Tag Archives: election

Vancouver Election 2018 Primer – Part 1 – The Parties

TL;DR – If you want a list of who to vote for, wait for the next blog post. This is just about the parties. OneCity is my favourite.

vancouver-mayor-and-council-landing

Vancouver is about to enter one of the most interesting and uncertain elections in recent history. The mayor and most of the current councillors are not running for re-election, a bunch of new parties with similar sounding names have formed, and new campaign finance rules are limiting the influence of big moneyed donors like developers.

Here’s my attempt to distill the issues and help make you an informed voter. Note, this is my personal opinion and is completely subjective. I have plenty of biases – I’m a parent, renter, computer nerd, environmentalist, cyclist, and urbanist.

The Basics

Election Day is October 20, but you can vote early starting on October 10.

You will be voting for 1 Mayor, 10 city councilors, 7 parks board commissioners, and 9 school trustees.

If you’ve voted in the past, there are 2 notable changes this year.

  1. The order of names on the ballot will be randomized. The ballot is long, and a lot of voters just tick the first few names in each category. In elections past, most of the winners had last names starting with A, B, C, or D. That will change this year.
  2. You can vote at any polling station in the city, not just the one assigned to you. So if you’re at the park or library on Saturday and there’s a polling station nearby, you can vote there.

If you want more details on how voting works, check out the city’s website.

The Options
vancouver_political_axis
Vancouver’s political axis

The official list of candidates won’t be known for another week and many parties are only starting to release their platforms. We do know there will be at least 10 different party names on the ballot. Some you will recognize and some are brand new.

Most of the parties are only running a handful of candidates for each position, so you’ll probably end up voting for candidates from several parties. I’ll release my list of endorsed candidates in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a look at what the parties stand for.

The Cambie Report‘s listeners did a great job classifying the political parties along three axis: the traditional left/right axis, plus a municipal axis that classified parties as urbanist or conservationist. You might know COPE as a left-wing party and the NPA as a right-wing party but the urbanist/conservationist axis is more interesting and can help to differentiate the parties from each other.

An urbanist party is one that looks to actively change the shape of the city to feature more walkable neighbourhoods, mixed-use developments, bike lanes, and density (see the New Urbanism principles). In Vancouver, they’re often supported by the YIMBY and Abundant Housing groups.

A conservationist party is more concerned about preserving the current character of neighbourhoods and limiting change. They favour heritage preservation, limiting growth, restricting immigration, and lots of consultation with neighbourhood groups. In Vancouver, they’re often supported by the NIMBY and HALT groups.

The Parties

Vision
The party that has dominated city politics in Vancouver since 2008 under the leadership of Mayor Gregor Robertson. They’re responsible for introducing food trucks, backyard chickens, bike lanes, the Arbutus Greenway, and a plastic straw ban to Vancouver.

Vision has seen their popularity drop as they’ve been blamed for the housing crisis, and almost all of their incumbents are not running for re-election, which is never a good sign. They are widely criticized for not doing enough to keep Vancouver affordable and their close connections with developers, but in the past year they’ve introduced an empty home tax, restricted Airbnb rentals, and started construction on 600 units of temporary modular housing. Is it too little too late for Vancouverites fed up with the skyrocketing cost of living? Probably.

Vote for them if… you think the city is on the right (cycle) track.

NPA
The right-wing opposition to Vision over the past 10 years. They’ve traditionally been the voice of business owners in Vancouver, but the party is in turmoil. Of their 4 potential mayoral candidates, one left the party (or was kicked out) to start his own party (Yes Vancouver) and another joined Coalition Vancouver.

In the past two elections, they’ve campaigned on opposing Vision’s bike lane expansion and have a council candidate (Colleen Hardwick) who has actively campaigned against bike lanes in the past. They’ve seemed to soften their tone so far, but I’m skeptical.

Their housing policy is best summarized as “gentle density but only if neighbourhoods want it”, which is pretty much status quo for Vancouver over the past 20 years.

Vote for them if… you’re nostalgic for the days of Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Greens
The Green Party has a lot of momentum and a great brand. They’ve had success in recent provincial and federal elections, and in Vancouver they have elected representatives on all three boards (council, school, and park).

