George Heyman leads Geoff Meggs in website endorsements in Vancouver-Fairview NDP race
These days, the most intriguing political fight in the Lower Mainland just might be the NDP nomination race in Vancouver-Fairview.
Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs recently announced his candidacy. Meanwhile, former B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president George Heyman has been on the campaign trail since last summer.
Either one could easily become a powerful cabinet minister in an NDP government led by Adrian Dix. Vancouver-Fairview is represented in the legislature by Margaret MacDiarmid, the Minister of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government.
This morning, I checked the candidates' websites, and it appears as though Heyman is winning the battle over endorsements.
He has posted 10 names, though some don't live in Vancouver-Fairview.
Heyman's supporters include former Vision Vancouver school trustee and child-care advocate Sharon Gregson, actor and arts-community leader Joy Coghill, BCGEU treasurer Stephanie Smith, PLEA Community Services executive director Tim Agg, former Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA David Chudnovsky (also a major player in COPE), NDP constituency assistant Janet Woo (who works for NDP deputy leader Libby Davies), former Vancouver Centre NDP candidate Michael Byers (B.C. cochair of Thomas Mulcair's successful leadership campaign), youth climate activist Tria Donaldson, kindergarten teacher Danielle Peacock, and community organizer and former B.C. Green party deputy leader Ben West.
Endorsements don't necessarily translate into victories. However, there are clues here that Heyman's strength might be greater than this list indicates on the surface.
If Woo's support is any indication that Heyman also has the quiet encouragement of Davies, then the former BCGEU boss would have an influential advocate in his camp.
Davies was one of the people who helped deliver the B.C. NDP leadership to Dix last year.
Chudnovsky, another Dix supporter, has many acolytes in COPE who just might follow his lead.
Gregson has a network of friends in the child-care field. And Byers, a UBC professor and resident of Salt Spring Island, probably has lists of people who supported Mulcair's leadership campaign. These New Democrats might be attracted to Heyman's environmental advocacy, which he demonstrated in his most recent job as executive director of the Sierra Club of B.C. (However, to be fair, it's worth pointing out that Meggs was also a Mulcair supporter.)
Fewer names on Meggs's site
Meggs, on the other hand, has posted only five endorsements.
Topping the list is political commentator Bill Tieleman, who was an early supporter of Gregor Robertson's bid for the Vision Vancouver mayoral nomination.
Meggs is also backed by Paul Faoro, president of CUPE Local 15, which represents 5,700 members, including inside workers for the City of Vancouver as well as police department, school board, and park-board staff.
Student activist Tiffany Kalanj, political organizer Mira Oreck, and Sampaguita Seniors Society Multicultural Helping House coordinator Angie Igonia are also mentioned on his site.
Meggs has worked with Kalanj on extending the U-Pass. Oreck, a former director of the Canadian Jewish Congress Pacific regional office, was a key supporter of Robertson in his successful run for mayor in 2008. She has been living in New York for a while, according to the website of Boldt Communications.
The endorsement from Igonia reflects Meggs's long-standing support from and close connections with the local Filipino-Canadian community. This extends back to his days as a staff member of the Hospital Employees' Union in the 1990s.
Constituency profile offers clues
According to an electoral-district profile created from the 2006 census, there were only 1,455 Vancouver-Fairview residents with at least partial Philippine ancestry. Unfortunately for Meggs, that was just 2.9 percent of the constituency's population of 51,070.
People who cited some Jewish background comprised only 4.4 percent of the population—and they're not all voting for Meggs.
(As an aside, in Vancouver-Kensington, people with partial or complete Philippine ancestry comprised 12.7 percent of the constituency's population, according to the 2006 census. This part of Vancouver is represented by NDP MLA Mabel Elmore, who is of partial Philippine descent.)
I expect Meggs will work hard to try to win support from the constituency's diverse communities. In this regard, he has an advantage over Heyman because as a city councillor, Meggs has been able to forge connections across a wider spectrum of the community.
But given the constituency's demographics, it's questionable whether Meggs will be able to leverage this into an enormous number of votes when the nomination is decided on October 21.
Vancouver-Fairview's boundaries go as far east as Main Street, as far south as 33rd Avenue, and come down Granville Street before button-hooking to Arbutus Street along West 16th Avenue. The northern boundary stretches along West 4th, West 6th, and 2nd Avenue over to Main Street.
It's an area heavily populated by well-educated, reasonably high-income people with an environmental bent. And if endorsements offer any clue at all, it looks like Heyman has the early lead.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.