Vancouver-Quilchena Liberal nomination is no slam dunk for Suzanne Anton
Judging from some media reports, you would think that former NPA councillor Suzanne Anton is already the B.C. Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Quilchena.
In fact, she has a tough fight on her hands against the former party president, Andrew Wilkinson.
That's not so obvious on the surface.
Wilkinson, a downtown Vancouver lawyer, is getting clobbered on the social-media front. He's only been on Facebook for two months and has just 49 "Likes", whereas Anton has 1,587 "Likes".
Anton was also elected once to park board, twice to city council, and pulled in nearly 60,000 votes when she ran for mayor. So in the face of this, how could she lose?
First off, Wilkinson has secured the endorsements of some well-connected party heavyweights, including Gordon Campbell's political mentor, former councillor May Brown. He's also backed by former NPA president Paul Barbeau and by Doreen Braverman, the mother-in-law of MLA Colin Hansen.
Braverman, a former president of the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C., likely played a decisive role in Hansen snatching away the Vancouver-Quilchena nomination from former MLA Art Cowie in the mid 1990s.
Others backing Wilkinson include former park-board chair Ian Robertson, former NPA school trustee Carol Gibson, and former riding-association president Allan Copping.
Anton's endorsers—NPA councillor George Affleck, NPA park commissioner John Coupar, and former Metro Theatre Society president John Crittenden—carry far less collective clout within the ruling provincial party than do Wilkinson's backers.
Wilkinson is not only a lawyer, but he's also a medical-school graduate, a former Rhodes scholar, and a former president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. But more importantly for B.C. Liberals, he was always a favourite of former premier Gordon Campbell, who appointed him as a deputy minister in his office.
Campbell is still popular in Vancouver-Quilchena, where he served briefly as an MLA, even if he's widely loathed in many other parts of the province.
My hunch is that Campbell, a former Vancouver mayor, is quietly cheering for Wilkinson, a litigator who has defended corporations and doctors in the courts.
I also have a hunch that Premier Christy Clark would probably prefer Anton to be the nominee because Clark is trying to put as many women as possible out front to improve her rotten poll results with female voters.
No meeting has been scheduled yet. If Wilkinson wins the Vancouver-Quilchena nomination—as I suspect—and if Clark loses the provincial election—as I also suspect—don't be surprised if you start hearing his name trotted out as a potential future leader of the B.C. Liberals.
Unlike ex-finance minister Kevin Falcon, Wilkinson wouldn't be as tainted in the public mind by the Campbell regime—even though he played an instrumental role in executing the former premier's wishes. And by the time Wilkinson gets to the legislature, he'll have a fleet of aides who will look after the social-media side for him.
Sure, Wilkinson's still somewhat charismatically challenged, as the video below demonstrates. But so was Campbell when he became leader of the party in 1993. And both have more going for them than Bill Bennett, who managed to win three elections leading the Socreds.
Andrew Wilkinson makes a low-key pitch for support in Vancouver-Quilchena.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.