Janine Solanki: MAWO against civil war at home and abroad


Janine Solanki is chairperson of Mobilization Against War and Occupation. She wrote this in response to a recent Georgia Straight article carrying the headline "Cope on verge of civil war".

By Janine Solanki

First, Mobilization Against War and Occupation is an antiwar, anti-occupation coalition. Therefore, MAWO could not possibly take any position on COPE, a Vancouver civic political party.

If our members and organizers are members of COPE or participate in COPE activities, basically that is their own business and has nothing to do with MAWO as an antiwar coalition. For instance, I am a member of COPE and participate in COPE meetings, not consistently though. I know many MAWO members are not members of COPE and I know that we have not once discussed COPE in our general meetings. 

Second, it seems this has become a political habit in Vancouver for some groups or individuals to smear MAWO to get ahead of their opponents. This is extremely disrespectful to the most active antiwar coalition in Canada, to be used by some politically desperate groups and individuals as a political bogeyman.

Nevertheless, I must say this is very childish and simplistic for some people like Kim Hearty to claim that secret MAWO members are the cause of ongoing political problems in COPE. Whoever is slightly familiar with COPE's internal political dynamics knows that COPE's internal political differences and infighting go beyond recent disputes in COPE. All recent COPE executive resignations and party-switching are based on serious political differences and alliances. What could the place of MAWO really be in all of this?

Third, COPE is a popular progressive grassroots civic political party in Vancouver. Obviously, it is a mirror of the society that it operates in.

It is very natural that differences and different views on issues in Vancouver are reflected in the COPE membership and leadership. Personally, I see these differences of opinion as very positive and an important way of making progress. However, it requires mature, strong, and honest leadership and leaders to recognize this reality and turn it into a positive experience, party expansion, and consolidation. In today's situation, having a strong and united party is vital for COPE to pose itself as a serious contender to Vision, which especially enjoys the support of developers and the upper middle class. 

My advice to Hearty is to stop using rumours and gossip as a political tool for settling political differences. She and her allies in COPE have become a small minority (as we have seen that all resolutions they put forward for adoption in recent months have not been passed by the voting membership). Let's be clear that accusations and fear mongering are not a justified method of moving from a minority to a majority position.

Hearty must explain why in a time that Vancouver is suffering from poverty, a lack of social housing, homelessness, gentrification, a lack of dignified services for seniors and youth, a lack of sufficient services for immigrants and refugees, the catastrophic situation of services for the indigenous community, the lack of an adequate and affordable transit system, the ill-functioning park board, school board, and city council, she and her allies are launching a power struggle without a clear and comprehensive platform against Tim Louis, a popular leader of COPE who enjoys the support of the majority of COPE members for his progressive platform.

If Hearty and her allies have a focused and clear platform and the leadership to defeat Vision in the coming Vancouver civic election in October 2014, why do they need to smear MAWO and spread fear mongering in COPE?

Comments (7) Add New Comment
kim hearty
this is, like, way better than a random beating, thank you and merry christmas xoxoxo
Rating: -20
MAWO is one of a very long list of ineffectual groups that span the political spectrum. Their opinions are backed up with nothing more than recycled rhetoric from past left wing "concerns." I enjoy the characterization of the group as "anti-war & anti-occupation:" such positions are essentially meaningless but play well to the choir. What they actually are is anti-capitalist anti-US specifically and anti-western in general. They are the ideological heirs of the misguided Maoists who used to regale us with tales of what a paradise the PRC had become and the Maoists were the rump of the folks who thought Stalin was a great guy. No doubt the heroes of the current movement are Castro 2 and the poor sap who took over when Chavez's "cancer cure" turned out to be just more propaganda.

Ultimately COPE is going the way of every other left wing party that can't say "no." They become beholden to a fringe of folks with unrealistic pet issues and start dropping into irrelevance. The party platform becomes a horrible melange of ideology, fantasy and irrationality as the actual raw vote number decline. Last time they had power COPE wasted council time debating issues over which they had no oversight, often issues outside of our country. The fact that the government of the City of Vancouver was opposed to the US pillaging of Iraq is absolutely irrelevant yet it was "council business" a decade ago.

