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Vancouver park board commissioner loses NDP nomination for Vancouver-False Creek

Tech company owner Matt Toner beats Constance Barnes by six votes

Constance Barnes had mixed emotions two days after losing her bid to run for the provincial NDP in the Vancouver-False Creek riding at a nomination meeting Saturday.

With one breath, the Vision Vancouver park board commissioner described her disappointment at her defeat, while with the next she insisted as part of the NDP she will work to ensure a win in the May 2013 provincial election. Beating Barnes by six votes was Matt Toner, a video game designer who in 2006 launched Zeros 2 Heroes Media at Cambie and Hastings, which employs more than 30 workers.

It was unexpected, Barnes told the Courier Monday. But I have to stay positive. Im proud that I stayed true to myself and Im humbled by the amount of support Ive received through it all.

Barnes is the second high-profile Vancouver civic politician in less than a month to fail to make the jump to provincial politics. Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs was unsuccessful in his bid to win the NDP nomination for Vancouver-Fairview after losing Oct. 21 to union leader and environmentalist George Heyman.

Barnes said supporters of early childhood learning and the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, which is scheduled to close, told her they were also disappointed by her loss.

So now theyre telling me I should run federally so I can take their voice to Ottawa, said Barnes. Ive also been asked to run in other


The second-term park board commissioner is considering both


But I consider myself a team player first and Im going to do what I can to support Matt Toner, said Barnes. My goal is to see the NDP in government, it just looks like the universe has another plan for me.

Barnes said she and Toner ran two very different campaigns. While Barnes took a more grass-roots approach to the campaign, asking supporters for a mere $10 from their cookie jars, the well-connected Toner aggressively campaigned via social media.

Toner agreed the two had different styles of campaigning.

I didnt consciously follow Obamas campaign, but like him we attracted a lot of young people, Toner said.

He said is not intimidated by the fact hell likely be facing either former NPA mayor Sam Sullivan or former Liberal MLA and Christy Clark supporter Lorne Mayencourt as the Liberal candidate for the riding. Earlier this month Sullivan announced hes seeking the Liberal nomination, while Mayencourt has yet to confirm.

Mary McNeil is the current Liberal MLA in the riding, but announced she is not seeking re-election.

Ive already upset a heavily-favoured politician and I look forward to doing it again, said Toner. The Liberals are dragging these old war horses out as returning favourites, but we have a new message and thats what gives us the edge.

So far this year, only one current or former civic politician in Vancouver has won a provincial nomination battle. Former Vision Vancouver city councillor George Chow was acclaimed in late September to run for the NDP in Vancouver-Langara.

Former NPA councillor Suzanne Anton, who ran unsuccessfully with the NPA for mayor in 2011, is seeking the Liberal nomination in Vancouver-Quilchena against former party president Andrew Wilkinson. Current MLA Colin Hansen has announced he will not seek re-election. Wilkinson, a lawyer who was also trained as a medical doctor, is a former president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. Hes a Rhodes scholar and was one of former premier Gordon Campbells closest advisers.

Twitter: @sthomas10