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Add One More to Sam Sullivan's Many Political Lives

'This is my chance to rant. I've been holding it in all election.'

By Rob Annandale 15 May 2013 |

Rob Annandale is Vancouver-based journalist. Find his previous Tyee stories here.

Nobody, least of all the pollsters, was expecting what happened on election night across B.C. But Sam Sullivan was prepared for it.

With six potential speeches resting on his lap, the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-False Creek was ready for any outcome in B.C.'s youngest riding and for any fate voters might reserve for his party province-wide.

"I have [a speech] for that," the former Vancouver mayor told The Tyee as the television networks projected a fourth consecutive Liberal government.

And yet Sullivan, who kept his perfect election record intact by garnering a little over half the votes cast in his riding, demonstrated in an animated discussion of the harmonized sales tax (HST) earlier in the evening that he did not expect to deliver an unmitigated victory speech.

HST a winner: Sullivan

While he saved most of his barbs for the NDP with whom he said he was "pissed, majorly" for their role in killing the HST, he also expressed frustration that the tax had not been the focus of the Liberal campaign as he had advised.

"This is my chance to rant," he told The Tyee. "I've been holding it in all election."

He called the HST's introduction a "brilliant, brilliant move" and its repeal an "embarrassment" that had left the province's people and businesses to deal with the "economic bullshit" of two taxes. He also argued that "services have to pay their way."

"I believe if we had campaigned on the HST, we would have won," Sullivan said before it became apparent that a major upset was underway. "It wouldn't have been about who went through a red light."

But before the end of a night that saw Christy Clark become the first woman ever elected premier of British Columbia, Sullivan had called the election results a "miracle" and referred to his new boss as "God."

It was not the first change of heart for a man who in 2010 told the New York Times that just thinking about politics was a "profoundly unpleasant experience."

He also told The Tyee his experiences as mayor before being deposed by his own party had changed him. In particular, he wishes he had handled the 88-day strike by city workers and the construction of Olympic Village differently. The main takeaway lesson for Sullivan: don't delegate the important stuff.

"I did give the complete management of the strike to others and I realize now that you can't do that," he said. "It's the politician, at the end of the day, that holds the bag for everything."

But despite his new job in Victoria, one thing Sullivan has no intention of changing is his address.

"I love this riding," he said. "I'm very happy with where I live."  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Election 2013

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