Vancouver The office of Vancouver mayor has always been regarded as a political prize and springboard to greater glory. Past mayors have gone on to become provincial premiers; previous mayor Larry Campbell eased into a spot in the federal senate. But incumbent Mayor Sam Sullivan has discovered that the post also comes with its share of slings and arrows. These days - particularly should he venture into the Downtown Eastside - Mayor Sullivan can't make any kind of appearance without being shouted down by protesters. His political rivals can scent blood. And it's not just his traditional enemies that Mayor Sullivan needs to be worried about. He is also under attack from within his own party, the centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA). One of the NPA's councillors, Peter Ladner, announced last week that he is going to try to unseat the mayor. As Mr Ladner explains it, he doesn't want to bad-mouth the current mayor, who was once a close ally. But he says he has heard over and over again from the public that they have lost trust in the mayor and confidence in the way the city is being managed. 'When the ship is heading towards the rocks and someone can do something about it, I feel a responsibility to grab the steering wheel and change the course,' said Mr Ladner. The split with the mayor won't be an easy thing for the councillor to negotiate: Mr Ladner wants to continue to run under the NPA banner rather than as an independent. But the party's board has decided that incumbent NPA candidates will stay on the party's slate for the upcoming election only if they have community support. 'The ultimate goal at all times has been to ensure that the NPA is able to present Vancouver with the best possible candidates for civic offices,' said Matthew Taylor, president of the party. Any way you look at it, the Sullivan-Ladner matchup is an intriguing one. Mr Ladner is a Vancouver blueblood raised in the elite Shaughnessy neighbourhood, a member of one of the city's most eminent and wealthy families. Mr Sullivan is a wheelchair-bound political scrapper who has modelled himself as a perennial underdog. Mayor Sullivan, who taught himself Cantonese well enough to take part in radio call-in shows and speaks passable Putonghua, is still well liked among minority groups and immigrants. They like the underdog image, which he uses to make his opponents look like bullies for attacking him. Opponents would do well not to underestimate him. Already, Mayor Sullivan has raised half a million dollars in his personal campaign fund and made it clear that he wants to be Vancouver's mayor when the Olympics begin in two years. After working together closely with Mr Ladner for five years, Mayor Sullivan seemed surprised at the revolt. Mr Sullivan said he 'wasn't aware of any major policy differences between us'. Ironically, one of the reasons Mayor Sullivan won the election two years ago was that he mended a rift in the NPA dating back to a 2002 split between the party's then-mayor, Philip Owen, and a mutinous NPA councillor. History, it seems, has a way of repeating itself.