Vancouver voters chose party with a ‘Vision’ for the future

November 17, 2014

Proud to have once again been the pollster and one of strategists for Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver’s third win as Mayor of Vancouver.   It was harder this time, and we needed a great campaign to do it. Below some articles about the campaign, and Vision:


On going into the Non-Partisan Association’s election night party at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver — and as parties go, I’ve had more people in my bathroom — I could not help but note that outside on the street, bordering either side of the hotel, were bike lanes.

Look out, reader, there’s a bad metaphor heading your way, and it would be:

The city’s new landscape was right there at curbside for the NPA and its supporters to read.

This, they either chose not to do, or if they did, they misread it completely. For this, they got to spend their election night staring into their drinks.

At the height of the NPA’s evening, which peaked as soon as the first polls came in, there might have been at most 200 to 300 people there. The crowd was largely white, mannerly and older. The mood was . . . what’s the opposite of electrifying? And that was before the results started to come in.

Down the street at the Wall Centre, Vision Vancouver was holding its election night party, and all one had to do was walk into that big ballroom to be struck by the difference between Vision and the NPA.

The room was packed. The crowd was remarkably diverse and mostly young. (Vision clearly held the lead in pork pie hats and skinny jeans.) Even before the first results came in, you could feel the energy in the room. It was an energy that felt positive, as if these people were for something rather than against it.

In a post-election interview that night, losing NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe made mention of Vision Vancouver’s campaign “machine,” and that Vision had done a better job of getting out its vote.

But that is missing the point, and deflecting what is the NPA’s biggest problem.

Vision does have a formidable campaign machine. But machines are only as good as the energy behind them.

More to the point was LaPointe’s concession speech, in which he characterized Mayor Gregor Robertson’s three-peat as “a signature accomplishment” and that his “commitment to his priorities (was) a real role model for how mayors should operate.”

Exactly. Robertson has been committed to his priorities. He may have alienated many voters over bike lanes and densification and his Green City agenda, but at least he had an agenda. He had a clear idea of what he wanted Vancouver to be, and that was to be not just a city but an expression of an idea. That idea was forward-looking, and meant to meet a future dominated by population growth and climate change. And that is why, I would suggest, that the crowd at the Vision party was so overwhelmingly young. They were the machine, because they had a big stake in the future, whereas the NPA looked mired in the past.

I had thought the race was going to be closer, and had even believed LaPointe had a good chance of squeaking in a win if COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong could steal enough votes from Robertson to make a difference.

She didn’t. For all the press she received for her idea of a surtax on empty homes — an unworkable idea, by the way — Wong was clearly out of her depth. But by getting almost 17,000 votes, all she succeeded in doing was making LaPointe’s loss look respectably close. If she hadn’t run, and those COPE voters had drifted toward what for them would have been the more ideologically palatable Vision, there wouldn’t have been talk of it being a close result between Robertson and Lapointe but of it being an ol-fashioned ass-kicking. As it is, COPE was, and will be, a spent force relegated to the status of political irritant.

The NPA? Much was made that an unknown like LaPointe could do as well as he did.

But was anything made of the fact that the NPA had to resort to an unknown? LaPointe, whose last job in mainstream journalism was as CBC ombudsman, had nothing to lose except an election. Meanwhile, he raised his profile significantly.

The NPA will have to do better. If it is to grow, it will have to attract a younger base. It will have to start looking forward rather than back, and realize that the centre, which it once believed it represented, has shifted.

The city changed. The NPA didn’t. For that, it got kicked to the curb. Guess what it found there.

By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun columnist November 16, 2014

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