Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vancouver Election a Lesson in Every Vote Counts

Election results by division from
Last night I had some friends over for dinner, but as 11pm rolled around my thoughts were elsewhere. That's because all the way over on the other side of the country in my former city of Vancouver, where the time was just 8pm, the polls had just closed on what had become a pretty heated municipal election.

It was hard to gauge what the real feeling was like in Vancouver from my perch over here in Toronto where all I had to go on was Twitter, blogs, and newspapers. As polls rolled in that showed Suzanne Anton's NPA closing in on Gregor Robertson's Vision Vancouver--a trend attributed by the media mostly to the Occupy Vancouver protests--I started to wonder if Robertson could really lose a campaign that seemed like such a sure shot only a few weeks ago.

Well, wonder did not turn to reality. Vision has swept back in with a majority on council, taking the top seven spots, with the NPA taking spots eight and nine and, amazingly, Adriane Carr of the Greens squeaking into spot number ten. Sadly, COPE saw themselves shut out, which is a disappointment.

But as the night went on, it was the bottom spot on council where the action really was. As each wave of polls were reported (I think I almost broke the refresh button on my browser), the results for the bottom seat changed. It was the NPA's Bill Yuen, then it was the NPA's Mike Klassen, then COPE's Ellen Woodsworth began bubbling upwards, then it was Green's Adriane Carr, then Yuen again.

With all the polls reporting except one in the West End, even with Yuen still sitting in spot number ten, it was pretty clear that Carr was going to get that last council seat. The West End is her territory after all. I remember in past Provincial elections when I used to live in the West End, seeing Carr standing on street corners with BC Green Party volunteers back when she was the leader of that party.

At the end of the night, Carr won the seat over COPE's Ellen Woodsworth by a mere 91 votes. Let me say that again. 91 votes. You could squish that many people onto a bus if you really wanted to. If there was ever a lesson in every vote counts, that was it.

I'm sad to see Woodsworth lose the spot as I think she is a great, capable and down-to-earth councillor. I remember her showing up briefly to the magazine launch of OCW Magazine with bicycle helmet under arm to say hello, back when I was Managing Editor there. Out of all the councillors we invited, she was the only one who showed up.

The next time you hear someone say their vote doesn't count, you can point to that result. 91 people. That's all it took.

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