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David Eby: “Really excited and surprised how well we did”

September 21st, 2008 · 26 Comments

Vision council candidate David Eby disappeared quickly last night, after the voting results from the day showed that had, for the moment, lost to Kashmir Dhaliwal by only 17 votes for the eighth and final spot on the slate.

Since then, I’ve had any number of comments from his diehard supporters saying they can’t believe Vision lost out on the chance to have such a passionate and knowledgeable advocate on council. COPE school-board nomination candidate Bill Bargeman also expressed the view that it showed Vision is more of a centrist party, not really a centre-left party.

But Eby is not expressing any bitterness at all today. He said he and his hard-working campaigners thought that he would have a really good show and the campaign was a chance to get the issues he cares about — homelessless, housing, Olympic impacts — on the table. He was thrilled with how well he ended up doing.

“I was really excited and surprised by how well we did,” he said this afternoon. “It shows that we tapped into something that people really cared about.”

Eby said he doesn’t at all see it as a case of Vision being a party that’s not willing to accept someone who’s seen as too left.

“I got 2,223 votes — I wouldn’t interpret it that way at all.”

But the Eby/Dhaliwal vote does highlight a certain dynamic in the party — not quite two solitudes, but certainly a clustering of two very different groups within Vision. It was clear yesterday that the voters were split fairly equally between the ethnic communities and the, um, how do I say this, the non-ethnic liberal types. According to organizers, about 1,200 Indo-Canadians voted, somewhere around 500/600 Chinese, and then 300/400 Filipinos out of the almost 5,000. Then there were the kind of traditional left members and the neo-traditional Gregor/green/young/enviro/Liberal voters. That last group seemed to really like Eby. I can’t tell you how many people I talked to specifically mentioned his name when I asked who they were voting for.

Catherine Wilde, a recent arrival to Vancouver who works in intercultural communications, named Eby as her for-sure pick yesterday as she sat in the hallway with her materials. She joined the party last spring to support Gregor Robertson and she picked Eby as a council candidate because she is concerned about homelessness and she was impressed by his work in the Downtown Eastside. She also liked his mailed-out material: “It was simple, just black and white, and it even had a little bit of humour to it.”

That kind of vote seemed to be matched on the other side by those who came in and voted the straight slate that was being handed out by the ethnic community volunteers and organizers — the card, printed in Punjabi, Chinese and English, that had crosses beside the eight names of those who were voted in last night.

Obviously many other people besides the ethnic communities voted for that slate of eight, but Dhaliwal was almost 1,500 votes behind Raymond Louie at the top — a sign of that old pattern for Indo-Canadians in civic elections, where they just don’t seem to get the same number of votes even when they’re on a winning slate. They and their community work are less known outside their communities and they don’t speak English as well, two distinct disadvantages.

The party still has to do a recount to confirm the Dhaliwal/Eby votes, but I’ve been told that it’s unlikely to change the results. There are only about 20 provisional ballots that weren’t included last night and common sense says those provisional ballots (ballots from people whose membership status needed to be verified) will more likely be coming from ethnic voters who went for the slate.

Categories: 2008 Vancouver Civic Election

  • the neo-traditional Gregor/green/young/enviro/Liberal voters

    Thanks for lumping me into this category, fabula! At 55, that’s a compliment.

    Oh, wait.

    Maybe you meant each slash as a separate category.

    Naaahhhh. I’m goin’ with the 55 is “young” thing . . . . 🙂

  • East End Bob

    It’s amazing that despite the fact that there was an “anyone but Eby” movement (the developer/hack set) and he was elbowed out by people setting up slates (nice shiv by Andrea Reimer, btw), he managed get to within 17 votes on the strength of a genuinely grassroots campaign.

  • Wagamuffin

    Geez, where did he find the time to write?

    Wasn’t there an anti-Olympics demonstration in Port Moody today?

  • Mr. Eby was also very gracious on his blog today as Bob above has noted over at his place.

    As I scribbled last night, I had a clear view of Mr. Eby as the Council result was announced….and you could see him sag….but Frances, I was really impressed by the polyglot of folks he pulled in around him, both before and after the announcement….it looked even less monolithic than you described (and as Bob noted)…

    Now, if it really is clear that there are only 20 provisionals there….wouldn’t it be a great rift healer if Mr. E. thought of conceding before they anounce the results of the recount?

    (is that actually possible according to the Vision bylaws…..and will the recount result really be done in within 72 hours as M. McGee announced last night?)


