Favourite out of mayoral run

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am


The woman everyone expected to be Vancouver's next mayor has declined

the job. True, provincial Finance Minister Carole Taylor had never even announced that she was running for the position - not officially, anyway. But her decision last week that she would not run for City Hall nevertheless came as a blow to her legion of supporters.

A simple announcement two months ago that the high-flying former beauty queen and broadcaster was dropping out of provincial politics sparked rumours she was gunning for Mayor Sam Sullivan's job. She wouldn't confirm or deny, and her comments at the time that she was focused on delivering the provincial budget on February 19 only fuelled speculation.

It quickly became clear that Ms Taylor was thinking seriously of entering the race. In a dig at Mr Sullivan, she said she was aware of a 'great dissatisfaction for one reason or another' because so many different groups and people were urging her to run.

Ms Taylor certainly has the pedigree. She is married to Art Phillips, himself a former mayor of Vancouver and the political mentor of a subsequent mayor, Gordon Campbell. Mr Campbell went on to become Ms Taylor's boss as British Columbia's premier.

Before all the hype about the mayoralty, there had been talk that Ms Taylor was interested in the premier's job. But Mr Campbell made clear that he intends to stay on until the Winter Olympics in 2010.

All the stars seemed to be aligned for Ms Taylor to run for mayor of the province's biggest city. She is riding a crest of popularity based on the widespread impression that she can accomplish pretty much anything to which she sets her mind.

In her first term in provincial politics, she was handed the coveted finance portfolio, and high resource prices have helped her accomplish impressive budgetary surpluses. She also dangled those surpluses as bonuses for public servants - from nurses to teachers - if they in return guaranteed industrial harmony in the run-up to the Olympics.

Ms Taylor had goodwill and powerful backing, from the financial community, and from the political left and right. What she didn't have was the right timing.

With a provincial budget to deliver, she would not have been able to begin campaigning for mayor until May. With the municipal election in November, that was cutting things too fine.

Her decision not to run has Vancouver's opposition left wing scrambling to find common ground on a candidate, after it split last election into two parties, Vision Vancouver and the Coalition of Progressive Electors (Cope).

'We have to find a way to work for the interest of this city,' said Cope councillor David Cadman. 'I'm urging Vision to take this opportunity. Together we can win. Divided we cannot.'

But Vision councillor Raymond Louie - who could be a mayoral candidate himself - said his party had a large membership base and no need to join Cope.

All of which places the incumbent in a very comfortable position. In politics, timing is everything - and for Mr Sullivan, favour falls on his side for now.

Tomorrow: New York