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Nov. 13-19, 1996

NPA crushes COPE's hopes in Vancouver civic elections

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Record-low voter turnout, an anti-NDP backlash, a left-wing split and bad weather were among the factors the Coalition of Progressive Electors blamed for its stunning defeat at the hands of the Non-Partisan Association in Vancouver's civic elections this week.

NPA candidates were elected to all 27 city council, parks board and school board positions in a landslide that Vancouver mayor Philip Owen called a "humbling experience."

Mr. Owen easily won a second consecutive term as mayor, garnering about 50,000 votes compared to 26,000 for his COPE rival, Carmela Allevato. Just 32 per cent of registered voters cast ballots in the election, while COPE's support plunged to its lowest levels since the 1970s.

Ms. Allevato said the NPA campaign "used every possible tactic" to link COPE with the increasingly unpopular B.C. government led by NDP premier Glen Clark.

COPE lost thousands of votes to VOICE, an electoral slate led by former NPA councillor Jonathan Baker and disaffected COPE member Connie Fogal, while support for Green Party candidates in all three races ranged from 11,000 to 18,000 votes

Flash forward: In 2005, ongoing internal tensions in the COPE organization led to the formation of Vision Vancouver, now headed by Mayor Gregor Robertson.

25 YEARS AGO… (Nov. 13-19, 1986)

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Newcomer Campbell routs veteran Rankin in mayor's race

Upstart Non-Partisan Association leader Gordon Campbell easily defeated veteran councillor Harry Rankin in Vancouver's mayoral race on Saturday as the NPA won all but one of the available seats on the school board, the parks board and city council.

Mr. Campbell, 38, who outpaced his 66-year-old rival by more than 19,000 votes, credited the victory to the NPA's broad support base and voter mistrust of Mr. Rankin's old-school socialist politics.

Mr. Rankin predicted that Mr. Campbell's right-leaning slate would cater to wealthy developers who are "waiting to carve this city up." He also complained that his opponent spent nearly $1 million during the civic election campaign and said Mr. Campbell was "packaged and sold like a piece of beef."

Mr. Campbell resigned as president of Citycore Developments Corp. in June, but still owns one-third of the company.

A former executive assistant to Vancouver mayor Art Phillips from 1972 to 1976, he was viewed as a long shot to defeat the more experienced Mr. Rankin.

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Flash forward: Mr. Campbell served three terms as Vancouver's mayor and three terms as premier of British Columbia. He was appointed Canada's High Commissioner to Great Britain on Sept. 15, 2011.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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