The Vancouver Scrum

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Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at ianking.ca!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

 

Reckoning: Vancouver and Environs

Ted White's loss in North Vancouver was the night's big shocker. North Vancouver is widely seen as good, solid, conservative territory: the riding's been Progressive Conservative, then Reform, then Alliance since 1979. Liberals have run high-profile candidates -- Gordon Gibson Jr., Iona Campagnolo, Mobina Jaffer and Warren Kinsella -- at the riding only to lose to PC loony Chuck Cook, then White, the supposed uberpopulist who let his pollster make his decisions rather than show leadership on any issue. White had been inexplicably popular in North Vancouver, taking 50% on the vote in 2000, despite not having much of a record in Parliament. After a decade in the House, White was still on the fifth bench, had no important committee assignments or critic role aside from that on "direct democracy."

Chalk White's loss up to his own actions throughout the campaign and the fact that his opponent had an advantage that previous Liberal candidates lacked. Victorious Liberal Don Bell had run an solid campaign and, as District Mayor, he had a political base in the parts of the riding that were traditionally unfriendly to the Liberals. During the campaign, White had managed to alienate Iranian-Canadians, calling immigrants to the riding "scumbags," and then decried film-industry tax credits as "corporate welfare," alienating one of North Vancouver's largest employers. He also attempted to bully both the North Shore News (a well-lawyered community rag) and the Election Prediction Project with lawsuits in his attempts to ensure that his past statements would not come back to haunt him. Eventually, his quixotic efforts backfired. One sweet result it was.

Even if you're a Cnservative, White's loss is not all bad; if the people of North Vancouver want to go back to blue, at least they might be able to vote for a respectable candidate instead of a kooky Doug Christie associate.

Over in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, Liberal Blair Wilson gave a victory speech too soon; the final few polls reporting heavily favoured Conservative campaign co-chair John Reynolds. The conventional wisdom was that Reynolds was unbeatable in West Vancouver and that he could spend most of the campaign in other ridings helping out his copartisans and doing damage control every time a Randy White or Cheryl Gallant opened their mouth. Liberal Blair Wilson, a classic North Shore "business liberal," was able to spend the whole campaign focussed on his riding, attending every forum and political gathering that Reynolds missed; it nearly paid off. Still, one stunner in the North Shore isn't bad.

Vancouver proper was true-to-form: the Conservatives were shut out badly, and voters broke back towards the Liberals in the end, scothching the NDP's hopes of pulling three of the city's five seats. On the West Side, Liberal Stephen Owen nearly doubled Conservative Stephen Rogers. Owen's win wasn't unexpected, but the margin was: Rogers is from the Rogers Sugar family, spent 16 years as a Social Credit MLA and minister, and is a Red Tory whose moderate social views mirrored his riding's. Owen took nearly every poll in the riding.

Hedy Fry's win in Vancouver Centre can be chalked up to gay voters, fearful of what would happen to their Charter rights under a Conservative government, breaking back towards Fry and away from NDP challenger Kennedy Stewart. They might not like her in Prince George, where crosses never were burning as she spoke in the House, but Hedy's still the queen of Downtown. Libby Davies dominated Vancouver East as expected, but the Dippers were disappointed to lose Vancouver Kingsway; former MP Ian Waddell couldn't overcome strategic voting that handed the riding to former Canfor CEO David Emerson, one of the Liberals' "star candidates."

In Vancouver South, it was former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh in a 20-point walk. Conservative Victor Soo Chan ran an invisible campaign and finished second. Soo Chan was just ahead of far-left-even-for-a-dipper Bev Meslo. South had the lowest turnout of any Vancouver riding -- just 56%

Conservatives were salivating after Svend Robinson announced that he was stepping down as Burnaby-Douglas's man of the House. Candidate George Drazenovic thought that he had a clear shot, what with no popular incumbent and a Liberal rival who was appointed by Paul Martin over the wishes of his riding executive, which promptly resigned. That the combined Conservative/Alliance vote in 2000 exceeded Robinson's total further fuelled the Conservatives' dreams of winning in Burnaby. Drazenovic and his fans forgot, though, that Burnaby is a town that has a long record of NDP voting. City Hall has been under the NDP-aligned Burnaby Citizens party since the 1980s and the provincial riding of Burnaby North had been Labour, then CCF, and then NDP from 1929 until the 2001 electoral rout that reduced the NDP to its East Vancouver heartland. Bill Siksay ran a half-decent campaign, took advantage of the increase in NDP popular support, and reminded Burnaby voters that he was the guy who ran Svend's constituency office that had provided them with such good service. As for Liberal Bill Cunningham, who had delivered the Liberal Party of Canada in BC to Paul Martin's leadership campaign? He lost by less than a thousand votes -- a margin that could have been wiped out had he not alienated local Liberals by acting as if the seat was his by divine right.

New Westminster-Coquitlam is going to a recount after Paul Forseth, the luckiest British Columbian in politics, won by just 45 votes over Dipper apparatchik Steve McClurg. These close shaves should be common for Forseth -- aside from the 2000 election, Forseth has won because of vote-splitting on his left. In his first win in 1993, Forseth took less than 30% of the popular vote! In a related matter, I was initially on the voters' list in New West-Coquitlam thanks to the mailing address I use with Revenue Canada. Had I not done the honest thing and registered in Vancouver East, I'd have been voting in a riding that was decided by less than one vote in a thousand.

Do local candidates matter? You betcha: Chuck Cadman thumped all comers in Surrey North, causing Conservatives who said that the riding went Reform, then Alliance, because of the party to eat their words. Jasbir Cheema, who out-organized Cadman for Conservative nomination, thinking it a safe seat, finished fourth. Ouch! Conservatives went from decisive victories to close ones in two other Surrey ridings. Conservative carpetbagger Russ Hiebert, who knew that he couldn't win in Vancouver, signed up members in local evangelical churches to take the South Surrey nomination from socially moderate incumbent Val Meredith. On the other side of the Fraser in Dewdney-Alouette, Conservative Rady Kamp, who won nomination in the same way that Hiebert won his, beat out the NDP's Mike Bocking. The former Vancouver Sun reporter and current CEP local 2000 president's modest campaign showed that the NDP still has strength in Vancouver's distant 'burbs.

Out in the Valley, it was the same ol' same ol' conservatives all around. Most of the Valley's voters are genetically pre-programmed to vote for the furthest right mainstram politician out there. Randy White, who may have given the Liberals the election with his Neanderthal impersonation, was the biggest winner in BC, getting over 61% of the vote in his riding. His election, along with those of Conservative loudmouths Rob Anders. Myron Thompson, and Cheryl Gallant, has pleased as many Liberals as it has Conservatives.
Comments:
The Dippers did a lot better out in remote areas than I'd have thought they would... Vancouver Island North, Southern Interior and of course Skeena-Bulkley Valley (Cullen won!)
In fact all over the Interior those massive Reform/CA pluralities dropped a hellofalot, which looks very promising for the BC NDP next year.

Which ridings are up for a recount?
 
I'm actually choked that Paul Forseth is still in. He's got to be the worse MP ever... I (of course) blame Dave Haggard for this. Hopefully a recount will change that but who knows :(
 
Right now, the only race that gets an automatic recount is New West-Coquitlam. The rules are that the margin of victory has to be within 0.1% of the total votes cast. Edmonton-Beaumont appeared to be going that way, but after the returning officer discovered a clerical error, the margin increased from 32 to 131 -- too big for an automatic recount, but slim enough that Tim Uppal would have no problem getting a recount.

As for Forseth, well, it took him ten years to get any sort of role on the Hill. What doesn that say about his abilities?
 
interesting observations... in burnaby-douglas, cunningham did enjoy the support of a few key chr├ętien liberals despite all the drama - i dont think there were more than 1000 liberals working against cunningham. the 2nd place finish came as a surprise to most people i knew, many among them advising me to strategically vote ndp. even against fairly unremarkable guys like siksay and cunningham, drazenovich stood out as a deplorably weak candidate.

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