Stuart Parker trashes proposed amendments to COPE bylaws

A high-profile member of the Coalition of Progressive Electors has accused the executive of trying to "prevent ordinary voters and social movement activists from setting the party's direction going into what could be its last election campaign".

Stuart Parker, a former leader of the B.C. Green party, declared in a lengthy blog post that the COPE executive is bringing forward bylaw amendments next month to insulate itself from being defeated at a June nominating convention and a July annual general meeting.

According to Parker, members will be asked next month to approve the creation of "equity representatives" on the board.

Equity caucuses will elect these representatives, boosting board membership from 12 to 16.

"Effectively, this means that the current Executive may determine the composition of the four equity caucuses which, in turn, elect four members to the Executive," Parker wrote. "This is a political feedback loop whereby the current executive can insulate itself against the democratic will of the members depriving it of its majority at the Annual General Meeting."

Parker also described how a new code of conduct allows the executive to fire candidates for civic office, even if they've been nominated by the membership.

According to Parker's blog, the code of conduct applies to COPE candidates. They must refrain from speaking against or criticizing COPE policy "in any public forum or communication".

That includes in media interviews or statements, candidates debates, web comments, emails, blogs, and on social media.

"Obviously, whether I choose to remain active in COPE will depend on how this meeting goes in March," Parker stated in his post. "There is little point in participating in a party that has so completely rejected democracy in favour of the pettiest, most small-minded personality cult."

Parker never named former councillor and COPE internal chair Tim Louis in his post.

However, Parker didn't leave a lot of ambiguity about who he was referring to by claiming that the bylaw amendments would turn marginalized people into "tokens or pawns" for a West Side lawyer and "his handful of long-term toadies, yes-men and financial dependents".

See also: COPE internal chair Tim Louis responds to Stuart Parker's claims about party's direction.

Comments (15) Add New Comment
Nicholas Ellan
Apparently the March meeting will be a weekend-long two day marathon, at some undisclosed and indeterminate time, 5 members of the Executive will be elected by whoever is currently present. This is the antithesis of democracy. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. For those of us who work for a living, it is nearly impossible to be heard in such an organization. Which is probably the point.
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Bruce
Nicholas, it's politically immature to expect working people or parents to participate! Such people are not sufficiently committed. You need to attend Yuri's lectures to help order your thoughts correctly.
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Nate & Daniel

Nowhere has the Equity Cttee proposed that the current Executive can determine the composition of the four equity caucuses. The four proposed caucuses (for LGBTTIQQPP2S, Indigenous, people of colour, Differently Abled) are made up of general members, not the Executive. So far the Equity cttee has made it clear that caucus representatives to the Executive are chosen from the caucuses themselves, not by the Executive.

The proposals of the Equity Cttee are about new mechanisms of affirmative action to help make the party more progressive and more reflective of who currently lives and struggles in our city. They are pretty standard measures drawn from unions and parties who have similar mechanisms for diversity and representation. Equity caucuses, like other legalistic reforms, are certainly incomplete and imperfect ways of ensuring diversity and representation in our organizations and in our society. They are attempts to rectify biases and structural barriers that have kept marginalized people out.

Lastly, the 'code of conduct' mentioned in this article is a different matter that has nothing to do with the proposals of the Equity Cttee. To correct this article, the code in question is not a by-law. It is a motion of the Executive that has no by-law power and no ability to eject members of the Executive without a vote from the general membership of the party. That said, we feel that the code of conduct is excessive and unnecessary and we intend to support executive candidates who pledge to scrap it.

Respectfully,
Daniel Tseghay + Nate Crompton
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Stuart Parker
Nate and Daniel,
Respectfully, you seem to misunderstand how the Society Act works. You seem to believe that if your bylaws are silent on how caucuses and committees are to be constituted, we should just imagine they will be constituted however we hope they will be. Sadly, this is not how things work.
As I informed you by e-mail on December 9th, COPE adopted rules for the composition and governance of all committees on May 10th, 2013. I quote from those rules in my blog post. They state that, where bylaws are silent as to caucus composition (as yours are), the Executive has ultimate authority to determine their composition and may change it, at will, at any time.
It is unfortunate that you appear (a) not to understand the workings of the Act that governs out party and (b) not to recall the fairly detailed debate about this matter on which you were copied just two months ago.
I am pleased that you oppose the Code but please recognize that, like the caucus composition rules, it will be part of the context in which your equity resolutions are interpreted will be interpreted until such time as it is repealed.
In solidarity,

Stuart.
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homey
this article makes no sense, it's not even based on facts
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Imtiaz Popat
The proposal for representatives from Equity Causes is coming from and ad-hoc COPE Committee not appointed by anyone of which I am a member. The proposal is to create a number of caucuses made up of COPE members belonging to those minority groups. They will propose how they want to be represented.

