Opinion Column

Vision lost school and park boards from split vote

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

“Where there is unity, there is always victory.” - Publilius Syrus, Roman author 1st century B.C.

Vancouver’s centre-left risked political disaster in Saturday’s municipal election and still paid a price for well-intentioned vote splitting.

Mayor Gregor Robertson won a strong victory, leading a Vision Vancouver third-term majority council after a very tough, nasty battle.

But lack of unity resulted in Vision losing Coun. Tony Tang, its majority on the Vancouver School Board and all but one seat on the Vancouver Park Board, where the right-wing Non-Partisan Association takes control.

And for what?

Citizens who threw some votes to the marginalized, hard-left Committee of Progressive Electors, or One City council candidate R.J. Aquino or the Public Education Project’s Jane Bouey and Gwen Giesbrecht didn’t come close to electing any candidate.

But those voters succeeded, most unknowingly, in ensuring NPA gains of one more councillor and school board trustee and two more park board commissioners.

How? In our unfortunate at large system for the whole city, every candidate is competing with all others — even from their own party.

So when centre-left voters split their vote, giving some to non-Vision candidates who had no chance to win, they accidently let the NPA — with its disciplined, united vote — win more seats.

Some were disappointed with Vision Vancouver for reasons like consultation — as Robertson acknowledged with an apology.

But most voted obliviously for losing left candidates without realizing they were giving the NPA more seats.

They ignored the warning from ex-COPE councilor David Cadman, who endorsed Vision: “I think this election is too important to risk splitting the vote among variety of new parties and have the risk of losing city council, because with it we’ll go affordable housing, harm reduction, homelessness strategy, greenest city initiative, public transit, a whole variety of things,” Cadman said.

Sadly, many of the electoral casualties of disunity were people of colour bringing broader representation to Vancouver — Coun. Tony Tang, school board trustees Ken Clement – the only First Nations representative — and Cherie Payne, while promising candidates like Vision’s Niki Sharma for council, Sammie Jo Rumbaua and Naveen Girn for Park Board were defeated.

If Vancouver’s election was a “wake up” call for Vision — it’s also alarming for centre-left voters, who inadvertently defeated good candidates and narrowly averted electoral disaster.



Did you vote one party only or split your vote – or not vote at all?

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