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Vancouver's next mayor will need to learn where the washrooms are located

Lack of experience, vote splitting and ‘plumping’ make for unpredictable election
As columnist Allen Garr points out, regardless who gets elected mayor on Saturday, it will be a pers
As columnist Allen Garr points out, regardless who gets elected mayor on Saturday, it will be a person who has never sat at the council table before. Illustration iStock

If the recent polls are at all accurate regarding Saturday’s election results, it comes as no surprise that this was and continues to be a two-way race between former NDP Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart (36 per cent) and the NPA’s Ken Sim (23 per cent).

Independent Shauna Sylvester is in third spot (19 per cent). And while the three of them have picked up a bit, Hector — “the Defector” ™ — Bremner, Wai Young, Fred Harding and David Chen continue their slide into single digit oblivion.

As for council, well, I’ll get to that in a second.

In spite of Sylvester’s determined efforts to undermine Stewart by attacking the actions of his endorsers, the Vancouver and District Labour Council and their paid campaign staff, Stewart persists with a convincing lead.

(Amusingly, Sylvester started her run by seeking that VDLC endorsement.)

But the most bizarre assault on Stewart and the VDLC — has come not from Sylvester herself but from a former NPA candidate whose observations appeared on these pages. Just last week he used Sylvester’s objections as an excuse when he attempted to conflate the activities of the VDLC with the corrupt atrocities of the political leaders in Venezuela and Turkey. I mean, really?

But I digress.

While the mayor may tilt to the left, there is no guarantee he will have a majority of council that will follow him. In fact, there is a possibility that the NPA could dominate. And here’s how.

Even though the latest poll shows folks are most likely to vote for the Green party, they would only get four of the 10 council seats at most.

What the NPA has to convince its supporters to do is to vote for the NPA slate of eight council candidates and only the NPA slate. In other words, they should do what is called “plumping.” The two votes for council they have left over should just get put back in their pockets. If they toss them to, say, Green candidate Adriane Carr out of some sense they would otherwise be wasting their votes, they would just be cutting their own throats by joining like-minded voters across the spectrum who toss a vote her way out of some false sense of economy and ultimately putting her ahead of the NPA candidates.

(By the way, I am not against Carr returning to council or even topping the polls. But it is a question of mathematics.)

Of course that tossed salad of parties on the left who have candidates endorsed by the VDLC will most likely not vote exclusively for that VDLC slate of 10 council candidates. In fact, you can bet on it.

Remember the deal to share the ballot on the left was not, as it has been in the past, an agreement among political parties — it was a deal each party made with the VDLC.

And except for the newly emerged OneCity — Vision, the Greens and COPE all added candidates to the ballot beyond what the VDLC approved.

So their supporters may well “plump” for their own candidates, possibly exclusively, and the hell with the rest, thinking that would be the best way to get their own elected.

But in that act of political selfishness, the individual parties will unlikely have the total votes of the NPA.

This is all speculation of course. But what is not is this:

Regardless who gets elected mayor, it will be a person who has never sat at the council table before. As for council, even if the three incumbents — Carr, Vision’s Heather Deal and the NPA’s Melissa De Genova – manage to get re-elected, it will still be a bit like herding cats. And that would even be the case if the Green’s Michael Wiebe and Vision’s Catherine Evans make the leap from park board.

The majority of council will be left to first figure out where the washrooms are.

And on that point I can help.

Regardless of your gender preference, there’s one out the main door to the council chambers and immediately on the right. If that’s in use, you will be able to find relief if you head out the same door but go through the lobby, past the pictures of the premier and the prime minister then down the hall towards the city clerk’s office and it’s on the left.

Good luck to you all.