We are also proposing expanding the members at large to be elected by STV. We would ideally like to elect our candidate by STV but that will be phased in with membership support. None of this is coming from the executive and it up to the members to decided how many cause representatives there will be. All this will be debated and hopefully we will work towards agreement in working for toward more diversity represented. If there are clashes with other by-laws, then we can deal with those. Maybe they need to be amended to make them more democratic.

Over all are trying to promote affirmative action through a proportional model and also propose that COPE will run on a campaign for proportional representation in the upcoming civic election.

Imtiaz Popat
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Imtiaz Popat
If you look at whole picture the equity causes positions and a red herring. Only the caucuses, if they meet will decide how they want to be represented on the executive. The proposed motion can change to the number of reps will be elected based on what the caucuses say. It might be two it might be six.

What is being proposed is four equity reps. In addition we are proposing the elect four additional members at large. So the executive will go from 12 to potentially 20. We are also proposing the all the members at large be elected by STV which will require another by-law amendment before the July AGM. So there is much more the equity and diversity reforms being proposed.
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Stuart Parker
Imtiaz, your "we are proposing" statements seem strangely unrelated to the proposals actually being proposed to the members in May.
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Bruce
@Imtiaz

"Only the caucuses, if they meet will decide how they want to be represented on the executive."

Under the COPE bylaws, the caucuses (committees) are at the mercy of the executive. The exec can remove or appoint members, overrule their decisions, even disband them, at any time.

"...so the executive will go from 12 to potentially 20..."

Is that an executive or a legislature?
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Stuart Parker
Bruce, you know what this executive needs? A team of celebrity chefs and a platoon of dancing monkeys!
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Anita Romaniuk
I believe the meeting on March 29 & 30 is for two days because it is an Issues (Policy) Conference to develop policy and eventually a platform for the election in the fall of 2014. Since there are also motions to pass & by-elections to fill vacant positions, it is pretty much going to take 2 days, otherwise we are short-changing one or the other.
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Imtiaz Popat
We wrote the proposals we know what we are talking about and what makes sense. What you are saying is the society act the by-laws are a dictatorship and that members do not have any right to create caucuses. The fact is the the proposed by-laws were written by ad hoc committee not created at whim of the executive and has been able to present such such by-law to the membership. If the by-laws say that the executive can can decided who can belong to what caucus and what caucuses can exit, then there is no need for the by-law amendment. In fact if executive have such magnanimous powers, to control causes in the same way as they control executive committees, then caucuses will not happen. Otherwise we can amended such undemocratic laws. We can get the lawyers to take another look. I am sure it will all make sense if we can work together and work it out.
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Imtiaz Popat
If you read the proposals that have been posted so far, they are very clear. The bylaws do not speak of caucuses. They are now being proposed. They are independent of the executive. They are not the some as executive committees. What is proposes is expanding the members are large by four. That will take the executive as written in the proposal to 16. Not the legislature, that is not in the by-laws. What we are proposing. Is that we will have allow for caucuses to elect their own representative to the executive if so wish. This depends of how many caucuses transpire. There maybe more, there maybe less. If they wish to elect their reps at the convention then this will happen. Otherwise it many happen at a later date.

Also who members will be elected is still in process. We are hoping to elected them by proportional representation. All this is debatable and amendable at the convention. This means listening to each other and making democracy work. Again to be clear, these proposals have not been written by the executive, but by an ad-hoc committee not created by the executive and the proposals have been posed on the website and will be presented to the members to consider. What we are proposing is more diversity and democracy using democratic methods open to input and debate by the members. We have looked a other such models and they have worked well. We this is a serious matter, it has nothing to do with clowns, chefs or monkeys. People can clearly see that right here.
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Bruce
@Anita

A two day meeting is virtually impossible for anyone with a family, or who works in the service sector. It gives the impression of being exclusionary by design, intended to increase the influence of persons with a lot of time and great dedication to a faction. If the bylaws and by-elections were designated to a time period on one day only, far in advance, that might be different, but they are not.
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Stuart Parker
The Executive has created, populated and disbanded two caucuses since May 10, 2013, Imtiaz. Caucuses are not unknown in COPE. The Executive has jurisdiction over them. Furthermore, the Society Act understands sub-collectives of members to be committees, irrespective of whether they are called "committees," "caucuses," "groups" or "teams." Except where expressly stipulated otherwise in the bylaws, all committees' composition, operations, etc. are governed by the Executive.

Also, John Yano, Gretchen Dulmage and Ifny Lachance (i.e. the "we" who have submitted and drafted the bylaws with you) have all spoken and organized against proportional representation at every meeting at which it has been discussed since May 10, 2013. So for you to suggest that those who have been most active in sabotaging, denouncing and defeating PR resolutions "are hoping to elect [equity reps] by proportional representation" is just ridiculous. You've been played, Imtiaz. Don`t feel bad; this crew has played me too but for God`s sake, wake up!
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