As an environmentalist, I should be a natural Green Party supporter, but I disagree with many of their policies. As you can see on the chart above, the Green Party leans toward the conservationist ideals, closer to the NPA on many issues than Vision Vancouver. They’ve opposed the Broadway subway, densification, and even smart meters – all policies that have received vocal opposition even though they’re important environmentally. They also opposed Amazon expanding the number of developers it employs in Vancouver.

That said, they have a few strong candidates that I may vote for, especially on park board.

Vote for them if… being ‘green’ is more important to you than actual policies.

OneCity

A fairly new party to Vancouver. They formed in 2014 and elected their first representative during the 2017 by-election. They’re a young (with candidates under 40), urbanist, left-wing party and have been getting a lot of buzz from people who have supported Vision in the past.

They’re not running a lot of candidates (only 2 for council and 3 for school board) but in my opinion they’re the strongest candidates with the best ideas.

Their housing policies include policies to crack down on speculation and build more affordable housing across the city.

Vote for them if… you want a hip, urbanist party to have influence in local politics.

COPE

The traditional left wing-party in Vancouver, but they’re a spent political force these days, having been completely shutout in the past 2 elections. Both Vision Vancouver and OneCity were originally formed from members abandoning COPE.

While OneCity is running a new generation of millennial candidates, COPE is running with the old-guard of Vancouver’s left-wing. Both Jean Swanson and Anne Roberts are in their mid-70s. That said, Swanson is a fighter and she probably is the party’s best hope of electing someone. They’ve distinguished themselves from the other parties by strongly advocating for a rent freeze and mansion tax.

Vote for them if… you think class warfare is what Vancouver needs.

Yes Vancouver

Formed only a few weeks ago when the NPA refused to allow one of their councillors, Hector Bremner, to run for mayor. He left the party and formed a new one. They seem to be positioning themselves as the only right-wing party that strongly supports urbanist ideals. They want to dramatically densify the single-family neighbourhoods of Vancouver’s west side.

They have the bottom-right quadrant of the political axis above all to themselves and it will be interesting to see how they do. They’ve got some rich backers and already have billboards up before the campaign has officially started, circumventing the campaign finance rules.

Vote for them if… you want to mass rezone all of Vancouver’s west side.

Coalition Vancouver

Started by the former Conservative MP who once compared Stephen Harper to Jesus, Coalition Vancouver’s driving force is ripping out bike lanes and ending the war on cars.

Vote for them if… you hate bike lanes.

ProVancouver

Yet another new party with a similar sounding name. They hate Airbnb, developers, and foreign buyers. They have some bold ideas to fix Vancouver’s housing market by controlling demand, some which deserve attention, but their candidates and supporters are some of the most toxic trolls on Twitter. They’ve also released one of the worst transportation platforms I’ve ever seen, with a promise to get rid of distance based pricing for transit and no mention of cycling.

Vote for them if… you think a bunch of online trolls should run the city.

Independents
Many pundits are calling this the “year of the independent” (1, 2). There are a bunch of really strong candidates with good chances of winning. Some of the ones I’m keeping my eye on are: Kenedy StewartShauna SylvesterSarah BlythAdrian CrookRob McDowellGraham Cook, Erin Shum, and Wade Grant (note: this is not an exhaustive list).

Vote for them if… you think political parties are toxic.

Fringe Parties
There are a few other parties with little chance of winning, including: IDEA, Restore Vancouver, Vancouver 1st, and the Work Less Party

Vote for them if… you want to throw away your vote.

Images from the City of Vancouver and the Cambie Report (with some tweaks).

In the next two weeks I’ll release my endorsed candidates. I have no idea who to vote for mayor (Shauna Sylvester, Kenedy Stewart, and Ian Campbell all have potential). For council, the OneCity candidates are a lock for me and I’m considering candidates from the Green Party, COPE, Vision, YesVancouver, and a few independents to round out my ballot. I’ve barely started to look at school and park board candidates.

If you have any recommendations on candidates you like, please add a comment.

MEC Election – Vote Steve Jones

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If you’re an MEC member, I highly recommend you go and vote for Steve Jones.

I worked with Steve for 7 years at Pulse Energy. He’s a super smart guy and would be a huge asset to the Mountain Equipment Co-op board. He’s also really passionate about the outdoors. He spends most of his weekends adventuring in the mountains (check out some of his photos here) and the rest of his free time advocating for better parks.

