It was a cold, cold Saturday night by Vancouver standards. I headed toward the Wall Centre in a state of frigid apprehension, my anxiety only partly numbed by the cold, and the knowledge that my trusty sketchbook was in my backpack.
While nearly every objective measure suggested the party I was supporting, Vision Vancouver, was about to win the city’s municipal election, a few recent polls suggested the race had tightened up sharply in the last few days. And they suggested the momentum was with the NPA, Vancouver’s right-wing civic party.
The NPA’s campaign had focused on several targets they evidently considered tempting, including the city’s urban agriculture policies, and new separated bike lanes on a few downtown streets.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so worried. One of the NPA’s last public events included someone dressed in a chicken suit holding a sign that said “Homeless Chickens.” Here’s a handy rule of thumb: If, a day or two before an election, you find yourself appearing at press events with people dressed as chickens, chances are the Big Mo is with your opponent.
The TV coverage I saw was on Shaw’s Community Channel 4, which (as far as I could tell) had managed to find a panel of four white male commentators. Come on, people, what is this? A tech conference?
For a brief while, Gregor Robertson’s NPA challenger, Suzanne Anton, was ahead by several hundred votes. But then a few more polling stations reported and their positions flipped. Not long after that, it became clear that every Vision candidate was cruising to victory, and the mood at the party switched from Confidently Hopeful to Awfully Damn Happy.
Once the results were more or less clear, Anton delivered her concession speech. It was classy and gracious, and I liked the part toward the end refuting the idea of politics as a thankless job.
Now, classy and gracious are good. But just once, I’d like to see a defeated candidate really cut loose on the voters.
Speaking of speeches – if you’re ever in the position of writing a victory speech (and here’s hoping you are!), you have one big challenge: the crowd is deliriously happy. That means every line for the first five to ten minutes is an applause line.
(In my defence, a] I never claimed to be a caricaturist, and b] I was standing up and juggling a sketchpad, a beverage and a Sharpie fine-line marker.)