I was a member of COPE into the late 80's but quit when they began to chant their "social justice" mantra over and over. The phrase is one of those that is simultaneously meaningless and malleable which makes it perfect for do nothing activists but less useful to those who actually want to get things done. The COPE umbrella of concern has room for the most meaningless claptrap right alongside the handful of workable ideas the party puts forward. Neither Tim Louis nor the other clique are concerned with anything but controlling the party: they certainly don't want to lead the city government unless they can rule by diktat.

COPE are the ones who dropped the ball when they reached out to Larry Campbell and the clique that eventually formed Vision. They were so eager to be associated with power that they were happy to act as window dressing for what has become a party for developers and the 1%.
Rating: +6
If that is, like, actual Kim Hearty then I am thoroughly pleased! Like, sense of humour goes a long freaking way in a politician!

G, COPE was not dropping the ball, they were probably ecstatic that a popular figure like Larry Campbell was wanting to lift up COPE. I have no problem with a leftish, center government. That's why a lot of us were stoked about Jack Layton - he actually seemed to understand that if you are running for office you might as well win. He radiated "I want to win" and that means getting and then holding the attention of people who are not already in your ranks. That means taking votes from the center and not terrifying the people on the right. If you want to be post-capitalist, that's awesome - just not super electable at the moment.

And now there is a tearing away of the centerists and them either going to Vision or perhaps to the Greens or maybe (hopefully not) forming a new party to represent the left left middle but not the left left.

As for this editorial, I agree that there is a need for strongly supported leadership in any party. But that's the left for you. We mistrust authority full stop. Even our own.

Of course, that is sometimes quite a warranted skepticism...what to do...
Rating: +10
Rick in Richmond
VISION must be doing backflips of delight.

They have weakened their brand in four of our most visible neighbourhoods, and in dealings with six of our community rec centres. Just when they were desperate for distraction on some other front, COPE gives it to them! Astonishing. Who could ask for a better Christmas present?

The latest dispute tearing COPE apart pits the forces of Kim Hearty and Nick Ellan against a band of permanent 'revolutionaries' led by one Ali Yerevani.

In real time, that would be the leaders of the failed Pidgin and Cuchillo restaurant pickets against the leaders of the many failed revolutions of Ali Yerevani. This is beyond farce.

MAWOists against pickleists. No wonder the Mayor is looking so happy these days. His opponents are committing hara-kiri, and he's sailing on cruise control.
Rating: -5
The last COPE meeting I attended, at that time having only a very vague idea who MAWO were or that there was even a conflict, thsi group was obvious. They arrive together, sit together, are generally unfriendly, give the evil eye to random strangers in the room, and vote in unison.

Meanwhile, the chair plays smug procedural games to block anything he apparently doesn't like, and said unfriendly group votes according to his preferences.

To say the author of this post is obfuscating the truth would be very charitable.

The cure is simple: "the solution to pollution is dilution". It's practically a natural law that the number of crazies in a political group tends to not grow as fast as the membership, so as a group shrinks it approaches majority crazy. If more relatively sane, ordinary people become involved in COPE this creepy little faction will not matter.
Rating: -7
@ Kim Hearty : what are you, 14 ? What an embarrassing comment. I guess it's true, the bullies in the playground never have anything to say once they've been schooled :)
Rating: +6
It took only minutes to find this 2008 open letter from scores of well-respected groups and activists. The problems with MAWO are real:

"(MAWO) is led by members of Fire This Time and its affiliate the Youth Third World Alliance (Y3WA). Fire This Time (FTT) was founded in 2003. In the last five years, it has earned an unsavory reputation for using macho, cult-like behavior and violence to sow distrust, fear and ill-will in the progressive movement and the Left...
The latest group to be targeted was the Vancouver International Women’s Day Organizing Committee. While projecting a public image as organizations in which women play central roles, the reality is a gross caricature of women’s leadership. In fact, women and young people are treated as objects to be manipulated by the supreme male leader. It is time for this charade to end."

Rating: -3
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.