Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Mark Marissen, then-campaign manager for Stéphane Dion, smiles at a supporter at the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal on Dec. 2, 2006.

Jim Ross/The Globe and Mail

A man who has been behind dozens of political campaigns, including those of federal Liberals Paul Martin and Stéphane Dion, as well as former B.C. premier Christy Clark, is stepping out from backstage to run for Vancouver mayor.

In the latest addition to what promises to be a roller-coaster civic election campaign next year, Mark Marissen will announce Wednesday that he is entering the race because he thinks Vancouver is in trouble and none of the current candidates has a workable plan for saving it.

“I love Vancouver and I don’t think there is any leadership. The city is sliding backward,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Marissen focused on the need to create more housing for young people in Vancouver, better transit and more productive relationships with the federal and provincial governments. He said Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s approaches have often been one-dimensional and ineffective.

“One of the best examples is … his petition to decriminalize drugs. But they have effectively been decriminalized the last 10 years,” he said. What’s needed, instead, is more of a push from the city for effective and well-funded treatment for people trying to get away from harmful drug use, he said.

Mr. Marissen said he won’t be taking the route of some Vancouver politicians and groups who focus on tackling crime and public disorder.

“We have to start with love for our neighbours. Vancouverites are intelligent enough to know a simple law-and-order approach won’t work.”

Mr. Marissen said he has built up a team for the campaign, but still needs to recruit others to run with him. He did not want to provide information about a poll that was done recently on Vancouver mayoral candidates that included his name.

His campaign will add even more uncertainty to the 2022 civic election, as once-stable party politics in Vancouver have evaporated. In recent decades, City Hall was dominated by the Non-Partisan Association and then by Vision Vancouver, but the last civic election devolved into a tangle of multiple parties and independents.

Even though the election is 18 months away, two other people from the centre-right political world have already declared they are running, as has current mayor Mr. Stewart.

Mr. Stewart, a former NDP MP elected as an independent in 2018, has struggled to keep council going in a coherent direction, with four parties on his council, leading to a sense that he could be vulnerable. But it’s unclear who will emerge as his main opposition.

The NPA, which dominated Vancouver for many of the decades from the 1930s to the early 2000s, named Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Coupar as its mayoral candidate two weeks ago, through a private board decision rather than a membership vote.

The current elected NPA councillors, who already had concerns about a number of controversies surrounding the NPA board, have expressed dismay about that process and have not put out any statements of support for Mr. Coupar.

Ken Sim, the NPA’s mayoral candidate from 2018 who lost to Mr. Stewart by fewer than 1,000 votes, has said he is running as an independent and has raised more than $500,000 already to finance his campaign. There are suggestions he will run with a new party to be announced this week, one of two said to be on the verge of launching.

Those two candidates have the support of some well-known backers. Developer Rob Macdonald has been trying to work with and provide help to the NPA, while businessman Peter Armstrong has been raising money for Mr. Sim.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Marissen, 55, said he doesn’t have that kind of high-profile funders on his team.

He has been largely known for his work as a hard-hitting campaigner and lobbyist with federal Liberal connections and contacts within the Indo-Canadian and Chinese communities. In the 2004 federal election, he helped assemble a diverse group of Liberal candidates who led the party to a strong showing. His tactics and connections also helped propel Mr. Martin and Mr. Dion to party leadership, but those two politicians later did not go any further and the party was left with residual divides.

Besides that, Mr. Marissen has been a player and campaigner in the Vancouver civic scene since 2005.

That’s the year his then-wife, Ms. Clark, ran for the mayoral nomination of the Non-Partisan Association with his help, after Mr. Marissen had successfully pitched then-mayor Larry Campbell for a Senate position, leaving the field open. (Ms. Clark lost to Sam Sullivan, who went on to win for the NPA.)

He publicly supported Vision Vancouver for much of its 10-year reign, voting for Gregor Robertson as mayor three times, before turning against the party, he said, over its continued support for then-school board chair Patti Bacchus after reports came out about bullying on the part of the board and Ms. Bacchus.

In 2017 and 2018, Mr. Marissen helped get newcomer Hector Bremner elected as an NPA councillor in a by-election, then created a new party – YES Vancouver – with Mr. Bremner as the mayoral candidate.

Story continues below advertisement

A long-time federal Liberal campaigner said Mr. Marissen has an opportunity – though not a guarantee – to occupy key political space in Vancouver that could lead to a win.

“With the death of the old NPA and the death of Vision, people have nowhere to go,” said Greg Wilson, who worked with both parties over the years. “The most important things now will be listening to Vancouverites and surrounding himself with a strong, diverse group.”

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies