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Some unsuccessful Vision candidates philosophical; some really not

September 22nd, 2008 · 19 Comments

With 21 candidates out of 37 who didn’t get elected yesterday for Vision Vancouver, there’s a lot of disappointment out there. But different candidates are handling that disappointment differently, as you can see from emails that went out from two of them today to their supporters.

From: Facebook []
Sent: September 21, 2008 3:50 PM
Subject: “Ray Lam for Vancouver City Council” sent you a message
on Facebook…

Ray Lam sent a message to the members of Ray Lam for Vancouver
City Council.

Subject: (Message from Ray Lam) re: Nomination Meeting

Hello Friends,
Thank you for your support during this new and exciting time for
me. It has truly been a worthwhile experience, and I am honored to have
considered by all of you. I, however, was not successful in winning a nomination
fromVision Vancouver.

Today’s nomination meeting saw almost 5,000 residents of Vancouver
coming out to support the party and our candidates. With over 10 times as
many voters turning out than the NPA’s nomination meeting, the message
was clear:
Vancouver needs a progressive government, and the citizens want

I am extraordinarily excited to support the Vision team going
forward to the November 15th Civic Elections. These amazing candidates will fight
hard to be your voice in municipal government…but they can’t do it

I am asking you to throw your support behind them, whether it be
in the form of a one time donation or a few volunteer hours a week, to help
bring a progressive government to Vancouver.

The Vision team will need to undo three years of damage done by
the NPA, and act to repair years of their inaction. We need Vision to make
Vancouver the greenest city in the world, to build a Creative Capital, and
improve the life of every citizen. Under Gregor’s leadership, the progressive
majority can end homelessness.

I will be spending the next few months ensuring that the amazing
candidates coming out of today’s meeting get elected. The NPA have gone far
too long unaccountable.

It is time for change. Make your voices heard and vote Vision.

Thank you for your support,
Ray Lam

From: Facebook []
Sent: September 21, 2008 1:57 PM
Subject: “Nominate Hadani Ditmars for Park Board” sent you a
message on Facebook…

Hadani Ditmars sent a message to the members of Nominate Hadani
Ditmars for Park Board.

Subject: thanks for your support

Thanks for all your support with my campaign and much gratitude
for the 834 votes I won based solely on merit – since I didn’t benefit from
the voters lists that some candidates had access to, or the busloads of
ethnic voting blocks with written instructions on who to vote for, or any third
party funding from major provincial and federal parties (my entire
campaign was run on a bus pass and $500) or any endorsement from incumbents or
mayoral candidates.

Think what I could do with the right support!

Hadani Ditmars

Categories: 2008 Vancouver Civic Election

  • Wagamuffin

    I loved Ray Lum at the all candidates meeting. He was the guttsiest one there (when asked about an issue he had no clue about, he laughed, fessed up, said “I don’t know!”and sat down instead of bs’ing his way through it).

    Hadani, your honesty, like all good deeds, will probably not go unpunished.

    Good luck to you both in the future!

  • Ray Lam was/is a Facebook friendslut. It is maddening how political people sell themselves and their platform by building a faceobok page and then proceed to add as many peple as possible as friends, even though they do not know them.
    If you want to sell yourself set up a Facebook group.

    Can we discuss the politics of media and how social networking sites, amongst other things, are sources for shameless political marketing?

    Furthermore, and on a grander scale, Harper’s Conservative gov’t using sophisticated software to mirror and predict voting patterns/ profiling people and communities to learn how best to attck them?

    Platforms are more about who has the money now than anything else. Maybe that was where David Eby fell short- too grassroots/small campaigner who was countign on the good people who feel strongly about housing/homelessness

  • Lam-Supporter

    I vehemently support Ray and I’m actually very happy that he has thrown his support behind the successful individuals. I was extraordinarily impressed by his credentials…and further impressed by how he handled not winning so graciously.

    I really hope he stays involved. I’ll definitely be telling my friends about him.

    re: facebook friendslut
    Ray added me as a friend too…but he wasn’t aimlessly adding friends. We connected, chatted quite a bit via facebook email, and I’m actually excited to see politicians that are actively trying to connect with voters. It’s hell of a lot better than shaking hands and kissing babies when cameras are around!

  • ptak604

    Dave ran a good campaign, and fell at the last because he made little effort to build bridges into other communities (primarily, but not exclusively, ethnic), largely as a consequence of him not knowing enough about the issues and neighbourhoods of this city beyond his own. He’s obviously a curious and active mind, and I’m reasonably sure he’ll make the effort to get a broader picture of the city in the future. He was worth my vote this time around, and I hope I have the chance to vote for him in 3 years.

    But seriously, calling his Joel Solomon-backed campaign “too grassroots” or “small” is kind of silly. Did anyone on the Gregor membership list not get an Eby card? Imagine what Hadani Ditmars could have done with that list.

  • Wagamuffin


    Props on your last paragraph. He had the support from certian quarters , and STILL not enough people cared to vote for him. One issue, no matter the import, does not a well-rounded candidate make.

    But, Sweet Jeebus, if all the bitchin’ from his snarky supporters could be converted to votes, Eby would be elevated to King of Vancouver.

  • shock and awe

    Hadani Ditmars campaign, albeit run on a small budget, disappointed me. Her literature spoke of how she an acclaimed and award-winning journalist. It did not mention how she could collaborate with a group to change our city for the better.

    On Saturday, she, like some of the other candidates, hovered by the doors.

    I was insulted that candidates would think that a hand thrust into my body to shake, might alter my vote. On the way out, when i mentioned to Hadani that i found the behaviour assaultive, she laughed at me and turned away.

    All the money, connections and lists would not have helped her get my vote.

  • Hadani Ditmars

    Dear lady who yelled at me in the pouring rain on September 20th as I stood with other candidates under the shelter of the entranceway, and who posted here anonymously as “shock and awe”

    Peace and greetings to you, as, speaking of shock and awe, Iraq and Afghanistan remain like open wounds as candidates quibble and backroom deals are made and as usual the left fiddles while the world burns. I haven’t has such an on-line response since the right wing neocons pilloried my book on Iraq in 2006

    How unfortunate that you didn’t actually read my “literature” (although I’d rather you saved that term for my books, not a mere brochure) to learn of my ideas about community narrative involving elders, children and refugees and immigrants, writer in residency programs, the saving of the mount pleasant community centre etc. Granted Vision has no actual park board policy at the moment – it’s one they’re developing -so the few ideas mentioned on my brochure were just that – a few ideas mentioned in a brochure. I’m sorry if you found handshaking offensive in some way (was it just my handshake – or the handshakes of the other half dozen candidates standing with me you found offensive?) I tried not to be offended by you screaming at me/us, which is why I may have shrugged it off with a nervous laugh. Screaming at someone in a publicly confrontational way does not always say “I want to have a dialogue with you.” However since you have my “literature” and if you really are interested in a genuine dialogue, I could find the time to entertain a phone call – as long as you don’t yell at me! Granted Saturday was a bit of a circus and it’s all a bit of a blur, (especially after a marathon campaign and standing in the cold for hours with no food) but frankly I’m not sure how you would have liked me (or the others) to respond to being publicly rebuked.

    I’d be happy to share with you things that I found offensive about the whole process. Actually the hand shaking was something that a fellow candidate suggested as a way to try to really connect with people on a human level – however briefly – rather than flashing a brochure at them, which they would only have a few seconds to glance at anyway. Personally I made some really nice connections with people, some of whom even asked me substantive policy questions or shared their concerns with me. I regret that we were unable to have a dialogue on Saturday but I would still welcome one. I’m sure we can both agree that there is a need to develop a whole new political culture based on truly human values. This whole process has been educational for me and I’m sure the road to developing a new kind of political culture will be a flawed one of trial and error, learning as we go.

    Peace to you

    Hadani Ditmars

  • ptak604

    Dear failed park board candidate,

    It’s terrible that you didn’t make it, as your response to losing has been so thoughtful and measured. Your grace in defeat is an inspiration, even if the defeat was so very unfair. Someone with your tremendous track record in the community (your specific involvement in Vancouver is so vast you only had time to list a single local effort, the “Save the CBC Orchestra” effort, in your campaign brochure) deserved more than mere nomination: you should have skipped directly to elected office. If only people had understood how much you have to offer! Sadly, “intrinsic understanding[s] of the connection between culture and environment” are usually mocked by people as empty rhetoric that takes entirely too long to say nothing. Philistines the lot of them.

