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7 min

Stalemate

Vancouver-Burrard waits for recount

Lorne Mayencourt Credit: Matt Mills Photo

Tim Stevenson’s office, May 17

Ian Reid sits by the phone in the backroom of Tim Stevenson’s campaign office, waiting for it to ring. Soon that phone and others around it will be ringing continuously, as NDP scrutineers call in their polling station’s numbers from across the riding. But at this moment, all is still quiet.

“I think Tim’s a great councillor and has been a great MLA in the past and I want to see him back,” Reid says.

“He was a very good, responsive MLA that went to bat for the gay community in a host of areas,” Reid continues. “We have really missed that the last four years. The last four years, we’ve had an MLA that’s delivered Gordon Campbell’s bad message to the community and I’m tired of it.”

***
The phone rings with the first polling station results. Mayencourt: 50, Stevenson 39. Seconds later the phone rings again: Mayencourt 24, Stevenson 48. The tense night of neck-and-neck jostling for first has begun.

***
With four polls reporting, Stevenson has taken an early 49-point lead, with 201 votes to Mayencourt’s 152.

The phone rings again. Stevenson gains 15 more votes; Mayencourt 45. It’s from a polling station in one of the new Yaletown towers, someone says. The phones keep ringing.

***
Mayencourt pulls into the lead, with 20 polls reporting.

“It’s very close,” one woman says softly.

Stevenson pulls back into the lead after 50 polls. After 60 polls, he’s still in front by a little more than 300 votes, according to his campaign workers’ calculations. After 70 polls, he widens his lead to 475 votes. There are still 116 polls to be counted.

***
Out front, more and more Stevenson supporters are gathering around a TV tuned to CBC. On screen, the NDP is gaining seats by the minute. “So we’re going to have a real opposition,” observes Michael Harding, eyes on the TV. “That’s healthy.”

***
With 120 polls reporting in, Stevenson has staked out a 688-vote lead over Mayencourt. The mood in his office is jubilant. People are cheering loudly and hailing each new NDP seat the CBC reports. Many queer faces dot the crowd.

It looks good for Stevenson but it’s still a really tight race, says Steve LeBel, staring at the giant polling station chart taped to the wall. “I don’t think Lorne has done anything to represent this community well,” he adds. “I think his votes are coming from die-hard Liberals.”

***
Patrick King is glued to the CBC coverage. He thinks Stevenson would be a good representative for Vancouver-Burrard. “Because, believe it or not, he’s one of the few honest politicians. He’s compassionate. He believes in everybody in the riding. He’s got a conscience, which is rare in politicians these days.”

***
The mood is increasingly jubilant in Stevenson’s camp. The latest count has him 536 votes ahead of Mayencourt, 8200 to 7664. It’s over, predicts Rod-Paul Martin, Mayencourt can’t catch up now.

***
“Tim, Tim, Tim,” his supporters chant happily, as Stevenson walks into the office. “The winner!” yells Kevin O’Neil. “Tim, the winner!”

***
“I feel very excited and very grateful particularly to the LBGT community who I really believe won this election for me,” Stevenson tells Xtra West. “The LBGT community has always been my political base and I know where my home is.”

***
Stevenson’s supporters are still clustered around the TV, cheering the NDP’s gains. Some glance around curiously for their candidate, who has yet to deliver his acceptance speech, even though the latest posted numbers show he’s still in the lead.

Stevenson finally addresses his supporters. “Well, what a night, huh? We’re still waiting for some of the advance polls to come in and it’s still close but I think we’re edging ever nearer the finish line. Across BC, people are waiting to hear the results of our riding-and so are we!”

With just the advance polls left to count, Stevenson campaign worker Michael Smith says he’s hanging onto a 50-vote lead.

Only the core volunteers remain in the campaign office, waiting quietly, tensely for the final results.

CBC online reports Mayencourt in the lead by 645 votes.

The phone rings. An advance poll reporting in. Mayencourt: 327, Stevenson 496.

With all but a few polls accounted for, Stevenson’s camp puts him about 350 votes ahead. It’s “too close to call,” says one man. “I hate that!” replies another.

May 18: CBC radio reports Mayencourt won by 13 votes. Elections BC’s preliminary results concur.

May 18: Stevenson tells Xtra West he’s actually ahead by 12 votes. “I gather they hadn’t finished counting the ballots last night,” he explains. Either way, he notes, there’s going to be a recount. It’s automatic in a race this close, he says. “It’s a long way from over. But I’d rather be ahead by 12 than down by 13 going into the recount.” The recount will take place May 30. Vancouver-Burrard residents will have to wait 13 more days before they find out who their new MLA is. “That’s my lucky 13,” Stevenson laughs, cautiously optimistic.

