Thank you for coming to this party with heart, gusto and love for Vancouver. You brought wisdom, commitment, and worked incredibly hard around the clock for the success of this campaign. It meant everything to me, but it means more to our City.
The election result is anything but a defeat—in fact it only encouraged me, and here’s why:
First of all, it was incredibly good fun. The energy just built and built. This campaign touched and excited people—we saw this on the ground every day.
Second, a spectacular team came together. We had speed bumps and mulligans, but in the end everything clicked into place. This group is fired up and ready to knock ‘em dead next time. They can’t wait!
Finally, the groundwork is solidly laid for something exciting and successful next time out.
This campaign was able to achieve massive media attention and garner major credibility. We got (among other coverage) two major spreads in consecutive Sunday Province editions, including the front page, the front page of the BC Section of the Globe, the CBC news (television AND radio), the Sun, the Georgia Straight, Simi Sara and Bill Good on CKNW, and one hour on Fairchild radio.
I was endorsed by the Straight, Michael Geller, Frances Bula (not an outright endorsement but near the top of her recommended list), Moira Stilwell, Am Johal, and many others.
The media showed a keen interest and are indicating now that they consider this campaign an opening salvo by someone they expect to hear much more from.
Here’s how the landscape on winning a seat on council looks. About 135,000 people cast votes in this election. The final council seat went to a candidate who drew votes from 36% of the voters, or about 48,000 people. More than one in three.
That’s a huge number.
Vision spent an estimated $2 million and held all their seats. The NPA is rumoured to have spent about $2.5 million on this campaign and gained only one new seat. Adriane Carr and the Greens had a miniscule budget and got a seat as well. COPE lost both its seats on Council, seemingly by accident.
Our campaign garnered almost 21,000 votes—almost 15% of those cast. That’s more people than can fit in Rogers Arena. It’s not enough for a seat, but those 21,000 will be the hardest votes we ever have to win.
This entire campaign was built around name recognition—my biggest challenge.
Frances Bula touched on this best when she said that name recognition is very poorly understood by the average person. For instance, despite all the coverage I received in the media, at meetings almost no one recognized me until I said I was the person who helped start and lead VancouverNotVegas and led the fight against the casino. And most were skeptical until they heard me talk at length about the issues.
It was only in the last week that we started to see signs on the ground that we were getting breakthrough in public awareness, and those signs were very strong. But it was late.
Occupy Vancouver occupied the election campaign and everyone came down with temporary insanity for a good 10 days. This threw just about everyone off their game and certainly affected our sequencing. But to be honest, we were in a flat out sprint regardless. Anyone interested can read my position statement on Occupy Vancouver here.
We didn’t win.
We won anyway.
Our campaign won media respect, public recognition in significant and influential communities, and created opportunities that didn’t exist before. This was the beginning.
In closing I want to tell two stories from the campaign trail. One of them was a childcare worker in her forties, making less than $11 an hour, caring for children of 3 families in her home on the East Side. Rents are going up but her income is not, and she is being forced out. Despite having a job, she has no security and is hurtling toward disaster.
Another day I was meeting seniors in the west end. A group gathered and were telling me that they spend on average 60-70% of their monthly income on rent. Most had saved for decades for a comfortable retirement, and were now eating into those funds every month just to survive. All of them live with ice in their bones for fear that they will be evicted from apartments they have lived in for decades, and most believe that no landlords will take them because their monthly incomes are so low.
One woman told me that she will be through her savings in three years, and then she doesn’t know where she’ll go or what will happen to her. She worked hard and saved for 47 years, and blinked back tears as she choked on the word ‘homeless’.
We can do better. Not only that, but we must. We have to offer real hope to the low income worker and the retiree, and let them know that they are not alone—that we are in this with them and for them and we will not abandon them.
That’s why I’m in this for the long game, and I hope we’ll be on this road together.
Thank you all for everything. For your support, kindness and encouragement. It meant the world to me.
Thanks to the team & supporters:
Woon Ai Tsang
Mo Dhaliwal & Skyrocket
Laurie Jones Kinley Jones
Mike & Ann Carroll
Dick & Val Bradshaw
Cec & John Fraser
Kamal Basra & Tracy Theemes, Sophia Financial Group
& many more.
And real gratitude to all my endorsers (click link for full list).
Thank you all.