Elizabeth May, here's your Green Dream Team for Vancouver in the next federal election

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      The Greens are on the move in Vancouver.

      Only three politicians in the October 20 received more than 70,000 votes—all Greens.

      The top seven vote-getters in the Vancouver election were all Greens.

      Only two non-Greens received more than 50,000 votes: NPA councillor Melissa De Genova and OneCity school-board candidate Jennifer Reddy.

      The seventh-ranked Green, school trustee Estrellita Gonzalez, topped De Genova's vote total by more than 5,000. Vancouver has truly become the Greenest city, at least in a political sense.

      Some of this Green success was due to endorsements by the Vancouver and District Labour Council. But the results still show the growing strength of the Green political brand in Vancouver.

      This could turn into a massive headache for Justin Trudeau. His Liberal party holds four of the six federal seats in Vancouver—and the next election is only a year away.

      The NDP holds the other two seats in Vancouver.

      Here's a riding-by-riding breakdown assessing the Greens' chances in the next federal campaign, along with recommended candidates for a Green Dream Team.

      It would be lots of fun to watch Gregor Robertson take on Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre next year.
      Amanda Siebert

      Vancouver Centre

      Liberal Hedy Fry has held this seat since 1993, and all indications are that she plans on seeking reelection.

      Compared to other parts of Vancouver, this federal riding had a higher proportion of single people and a lower number of residents for whom English is a second language in the 2011 census. The median age of 37.1 was lower than the norm.

      Fewer than 8,000 people cited a Chinese dialect as their first language, and another 3,375 said their first language was Korean. More than 85,000 residents only spoke English.

      These are all factors that could help the Greens, which has less traction within minority communities than more established federal parties.

      Only 275 residents of Vancouver Centre  cited Punjabi as their first language. This means that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh won't be getting a big boost from voters who trace their roots back to this state in northwestern India.

      Vancouver Centre is also home to Adriane Carr, who is the de facto leader of the Greens in Vancouver and where she has run in the past as a federal candidate.

      But the biggest threat to Fry is her government's decision to buy Texas energy giant Kinder Morgan's Canadian assets and then proceed with the $9.3-billion Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project. The rise in oil-tanker traffic poses a significant threat to beaches along English Bay.

      In the past, Fry has beaten back challenges by high-profile New Democrats like Kennedy Stewart, Svend Robinson, and Constance Barnes.

      It's occurred, in part, because her riding is the business and financial hub of the province. And she and her leader, Trudeau, are enormously popular with Vancouver Centre's large gay community.

      Fry has another edge when dealing with the Greens—her son Pete is a new Green councillor. If he decides to help federal Green candidates in the city, it won't be the one running in Vancouver Centre.

      The Greens' best bet is to run a progressive, high-profile candidate who's beloved in the gay community but who's not too left wing. This could peel away gay voters without alienating those who vote Liberal because they don't trust the NDP with the economy. 

      In light of this, the Greens' best option is likely Mayor Gregor Robertson if Green Leader Elizabeth May could convince him to attempt a political comeback. May would probably also have to convince Green councillor Adriane Carr that this is a good idea. One argument might be the mayor's long-standing support for reconciliation with First Nations.

      Robertson has always been an opponent of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and he could ride this issue into Parliament and possibly become the next leader of the Green Party of Canada. He could convincingly make the case to Vancouver Centre voters that he was the most LGBT-friendly mayor in Canadian history.

      The mayor was never hated by downtown residents nearly as much as he was by those in single-family neighbourhoods.

      If Robertson wouldn't do it, the next best option might be former Vision Vancouver park commissioner Trevor Loke. Now the development manager with Tides Canada, the upbeat Loke is in his early 30s and has been identified as a "future leader" of Canada by Maclean's magazine. 

      The super-green Loke has been a champion of the LGBT community, spearheading moves to make park board facilities far more welcoming to the trans community.

      He would also represent generational change in Vancouver Centre. His relative youth would offer a stark contrast to the veteran political warhorse who's held the riding for almost as long as Loke has been alive.

      Another good choice for the Greens would be West End resident Tanya Paz, a long-time sustainable-transportation advocate who ran for Vision Vancouver in the recent council election.

      Yet another strong candidate would be former mayoral hopeful Shauna Sylvester, who lives in the West End. But she might be better placed in Vancouver Quadra, for reasons listed below.

      David Wong has enough street cred with Indigenous people and progressive Chinese Canadians to cause concern for NDP MP Jenny Kwan.

      Vancouver East

      In the last federal election, the Greens ran an excellent candidate in Vancouver East. Wes Regan is an incredibly bright, articulate, and engaging sustainability advocate, a City of Vancouver social planner, and a former executive director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association.

      He was slaughtered by the NDP's Jenny Kwan, who's always been a strong constituency politician. She had a natural advantage in a riding in which 20 percent of residents' first language is a Chinese dialect.

      Kwan has also been a long-time advocate for the urban Aboriginal community, who backed her candidacy and who have more members living in Vancouver East than any other federal riding.

      It's hard to see Kwan losing this riding, though it has been won twice by the Liberals since 1975.

      This time, the Greens' best bet might be David Wong, who came 12th in the recent race for city council. He's been a long-time champion of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and was even featured for this in a CBC documentary by Indigenous journalist Duncan McCue.

      Wong grew up in Strathcona. He's been a vocal advocate for seniors living in Chinatown and for heritage preservation in the old Japantown along Powell Street.

      He wrote a graphic history of the Chinese community on the west coast of North America. And he's long advocated for families that were forced to pay the discriminatory federal head tax.

      If Wong were to be a candidate, he could probably count on the support of the Green civic machine in Vancouver, as well as long-time Strathcona resident and incoming city councillor Pete Fry.

      If Coun. Carr were to campaign for Wong in East Van, that would give his campaign even more momentum.

      Kwan has never been as closely associated with environmentalism as she has with other social movements, notably those favouring harm reduction, justice for Indigenous people, and housing for the poor.

      Climate voters who are terrified about the implications of rising greenhouse-gas emissions could unite behind a Wong candidacy to pay back the provincial NDP for its support for the LNG industry. 

      Should the NDP vote collapse under new leader Jagmeet Singh, there's a possibility that Wong could stage an unexpected upset

      Wong might prefer to run in Vancouver South, where he's lived for many years, and not take on Kwan. But his best hope of winning is probably in Vancouver East.

      Another good choice for Vancouver East would be author and academic Matt Hearn, who was a cofounder of Car Free Day.

      Hearn is a dynamic community organizer who would no doubt run a creative, high-profile, and well-researched campaign against Kwan. It would put Hearn's coauthor and close friend, Am Johal, in a difficult position because he used to work as a constituency aide to Kwan.

      Leonard Schein might be Jody Wilson-Raybould's worst nightmare in Vancouver Granville.

      Vancouver Granville

      Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould might be the most vulnerable Vancouver Liberal MP in the next federal election.

      That's because Vancouver Granville has a large number of Conservative voters and she can only win if she pulls enough progressive votes from the NDP and Greens.

      This time, she'll be hobbled by Trudeau's decision to buy a pipeline. Vancouver Granville includes much of the provincial constituency of Vancouver Fairview, which is one of the greenest electoral districts in B.C. and the place where Gregor Robertson launched his political career.

      Vancouver Granville also includes the upscale neighbourhood of Shaughnessy and is home to the largest Jewish community in the province.

      Here's another thing that makes Vancouver Granville distinct: Conservatives in this riding were more supportive of Maxime Bernier's leadership bid than party members in any other Vancouver riding.

      This suggests that someone will step forward to run for Bernier's new organization, the People's Party of Canada, which will divide the Conservative vote between economic libertarians and those who want to stick with Andrew Scheer.

      This creates an opportunity for the Greens. If I were Elizabeth May, I would pick up the phone and ask Leonard Schein to carry the party banner.

      Schein is president of the Ecojustice board of directors and is on the board of the Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation. He's also the former owner of the Park Theatre and former president of the Cambie Village Business Association. Plus, he's a long-time mental-health advocate.

      Schein's pleasant personality, kind-hearted nature, and contributions to the community—including founding the Vancouver International Film Festival—would win him votes from across the political spectrum.

      He might not be keen to spend the next four years flying back and forth between Vancouver and Ottawa. But he would give the Greens a major credibility injection going into the next election—and he certainly has the qualifications to become a member of Parliament.

      His decision to run might dissuade New Democrat Mira Oreck from running again. If she were out of the race, the Greens would be in a better position to take the seat.

      If the Greens recruited Taqdir Bhandal to run in Vancouver Kingsway, it would be a good investment in the party's future.

      Vancouver Kingsway

      It's time to face facts: the Greens probably don't have a hope of winning Vancouver Kingsway. In the last election, the party only received half as many votes as it did in 2008 when powerhouse NDP MP Don Davies first ran for office.

      Davies is the high-profile NDP health critic who's distinguished himself for his open-minded approach to the fentanyl crisis. What makes his riding interesting is the high number of residents—more than 60,000—who didn't cite English as their first language in the 2011 census

      The highest number, 18,360, listed Cantonese as their first language, but there are also many speakers of other Chinese dialects, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Punjabi. Nearly 10 percent of the population is Buddhist and it has the highest proportion of non-Christians of any riding in the country.

      Given the Greens' relatively poor prospects in Vancouver Kingsway, it might be a good time to boost the profile of a green-minded young candidate of colour who could possibly leave a lasting impact on the city in the future.

      If I were Green Leader Elizabeth May, I would pick up the phone and ask Taqdir Bhandal if she wants to run. May might want to let her know that she has little chance of winning.

      Bhandal works at the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples on the western edge of Vancouver Kingsway and is a PhD candidate at UBC. She won more than 15,000 votes as an independent in the recent city council election and impressed many people at the Last Candidate Standing event during the campaign.

      More importantly to May, Bhandal is a committed environmentalist who wants to draw on Indigenous and global approaches to promote resource conservation. She's an intersectional feminist. She would boost the Greens' appeal in diverse communities of Vancouver, including in the neighbouring riding of Vancouver South.

      Bhandal hopes to become the first woman of South Asian ancestry to be elected to Vancouver city council.

      Running as a federal Green candidate in Vancouver Kingsway might bring her a couple of steps closer to achieving that goal by boosting her name recognition and associating her with the most popular party brand in the city (for now).

      There's no questioning Bhandal's commitment to climate justice. She's also an advocate for extending voting rights to permanent residents. That's a relevant issue for the large number of immigrants in Vancouver Kingsway.

      Shauna Sylvester built up a lot of political capital on the West Side during her recent mayoral run. Does she want to spend it in a titanic fight against Joyce Murray in Vancouver Quadra?

      Vancouver Quadra

      The smartest thing Elizabeth May could do would be to get Liberal MP Joyce Murray to switch over to the Greens. I'm sure this thought has already crossed May's mind.

      That's because Murray has always had a green sensibility and she must be deeply troubled that her opponent in the last federal Liberal leadership race, Justin Trudeau, has turned out to be such a strong advocate for the fossil-fuel lobby.

      Murray is smart enough to know that there's no way the federal government will meet its greenhouse-gas-reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement as long as Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale are running the government.

      It's a boys' club, no matter how much spinning Trudeau does about being a feminist prime minister and how many female MPs he has in cabinet.

      These four white men are a threat to Mother Earth. This is why Murray needs to check out of the federal Liberals, join the Greens, and lead the way toward creating a truly sustainable future for Canadians.

      That's probably not going to happen, though.

      So May's next best option would be to convince recent independent mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester to carry the Green torch into the next federal campaign.

      Sylvester would pull a lot of votes from New Democrats and federal Liberals on the West Side and eat into Murray's support among female voters.

      Moreover, Sylvester already has a high public profile and a campaign team in place. But she might not want to take on Murray, given the Liberal MP's support for her recent mayoral campaign.

      If Sandy Garossino (with pathologist Dr. Arun Garg) were to emerge as a Green candidate, she would present strong economic arguments against the federal government's decision to get into the pipeline business.
      Charlie Smith

      The third best choice would be media commentator, businesswoman, and arts advocate Sandy Garossino.

      She received 20,000 votes as an independent candidate in the 2011 Vancouver council election. This remains the highest total achieved by any independent who had never been elected before since Carole Taylor ran for council in the 1980s.

      Garossino is fully up to speed when it comes to the climate crisis, economic issues, legal affairs, and arts and culture, which are all important to West Side voters. A former prosecutor, she would be a devastating debater in Parliament.

      Not only that, but Garossino would be a good MP for UBC's Point Grey campus, which needs a strong advocate in Ottawa.

      She's probably the candidate that Murray would fear the most because Garossino wouldn't hold back on her criticism of the government's pipeline purchase from an environmental and economic perspective.

      A fourth potential Green candidate in Vancouver Quadra might be UBC Liu Institute scholar George Hoberg, who's been a leader on campus in pushing the university to divest from fossil fuels. He's no slouch.

      According to his biography, he's writing a book on resistance to oilsands pipelines and opportunities that are being presented by the transition to clean energy.

      A fifth potential candidate might be UBC political scientist Kathryn Harrison, who's another giant on campus when it comes to climate issues. A former journalist, she once worked as an engineer in the oil industry.

      A sixth potential candidate could be former Vision Vancouver councillor and long-time Kisilano resident Heather Deal. She has very high name recognition and she was never disliked as much as some other Vision politicians.

      Judy Graves (at microphone) would be an out-of-the-box choice for the Greens in Vancouver South—if she would accept the nomination.

      Vancouver South

      About 40 percent of the voters in Vancouver South are of Chinese ancestry, with another 17 percent tracing their roots back to South Asia and another 11 percent identifying as Filipino. 

      This is the most diverse riding in Vancouver and probably the most difficult of all for the Greens to win.

      New Canadians on the south side of the city can sometimes be more socially conservative than Vancouverites as a whole. This is why Vancouver South was the only Conservative riding to back Scheer over Bernier in the party leadership race.

      Vancouver South also includes a large number of single-family homeowners who don't use transit.

      For Elizabeth May, the best hope is for the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Max Bernier's People's Party of Canada to split the nonenvironmental vote.

      The People's Party of Canada is xenophobic. It wants to ensure that Canada doesn't get "too diverse".

      There's more than a whiff of Islamophobia in all of this. As a result, May can anticipate that Bernier will want to find a candidate of colour to demonstrate that his party isn't racist. It could turn out to be someone of Chinese ancestry, given the riding's demographics.

      The Conservatives can also be expected to nominate a candidate of Chinese ancestry, perhaps Vancouver police staff sergeant Terry Yung, who's been the riding president.

      Yung speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, and he's married to incoming city councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. Former MP Wai Young might also turn out to be the Conservative candidate.

      A long shot Conservative candidate could be businessman Barj Dhahan. The Vancouver police board member was a shoo-in to be the Liberal candidate last time until he was discouraged from running to make room for Harjit Sajjan, who is now the defence minister.

      The NDP is going to hope that that its candidate, along with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, will be enough to beat Sajjan.

      If Dhahan sits out this election or runs in Vancouver Quadra where he lives, the Greens likely need the NDP to nominate an Indo Canadian without any green credentials to siphon votes from Sajjan. That's a distinct possibility. 

      Stuart Mackinnon is the head of the special education department at Killarney secondary, but would he want to give this up, and his position on the Vancouver park board, to become the Green MP for Vancouver South?

      So where does that leave the Greens? In 2015 the party ran Elain Ng, a Cantonese-speaking accountant, who captured 2.58 percent of the votes. Sajjan defeated Young by more than 6,000 votes.

      The temptation will be to run someone who appeals to the large Chinese community.

      But for the Greens, their best bet might actually be to focus on the nearly 36,000 people for whom English is a first language—in the hope that they can win based on how the vote splits between the other parties.

      The Greens would have to vacuum up about 25 percent, which might be enough to win in an evenly divided five-person contest.

      That means they need to win every single climate voter in the riding. They need a veritable saint.

      The Greens might also want to think about running a progressive Christian. And there are lots of Green-minded Christians in Vancouver. One of them, Christine Boyle, was just elected to Vancouver city council with OneCity.

      So who in Vancouver might be available to fill the bill?

      Here's an out-of-the-box suggestion: Judy Graves. The recipient of an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology and Freedom of the City Award, Graves was the city's long-time homelessness-outreach coordinator. She's the nearest thing Vancouver has to a saint for people over the age of 40.

      Graves may not be a resident of Vancouver South, but she can credibly say that she spent a great deal of time in every area of the city over three decades as she helped save lives by finding shelters for the homeless.

      She could run for the Greens as a symbol of resistance to Marpole residents who opposed temporary modular housing for the homeless.

      Graves would then become the candidate for the many generous-minded people in Vancouver South who were appalled by these NIMBYs in their midst.

      Other politicians remained silent. Still others pandered to these Marpole NIMBYs. But Graves stood firm.

      She would bring a message of compassion. Her stature would elevate Green candidates across the city and help May with older female voters who might be inclined to vote NDP.

      Graves might not want to do this. My hunch is that she's inclined to lean NDP, given her decision to run with OneCity in a council by-election last year.

      But she would be a great candidate for the Greens, sending a message that this party has just as much compassion for the poor as any New Democrat in the race. 

      And Graves were to spend time with Elizabeth May, they might find that they have a lot in common.

      But if Graves wasn't interested, the Greens have a very good candidate in the bullpen: Green park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon. He received more than 70,000 votes in the last election. He's been a teacher for many years in South Van. I just have a hunch that he's not going to want to give all that up to fly back and forth between Ottawa and Vancouver all the time.