Sunday, June 08, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Today, at the Marriott Pinnacle Hotel on Hastings Street, Councillor Peter Ladner delivered a fatal blow to Mayor Sam Sullivan in the race for Vancouver Mayor.

At this same locale in 2005, then Councillor Sam Sullivan held off challenger Christy Clark who was attempting a political comeback of sorts after retiring from provincial politics. Pundits at that time expected Ms Clark to steamroll over Mr. Sullivan but alas Mr. Sullivan prevailed.

Councillor Ladner today made political history by serving Mayor Sullivan his first political loss since 1993. No media has picked up on the significance of this feat and this historical fact has been completely overlooked in what many are calling an upset win for Councillor Ladner.

In the dying weeks of the campaign for nomination, I reported here on Oldtown News that political momentum was shifting to Councillor Ladner and today that momentum was realized.

Hanging around at the Pinnacle today was an interesting experience. Observing the various members coming to vote was like watching a tale of two cities. From early morning to about 2pm, predominantly non-ethnic voters were lining up to vote Councillor Ladner. From 2pm-4pm a different scenario emerged with mainly ethnic voters arriving to cast ballots for Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Speaking with a number of political reporters including Irwin Loy of 24 Hours and Carlito Pablo of the Georgia Straight, perception was that Councillor Ladner could be in trouble due to this late surge of ethnically diverse voters. Mr. Ladner though appeared to have the gods on his side and was able to hang on for victory.

The NPA nomination though is small potatoes compared to the actual municipal races in November where Mr. Ladner will need to expand his voter base if he is to prevail.

At the selection today of acclaimed Council candidates, all five are Caucasian and of the four successful park board candidates, again all of them are Caucasian. Of the four acclaimed school board candidates, three are Caucasian and only one, Sophia Woo, is from a ethnic background.

The lack of ethnicity diverse candidates could really hurt the NPA and there must be a solid effort put into attracting candidates reflecting the diverse cultural make-up of our City.

Councillor Ladner as the new Leader of the NPA will need to reach out and seek more diversity among his candidates. That is if he hopes to be competitive with the opposition Vision in November. There should be a concerted effort to target Aboriginal, Asian and South Asian candidates.

Mr. Ladner has expressed how he wants to put the non-partisan back into the NPA and so in this respect, diverse candidates may step forward knowing that there is a strong commitment toward flexibility in elected representative being able to properly represent their ethnic constituency.

So while Councillor Ladner won, as his campaign manager, Tina Oliver, dubbed, the Battle of Hastings and he should revel in this significant victory, however, more work needs to be done to ensure the NPA reaches out and attracts greater diversity. This will diminish the still widely-held perception among voters that the NPA is a predominantly west-side party that caters to the establishment classes of the city.

With the election today of new Leader, Councillor Peter Ladner, now is the time to chart a path of modernizing the Non Partisan Association. This will greatly improve their concerning poll numbers and make them competitive for the November 15 election.

Jamie Lee Hamilton