In a shocking development in the Vancouver civic election, the Straight has learned that the Devil—yes, Lucifer himself—has been secretly offering advice to some of our local mayoral candidates!
An unnamed source in Hell has provided us with transcripts of several conversations!
Brace yourself: what you’re about to read is going to leave you wondering why you even bother to follow media coverage of this crazy race!
That’s because in politics, things are never as they seem!
This is truly explosive news!
Satan talks to Wai Young
Wai: Back in 2011, the media made a big deal out of me seeking help from a guy who was acquitted in the Air India bombing. What are they going to say when they learn I’m talking to you?
Devil: Don’t worry. It won’t leak out this time.
Wai: I really, really, really want to get back into Parliament. What do I have to do?
Devil: Run for mayor of Vancouver. It will make you better known. You’ll attract volunteers, collect email addresses, and be in position to impress Scheer that you have the numbers to knock off Harjit Sajjan in Vancouver South.
Wai: But didn’t Meena Wong try that? It blew up in her face. She did so badly in the mayoral contest in 2014 that the federal NDP didn’t want her in 2015.
Devil: Yeah, but you’re not a simpering leftist. Cozy up to the people who hate SOGI. Tell West Side homeowners that you’ll go to court to fight Eby’s surtax on their homes. Send signals to the Shaughnessy people that you’ll lift that goddamned heritage-district designation that drove down their property values.
Wai: Any other advice?
Devil: Yeah, hit the bike lanes hard. Tell ’em you’re for the people and watch the elites go berserk. Every driver in the city is sick of not being able to turn down certain streets because Gregor’s got religion on cycling.
Wai: Should I run as an independent?
Devil: No, no, no! Create a party. Find a bunch of Christian fanatics that nobody knows to run as council, school board, and park board candidates. Get as many as you can because they’ll sign up their family members and help you raise money. Hell, you might even win the election. From what I’ve been hearing, the rest of the field is pretty weak. If you call it Coalition Vancouver, then some right-wing libertarians will mistakenly see it as a big-tent party.
Wai: How should I deal with my opponents?
Devil: That’s easy. You saw how Harper became prime minister after there was a police investigation of Ralph Goodale’s ministry. Look at the field of candidates and figure out who’s most likely to cut into your base in southeast Vancouver. Then demand that the cops investigate him.
Wai: Those people at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will never back me. That Conservative turncoat Terry Yung will want to get his wife on council with the NPA. I need the support of the Chinese community to win.
Devil: Forget about S.U.C.C.E.S.S. They’re part of the establishment. Fashion yourself as the anti-establishment candidate, like Trump. Say what people are privately thinking but won’t say publicly. Rip into the English-language media from time to time. You’ll have an easy ride on Chinese TV and radio, because those idiots in the NPA won’t nominate anyone who speaks Cantonese or Mandarin. You can lie about them as often as you like and nobody will counter what you say. But here's the trick: use regional numbers to describe the situation in Vancouver. Nobody will figure that out. And you can cite your sources. Also, don’t be afraid to be rude to your opponents but always be sweet to your supporters. Tell ’em how much you like to cook, and they’ll see you as that friendly Chinese lady with good values.
Wai: Anything else I should know?
Devil: Yeah, have fun. Make outlandish statements at mayoral debates—like declaring you’re easily the most qualified person to be mayor. Tell them that you balanced the federal budget. Smile all the time. Always stay in the news. And if you can get the media to rip into you, it’s only going to help because those twits don’t realize that they are the establishment. You’re running against them. The other candidates will be too stupid to take on the reporters. They don’t know that George Bush became president when he chewed out Dan Rather on the TV news.
Wai: Do I have any friends in the media?
Devil: My final tip—suck up to Lynda Steele at CKNW. She appeals to the same simpletons that you’re going to need on your side to win. Pay attention to everything she says. Make her issues your issues. It’s all populist garbage anyway. Even if you lose, you’ll be a shoo-in for a Conservative nomination next year.
Next up, Hector Bremner
Hector: Can I be mayor of Vancouver?
Devil: Possibly, but you’ve got to watch your back. Your only chance is if you set yourself apart from the pack on housing—and if you can get hordes of millennials and Filipinos out to vote for you.
Hector: I’m not worried about the Filipinos. I’ve learned from my wife how to do politics in that community. Those other dorks have no idea that it’s all about the personal touch. Attend parties. Visit churches. Savour the music and dancing. Show tons of respect to the seniors. Don’t leave your sense of humour at the door. And pig out at boodle fights. I know all about eating with my hands at political fundraisers.
Devil: The millennials are going to be a challenge. A lot of them care about climate change, which isn’t exactly your strong suit. But they’re also ticked about the cost of housing. Make a big plan. A really big plan. Fill it with lots of charts showing how they’re getting shafted. Write about the history of Vancouver, and how it was rooted in racism. We both know the younger generation is far more diverse than those old white people who always vote NPA. The younger people will eat that stuff up.
Hector: What’s the biggest mistake I could make?
Devil: They’re all going to try to pin you to the developers. So whenever that comes up, deny, deny, deny. Say you don’t know where the money is coming from to support your bid for mayor. Say it with a straight face. Get your senior campaign team to say the same thing. You’ve all got to be singing from the same song sheet.
Hector: What if people don’t believe me? Hell, everyone already knows that Peter Wall is in my camp.
Devil: Fuck ’em. Also, don’t spend a moment of your time worrying about those morons at HALT. They don’t speak for anyone but people who want to freeze Vancouver in the 1990s. Just be aware that ProVancouver is in this election to sow confusion with the electorate to help Kennedy Stewart. Someone’s put them up to it. Maybe Eby. Or Meggs, through some back channels. In your world, David Chen doesn’t exist. Have you noticed how he shows up at some of the debates that Stewart bypasses? It’s the HALT party. Just focus on your message and realize that it will resonate with a bunch of people with university degrees, including some who’ve voted NDP in the past. There are lots of those voters in Vancouver.
Hector: I was a poor kid. I never had the dough to attend the Sauder School of Business. How do I appeal to these Richie Rich types?
Devil: Dress well. Pay a lot of attention to your hair. If you’re wearing the right glasses, you’ll fit in with that crowd. They’ll think you’re a West Sider, not some chump who lived in a flophouse. Then dress down when you attend the Filipino events.
Hector: What’s my biggest political liability?
Devil: That’s easy. You worked for Rich Coleman. Never mention his name once. Just say “when I was an assistant to the minister of housing” when you’re talking to the media. Never say Coleman’s name once. Got it?
Hector: Yeah. Good advice. Anything else?
Devil: Everyone in politics thinks you’re a know-it-all. You talk a mile a minute. During this campaign, try to ask more questions. Show some curiosity about other people. And speak more slowly to reporters so they’ll have time to write down what you say. You’re more knowledgeable about city hall than other candidates, so be as accessible as possible.
Hector: How can I win?
Devil: Play to your strengths. You’re a born marketer. Those other jerks know nothing about this issue. Most of them have no clue that clever, upbeat videos get passed around on social media and can win elections. So make the best videos. Let the media think your campaign staff produced them so nobody wonders where the money came from. Do you think Wai Young or Ken Sim has ever heard of a marketing genius like Robert Cialdini? Some of those candidates hear the name of Terry O’Reilly and think of a hockey player. They’ve never studied David Oglivy like you have. Ogilvy once said the best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible. You’ve got the best sense of humour in the race. Make use of it and you can surprise people on election day.
Ken Sim learns how to play it cool
Ken: I’ve never run for anything before. Why would anyone want to vote for me for mayor?
Devil: Rafe Mair once said that in politics, it doesn’t matter if you’re a 3 if all the others are a 2. Try to be the least worst. That won’t be too difficult in this race.
Ken: Here’s another problem. I don’t know what the hell has gone on at Vancouver City Hall in the last decade.
Devil: Don’t worry. Neither do the voters. They just think Gregor’s been wasting money so talk about running it like a business. There are only about a half-dozen journalists who’ve really been paying attention. Beware of Jen St. Denis and Frances Bula, in particular. Georgia Straight readers aren’t going to vote for you, so forget about that Pablo guy. And nobody reads Ray Tomlin’s blog. But that Howell could be a problem because he works for an NPA paper. The worst, though, is Mackin.
Ken: Never heard of him. Who’s Mackin?
Devil: Good god. And you want to be mayor? Put it this way: Mackin will find out if any candidate in this election has been borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars against the equity on their house. He’ll discover if a candidate has been going to Vegas to gamble. If someone has had marital problems or taken any sexual liberties, Mackin is the guy who will publish that. Everyone in politics knows he’s poison. Christ, he’ll even dig up flight logs and find out if you’ve ever been on Chip’s private jet. That’s why Gregor, Christy, and all those other federal Liberals stay as far away from him as possible. Look what happened to Ian Campbell.
Ken: I didn’t realize politics was so ugly.
Devil: Where have you been all these years? Don’t worry so much. Every candidate has skeletons in their closet. One of the guys running for Coalition Vancouver is worried that someone is going to pop up with a me-too comment about what he did in high school. Rely on that Landmark training to keep you tough and focused. Live in the moment.
Ken: I love numbers. I need to know numerically how I can win.
Devil: Forget about numbers for once. Just for a minute, can you cease being a numbskull accountant? It’s all about turnout. The left in this town has a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Right now, they’re coalescing around Kennedy Stewart, even though he nearly lost one of the safest NDP ridings in Canada in the last election. Kennedy is fucking dull. He wears dorky suits because all his years in Ottawa have taught him that politicians are supposed to wear suits. He thinks he looks good in a suit—and he’s part of the elite, now. He’s a former MP. Whoop de doo! He has no clue that this actually alienates his natural base. So you’ve got to stay out of a suit every minute of this campaign. You wore one to the NPA nomination meeting. Big mistake. Anytime someone sees you in a suit, they’re going to write you off as a greedy businessman. Wear T-shirts for interviews with reporters. Wear jeans when you’re getting your official campaign photos taken. You’re Mr. Casual, which will make you a helluva lot more likable than Stewart. You're Mr. Cool. Play up your blue-collar past, even if it's all a bunch of bullshit and you grew up in a rich family.
Ken: Come to think of it, I never see Chip in a suit.
Devil: Of course not. He knows that suits are for losers.
Ken: Should I be worried about Bremner or Young?
Devil: Yes and yes. Bremner will kill you on policy and Young will kill you on politics.
Ken: And Sylvester?
Devil: She’s the most dangerous candidate of them all. That’s because she appeals to all those Peter Ladner types who used to vote NPA but who think that Armstrong has taken the party back to the stone age. The NPA used to win elections because those greenies who hate union leaders would vote NPA. They’ve dropped your party, bud. The gays have also abandoned the NPA, especially now that Elizabeth Ball isn't running. But you might be able to win some of them back by saying things like “I’m not going to declare war on bike lanes.” But Sylvester’s going to murder you on policy because unlike you, she actually understands the transportation imperatives that led to these friggin’ concrete barriers.
Ken: Is there anything else I should know?
Devil: In that same vein, don’t put Chernen on your council slate.
Ken: But I like Glen. I even attended his wedding. I agree with him on a lot of issues.
Devil: Don’t do it. It’s just going to send those Ladner types into conniptions. Gordon Price will nail you for it. You can be boring and win. Try it and see what happens.
Kennedy Stewart gets more schooling
Kennedy: I’m an upright, decent, affable guy. Why should I seek advice from the Devil? I thought the Devil only advised those on the right.
Devil: Because you almost got your clock cleaned by a no-name Liberal candidate in Burnaby South. Why do you think that happened?
Kennedy: Well, Trudeau’s popularity brought a lot of people over to the Liberals. I’m a political scientist. I know what occurred. I study voting patterns.
Devil: Try telling that to Don Davies or Peter Julian. They had no difficulty beating back challenges from no-name Liberals. Some New Democrats laugh behind your back over how poorly you did. They think the only reason you won was because of the advance vote, which was really the work of your volunteers.
Kennedy: Okay, I hear what you’re saying. I have some room to improve as a retail politician. And I know I’m not nearly as good as Peter and Don when it comes to attending multicultural festivals. But I always worry about the Greens. I’ve studied elections and I know how the vote can split on the progressive side.
Devil: Here’s what you do: befriend Elizabeth May. Write a book with her. Then join her at a Kinder Morgan protest. That will make you far more acceptable to those Green people. Be photographed with Elizabeth May. She’s not thinking about the Vancouver election or what impact this might have on Adriane Carr’s chances. Then when you make your move, you’ll have lots of street cred with the Greens. It will catch Carr flat-footed. And it will make you look nonpartisan.
Kennedy: What other advice do you have?
Devil: The most important thing is to become more Machiavellian. You were a chump last time in Burnaby South. Don’t make the same mistake again.
Kennedy: I studied Machiavelli. I know all about him.
Devil: Will you please shut up about all your book learning? I’m talking the real world. Number one, make sure that Meggs fixes the election-financing law to allow for unreported third-party campaign expenditures before the campaign period begins. Meggs can get Eby to do this. Two, get your friend Monckton to raise a bunch of money from the unions that can be spent by third parties before September 22. That way, it won’t need to be reported. Three, get paid third-party staff to plaster your face on telephone poles all over town. Four, be the first one to enter the race. Then the third parties can spend that money in the pre-election period and scare others from joining. Five, always remember that you’re running for mayor so that Horgan isn’t going to have to deal with a Green party mayor. He’s given Meggs instructions that he doesn’t want anyone there who will help Weaver in the next provincial election.
Kennedy: What are you talking about? I want to be mayor because I love civic government. I worked with Neil on Think City. This is my passion. This isn’t about provincial politics.
Devil: Give your head a fucking shake. The only reason these people will put you forward is because they think you’re the best bet to keep Horgan in office. You’re not going to start screaming about the fracking of natural gas or the Site C dam when you're mayor, unlike that goddamned Harold Steves in Richmond. They don’t want another blowhard like Corrigan, who says whatever he fucking feels like. Meggs doesn’t want someone like Toderian to become mayor. He’s too bloody green. If you want to be mayor, play the game, idiot. Don’t be a goddamned didactic university professor. Those days are behind you. You’re a politician. Like I said before, be Machiavellian. Smile and be pleasant.
Kennedy: Okay. Be Machiavellian. I hear you. So what would he suggest I do?
Devil: You have to cover your tracks about the third-party expenditures before the official campaign starts on September 22. Here are some tips. Issue regular statements listing your donors and demand other candidates do this. Talk a lot about accountability. The public doesn’t care about a lobbyist registry but it’s important to people like Mason and Mackin. So keep promoting this. It will show them that you’re serious about transparency. In the meantime, the labour movement will take care of the ground game. Here’s the most beautiful thing of all: when Bremner sees how well you’re doing, his supporters are going to panic. They’ll probably plaster his face on billboards. Then Meggs or Monckton or someone in the labour movement will work the back channels to make Bremner’s pre-election spending an issue. Yours will go under the radar.
Kennedy: Oh my. That takes chutzpah if I’m doing the same thing.
Devil: Chutzpah has never been your strength, my friend, but it’s going to come in handy in 2018. Those HALT people will hammer Bremner but they’ll give you a free pass. The media will also give you a free ride. Maybe someone will send the photos of Bremner’s billboards to Pete Fry. Fry’s the one who was raising hell about this election loophole last December. He’ll send the photos to the Straight, which will reach the lefties who already mistrust Bremner. Of course, Meggs and Eby did nothing to plug the third-party spending loophole but everyone will forget about that. Meggs needs an NDP mayor in Vancouver to keep Horgan in power.
Kennedy: Will I go down in history? I've always wanted to be a great man.
Devil: This will be the greatest Vancouver election caper since Monckton and Meggs dreamed up Mayor da Vinci versus Lady Macbeth back in 2002. You’re an actor in this production, just like Larry Campbell was. Learn your lines and play your fucking part. Then you can become mayor, which will make your mom very proud of you. Hell, you might even end up in the Senate one day.
Kennedy: Do you have any advice for dealing with my opponents? My mentor, Doug McArthur, thinks if the word "Kennedy" is highlighted, people will make an association with the Kennedy clan in the States.
Devil: That's nuts. Nobody's so stupid as to think you're related to John F. Kennedy. You’re going to need a plausible housing plan to respond to Bremner. Undermine Sylvester’s love affair with co-ops by reinforcing that very few people live in them—but never criticize her personally. Talk up Wai Young’s candidacy. Make her seem like a legitimate threat because that will get reported in the Chinese media. It will drain votes away from Sim, who has the billionaires behind him.
Kennedy: Anything else?
Devil: Quit wearing suits. You look idiotic in them. Stuff them in the closet until after the election. And your hair is ghastly. Warren Kinsella once said that Stephen Harper could never be prime minister with his boxy haircut. Harper changed his look and became prime minister.
Kennedy: I think I look good in a suit. Neil says I should be as authentic as possible, so I’m not going to do anything with my hair, either.
Devil: I heard the same crap from Adrian Dix back in 2013. And Neil was advising him, too. No wonder you guys lose so many elections. At least Horgan had the common sense to have laser surgery and he got rid of those god-awful glasses.
Shauna Sylvester spurns devilish advice
Shauna: Hey Mr. Devil, I hear you’re giving advice to my opponents in this campaign. I’m not going to listen to a word you say.
Devil: You do so at your own peril. I don’t care that you’ve gone to Catholic school. I don’t even care if you lose the election because I’m just fine with the planet burning up. My only advice is this: read the transcripts above. You might learn a few things that could come in handy.
Shauna: I’m going to win on my own terms. I don’t do deals with anyone, not even the Devil. And I'm not going to read your transcripts. I'm just not going to do it.
Devil: I hate these candidates who think they’re the only angel in the race. I have two words for that: Joel Solomon!More