  • Chris

    Eby’s one classy guy. This only makes me more disappointed he didn’t win.

  • Jesse

    Wagamuffin – I don’t know what your beef is, but it’s getting old and rather silly.

    Eby was truly a motivating candidate – someone fresh with ideas and values that younger voters could relate to. Apologies to the boomers – but there is a new generation that will inherit Vancouver one day and some of us want to make sure it doesn’t all go to hell under the direct supervision of VANOC and the NPA.

  • Wagamuffin

    Well, Jesse. Surely in YOUR Vancouver a diversity of opinion about the capabilities, real or imagined, of the candidates will be allowed?

    Or do you have something against democracy?

    As for Mr. Eby, I have no doubt that he is a nice, sincere person. However, I haven’t really seen
    or heard any real solutions from him. I did have the pleasure of hearing him at the all candidates meeting at the JCC, where, again, I didn’t really hear anything of substance.

    Perhaps you could enlighten me as to the “how-to’s”, as opposed to vague platitudes. Though they were delivered with gusto.

    Now, where did I put my Geritol?

  • lenova

    @Wagamuffin: what are you talking about? Eby presented several concrete plans during his campaign (the main one that pops to mind is his plan to actually *enforce* the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw, in order to make SRO owners actually repair their hotels to habitable conditions).

    That’s fairly concrete in my book. Most of the other candidates only presented vague soundbites in regards to solutions for the DTES.

  • Rick

    I voted for both Eby and Dhaliwal on Saturday so I don’t think everyone fits into the “two lumps” view. I think that the fact that Stevenson and Chow got about 500 votes less then Louie and Deal was instructive about how voters were looking for hard working candidates and less concerned about where they are on the centre/centre-left/sorta left/really left/out there left spectrum

  • TM

    Eby is absolutely the kind of person we need on this council, Wagamuffin – and your “Eby is a protestor” mantra is getting old fast. He was not at the protest in Port Moody yesterday, which isn’t a notable absence – on those occasions where he has attended such events, he has as an observer, not a ranting, tea-tossing miscreant as you seem to want to portray him.

    The ability to see the gray areas is a big part of what makes including the David Ebys very important to government.

  • I cast a vote for Eby. I did not vote for a slate.

    There are a lot of gray areas in the DTES and a lot of slum-class buildings and slumlords which government needs to focus on but due to ideological issues has failed to do so.

    I’m not a young idealistic pup but an upper-forties management consultant who has done well and as a result can give back some time. In my volunteer work I spend a lot of time in the DTES and with people living in marginal habitation or worse in various pockets of the city. The problems are not all at Main and Hastings.

    I’ve been in the SROs and slum apartments; I’d like to have seen Eby nominated and in council (I’d support him as an independent any day) because the next council needs to do what this and previous councils have failed to do – work with the province and feds to come up with not just a strategy to enforce existing bylaws but also have some legislative teeth and political will at senior levels to go beyond ideology and deal strongly with the slumlords in our city.

    We are all paying for this anyway through taxation. There is inhumanity and absurdity of taxpayer dollars helping slumlords hold onto huge property values while residents live in unmaintained, vermin, bug infested, mouldy, insecure, and leaky buildings.

    Lenova’s observation is quite correct. There is legislation but not teeth or will, and part of the problem is the slavish adherence to ideology rather than doing the right thing. Dogmatic thinking rarely is a good thing.

    The rainy season approacheth. Its only a matter of time before my pager goes off again.

  • I find Rick’s comment above pretty darned interesting (voting for both Eby and Dhaliwal)…..

    Interesting that, now that the nomination thing is all said and done, I feel the same way.

    Heckfire, I’m pretty sure I would vote for Eby even if he ran as an independent.

    (and I already know who I’d drop off the Vision’s Big Eight – but that’s just me)


  • ptak604

    Rick is right: the numbers for Stevenson and Chow are pretty interesting. I’m pretty sure that had Vision not had de facto incumbency protection (everyone pretty much had to endorse all four of them), one or both would have been fighting for their political life.

    And, like Rick, I voted Dhaliwal and Eby. Having been a scutineer, I can assure you that he and I had company-I saw hundreds of that combination, and I’m sure I missed many more. This may have only been an effect of the Reimer slate card, but I think there is a large crew of Visionistas who are aware of both DTES problems and the issues that are important within some of our larger ethnic communities.

