The city's centre-right civic party has chosen its candidate for mayor, picking one name from a list of three that includes a high-profile former journalist in an effort to give itself a new image and recapture power.
The board of the Non-Partisan Association interviewed each candidate during a six-hour meeting last week and voted for a top choice from among them, those familiar with the process say.
While two of the candidates remain unknown, Kirk LaPointe, a career journalist who was CBC ombudsman from 2010 to 2012, has acknowledged he is in ongoing discussions with the party. He has been a senior editor at the Vancouver Sun, CTV, The Canadian Press and the National Post.
NPA officials have declined to confirm that Mr. LaPointe is their choice or to talk about the two other candidates interviewed. But the party's vice-president did confirm the process.
"Each candidate came in and was accorded about an hour. Each of the candidates was good. But the balloting was all secret. It was a secret ballot, a secret result," Rob Macdonald said. "Mr. LaPointe, he's a very cerebral, very intelligent guy. If he's the guy who's chosen, great."
Mr. Macdonald, who had considered running as the mayoral candidate himself, said he decided not to run because he would be such a target for a negative campaign. He is a well-known developer – the Hudson on Granville is one of his buildings – who has made many fiery speeches about the dangers of socialism.
"I know the propaganda attack dogs in Vision Vancouver would like to turn my reputation into dirt," he said. "Mr. LaPointe, I don't think he has any particular baggage. He wouldn't be such a target for Mike Magee" – Mayor Gregor Robertson's chief of staff and usually one of the key Vision campaign organizers.
Mr. Macdonald and other party members also confirmed that the NPA is planning to announce their candidate next week, which is why no one wants to confirm who the candidate is.
"When you're rolling out a product, you want to roll it out perfectly," he said.
Mr. LaPointe has no background in elected politics, though as an editor he managed teams of reporters in Ottawa. He has the potential to give the party the kind of boost that COPE got in 2002 when it brought in former coroner Larry Campbell to give that left-wing party a more moderate image.
Mr. LaPointe has also declined to confirm any details about his choice.
"I've been asked by the association if I would be interested in being considered as one of its candidates, with no specific reference to the position," he said in an e-mail. "It has a process under way that isn't yet complete and so it's premature for me or anyone to say I am a candidate."
Besides choosing a mayoralty candidate, the NPA board also voted last week on council, school and park-board candidates.
Mr. Macdonald confirmed that the NPA has decided not to name a full slate of 10 council candidates now, in order to leave some room for later choices.