Two prominent NDP politicians say they are seriously considering a run for mayor of Vancouver in order to unite progressive parties against the centre-right Non-Partisan Association and tackle the city's extraordinary housing crisis.
With the announcement last month that Mayor Gregor Robertson will not run again in October after 10 years in power with his Vision Vancouver party, the field has been thrown wide open, with all parties scrambling to devise strategy and field candidates.
Over the weekend, former NDP MP Libby Davies and current NDP MP Don Davies – not related – both said they are talking to a wide range of people about how best to unite the centre-left and left-wing vote among Vision Vancouver, the Green Party, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) and OneCity.
Both say they're considering running because Vancouver is in serious trouble, with out-of-control housing costs and a sense that the city is failing residents.
"It feels like the city is in shock," said Ms. Davies, who will be 64 at the end of the month. "People are hurting from struggling to live in the city. Whoever runs, there's something big out there, and that person has to connect to people who are feeling lost."
She said there are few people in the city who can bring people together.
"I can play that role."
Mr. Davies said it's clear that the city's housing crisis needs a new approach.
"I think we need fresh, bold solutions. The bottom line is to recognize it is a crisis, and that would be my No. 1 priority. Young people are leaving, people are living in cramped conditions – they want to seek a council that hunkers down and works on this."
He also said the next council needs to focus more on basics such as transit, garbage and clean parks. "Thinking globally is important, but equally important are those basic services."
Ms. Davies, who was a city councillor for years before becoming the MP for Vancouver East until 2015, when she announced her retirement, said she would run as an independent in order to make it easier for the groups to unite.
Mr. Davies, a 55-year-old labour lawyer who has represented Vancouver-Kingsway since 2008, said his team is exploring options on whether to run independently or with a party.
Their decision to talk publicly about running comes as the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) is still working out who its mayoral candidate will be. President Greg Baker pushed the nomination back from late February to an undecided date in April in order to give those considering a run more time.
To date, only one person, Glen Chernen, has publicly announced that he will vie for the NPA nomination, after running in 2014 with a new party that he created with his brother.
Media executive Kirk LaPointe, who was the NPA's mayoral candidate in 2014, Councillor Hector Bremner, who won in a by-election last October, and former Conservative MP Wai Young have said they are considering running, but none have made a public decision yet.
Mr. Bremner won the by-election, taking a seat away from Vision, with just 28 per cent of the vote; the rest of the votes were split among the other four parties.
That's something both Ms. Davies and Mr. Davies said they don't want to have happen again.
"If there's one lesson people took from the by-election, it's that if the centre and left progressive sides are not united, it paves the way for the NPA," Mr. Davies said.
Ms. Davies said she believes that Vision Vancouver, after being dominant for so long among the progressive parties, is now willing to be truly collaborative.
"They've had a bit of a wake-up call. I think Vision gets the message they need to co-operate."