He’s also really passionate about co-ops and has been a huge advocate for more member involvement in MEC. He’s both a champion for MEC when they get things right and an honest critic when they goof up – he’s been very critical of the logo change and excessive compensation packages for board members and the CEO.

The existing MEC Board doesn’t want Steve to win. For years they wouldn’t let him run and found reasons to deny his candidacy. He might be openly critical at times, but Steve is one of the most passionate and hard working people I know, and MEC would be well served to have him on the Board.

Vote Steve Jones for MEC Board of Directors.

Why I’m Voting NDP

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Advance polls open this weekend and I’m ready to cast my ballot for the NDP. There’s a number of reasons why.

  1. I hate strategic voting – it encourages the media to focus on polls instead of platforms and politicians to take boring, centrist positions. I want to be able to vote Green because I agree with their ideas without fear I’m wasting my vote. The NDP is committed to bringing in proportional representation before the next election, which will ensure the Conservatives never again get a majority with 38% of the vote.
  2. Climate change action – next to the Green Party, the NDP has the best environmental platform. With MPs like Tom Mulcair, Megan Leslie, Nathan Cullen, and Linda Duncan, you won’t find a more dedicated core of environmentalists in any other party. I trust them to take action more than the Liberals, who have a horribly vague plan and a history of not delivering. They signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 but did nothing to reduce GHG emissions. I want real action.
  3. Progressive policies – I like the NDPs promises to fund public transit, affordable childcare, a national pharmacare program, and interest-free student loans.
  4. Principled leadership – You can count on the NDP to make the right choice even when it’s not popular. They opposed Bill C-51 when it was still popular, and they’ve rallied against the Conservatives racist policies targeting Muslims, even though it appear to be hurting them in the polls. I appreciate a leader who stands up for what he believes in.
  5. Great local candidate – The NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre is former Parks Board trustee Constance Barnes. She’s an avid cyclist and passionate about urban issues. My current MP is Hedy Fry, who I can’t stand.
  6. I want real change – If Canada ever had a chance to break out of the Liberal-Conservative cycle and try something new, this election is it.

There are a few things I like about the Liberal platform. I agree with increased infrastructure funding, especially for public transit. I agree that marijuana should be legalized. And the Liberals have committed to bringing in electoral reform, although they’re vague on the details and I wouldn’t be surprised if they renege on that promise if they win. I just don’t trust the Liberals to deliver, and it bothers me that Justin Trudeau is leader solely because of who is father was. That’s how George W. Bush became President, and we know how that turned out.

Vancouver Election 2014 – Initial Reaction

I’m sure none of the parties are entirely happy with yesterday’s election results. Vision retains control of City Council, with Mayor Gregor Robertson and 6 councillors re-elected, but suffered big loses on Park Board and School Board. The NPA and Greens both gained seats, but neither had the breakthrough they were looking for at City Council. COPE, and all of the smaller parties, didn’t even come close to electing anyone.

Only 11 of the 27 candidates I voted for won, but I’m reasonably satisfied with the results. Vision still has a majority at City Council and can continue to push improvements to bike infrastructure and the urban realm. I hope that Adriane Carr will find a way to join Vision on the Greenest City plan instead of opposing it and everything else.

I plan on doing a deeper analysis of the election results once the spreadsheets are published to find out what happened (my big questions are listed at the bottom), but here is a quick look at the numbers.

Turnout

  • 25% more people voted this election than last time. That is huge!
  • In 2011 there were 144,823 votes cast. In 2014 there were 181,707 – 36,884 more.
  • Turnout will likely still be less than 50%, but take it with a grain of salt.
  • People who move away or die are rarely removed from the voters list, inflating the number of registered voters and skewing turnout percentages.

Vancouver mayor votes past 4 elections
Mayor

  • Gregor Robertson did well, winning with 83,500 votes (6,500 more than 2011).
  • The narrower victory was a result of COPE not a stronger NPA.
  • COPE’s mayoral candidate, Meena Wong, received nearly 16,800 votes.
  • The NPA gained 15,300 votes, but its vote share only increased by 1%.
  • Nearly 3,000 voters chose “None of the Above” for a mayor, twice as many as in 2011.

