Left Front considers ousting Tim Louis as COPE chair

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Former city councillor Tim Louis has done a lot for Vancouver’s left-wing party, the Coalition of Progressive Electors.

Nathan Crompton, a COPE member and organizer with the Vancouver Renters’ Union, respects that.

“Tim has definitely helped the left of COPE for a long time,” Crompton told the Straight in a phone interview today (June 30). “And in a time when everybody went sort of neoliberal in the 2000s, Tim stayed strong on a few, really key principles and positions.”

According to Crompton, one can make the argument that COPE “wouldn’t exist today had Tim’s group not held strong, and insisted that COPE should be a strong left-wing alternative”.

That’s why Crompton believes that “any future for COPE would definitely include Tim”. But Crompton also noted that’s just him personally speaking. And whether or not he himself wants Louis to remain COPE’s external chair is a “different conversation”.

Crompton belongs to a group within COPE called the Left Front, which he describes as a “kind of a coalition of socialist and...communist tendencies”.

At the last annual general meeting of COPE, the Left Front ran a slate of four candidates for the party’s executive, and three won: Maria Wallstam, Heather Gies, and Maureen Bourke.

A number of Left Front members also comprise the editorial staff of The Mainlander online publication.

According to Crompton, the centre of gravity in COPE—from policy making to membership recruitment—has now shifted to the Left Front.

“We have come up against Tim on a few policy areas, where we disagreed with him,” he said.

If one were to look at new policies adopted by the party, Crompton said these are mostly Left Front initiatives, from the creation of a housing authority to rent control.

“Tim has a different strategy for COPE,” Crompton said.

On Sunday (July 6), COPE will hold its next annual general meeting. Louis is running for another term as external chair.

According to Crompton, COPE has “changed a lot” over the last few years, and that may need to be reflected in its leadership.

“I think it could be really a positive thing to have a new diverse face of COPE, because I think a mistake that a lot of people make is to think that COPE continues to be controlled by Tim Louis,” Crompton said. “And actually the balance of power is actually, the centre of activity of COPE is not with Tim Louis.”

The Left Front is meeting Tuesday (July 1) to decide whether or not it will contest the position of COPE external chair.

Sought for comment about his relationship with the Left Front, Louis stressed that COPE is a big tent of different groups.

“My relationship with all groups is that they’re all welcome,” Louis told the Straight by phone. “We’re all aiming for the same objective, and that is to sweep the developers out of city hall.”

As to whether or not he expects support from the Left Front for another term as external chair, Louis said: “I do not ever expect support from any group, ever. All I ever do is work as hard as I am capable, and take a position on issues as best as I’m capable. And then if I’m lucky, I earn people’s support.”

Louis reiterated: “I earn people’s support. I don’t ever, ever expect people’s support.”

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Imtiaz Popat

Jun 30, 2014 at 5:48pm

Any democratic organization will have disagreements and debate. Many prominent people in COPE have lost elections. This does not constitute a civil war or even a verge of one. Many people think that Tim should focus on running in the election. There is an assumption that COPE is run and controlled by Tim Louise. But this is not the case. As Tim himself has said the COPE is a coalition of many groups. Some COPE members feel the Tim should take step back. This is part of a health debate. But is far from a civil war.

Imtiaz Popat

Jun 30, 2014 at 5:52pm

Also a correction: Tim can't run for External Chair because that position has been eliminated. We now have two co-chair and they have to be from different genders. This part of COPE new renewal and equity regime. So he is seeking to be elected a co-chair.

