Geoff Meggs versus George Heyman: tale of the tape in Vancouver-Fairview
Normally, the best B.C. NDP nomination brawls take place on Vancouver's East Side, where the stakes are highest.
That's because winning an East Van NDP punch-up can give a community activist or union organizer a glorious career with some large purses along the way.
But with the B.C. Liberals on the canvas, the liveliest contest is in the more toney West Side constituency of Vancouver-Fairview. Here, most of the political pugilism takes place at Vancouver City Hall.
In one corner is George Heyman, a wiry and tough-talking former B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president turned Sierra Club environmentalist.
In the other corner is city councillor Geoff Meggs, a crafty rope-a-doper who likes being underestimated by his opponents whenever he steps into the political ring.
Here's the tale of the tape
1. Hometown: Meggs is curiously ambigious about this on his website, saying he was born and raised in Toronto and Ottawa. It's typical of this scrappy tactician, who keeps some opponents off guard by adjusting his message to suit the audience. Meggs lives near False Creek in Vancouver-Fairview. Heyman doesn't like to advertise that he's been a resident of Vancouver–Mount Pleasant for many years. Advantage: Meggs
2. Exercise regimen: Heyman prepares for his biggest bouts by running. Meggs has kept in shape by riding a bicycle. He has also been spotted working out in the past at the downtown YMCA, which is known as a hangout of B.C. Liberal power brokers and Allen Garr. Meggs was slowed down a while ago when his two-wheeler was struck by a car. Advantage: Heyman
3. Reach: Both have tremendous ability to bring supporters into their corner. If Heyman gets help from two well-connected Vancouver-Fairview heavyweights—Gregor Robertson and Mike Magee—he could be in a position to deliver a decisive blow against Meggs. However, Robertson and Magee have a history of fighting their own battles and not wading into provincial championship bouts. Heyman is already receiving assistance from one of the city's best cornermen, Ben West, which has some analysts wondering if he's also getting some quiet advice from West's former boss, Andrea Reimer. However, Meggs can call on some powerhouse fighters of his own, including the man with the best left hook in the province, Adrian Dix, as well as seasoned NDP brawlers like Moe Sihota and Raymond Louie. Advantage: Even
4. Green quotient: Both boxers claim this as a strength. While serving as the BCGEU's front man, Heyman stood up against the Campbell government's gutting of environmental protection. He's not afraid to challenge New Democrats who don't recognize the threat of climate change. Meggs points to his support for transit megaprojects as a sign of his green cred. It rings a little hollow to the vast majority of Lower Mainland residents who don't live near a SkyTrain line and whose transit service has been eviscerated because of these grand odes to development. Advantage: Heyman
5. Titles: Here, Meggs is the clear leader with two council election victories under his belt. Heyman has never been elected to political office. Advantage: Meggs
6. Vulnerabilities: As an elected politician, Meggs has rankled more people, leaving him vulnerable on several fronts. Activists who wanted more affordable housing at the Little Mountain Housing Co-op and who opposed the Rize development in Mount Pleasant will be tempted to back Heyman over Meggs. However, Meggs is probably in a better position to raise money from all of those who've benefited from council decisions. He was even supported by Rob Macdonald, a heavyweight developer who blew nearly a million bucks on the ill-fated NPA campaign. Heyman doesn't have as many negatives, but he will have trouble responding to questions about why he didn't seek the NDP nomination in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. Heyman doesn't have as much name recognition either—and the winner of this bout will get a title shot against a sitting B.C. Liberal cabinet minister. Advantage: Meggs
Anyone interested in the outcome can get a ringside seat for the bout on October 21.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.