  • ptak604

    And just to expand a bit on one point, and thereby respond to East End Bob: Eby was not explicitly endorsed on the Reimer card, but he was the highest listing of an 8th choice. That got him a lot of votes.

    Honestly, Dave was a good candidate who will be a great candidate in the future, but his supporters need to stop complaining about slates (even excluding the Reimer thing, he was on one with Catherine Evans that was the result of a lot of secret negitiation). Forming coalitions is part of politics. Just because your candidate wasn’t particularly good at it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t count or isn’t fair.

  • Dawn Steele

    …my 2 cents – yes to both Eby and Dhaliwal – it’s not either/or.

    Not sure how realistic it would be to do, but I’d vote for Eby as an independent… I also think he can continue to do great work outside, keeping City Hall feet to the fire – the Vision councillors would certainly have to listen up!

  • Wagamuffin


    Amen, brother/sister….

  • Rick

    Ooooooooh Frances! I’m commenting here all the time cuz everyone agrees with me! 😉

  • Rick—

    Nawwwwww……I hate your taste in shoes! (the little smiley thing would go here if I didn’t hate ’em so much).

    Just to follow-up one more time, does not ‘ptak604’s’ comment…..

    “And, like Rick, I voted Dhaliwal and Eby. Having been a scutineer, I can assure you that he and I had company-I saw hundreds of that combination, and I’m sure I missed many more.

    ……illustrate that, yes, the ‘Big Tent’ strategy can work?


  • Eugene

    Does David Eby not realize that he was merely the condom used while Vision Vancouver screwed over what is left of COPE? That he provided some temporary “left” credibility just to help make sure COPE was too demoralized by the whole situation to run a mayor.

    If Eby believes what he claims to believe he never should have run for a nomination with a party that is bought and paid for by the big developers.

  • Wagamuffin


    On that note, I look forward to full disclosure of all campaign contributions to all candidates and parties.

  • Jesse

    To Eugene:

    Interesting theory. I have serious doubts that a new party like Vision has the strategic where-with-all to scapegoat candidates in an attempt to create a left-friendly facade. Do I think the old and tired NDP guard in Vision tried to block Eby? It’s possible. He has no affiliation.

    But I think it’s overly reductive to say that Eby was disposable in this race. People from the private and public sector who endorsed him wanted to see him succeed. From the comments section here alone I think we can all conclude Eby meant a lot more to a great many of voters than some insurance policy.

  • Pete E

    “supporters need to stop complaining about slates (even excluding the Reimer thing, he was on one with Catherine Evans that was the result of a lot of secret negitiation).”

    Lie. Catherine Evans was on no slate, and Eby endorsed no one. Are you one of those bloc organizers spread lies ptak? Please tell your henchmen to stop sending hate mail.

  • Pete E

    another point:”Eby was not explicitly endorsed on the Reimer card, but he was the highest listing of an 8th choice…”

    How is that even possible? Reimer split the vote on her slate offering “Eby or Evans.” I have the card right here. She was just trying to protect her own butt, after all the bridge burning she’s been so diligent at…

  • riley parker

    yup, i voted for Dhaliwal and Eby and was disappointed that Eby missed it by the skin of his teeth.

    the best part of Eby not winning the nomination? he’s one of the most effective people working in the DTES, so now he’s free to continue the good work he does.

    “As for Mr. Eby, I have no doubt that he is a nice, sincere person. However, I haven’t really seen or heard any real solutions from him.

    it’s because he’s to busy putting his talk into action.

  • ptak604

    Hi Pete E,

    There is a simple way to settle this: we can ask David Eby or Catherine Evans. I’d say I’m game, but I might be accused of being a henchman sending hate mail. Can you do it?

    I’m not much of an organizer, and I’m not sure which bloc of the many that were out there you refer to. Please specify the location of my particular conspiracy so that I know how I held you candidate down. And feel free to take on the substance of my remark, that coalition building is a part of politics.

    As far as how it was possible for Andrea Reimer to list David Eby as her top 8th choice, you’ve got the card in front of you. Notice Eby up top? I know you do, because your comment alluded to that. You can draw whatever conclusions you want about Reimer’s intentions, but I think I’m being reasonably accurate in my description of the card.

  • jf

    Interesting how many people are criticizing Reimer, for being organized. Isn’t that what we want in a politician ? Organizational abilities to get things done? You can’t have it both ways friends. Either we want smart savvy people or we don’t. And if we don’t then we can just give city hall to the NPA.