NEWS

Vancouver mayoral debate: an insider perspective

11/12/2014 05:43 EST | Updated 01/12/2015 05:59 EST
It's just a few days until the municipal election, and the polls are tight in Vancouver's mayoral race.

The numbers are narrowing between Gregor Robertson (Vision Vancouver) and Kirk LaPointe (NPA) in a race already marked with negative campaign ads from both parties and a lawsuit for defamation.

On Wednesday morning, the closeness of the race became abundantly clear when Robertson and LaPointe, along with COPE mayoral candidate Meena Wong, squared off for a debate in CBC Vancouver's Studio 700.

Civic affairs blogger Frances Bula and Vancouver Sun City Hall reporter Jeff Lee were on a special panel at the debate, which was moderated by The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"Negative resonates with people," Bula told Cluff. "We all remember one cutting remark from a person much longer than we remember any positive things."

"When you're trying to be the guy who's getting in to office, negative tends to be where people say, 'Yes, let's put the boots to [the incumbent],'" said Lee.

"'I'm glad he said that, I've been waiting for someone to say that for so long,'" Bula said.

Both Bula and Lee stressed that polls have been wrong in the past, and Lee says he's become particularly skeptical of internal polling done by the parties themselves.

"I've been burned by an NPA poll in the last election when it turned out wrong, and we know what happened in the last provincial election. My inclination is to run screaming from the room," he said.

"I just want you to know I did a lawn sign count, and that is the definitive word on where the election is going," Bula chimed in. 

"It's very close. 76 Vision signs to 71 NPA signs. You heard it here," she said.

Bula and Lee both said they'd watch the debate closely to see if candidates would change position on key issues.

There was a bit of surprise when incumbent Robertson apologized to people of Vancouver.

"I guess we're all hoping someone breaks down and starts crying or something," Bula joked.

All candidates maintained their composure.

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