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.