-done, who worked night-and-day on Jean Swanson's campaign, organizing marches, raising funds, assiduously working the line-ups outside the Vancouver International Film Festival venues, and everything and anything that needed to get done to ensure a victory for Jean Swanson, on October 14th, by-election voting day.

Jean Swanson might very well have won on Saturday night were it not for the misguided candidacy of OneCity Vancouver's Judy Graves, subject matter we'll explore in Part Two of VanRamblings' 2017 Vancouver civic by-election wrap-up coverage.

Part Three of our by-election wrap up will offer insight into the incoming Board of Education trustee contingent at the Vancouver School Board.

Carrie Bercic, OneCity Vancouver's first elected Board of Education trusteeVancouver School Board trustee Carrie Bercic with her daughter, Sarah and son, Jordan

On an otherwise disappointing Saturday evening, Vancouver's election day bright light is the woman you see pictured above with her children, the incredibly wonderful, bright, heart-filled, tough and tough-minded, informed, community activist, involved, humane, kind, generous, loved by everyone who has ever had the privilege of meeting or working with her, who just celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary to her just as incredible husband, John, a public education activist extraordinaire, and the first elected public official for Vancouver's nascent OneCity Vancouver civic party, your voice around the Vancouver School Board table — the incredibly lovely (c'mon now, everyone knows it to be the truth) Carrie Bercic.

If you haven't read Ms. Bercic's commentary in The Straight, you oughta do so now. Ms. Bercic and her came-so-close-to-being-elected OneCity Vancouver running mate, Erica Jaaf — who, together, were the dynamic duo among the 19 candidates for Vancouver School Board — ran on an activist platform of neighbourhood school preservation (where the NPA wanted to close 11 Vancouver schools this past term, as per a recommendation from VSB staff, which thankfully didn't pass given last November's Supreme Court of Canada ruling re-instating the 2001 BCTF collective agreement torn up by ex-Premier and former B.C. Liberal [mis]-Education Minister Christy Clark) — because neighbourhood schools are the heart of a vibrant, diverse, inclusive, healthy & well-educated community.

Carrie Bercic: working with provincial Minister for Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Shane Simpson, and his absolutely outstanding 'can do' Parliamentary Secretary for Poverty Reduction, Mable Elmore, to ensure that no child goes to school hungry. Check. Working with provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming to ensure that Vancouver schools requiring seismic upgrading or replacement occurs (much) sooner than later. Check.

Restoration of the all-important VSB band & strings programmes. Check.

Working collaboratively with her fellow Board of Education trustees to ensure that the Vancouver School Board integrates community input and representation in decisions taken by the Board, ensuring that the voices of LGBTQ2S folks, cultural communities, urban Indigenous peoples, those with disabilities, women, people living in poverty, and other marginalized communities are heard loud and clear, while working to end social, political, and economic injustice, and ensuring that when new School Board initiatives are in their nascent planning phase the communities most affected by decisions taken at the Board table will be heard, while ensuring that parents and students and the community-at-large have the power to impact on how those decisions are made, and finally implemented. Check.

Vancouver voters got one thing very right on October 14th: 10.99% of Vancouver's most engaged political citizenry heard Carrie Bercic's clarion message of inclusivity, public education advocacy, reconciliation with our First Nations peoples (and our students enrolled in the Vancouver school system) to ensure the academic and social success of our indigenous students, and her commitment to ensuring the safety and preservation of our neighbourhood schools loud and clear, and on Saturday, October 14th cast their ballot for their advocate at the School Board table.

Congratulations to all those engaged citizens of conscience who cast a ballot for Carrie Bercic, and congratulations to Carrie Bercic herself for a hard-fought, well-deserved victory at the polls this past Saturday night.

Part Two of VanRamblings' 'by-election wrap-up' may be found here.



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 16, 2017 11:19 PM in 2017 By-Election

   

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