It’s been almost three years since David Cadman’s illustrious career as a Vancouver councillor ended.
A proven vote-getter, Cadman could have won a fourth term in 2011. However, to the shock of many, he failed to get nominated to the three-member council slate of the Coalition of Progressive Electors for that year’s civic election.
He remains the president of what is now known as ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability. That’s a global organization that used to call itself the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
In the election of 2011, COPE was shut out, except for one seat on the school board won by Allan Wong. In December 2013, Wong crossed over to the ruling Vision Vancouver party.
Cadman was out of the city early August when reached by the Straight by phone for his thoughts on how this year’s municipal election may go down.
Although COPE has announced its intention to run a mayoral candidate and majority slates for council, park board, and school board, Cadman wasn’t optimistic about the chances of the city’s oldest left-wing party.
“I think COPE is going to have a hard time electing people this year,” Cadman said.
Cadman believes that internal rifts have sapped the vigour out of COPE.
“COPE is gone to the point where even people who were elected under their banner have left them, and even people who are on their executive have left them,” he said. “Elections citywide are won basically by getting enough votes across the city, and I don’t think you get there by, you know, subdividing your own party and hiving off people, and essentially running with no incumbents. And that’s the situation we’re in right now.”
Then there’s the question of who may want to run as COPE’s mayoral candidate.
“They’re going to have a hard time finding a candidate who has been visible around civic issues,” Cadman said. “There isn’t simply—I can’t think of anybody out there who’s been really visible around civic issues, who would say, ‘Okay, I’m going to lead this merry band,’ because the reality is, if you take on leadership in COPE, you take on all the dynamics of COPE as a party. And that, as I’ve found out, has got its own drawbacks.”
Cadman also doesn’t see much prospect either for the Non-Partisan Association, the civic party that once dominated city hall.
“Nobody there strikes me as a knockout candidate,” Cadman said about the NPA’s council slate.
As for the NPA’s candidate for mayor, Kirk LaPointe, Cadman remarked that the former media manager is “smart enough”.
“But again, he’s not somebody who I have seen with positions on municipal stuff,” Cadman said. “And unfortunately, I think his burden was the legacy of the NPA, which is a history of being opposed, or, you know, voting against trying to end homelessness and a bunch of other things.”
Cadman is also not enthusiastic about how OneCity, a new party whose core includes former COPE executives, will fare in the November 15 election.
OneCity has one council candidate so far, Rafael “RJ” Aquino. But as Cadman observed: “I haven’t seen a lot of him in the news on civic issues, so good luck.”
According to Cadman, the municipal Greens look promising. They’re running incumbent councillor Adriane Carr, and Cleta Brown and Pete Fry.
“Some of that space may be taken up by the Greens,” Cadman said.
The Straight asked Cadman if it’s a good bet that Vision will get its third majority on council.
“I’m not a betting person but I would think, and I haven’t seen any of the polls, but I would think...that they will get another majority, yeah,” he said.
Cadman added: “To me it really comes down to: have enough people in neighbourhoods been alienated by density decisions which have been made, to actively go out and vote against them, when the real alternative in terms of a majority is the NPA, who would have done the exact same thing if not more so?”
So why not just pick a different alternative?
“I think some will pick another alternative but the question is whether or not there’s enough people who will pick that other alternative to get enough votes citywide to win,” Cadman said. “And I think it’s a lot harder than it looks. Because, you know, when it all breaks down, people tend to vote parties. And so the question is, ‘Is the COPE brand sufficiently robust even if the candidates are not well known to win, you know, 55,000 votes?’”
Results of an online survey by Justason Market Intelligence Inc. of 350 adult residents from July 22 to 27 show that 39 percent supports Vision. Support for the NPA is at 24 percent, followed by the Greens at 15 percent. COPE was fourth with 10 percent. (The margin of error is 5.2 percentage points, 95 percent of the time.)
The polling company’s principal, Barb Justason, maintained that the results are a snapshot of a particular period, and that things could change.
One thing is clear at this time, and it’s good for the ruling party. As Justason told the Straight by phone: “We’re looking at Vision having held relatively steady.”