COLUMN: Misplaced blame follows election losses in Surrey, White Rock

Unsuccesful candidates should look at own campaigns rather than lay blame elsewhere

I’m a poor loser, I admit it.

When I was younger, I was quick to fly off the handle after what, looking back now, was a meaningless minor-hockey loss. Even today, I have to work hard to keep my emotions in check during equally meaningless games of beer-league slo-pitch.

Once, I finished runner-up for a journalism award and though I thought I’d put on a brave face as I collected my second-place prize, a colleague came up to me later to see what was the matter. Apparently, I didn’t hide my disappointment as well as I’d thought.

This is all to say that I get it when politicians offer a terse “no comment” – or don’t return calls at all – after losing an election. You’re upset, angry, sad – all of it. Maybe confused, too, as you try to figure out how things went wrong.

But what I’ll never fully understand is the blame game.

Following Saturday’s election – in which nearly-brand new councils were elected in Surrey and White Rock – sour incumbents in both cities were quick to deflect.

Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill finished second behind Doug McCallum, losing by 17,000 votes. In White Rock, Grant Meyer – an incumbent councillor with the White Rock Coalition who decided to take a run at the mayor’s chair – finished a distant third behind two new voices, winner Darryl Walker and runner-up Mike Pearce.

Gill blamed a smear campaign for his low numbers, while Meyer – who at first refused comment to the Peace Arch News – wanted to focus on the media.

While he didn’t outright blame the PAN for his loss – again, he finished third – he certainly hinted that, at least in part, his party’s poor showing was a result of coverage he deemed unfit.

“I never had much time for some of the people at the paper there and I think they’ve been unfair over the years,” Meyer told PAN this week.

Gill, meanwhile, was quick to suggest that the questions brought forth by others about his campaign – including allegations of voter fraud among his volunteers – were one reason he is not the mayor today.

For the record, Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko told Black Press Media that an investigation did not reveal “any indication that people were induced or intimidated in any manner to provide their personal information or to vote for a specific candidate.”

Nevertheless, if both Surrey First and the White Rock Coalition members had lost their respective elections by slimmer margins, then people might have more time for arguments that media bias or dirty campaign tricks may have swung the vote just enough to leave you on the outside looking in.

But here’s the thing: It wasn’t close.

Like, at all.

To bring it back to my amateur sports career, it’s like my complaining about one error in a softball game we lost 12-1.

To those casting blame, I suggest instead that they look inward, as Coalition member Bill Lawrence did this week, to find real, tangible reasons why voters may have turned to new voices.

There are plenty of contentious issues in both cities – development, crime, water and communication, to name a few.

All are worth a deeper look.

Making time to study how they were handled seems more prudent than laying blame at the feet of those whose names weren’t even on the ballot.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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