November, 2002: Jammed into the downtown library, 2,000 activists roared as the results of Vancouver’s civic election were announced. For the first time since its formation in 1968, the labour/Left-backed Coalition of Progressive Electors swept the race, electing the mayor (Larry Campbell), eight of ten city councillors, seven of nine school trustees, and five of seven Parks Board commissioners. Visions of “Utopia on the Pacific” danced in the minds of campaign workers.
The events that rocked British Columbia in late April and early May were both stunning and, sadly, almost predictable. Many progressive activists had forecast that a major labour confrontation with the hardline Campbell Liberal government would break out sooner or later. What few foresaw was the excitement in the streets as thousands of people rallied to back 40,000 health care strikers, and the euphoria as unions across the province geared up to walk off the job in solidarity.