04/18/2013 12:07 EDT | Updated 06/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Sam Sullivan, Vancouver Liberal Candidate, Has Unfinished Business


VANCOUVER – Sam Sullivan has unfinished business to attend to after losing his own party’s nomination for mayor five years ago.

During an initial, bitter race for the Non-Partisan Association’s mayoral nomination in 2005, Sullivan — the underdog candidate — won a heated battle with Premier Christy Clark by what was reported to be 100 votes or less.

He won the civic election in 2005.

But he had a turbulent term, soaring when he rolled his wheelchair onto the stage in 2006 at the closing ceremonies of the Turin Games as mayor of the next Winter Olympic host city, and then suffering the embarrassing rebuke of being ousted as leader of his party by a former colleague.

Now, Sullivan wants to make up for the lost time since 2008.

“I’ve been where the rubber hits the road and a lot of the issues that we struggled with really … had their roots in provincial difficulties,” he said.

“You can’t release some of these problems unless you get to them at the provincial level.”

Among other issues, Sullivan wants to tackle social housing, drug policy, transportation funding and even the structures of municipal governments.

Peter Ladner, the NPA councillor who ousted the sitting mayor as the NPA’s candidate for the 2008 civic election, now works as a columnist and author. He doesn’t have much to say about Sullivan or Sullivan’s current run for the Liberals.

But at the time, Ladner made it clear that Sullivan needed to go, saying when he sees a ship headed for the rocks, he feels obligated to change course.

He also criticized Sullivan for not being transparent with funding, accusing him of taking money for one purpose and using it for another.

Ladner sunk the party when he lost to Vision Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson, a former NDP MLA, in the 2008 mayoral race.

Sullivan said he feels his municipal background, including 15 years on Vancouver city council, gives him the right foundation to work on the same issues at a provincial level.

Sullivan, who became paralysed in a skiing accident at 19, and was the first quadriplegic mayor in history to accept the Olympic flag.

He was also the first Vancouver mayor able to speak Cantonese and read basic Chinese.

Since his departure from civic politics, Sullivan has taught at UBC and held regular public salons featuring speakers as diverse as particle physicists and dog psychologists.

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