PV Vancouver Bureau
There’s still confusion around the crowded 2018 municipal election in Vancouver, but some clarity is emerging. This will be the first campaign under new provincial restrictions on donations and spending, bringing a welcome end to the days of multi-million dollar budgets fuelled by huge donations from real estate developers and resource corporations. However, the potential impact of a huge number of nominations by civic parties on the centre and left of the spectrum left many observers fearing an easy victory for the main right-wing party, the Non-Partisan Association, which dominated City Hall through most of the last century and remains a major force today.
Facing that prospect, some 75 delegates to the Vancouver & District Labour Council voted on July 17 to endorse a list of candidates from four parties, plus independent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart, who will soon resign as NDP MP for Burnaby South. The mayoralty pick was a break from the last four campaigns, in which the VDLC endorsed the nominee of Vision Vancouver.
The change reflects growing public disenchantment with Vision, which is widely seen as too close to the big developers.
There are also ten council seats, nine school trustee positions, and seven Parks commissioners up for election on October 20. VDLC delegates endorsed a total of nine Vision candidates, five each from the left-oriented One City and COPE, and seven from the Greens. Only One City had all of its candidates endorsed, but the totals were not far from the nomination agreement brokered by the VDLC in June.
Vision candidates who won the VDLC’s backing include: Tanya Paz, Heather Deal, Diego Cardona and Wei Qiao Zhang for Council; Erin Arnold, Aaron Leung and incumbent Allan Wong for School Board; and Shamim Shivji and Cameron Zubko for Parks Board.
The VDLC endorsed One City candidates Christine Boyle and Brandon Yan for Council, and three for School Board: incumbent Carrie Bercic, who has quickly won a reputation as the most dynamic and outspoken trustee on the current VSB, plus Erica Jaaf and Jennifer Ready.
COPE nominees backed by the VDLC include Jean Swanson and Derrick O’Keefe for Council, Barb Parrot for School Board, and Gwen Giesbrecht and John Irwin for Parks Board.
This is the first time the VDLC has endorsed Green Party candidates, including incumbent Adriane Carr and Pete Fry for Council; current VSB chair Janet Fraser and Estrellita Gonzalez for School Board, and Dave Demers, Camil Dumount and incumbent Stuart MackInnon for Parks Board.
The vote was not unanimous, with delegate Zachary Williams (representing teaching assistants at Simon Fraser University) speaking against supporting candidates from the pro-developer Vision Vancouver.
After much political jockeying, Kennedy Stewart has emerged as the candidate with the best chances of keeping the NPA from the mayor’s chair. Stewart is among those recently charged for taking part in protests against Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline expansion, and made a strong commitment to fight for affordable housing and pay equity. An opinion poll released on July 19 gave him 25% of the decided support, in a statistical tie with the NPA’s Ken Sim (26%), and ahead of Vision’s Ian Campbell and independent Shauna Sylvester. Vision’s Gregor Robertson, the longest serving mayor in the city’s history, will step down at the end of this term.
VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski said the council will produce a poll card for its members, hold meetings with affiliates to discuss its recommendations, and use email, social media, phone-banking, and possibly some door-to-door work to mobilize the labour voting base.
People’s Voice will publish its list of recommendations in an upcoming issue.