Opinion Column

Left/enviro four-way split will only benefit right-wing NPA in Vancouver byelection Saturday

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

Former B.C. Liberal candidate Hector Bremner is running for the NPA in the upcoming Vancouver byelection to fill the council seat vacated by Geoff Meggs. (Nick Procaylo/Postmedia)

Former B.C. Liberal candidate Hector Bremner is running for the NPA in the upcoming Vancouver byelection to fill the council seat vacated by Geoff Meggs. (Nick Procaylo/Postmedia)

“Where there is unity there is always victory.” — Publilius Syrus, Roman writer, first century BC

Vancouver’s four civic left-centre/environmental parties are likely headed for a fall on Saturday, Oct. 14, in a byelection for a city councillor and nine Vancouver School Board trustees – and disunity is why.

The right-wing Non-Partisan Association should benefit because a four-way split, between Vision Vancouver, One City, the Vancouver Green Party and an independent backed by the Coalition Of Progressive Electors, will almost surely allow NPA council candidate Hector Bremner to win.

So Bremner, a former B.C. Liberal Party candidate, ex-staffer to interim B.C. Liberal Leader Rich Coleman and a former oil and gas lobbyist, will likely go to council, while an inspirational young refugee and community worker, Vision’s Diego Cardona; COPE-backed Jean Swanson, an Order of Canada social justice activist; One City’s Judy Graves, a longtime advocate for the homeless; and Greens’ Pete Fry, an environmental community activist, all split the rest of the vote — and lose.

Brilliant strategy! Like it was written by the NPA and its B.C. Liberal allies to ensure their victory.

And a similar split in the VSB byelection could also mean that the NPA — who shamefully supported the ex-B.C. Liberal government’s undemocratic 2016 firing of the board — could take control of Vancouver’s schools.

Sadly, it’s the classic leftist story of preferring to lose power than compromise and put a little water in their wine.

The Greens, One City and COPE are all unhappy with Vision. After nine years in power, Vision — whom I support — has both achievements and challenges. But the NPA opposes all four parties on most major issues.

The only good thing out of the possible debacle is that it just might show left-centre/enviro parties and voters what happens when unity goes out the window — just in time for full Vancouver elections in October 2018.

It’s reminiscent of the 2000 U.S. presidential election that saw the Green Party’s Ralph Nader siphon off just enough votes to let Republican George W. Bush narrowly defeat Democrat Al Gore. To this day, many progressive voters regret throwing their ballots to Nader — and Gore, and the country, to the wolves.

Politics may change but the need for unity remains the same since the days of ancient Rome — as Vancouver will soon see.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman