With only days left in the provincial election campaign, the battle for the Vancouver-False Creek riding is nearing an end for its high-profile Liberal and NDP candidates.
For NDP contender Matt Toner, the campaign has been a fight to get his name out there as his Liberal opponent is former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan. Toner, a digital media entrepreneur, said his campaign has focused on trying to close the name-recognition gap with Sullivan.
Toner scored some public attention early on by handing out orange doggy jackets bearing his name. The media-friendly move seemed to be a hit in a riding notable for its pooch-friendly parks and paths.
“A few months ago, nobody knew who the hell I was. That’s for sure,” he told the Straight by phone. “And now we’ve found that people have heard of me. They’ve seen my picture. They’ve connected with us via social media.”
“I think we’ve done a decent job of narrowing that gap. Now is that going to be enough to put us over the top? I don’t know, but I know that a few months ago people had written us off and now I think the race is very close.”
For his part, Sullivan is expressing confidence in his campaigning efforts as voting day approaches on May 14.
“We feel that we’ve done the best that we could. We’re getting good feedback from the streets and we’re cautiously optimistic,” he told the Straight by phone.
Sullivan acknowledged he has an edge, in part, because of his already-established profile in the riding.
“My advantage for me is that I’ve spent 10 years very active in the riding, and since I don’t drive, I’m always travelling in my wheelchair around the neighbourhood, I guess I’m kind of recognizable and people do know that I’m their neighbour, that I’m invested in their neighbourhood.”
Meanwhile, Green candidate Daniel Tseghay expressed no regrets about his campaign against the two high-profile, would-be MLAs.
“I’m happy because I’ve had a chance to speak out on certain issues and, whatever the results, I’m perfectly comfortable with that,” Tseghay told the Straight by phone.
Tseghay, a freelance writer and English teacher, admitted his first foray as a provincial candidate has been challenging.
“It’s a very tough campaign. Matt Toner and Sam Sullivan of course are running very good campaigns and they’ve got a lot of support,” he said.
“And also the district, Vancouver-False Creek, is probably not the most typical district for someone with my kind of views, very progressive views. But there’s been positive responses and feedback. There’s a good chunk of Green-minded people in the district.”
In late April, the Conservatives fired their candidate in the riding, Ian Tootill, for posting controversial comments on Twitter. The party is not running a replacement but Tootill is still seeking election as an independent candidate.
Mary McNeil, the riding’s former Liberal MLA, is not seeking reelection.
The other two candidates listed by Elections B.C. for Vancouver-False Creek are James Filippelli with Your Political Party and Sal Vetro with B.C. First.