Vancouver_2014_city_council_votes
City Council

  • 6 Vision, 3 NPA, and 1 Green
  • Only change is Melissa De Genova replacing Tony Tang.
  • Adriane Carr did amazingly well, attracting 74,077 votes from across the spectrum.
  • Carr’s popularity didn’t extend to other Green council candidates, who weren’t close.
  • Randomized ballots are needed. Top 5 vote getters have ABCD names.
  • 3 elected NPA candidates outpaced their Vision rivals, but didn’t extend to full slate.

Vancouver_2014_park_board_votes
Park Board

  • 4 NPA, 2 Green, 1 Vision
  • Vision got wiped out.
  • Lots of contentious issues: whales in the aquarium, community centre independence, bike lanes in parks.
  • Most disappointed that Brent Granby missed a spot by 1392 votes.

Vancouver_2014_school_board_votes
School Board

  • 4 Vision, 4 NPA, and 1 Green
  • Closest race last night: Ken Clement misses last school board spot by 255 votes.
  • Incumbents Woo and Denike (expelled from NPA for homophobic views) are trounced.
  • After just missing spots in 2011, NPA elects Ballantyne and Robertson.
  • Not sure why newcomer Joy Alexander did so well, other than listed first alphabetically.

Note: All charts show candidates receiving more than 10,000 votes.
Asterisks (*) indicate incumbents.

Some questions I’d like to answer.

  • How important is being one of the first candidates alphabetically?
  • Where are the regional pockets of support (harder to tell with open voting)?
  • Why did Vision do so bad on Parks Board?
  • Which candidates had the same supporters? See 2011 council correlations.
  • Was vote splitting a problem?

My Endorsements for Vancouver’s 2014 Election

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Vancouver’s election is only 10 days away. Advanced polls opened yesterday, so you can vote now. The only thing holding you back is choosing who to vote for. Vancouver’s ballot will likely be the most intimidating ballot you’ve ever seen. You have to pick 1 mayor, 10 city councillors, 7 parks board commissioners, and 9 school trustees from a list of 108 candidates! Don’t worry, I’m here to help.

I’ve read all the platforms, quizzed the candidates on twitter, participated in the reddit AMAs, read their survey responses, and attended a debate. Here’s my take.

Disclaimer: I’m heavily biased toward bike-friendly, environmentalist, hipster candidates who will improve Vancouver’s livability. The issues most important to me are transportation, the environment, the urban realm, and the tech sector. I recognize affordable housing as Vancouver’s biggest challenge, but I don’t think there is much the city can do to address it.

The Parties

  • Vision – The incumbents lead by Mayor Gregor Robertson. Running on their track record over the past 6 years, including separated bike lanes, Greenest City, laneway housing, and food carts. I love what they’ve done for Vancouver. Platform includes pushing the Broadway Subway plan, opposing Kinder Morgan pipeline, and creating affordable housing (all of which they have little control over). Criticized for not consulting enough with neighbourhoods and causing too much change.
  • NPA – Main challenger. Right-wing party lead by Kirk LaPointe. Promising to “consult more” which could mean anything or nothing. Platform was only released yesterday, but it includes more outdoor swimming pools, attracting oil and gas companies, and goodies for people who drive. Doesn’t like separated bike lanes.
  • COPE – Former left-wing powerhouse, now ghost of its former self. I used to volunteer and support them, but the party has been wrecked by infighting and their best candidates have left for Vision, PEP, and OneCity. Platform includes a $15 minimum wage, a bus pass for every Vancouver taxpayer, and a tax on empty homes.
  • Greens – Up-and-comers. Won first council seat last election and poised to win more this time. Riding wave of environmental concern, but with few environmental ideas of their own. Likes to oppose things, like the Broadway subway and new density, which I would argue is an important part of making Vancouver more sustainable. I voted for Adriane Carr last election, but regretted it as she ignored environmental issues.
  • Cedar Party – Bike haters who enjoy suing the city (and losing).
  • Vancouver First – Oddball party of homophobic, former-NPA school trustees, a disgraced community centre chair, and a former-Olympian.
  • Public Education Project (PEP) – The best COPE school trustees now running under a new banner.
  • OneCity – One candidate. RJ Aquino, formerly of COPE. One of my favourite candidates from the last election.

