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Daphne Bramham: Historic Vancouver election modifications big-city politics

Ken Sim’s election comes amid rising anti-Asian assaults in a metropolis the place Chinese language-Canadians comprise a considerable portion of the inhabitants

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It was a historic election Saturday when Ken Sim swept into energy in Vancouver with greater than 50 per cent of the vote.

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He can be Vancouver’s first Chinese language-Canadian mayor, ending an unbroken line of white, male — primarily Anglo-Saxon — mayors relationship to 1886 that’s included three Campbells and, most just lately, Kennedy Stewart.

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Sim’s election comes amid rising anti-Asian assaults in a metropolis the place Chinese language-Canadians comprise a considerable portion of the inhabitants and the survival of Canada’s largest, historic Chinatown is being challenged by chaos spilling over from the Downtown Eastside on the epicentre of Canada’s opioid overdose disaster.

The son of Hong Kong immigrants who arrived right here with $3,200 in Canada’s centennial 12 months, 1967, Sim was born and raised in Vancouver.

“The historical past of the second isn’t misplaced on me,” Sim mentioned Saturday night time.

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He famous that the exclusionary Chinese language head tax wasn’t abolished till 1923 and acknowledged the Chinese language-Canadian politicians of all completely different events who had helped break down the boundaries.

A few of Sim’s success in receiving probably the most ever votes by a Vancouver mayor could be credited to his outreach to Chinese language-Canadian voters.

That mentioned, there are greater than sufficient urgent and prosaic issues far faraway from geopolitics to maintain the political novice and his ABC Vancouver’s majority on council, college and park boards busy after their Nov. 5 swearing in.

Sim’s historic win marks one other inflection level in Vancouver’s political historical past. The once-powerful NPA, COPE and Imaginative and prescient events are gone, obliterated. Greens and OneCity are barely there and Stewart’s nascent Ahead Collectively will nearly definitely disappear.

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Ken Sim celebrates after winning the Vancouver mayoral race
Ken Sim celebrates after profitable the Vancouver mayoral race Picture by Francis Georgian /PNG

It was all a part of a juggernaut of change that swept throughout British Columbia. Dozens of incumbent mayors and councillors had been tossed out together with Surrey’s Doug McCallum, the place a deeply divided citizens gave Brenda Locke a slim victory.

The rancorous race centred on McCallum’s 2018 promise to switch the RCMP with a metropolis police power and Locke’s vow to undo the transition regardless of the town having spent $63.7 million and having employed 350 officers and civilian workers.

With 20 of 87 provincial ridings positioned within the two largest cities, it might portend perilous occasions forward for the B.C. New Democrats, who’re presently mired in a messy management course of that has uncovered presumptive front-runner David Eby’s fairly tone-deaf strategy to what he assumed can be a coronation.

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The impression that Eby, together with different Vancouver NDP MLAs and nationwide chief Jagmeet Singh, could also be out-of-touch was solely strengthened by his full-throated endorsement of Stewart.

The Vancouver consequence doesn’t bode effectively both for Eby’s potential challenger, Anjali Appadurai.

She and high-profile supporters Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis aligned themselves with OneCity.

Unwinding the half-built Surrey police power might additionally end in some attention-grabbing political spectacle on the provincial degree. The B.C. Liberals are hammering away at public issues of safety with former RCMP officer Eleanore Sturko taking a number one function. Of Surrey’s 9 MLAs, seven are NDP together with Jinny Sims, who was certainly one of Locke’s unsuccessful challengers.

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Surrey mayor-elect Brenda Locke on election night in Surrey on Oct. 15, 2022.
Surrey mayor-elect Brenda Locke on election night time in Surrey on Oct. 15, 2022. Picture by Jason Payne /PNG

There was one other historic milestone reached throughout the 2022 municipal vote in lots of municipalities. Voter turnout hit even decrease lows regardless of some pollsters and analysts predicting/believing/hoping {that a} robust need for change would drive electors to vote by mail or go to the polls.

It didn’t occur. Vancouver’s makes an attempt to spice up voting with extra alternatives to vote by mail, extra days of advance polling, the flexibility to vote at any polling station with acceptable identification and the addition of candidates’ names in Chinese language characters did nothing to cease the slide.

In the long run, solely the courageous and decided navigated the prolonged and jumbled lists of candidates. Practically 65 per cent of eligible electors didn’t forged ballots. Surrey turnout was little higher.

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The identical was true in Victoria. In Saanich, practically 70 per cent of voters didn’t hassle. Worse nonetheless is neighbouring Langford the place solely 23.6 per cent voted, though that was a marked enchancment from 18.5 per cent in 2018.

A paradox of latest elections in Vancouver and Surrey is that as voter curiosity declines, candidate numbers have elevated. It raises the query of whether or not having too many candidates and too many events causes voter confusion and a reluctance to vote.

But when that’s true, what options are there that might guarantee voters proceed to have an array of decisions with out making it so troublesome to run that there’s a scarcity of candidates.

Already, there are municipalities the place individuals don’t wish to run. Mayors in 37 municipalities — together with Burnaby, the province’s third largest metropolis — had been acclaimed this 12 months. There are additionally uncounted numbers of councillors and college trustees who ran unopposed.

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A ward system would possibly assist or perhaps regional authorities. Perhaps the spending limits are so low that voters aren’t getting the knowledge they want, however then why are so many candidates working? Perhaps an answer is dropping the age restrict in order that the voting behavior is instilled in youth whereas they’re nonetheless in highschool.

This all requires cautious evaluation. However one factor is evident. For the sake of democracy, considerate reform is required.

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