Sasha Wiley

Jun 30, 2014 at 6:21pm

I too want to start with recognizing that Tim has done a lot of good in this city, but it is time for him, and a few other "big names" on the Vancouver left, to step aside and let the next generations intercede.
The left in Vancouver has become absolutely paralyzed because of this battle for a legacy. I have been a COPE member before, but I'm not now. I won't be until Tim leaves. I'm also not a One City member(is that what it's called? It can't be a good sign if the name hasn't stuck with a political nut like me), nor will I be. I won't join *any* of the civic parties in Vancouver until it actually becomes about issues instead of egos.
I empathize with David's concerns for electability that drove him to create a new party, but I also empathize with COPE's reaction to being stabbed in the back by Vision in the last civic election. I will never join a party that will pal up with Vision now that I've seen so clearly how they are selling off our city to their big money developer buddies. I can't believe that people like Andrea haven't become embarrassed to be seen with them.
The fall out of the Vision back stab in COPE was sad. The saddest thing about it, though, it the way a few people were willing to rip the party apart with personal attacks and really unethical behaviour because they wanted to preside over the remnants. I've seen far too many young activists be used by the old lefties in this town for whatever credibility they can muster, only to rise and fall on the basis of ancient feuds and mudslinging.
Our city is up against serious challenges, far too serious to leave the left paralyzed by personality politics. The problem is rife across BC politics too. I have long admired Tim's work, and I'm one of many, many young (okay, ish, I have broken 30) activists in Vancouver who absolutely have COPE politics, absolutely support COPE issues, and will not affiliate with COPE until Tim is gone. To put its past behind it, the party needs for him to move on. I hope he can see that it is needed for the greater good.
It's no one's fault; what happened with Vision was ugly, and ugliness came from it. But it's time to move on. It's time to reinvigorate the left by working on the issues that need our attention. It's time for a new era in the left in Vancouver, and if Tim is really still principled, he'll understand what a legacy letting that happen would be and go.

EcoVancouver

Jun 30, 2014 at 6:58pm

I'm sure Tim's worked really hard for a long time, but he needs to go. He's tainting the reputation of the party. So many people are looking for an alternative to Vision but can't stomach his involvement. Part of good politics is knowing when to bow out.

Snoozy Monster

Jun 30, 2014 at 7:21pm

Yawn.

No more Louis

Jun 30, 2014 at 11:00pm

COPE is dead in the water for the election in November 2014. Turf out Louis & his minions & start rebuilding the party to resemble something people might be proud to belong to, to campaign and vote for. There is a serious gap for moderate voters.

Louis: “I do not ever expect support from any group, ever. All I ever do is work as hard as I am capable, and take a position on issues as best as I’m capable. And then if I’m lucky, I earn people’s support.”

What a steaming pile of ..... Louis, you & anyone else who has been a member of COPE over the last few years knows what you excel at is signing up new members from select "ethnic" groups, stacking nomination meetings etc. The most base, old school politics and your deluded minions have helped drive the nail in the coffin that is COPE right now. The party couldn't even hold onto its only elected member & lots of other key people have walked away from the party.

Wish COPE would grow up & stop with the popularity contests of those jockeying for internal power. If a party can't even keep its own house functioning why on Earth would voters vote for the party in November 2015?

Beatriz

Jul 1, 2014 at 12:19am

I don't know who this so call "left front " is nor who is in it or what it stands for , I think I read in social media some feverish defence of non resident foreign real estate owners, so much for being "left" If anyone from cope stands to,win a seat on the incoming election is Tim , the rest is wishful thinking by this group that truly has infiltrated cope to take it away for Tim , why don't you create your own left front party and stop destroying diviidi g, do Umhonestlynthink voters will find your sad behaviour appealing?

Anita Romaniuk

Jul 1, 2014 at 4:54am

As a member of the COPE Executive for the past 2 1/2 years, and a former COPE Parks Commissioner, I have found working with the Left Front members of the Executive rewarding. Their policies are in sync with the COPE policies I am familiar with as a long time member - COPE has supported rent control pretty much since it was formed in 1968, given that we have only had a brief period when we actually had a provincial government that believed in rent control, and COPE advocated for what amounted to a Housing Authority as part of the COPE platform in 1999 when Tim Louis was a candidate for Council and I was a candidate for Park Board. I think it would be a huge mistake to deny Tim Louis the position of co-chair. I have found the Left Front people earnest and committed, but a bit limited in their scope of knowledge of the city as a whole. Vancouver is very much a city of neighbourhoods and diverse cultures, and many Vancouver residents are unhappy with the actions of Vision, particularly in its cynical approach to public consultation. Tim Louis has touched many people all over Vancouver who feel overlooked and ignored by the powers that be in City Hall, going back to the years of dominance by the NPA and through to the dominance of Vision today, which is why he has fans all over the city. Tim Louis is the best person to be COPE's co-chair going into the election this fall and I will be supporting him and uging others to do so.

OccupyMedic

Jul 1, 2014 at 10:41am

COPE's fractured state can be traced directly back to the cult of personality. Not just by the dinosaurs of the left, but also by young 'activist' types trying to build themselves up by trying to take others down.
Admittedly, it takes a certain level of ego to run for public office, it also takes a dedication to public service & good policy. Currently, Vancouver politics is ruled by the former, COPE included. When it shifts to the latter, Vancouver will be in a much better place. Choose NOT to vote for the empire/legacy builders & embrace good policy... It's the way forward.

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