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Cops and property developers win big in Vancouver election

Bradley Hughes

January 24, 2023
The municipal election in Vancouver this Saturday saw the new pro-business pro-cop party ABC crush all the other parties. Their mayoral candidate, Ken Sim, got 50% of the 171,494 ballots cast. On council all the ABC councillors were elected giving them seven of the 10 seats. Their votes ranged from 62,000 to 72,000 votes. The next closest was Adriane Car from the Greens with less than 42,000 votes. Last election, Car was the most popular councillor with almost 70,000 votes.
No enthusiasm
Just over one-third of eligible voters cast a ballot in this election. Of the nearly 500,000 people eligible to vote, the new Mayor convinced only 18% of them to make the trip to the polls to vote for him. His most popular councillor got only 15% of eligible voters to support her.
Not surprisingly, his support is strongest among the wealthy. Out of the 105 polling stations, his best five stations accounted for 15,000 votes or 17% of the votes cast for him. All but one of them are on the west side of the city. All of them are in neighbourhoods with median household income above $100,000. His best results were at the Kerrisdale Community centre where he took 75% of the votes. This polling station is adjacent to a neighbourhood where the median household income is more than $140,000. The median household income for Vancouver over all is $82,000.
These results show that ABC had lots of money and were well organized to use that money to identify their supporters in rich neighbourhoods and get them out on election day.
ABC is classic Liberal party: pave the way for business while sounding like you care about the rest of us. Their party platform page starts with reconciliation ,“ABC commits to a future where a stronger and more meaningful partnership, sharing in the wealth of the land and sea, and acknowledges that both the history and future of Indigenous people needs to be self-determined” Of course, unlike their proposals for more cops and less regulation of property developers, they have no concrete proposals for change.
Housing crisis to continue
ABC has made lots of promises about non-More info and zoom link at: socialist.camarket housing but haven’t committed to any numbers. Yet, they do have concrete for slashing the approval times for for-profit housing developers. After four years of this there is no doubt they will have kept all their promises to developers without adding significant non-market housing.
At the same time the need for non-profit housing will be even more dire than now since they have no promises on rent control.
Less safe streets
The Vancouver Police Union has not previously endorsed parties in Vancouver’s elections. This time they endorsed the ABC party and organized their own candidates' debate. Socialist Candidate Sean Orr was kicked out of the meeting for opposing police intervention in the election.
ABC has promised to add 100 new cops, and to give the VDP whatever budget they request. They will also re-start the cops in the schools program that was cut by the previous progressive school board. Cops will justifiably feel that they have their people in office now. Combining that with 100 new police on the streets means that more people will be killed and assaulted by cops. Those who are unhoused, suffering from mental illness and/or racialized are all in more danger now.
Dead end in the middle of the road
The incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart formed a new political party to run in this election. He came in a distant second to ABC’s Ken Sim. His running mates came nowhere near gaining seats.
Kennedy Stewart is a former NDP MP. He has continued the Vancouver middle-left tradition of raking in donations from property developers while promising to look after the rest of us. During his four years as mayor, homelessness increased, rents continued to go up, housing prices went up and deaths due to the poisons in the opioid supply continued to rise. The decade of Vision Vancouver government, with the same record, that ended in 2018 should have been enough to show that this strategy can’t improve the lives of people in Vancouver. Vision’s only benefit was in keeping the purely business parties out of office. Stewart’s loss shows that this strategy is no longer good enough to even do that.
People not profit
The only reasonable solutions to our problems are radical solutions. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is now more than $2500/month in Vancouver. Wages are not keeping up with inflation. There was no rain from the beginning of August to nearly the end of October. The bright light in the midst of this gloom was the Vote Socialist campaign fielded by the Democratic Socialists of Vancouver. Their platform started with the premise that balancing the needs of the 1% equally with the rest of us was the source of the city’s problems. Their three candidates, Sean Orr for City Council, Andrea Pinochet-Escudero for Park Board, and Dr. Karina Zeidler for School Board did not get elected, but they did show the potential for the anti-capitalist left. Orr received 13,744 votes, Pinochet-Escudero 15,526, and Zeidler 17,710. This put them in the middle of the pack and ahead of several candidates for the NPA and Vision, the parties that dominated municipal politics until 2018.
Now the left in Vancouver will need to continue building solidarity with Indigenous sovereignty, the tenants right movement, the movement for a just climate transition and more. It’s the movements in our workplaces and in the streets that will determine what happens over the next four years.

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