Chris Shaw, December 8, 2011
There are many things money can buy and, to no one’s great surprise, one of them is an election.
This is hardly a news flash, but the reality was brought home yet again to Vancouverites in the aftermath of the recent municipal election. The two main parties, accurately described as “developer parties” by failed council candidate Tim Louis of COPE, predictably came out on top. Vision Vancouver (now with the mayor and seven councillors, as well as the bulk of Park and School boards) must clearly think its $2 million-plus campaign chest well spent. The NPA scored two council candidates and others on the boards for about the same financial outlay. COPE spent $350,000 to elect one person to School Board, a particularly lousy outcome. Adriane Carr of the Greens who won a seat, and the various independents who didn’t, very likely had considerably lower cost/vote ratios.
As an example, Raymond Louie (Vision), the top polling council candidate of all scored 63, 273 votes. His ratio for dollars spent was something like $32/vote. Elizabeth Ball’s (the NPA’s top) came in at $39/vote. Ellen Woodsworth, the losing COPE councilor, spent $7/vote. De-Growth Vancouver spent $1,300 total and my vote tally was 8,219, or 16 cents/vote.
The take home message is pretty obvious: To win an election in Vancouver, it’s pretty much about the money.