My Endorsed Slates

2014_endorsements

Mayor (1)

  1. Robertson, Gregor (Vision) – Vancouver’s hip, cycling mayor

City Council (10)

  1. Reimer, Andrea (Vision) – leads the Greenest City initiative
  2. Deal, Heather (Vision) – food cart champion
  3. Aquino, RJ (OneCity) – best ideas on affordable housing
  4. Sharma, Niki (Vision) – passionate about social justice
  5. Meggs, Geoff (Vision) – transportation guru
  6. Louie, Raymond (Vision) – finance wiz
  7. Jang, Kerry (Vision) – focused on housing homeless
  8. Tang, Tony (Vision) – seniors advocate
  9. Stevenson, Tim (Vision) – provocateur of Russians
  10. Barrett, Lisa (COPE) – former Bowen Island mayor and bike racer

Parks Board (7)

  1. Granby, Brent (Vision) – Super knowledgeable, favourite twitter follower
  2. Tull, Coree (Vision) – Double Rainbow Dodgeball founder
  3. Loke, Trevor (Vision) – Young and running for re-election
  4. Rumbaua, Sammi Jo (Vision)
  5. Girn, Naveen (Vision)
  6. Evans, Catherine (Vision)
  7. Romaniuk, Anita (COPE) – advocate for riverfront parks and restoration of streams

School Board (9)

  1. Bacchus, Patti (Vision) – current chair and outspoken advocate for public schools
  2. Bouey, Jane (PEP) – former COPE
  3. Clement, Ken (Vision)
  4. Giesbrecht, Gwen (PEP) – former COPE
  5. Lombardi, Mike (Vision)
  6. Payne, Cherie (Vision)
  7. Wong, Allan (Vision) – former COPE
  8. Wynen, Rob (Vision)
  9. Alexander, Joy (Vision)

Alternates – Some other decent candidates:
City Council

  • Fry, Pete (Green) – Strong advocate for Strathcona and cyclist, but anti-development
  • McDowell, Rob (NPA) – only NPA candidate that responded to HUBs bike survey.

Parks Board

School Board

  • Oak, Mischa (Green) – LGBTQ advocate

Mapping the Vancouver 2014 Election Candidates

Vancouver 2014 Election Candidates Map
Is there any regional bias to the Vancouver election candidates? I took the postal codes from the candidates nomination papers and mapped them.

Here are a few interesting tidbits I noticed.

  • NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe lives on the UBC Endowment Lands, so he can’t actually vote for himself (a detail the Straight already noticed).
  • For the main parties, their heaviest concentration of candidates are in the same areas their supporters live, unsurprisingly.
  • Vision and COPE’s candidates are mostly from Kitsilano and East Vancouver.
  • The majority of the NPA’s candidates are from the west-side (12), only 4 are from East Van, and 4 are from the downtown peninsula.
  • Vancouver 1st is running 12 candidates, evenly spread out throughout the city, though none are from the downtown peninsula.
  • The vast majority of the independent candidates live in East Van, including a number from the DTES.
  • For comparison, I also mapped the candidates during the 2011 election.

Mayor and City Councillors

Park Commissioners and School Trustees

Running Politicians

Sun Run
A number of Vancouver candidates running in this year’s BC election also ran the Vancouver Sun Run on the weekend. The fastest candidate was Gabby Kalaw who finished the 10km race in 52:29 (the only one to break 1 hour) and finished 200th in his category (although he was registered as a woman).

Candidate Party Riding Time
Gabby Kalaw Liberal Vancouver – Kensington 52:29
Christy Clark Liberal Vancouver – Point Grey 1:01:39
Matthew Toner NDP Vancouver – False Creek 1:06:00
Scott Harrison Liberal Vancouver – West End 1:08:48
Mable Elmore NDP Vancouver – Kensington 1:25:18
Gurjit Dhillon Liberal Vancouver – Kingsway 1:35:16
Celyna Sia Sherst Liberal Vancouver – Mount Pleasant 2:05:48
Sal Vetro BC First Vancouver – False Creek 2:10:15

Table compiled from the bc2013.com candidate list and the official race results.