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How did Tim Louis come so close to winning?

September 28th, 2008 · 11 Comments

That was the question in a lot of people’s minds when he came within six votes of being the second COPE candidate along with David Cadman. Louis’s camp had not seemed that strong two weeks ago, when there was a vote on whether to accept the deal with Vision to give that breakaway party over 80 per cent of the seats on a council slate.

But Louis had clearly put a lot of work into organizing voters. Noticeable among them was a group of Indo-Canadian men at the back of the room, which provoked some muttering among the anybody-but-Tim crowd in the room about their sudden group appearance. (I’m looking forward to the day when I cover a political story in Vancouver when people from the ethnic communities complain to me about how all these white people keep showing up at the meetings in their fleets of Volvos.)

The men, who told me they worked in trucking, not the taxi industry as the whisperers assumed, said they came out to support Tim because he had always been a good councillor for them, someone who was always ready to take their calls and respond to their questions.

“He listened to our voice,” said Gary Grewal.

With the support of people like that, along with others like Lenore Clemens, who also thought he was just a good, hard-working councillor when in office, Louis got 157 votes, compared to David Cadman’s 161 in the first round. That produced a fair amount of consternation in the room, friends. Most people were reluctant to talk publicly about how much of a disaster they thought it would be, except for reliable Phil Rankin, who always calls it as he sees it.

“It would be unworkable,” said Rankin, as people were waiting for the results of the second ballot. Rankin is one of many who has a lot of doubts about Vision Vancouver and what it really is. (“I don’t think it has the ability to be a civic party of the left. It’s a centrist party. It’s not NDP.”) But, as he said, “we’re in survival mode right now.” And having Louis running as part of a coalition that he was publicly railing against until recently would be a hopeless proposition. And he doubted that Louis could moderate his position. “He’s inflexible.”

While some people were freaking out at the thought of a Louis win, others in the crowd were more phlegmatic. As a couple pointed out to me, Louis had topped out at 157 votes. The first candidate to drop off was Terry Martin and presumably everyone supporting him had already voted for Louis, so he wasn’t going to get any more there. And people who were supporting Cadman, Ellen Woodsworth or Meena Wong were unlikely to switch from an “accommodation” candidate to someone who has always made it plain that he thinks Vision is a sell-out, traitor party.

So the second-ballot results were a relief to the worriers, since it clearly showed that the votes were shifting away from Meena Wong towards David and Ellen. The second round, with 302 ballots cast, produced 211 for David, 141 for Tim, 136 for Ellen and 98 for Meena.

But voters were leaving the room all the time, with the question still open as to whose supporters were hanging around. Just before 6, the answer came — a very few more of Ellen’s than Tim’s. She got 137 votes, he got 131. There was an immediate majority-approved motion to destroy the ballots, quickly taken while a few Tim supporters were yelling “Recount.”

The results came as a huge relief to the pragmatists who see this election as one where COPE is just going to tread water and hang on for the next three years, waiting to see whether Vision succeeds or implodes. If it implodes, well, the Copesters will be there to pick up the pieces as they did after TEAM fell apart. That’s the way they see it.

By the way, for those who care, Loretta Woodcock and Anita Romaniuk are the park-board candidates. There was no vote because John Irwin dropped off, something about having twins in the spring. Gee, why would that stop anyone from running for office?

At school board, the five candidates will be current school trustees Al Blakey and Allan Wong, former teacher Bill Bargeman, parent advocate Jane Bouey and student Alvin Singh.

Okay, everyone, now we can all take our weekends off with all three parties having held their nomination meetings. I’m sure it will rain from now until November every weekend.

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