***
Lorne Mayencourt’s office, May 17
Mayencourt 0, Stevenson 0. A computer monitor propped up high in Lorne Mayencourt’s constituency office shows the results so far in the election of Vancouver-Burrard’s next MLA.

A smattering of volunteers and staffers mill about as the very first results begin to filter in. All preparations are complete and the atmosphere is subdued.

After weeks of relentless campaigning there’s nothing to do now but wait for the crowd to arrive and results to come in.

Mayencourt is home with his friends and family watching things unfold on television. He plans to make his appearance here when there’s a clear outcome.

***
Mayencourt 453, Stevenson 182. The office fills up with Mayencourt’s staunchest friends and supporters. There are a number of senior citizens, a handful of children and teens and one or two clearly same-sex couples. Although this is a mixed crowd, it’s not what you’d call a room full of gay people.

There is a conservative air in the room. One feels like one ought to be careful to mind one’s manners.

Two men stand watching the television coverage, occasionally sipping from plastic wineglasses. Xtra West asks one of them about their support of Mayencourt.

Not everyone here supports Lorne wholeheartedly, but they sure don’t have any praise for his competitor NDP candidate Tim Stevenson.

“Let’s just say we’re not Tim Stevenson supporters,” says Steven Coventry. “I feel good about the province getting the Liberals in. I don’t know whether Lorne’s going to get in this riding, but we’ll see.

“I guess I support Lorne,” he continues. “I’m all for the economy booming and that’s exactly what it’s doing. The faster the economy grows, the more there is for social programs and stuff like that…Tim’s been in office before, and he didn’t do a whole lot. People say they need a spokesman for the gay community, but I’ve lived down here since 1979 and Stevenson’s never really done much for the community.”

Xtra West asks Coventry what Mayencourt will do for the gay community.

“Well, the gay community doesn’t like Lorne, so they never listen to him. I don’t know. Lorne really wants to support the community, but they just don’t seem to want him.”

***
Mayencourt 1553, Stevenson 978.

The television coverage announces a projected Liberal majority. There is little surprise in the room and no cheering as the results show Mayencourt and Stevenson trade the lead in Vancouver-Burrard minute by minute.

***
Mayencourt 4899, Stevenson 4986.

A scrutineer arrives with results for Coal Harbour, a Mayencourt stronghold. Mayencourt’s supporters cheer for the first time. A man shouts, “Now we’ve got the lead for sure!”

***
Mayencourt 6137, Stevenson 5798.

“I think Lorne’s going to pull this one out,” says Mayencourt supporter Sameer Ismail. “I really think he will. It’s been going back and forth, but he really put on a strong campaign.

“I think Lorne’s been given a bit of a bad rap,” says Ismail of Mayencourt’s lack of support in the gay community. “There have been a lot of people who have criticized Lorne for being silent and for not standing up. But if he gets elected again, I think Lorne will do everything he can to stand up for the rights of all minorities.”

***
Mayencourt 8211, Stevenson 8297.

Mayencourt’s campaign manager Art Perret takes to Mayencourt’s soapbox and addresses the crowd.

“I see some faces that look a little down,” he says. “I want to remind you that we, the Liberals, won this election.

“Lorne will be here in a few minutes,” he continues. “A couple of sources have declared that Tim Stevenson is the winner. That has yet to be determined but I think it’s close enough that we will have to wait and see. If Tim Stevenson is the winner, then we have to congratulate him. That’s democracy.”

Mayencourt 9277, Stevenson 9304.
Mayencourt finally arrives to cheering supporters who have spilled out onto the sidewalk. He moves around the room hugging and congratulating the people who made his campaign possible. He seems on top of the world. He takes to his soapbox and in his speech thanks a long list of staffers and volunteers.
“Welcome to the tightest race in BC,” he beams. “I don’t know the exact numbers right now, but we’re going to stay here until we win!”

Mayencourt 9277, Stevenson 9304.
Mayencourt’s speech is interrupted by someone in the crowd. “You’re winning!” the man exclaims, but a few short minutes later the lead slips away to Stevenson again then back to Mayencourt.

Mayencourt 9397, Stevenson 9390.
Mayencourt works the media.
“Right now we have more numbers to come in,” he says. “We have some advance polls. We also have some absentee ballots that need to be counted. We’ll see how that goes.”
Xtra West asks if he has anything to say to queer people in what may, or may not be, his riding.
“Nothing at all,” he says. “My constituents are across the board throughout this riding and right now I’m grateful for everyone who supported me. Whether people voted for me or against me doesn’t really matter. I respect everyone in this community and look forward to working with all of the community.”

Mayencourt 9527, Stevenson 9620.
Mayencourt’s staffers have finally shut the results monitor down and taped a piece of paper over the screen that shows Mayencourt trailing Stevenson by 93 votes.
Only about a dozen people linger in the campaign office and Mayencourt’s staff tells them there won’t be anymore speeches tonight.