    It’s shameful that those ethnic voting blocks came out and voted, and to have the temerity to vote for someone they knew and trusted! Since politicians of the old, non-human kind of politics are obviously untrustworthy, those communities should have known better than to be taken in by their endorsements. Prominent community figures, being blind to real excellence, might use familiarity and history to make a decision on whom to support, and thus not arrive at the correct person: Hadani Ditmars.

    And a hearty “pah!” to those who say that the written instructions to those ethnic voting blocks are, in fact, no different than the written instructions that all of those non-ethnic politicians were handing out to the non-ethnic voters – the difference is obvious to anyone with eyes.

    Your new kind of politics is the way forward. A politics where people earn trust from members of the community by effort is palpably inferior to one that is based on the preciousness of prose and the capacity to digress on international issues that have no bearing on the discussion at hand. A politics where endorsements and campaign allies are based on merit and exertion is offensive to those with higher souls and deeper sensitivities. Anyone with the ability to correctly judge all the left’s efforts as mere fiddling without even needing to involve them self in any of these efforts should not be judged merely by engaged citizens. Seek the Mandate of Heaven; it is only fitting.

  • Another-Lam-Supporter

    I was there during that little exchange between “shock and awe” and Hadani. It was interesting to say the least. Shock and Awe left and was quite upset, Ray Lam who was shaking hands and handing out cards to people next to her looked shocked and confused.

    Shock and Awe was fairly confrontational (rightly so? who knows). Anyway, Ray went after her and they stopped right in front of me, he asked her why she was upset, apologized, and successfully calmed her down. It didn’t seem like he made her any less upset, but I thought that was a much better response than Hadani’s approach of laughing at an angry voter, then going right back to relentlessly shouting slogans “arts in the parks, make Vancouver less dull!” to voters.

    I understand Hadani’s frustration though; a bus pulled in as I was leaving. I thought it was curious, so I stood to watch one of the candidates go in…speak for almost 15 minutes, hand out instructions and a slate – color coded, to ensure there’s no confusion and that their sheep vote exactly as they wish. That’s not democracy. That’s leveraging your ethnicity to usurp the authority and undermine the will of engaged Vision members.

    I have been a member of Vision from the beginning, and I was disgusted to see bus loads of people coming in with no knowledge of the party, it’s history, or it’s candidates being told WHEN THE ARRIVE who they need to vote for…then to be handed cheat sheets so that they don’t forget.

  • fred

    mmmmmmm… comment number 8 was sinfully delicious. sore losers suck, reminds me of that kevin potvin loser…


  • Pete E

    The last three posts above were more entertaining than the last 7 hours spent at the recount. I thank you all.

  • Bitter, table for one…

    What I like about Frances’ post is that is really separates the candidates for Vision into two camps – the candidates that are in it for the long haul, the ones who are involved because they want to make a difference, not because they want to add to their list of personal achievements or because they believe whatever they have achieved to date somehow means the world owes them something.

    Needless to say, these two species of candidate are to be found in any political party.

    I’m certain if these candidates were to have won a nomination, they would be singing the praises of the democratic process and downplaying the impact of worn-out tactics of yesteryear on the result.

    And so, from where I sit, Ray Lam, David Eby and many other unsuccessful candidates this time around are class acts. It takes almost nothing to be gracious in victory – it takes guts and character to be gracious in defeat.

    And as for Mr. Manifesto, who actually thinks Facebook is anything OTHER than a marketing tool, I hope you’re on your second cup of coffee this morning….

  • re: Pete E


    I love Vancouver
    politics- its fiery
    and inspiring.

    that was a haiku, by the way.

    umm, but really. I love how the tensions in Vancouver poilitics mirror those of Federal.

    and in Vancouver, you’d never even know that a US election is going on because we love our local debates and discussions =)

  • Hadani Ditmars

    Dear ptak 604

    Thanks for your post.

    I’m not really interested in a protracted internet slinging match with someone who posts anonymously. But if you’d care to identify yourself and give me a call, I’d welcome a real dialogue about substantive issues. Meeting in person would be even better. God forbid we might even shake hands!

    Whatever you think of me or my qualifications, based on reading a small brochure, I invite you to ponder the many voting irregularities that voters of all stripes and colours have been complaining to me about. I’m sure you would agree there are issues that need to be addressed for future campaigns and nomination votes. In this context I am frankly relieved to be “a failed park board candidate” for Vision Vancouver.

    And I certainly agree with you that there were other kinds of voting blocks besides the more obvious ones.

    I’m heartened by your passion and your prose style – although you do seem rather angry (I do hope writing to me has helped relieve some pent up steam – rather than say, taking it out on the poor fellow next to you on the bus).

    I must say that when I was being pilloried by the right wing neo-cons when my book on Iraq came out, I was happy to note that the most virulent responses were the ones with the worst spelling, grammar and lack of imagination.

    You, dear ptak, sound like you might even be a fellow scribe! Are you? If so, what do you think about the current federal arts cuts?

    My point about the left fiddling while the world burns is that with all the infighting we lose precious energy to fight for the really important

    I’m sorry if you think Iraq and Afghanistan are irrelevant. Of course they’re not exactly park board issues are they? But I have to say, my experience planning a community garden project for women and their children in post invasion Baghdad, where rival militias duked it out daily, was great preparation for the world of Vancouver civic politics!

    So dear ptak604, whoever you are, and whomever you voted for (I know it wasn’t me!) I implore you please don’t tempt me with another deliciously scathing post – at least not until I’ve finished my next writing deadline (you know how we writers love to procrastinate)

    But if you’d care to meet for coffee on the weekend – bienvenue!

    All the best to you ptak604


  • Hadani Ditmars

    Dear Fred

    Just a short note regarding your sore loser comment and then I really have to get back to my rent paying writing.

    I hope we can find away to raise some important issues about democratic process, voting regulations etc. without being silenced by the”sour grapes” label.

    As we know history is written by the winning side but the most interesting stories usually lie within that narrative.

    And just for the record, I ran for Park Board after receiving a phone call from Raymond Louie while I was in London this summer, writing about Vancouver and Vancouverism for the Guardian and the Globe, encouraging me to run.

    During the last election, I was asked to stand with Duncan Low as Vision’s Park Board candidates, but in the end they decided not to run any PB candidates.

    (ok -so this isn’t a short note after all)

    Needless to say, since, unbeknownst to me, the backroom boys had already cooked up a slate well in advance of my phone call from Raymond, I never heard from him again.

    I like many other candidates, was just part of a political strategy to boost Vision’s power in their negotiations with COPE, among other things.

    Still I decided to press on as much for the educational experience as anything – and boy has it been educational!

    Also, as someone who wrote an op-ed column in the Province about urban, greenspace, social and cultural issues, who was a regular social and political commentator on Omni’s the Standard – a local show, who has written and broadcast about DES issues, urban planning, architecture, public transit and other local issues for the Globe and Mail, CBC and BBC radio and as a 5th generation Vancouverite who cares about her hometown, I went into the process with sincerity and good faith and the hope that I would be able to contribute to the process or at least to the discourse about civic issues.

    There are many examples of writers and journalists who have gone into politics – although arguably there’s more of a tradition of that in Europe and South America.

    But I am reminded of the Canadian poet Mary di Michele who wrote “Listen, whatever I say here is safe, it’s between us….in Canada, writers are not tortured or imprisoned…they’re ignored.”

    Somehow, the whole process also reminds me of another great Canadian poet Pier Giorgio di Cicco who wrote in a poem called Latin Ontario

    I have been a Protestant too long/I have had to confess instead of sing/and when you confess to other Protestants/you get suggestions for editing

    Here’s hoping we can elevate the discourse and get past the name calling, while still thinking critically and raising substantive issues about our town.

    Perhaps this is not the forum – Frances has already been more than generous with her blog space – but I hope we can find one.


  • ptak604

    Dear Hadani Ditmars,

    Thank you for your posts detailing how we have to get past the name calling. I enjoyed them, especially the part where you pictured me violently beating a fellow transit passenger. Sadly, you also implied I was some sort of professional writer. This when I’m so very attached to my amateur status.

    Your apologies on Iraq and Afghanistan are unnecessary. These are clearly places of importance, just not in the context of a park board nomination race. Your community garden experience in Iraq, on the other hand, may very well have been. It’s a shame you only saw fit to mention it after being goaded by an irritating and anonymous blog comment.

    I do feel for you on one point: complaining about being stabbed in the back by Raymond Louie seems far too common an occurrence in Vancouver politics. But with that point made, you had to undercut yourselfon the issue of bargaining power with COPE. I’m sure your estimable presence on the ticket shook the pillars of Heaven, but I’m reasonably sure that Vision’s 16, 000 members and wildly popular mayoral candidate might be more direct sources of power in that negotiation.

    I would be dishonest if I did not agree with your point about voting irregularities. There were far too many on that day, and I have drafted up a letter to the Vision executive about that I plan to send once I’ve inserted more scathe and barely-contained violence. I hope that exercise gets me through my next commute without murdering anybody. Pray for me, Hadani.

    By the way, did you mention you wrote a book on Iraq? One would never know.

  • Hadani Ditmars

    Dear ptak

    I do like your writing style – amateur or not! just wish I knew your real name.

    the community garden project in Baghdad and my best-selling book Dancing in the No Fly Zone

    which contains some chapters about it, are both mentioned in my brochure and on my primitively designed but free myspace site

    My comment on bargaining power with COPE, boosting numbers etc wasn’t very well expressed due to my (still) looming deadline (am working on another CBC Dispatches doc – this one on Iraqi artists in exile) – and would welcome your thoughts on why so many people were recruited despite the slate having been signed, sealed and delivered months earlier (see Kerry Jang’s comments in today’s Courier)

    And if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about the state of public transit in this town, you’d know my thoughts on how murderous instincts must be suppressed on a daily basis at rush hour on the 99bline!

    Since it is nearing the end of Ramadan, my thoughts have been with my friends in Iraq, whose facebook messages about life over there have been interspersed with ones about comparatively petty civic politicking – often offering a rather absurd from Baghdad to Kitsilano style contrast .

    You might be interested to know, that post invasion the US militarized parks and green space in Baghdad – leaving locals with little safe public space – partly the inspiration for my project there.

    Meanwhile am heartened to know you are drafting a letter to the executive about voting irregularities.

    I’ll say a prayer for you if you say one for me. whatever your name is.


  • Hello all,

    I am very grateful for all the support but we are getting a bit off track. In any race, nomination or election, there will always be successful and unsuccessful candidates. The unsuccessful ones, like me in this case, all go through the same stages of mourning:
    ~Denial “wtf!? Did I hear it right? Mike, give me the print out of numbers!”,
    ~Anger “This is bullshit! Everything in my closet is in shades of blue and green!”,
    ~Bargaining “maybe if I iron it out…the Banana Republic will accept the refund.”,
    ~Depression “they won’t accept the refund…what kind of a gay man has 6 of the same shirt in different shades of blue and green?!”, and
    ~Acceptance “okay…fine…I’ll just buy new clothes and start working for the successful candidates.”

    The key thing to take away in all this is: we need to accept the loss and get back to work. There was a flock of 37 of Vancouver’s most progressive and passionate community organizers running to Vision – we all knew that 21 were going to be unsuccessful. Despite all our differences in policy, ideology, and background…we have to remember the following: we all came to Vision because we wanted change.

    The changes we want are still within reach. However, the first step is to get the Vision team elected. There are committees within Council, Park Board, and the Board of Education. What we need to focus on now is getting progressive candidates elected that will listen to us and work with us. During my campaign, I made promises: better youth services, sustainable living, and sustainable transportation. I have no intention of falling back on those promises; I’ll just have to do it without the title or salary.

    Among the successful candidates, we have a living example of progressive leaders reflecting an array of Vancouverites (ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, political affiliations, and experiences). Embrace that. Then embrace me, because I could still use a hug.

  • jf

    Thank you and well said Ray. You could always gift a couple of the shirts to curious friends…