Heated Vancouver council meeting may be harbinger of nasty election campaign

If the exchange between NPA councillor George Affleck and Vision Vancouver’s Raymond Louie at this week’s council meeting was any indication, voters may have to brace themselves for an ugly election campaign.

With an election eight months away, councillors Raymond Louie and George Affleck trade verbal jabs

Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie gets into a heated exchange with NPA councillor George Affleck Tuesday. (City of Vancouver)

If the exchange between NPA councillor George Affleck and Vision Vancouver's Raymond Louie at Tuesday's council meeting was any indication, voters may in for an ugly election campaign.

The two councillors got into a nasty exchange during a debate over whether the city should reach out to the B.C. NDP to help small businesses.

"Sure, let's talk to the province," Affleck said. "Let's ask the socialists what they should be doing for small business in B.C., and see what they come back with."

When Louie questioned Affleck on his choice of words, Affleck asked if he should have used the term "communists" instead.

"Calling them communists or questioning whether they're communists, councillor Affleck, is also inappropriate," Louie fired back.

"Maybe that's also the reason you're not running again, councillor Affleck."

Lots of turnover

University of British Columbia political scientist Max Cameron hopes Vancouver councillors and mayoral candidates will keep mudslinging to a minimum between now and election day on October 20.

"Whether having fresh blood come in means more civility, I guess depends a lot on what kind of people are drawn to the job," Cameron said.

"What causes things to go toxic is when politics gets too personal and people don't figure out how to work across party lines to build consensus."

Cameron says until he knows who is running, it's hard to predict whether the candidates will play nice or be at each other's throats.

Affleck is not seeking reelection and NPA councillor Hector Bremner — who won a byelection last year to replace outgoing Vision councillor Geoff Meggs — is running for mayor.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision councillors Andrea Reimer, Kerry Jang and Tim Stevenson have all announced they're not seeking another term.

NPA Councillor Hector Bremner is running for mayor in the upcoming election. (City of Vancouver)

Who is running?

The names that have been mentioned as possible replacements for Robertson range on the political spectrum from former NDP MP Libby Davies to former Conservative MP Wai Young.

Vision hasn't revealed whether it will run a mayoral candidate, throw its support behind an independent or focus on running a slate of councillors.

"My sense is within Vision there is a bit of a division between those that feel the party should stay the course and those who want it to hit the refresh button and rebrand itself," Cameron said.

"The fact that Gregor Robertson is stepping down really creates an opportunity for the party to do that."