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In happier times: NPA council candidate and Vancouver's Civic Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor, Suzanne Anton on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak for the Globe and Mail/Rafal Gerszak for the Globe and Mail)
In happier times: NPA council candidate and Vancouver's Civic Non-Partisan Association candidate for Mayor, Suzanne Anton on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak for the Globe and Mail/Rafal Gerszak for the Globe and Mail)

Municipal election

Defeated NPA candidate blasts Anton's campaign style Add to ...

Sean Bickerton, a defeated city council candidate for the Non-Partisan Association in last weekend’s municipal election, is scolding Suzanne Anton for a “puerile, sophomoric” mayoral campaign, according to a statement on his blog.

Mr. Bickerton fired off the parting shot in a stated departure from public life after Ms. Anton was defeated by Vision Vancouver candidate Gregor Robertson in her bid to become Vancouver mayor.

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“We have done everything possible to make voters aware of the issues I believed were important in this campaign,” he wrote. “But the voters have spoken, decisively rejecting a mayoral campaign based on puerile, sophomoric gotcha-style attacks and trivial wedge issues.”

Mr. Bickerton, a former vice-president of the NPA board, did not elaborate on his views, and did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Paradoxically, Mr. Bickerton’s criticism came soon after he taped an endorsement for Ms. Anton that was uploaded to YouTube on voting day, Nov. 19.

In it, he says he is “very proud” to support Ms. Anton and looked forward to congratulating her as Vancouver mayor after the votes were counted. He says he was immediately impressed, upon meeting Ms. Anton, with her “intelligence, integrity and passion about the issues of the city.”

Ms. Anton, in an interview Monday, said she continues to admire Mr. Bickerton – “I like Sean very much” – but rejected his characterization of her campaign for mayor, which fell nearly 20,000 votes short of beating Mr. Robertson.

She said it was “mythology” that the NPA ran a negative campaign, saying the campaign was based on observations that sometimes poked fun.

“We certainly were never misleading nor were we mistruthful,” she said. “People thinking about negative campaigns should look at the last few days of campaigning that Vision Vancouver did.”

Ms. Anton declined comment on the propriety of Mr. Bickerton attacking her campaign before raising his concerns in the process of internal review that will begin soon for the NPA.

But the president of the NPA, John Moonen, said the party would like to have a chat with Mr. Bickerton about his remarks as part of the NPA’s process of reflection following the weekend vote. Until then, Mr. Moonen said he was not in a position to comment.

Mr. Robertson won 53 per cent of the popular vote compared to 40.1 per cent for Ms. Anton.

The result means a second term for Mr. Robertson, a former NDP member of the legislature first elected in 2008. Vision won seven of 10 council seats, with the Green Party winning one and the NPA two. That means a gain of one seat for the NPA, represented only by Ms. Anton since 2008. She gave up her seat to run for mayor.

Political scientist Patrick Smith said, overall, Ms. Anton played the “classic underdog” hand throughout the campaign, trying to gain support over Mr. Robertson, who embraced a front-runner approach of not engaging her too early.

“I don’t know what else she could have done other than have a much stronger team run for council,” he said.

Indeed, Prof. Smith of Simon Fraser University said he thought the NPA would be wise to make sure Ms. Anton remains engaged in party affairs, even behind the scenes.

“She played a pretty good campaign with a limited set of cards,” he said.

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