Left Front considers ousting Tim Louis as COPE chair

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.”

Comments (24) Add New Comment
Imtiaz Popat
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.
Rating: -13
Imtiaz Popat
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.
Rating: -9
Sasha Wiley
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.
Rating: +8
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.
Rating: +4
Snoozy Monster
Rating: -5
Rating: -5
No more Louis
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?

Rating: +9
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?
Rating: -22
Anita Romaniuk
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.
Rating: 0
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.
Rating: +14
I actually feel bad for Wheels Yerevani. It sucks getting a dose of your own medicine and this battle for ideological purity must be taking its toll and wearing that Che shirt to tatters.

Where's Stuart "I know someone will get my oh so witty reference to Life of Brian" Parker? In his quest for relevance, he can Los Altos the heck out of this latest development. I bet he's already penning his latest mental discharge on the "Vancouver Commune" and its "Commundards".

As for these Mainlander kids... I'm genuinely scared of them. It's the hollow eyes and empty smiles. They claim they know better and they will make that assertion by beating you over the head with academic sputum and will accuse you of privilege when, ironically, only use language those privileged enough to have received university education to understand. Irony is hipster capital and these kids are drowning it it.

But seriously... try having a "normal" conversation with these kids. Their words and presence drip of condescension and you'll see there's nothing but genuine contempt for those who "don't get it". To reinforce the irony they revel in, they're the strongest adherents to a now famous Bush-ism: You're either with us, or against us.
Rating: +11
"this group that truly has infiltrated cope to take it away for Tim" um do you hear yourself? No one should have to "take away" a party from someone - COPE is supposed to be a 'coalition of progressive electors', not a party that is dominated by the presence of a single person. The fact that you are even framing it in this way is part of the problem here. Regardess, if the Left Front does succeed in replacing Tim as external chair, that will be something achieved by the democratic mandate of COPE's membership - something that all of us on the left should all be able to respect
Rating: +12

The most relevent comment on this thread! I do wonder how so many of the 'nouveau left' crowd afford to while away their hours, accusing all and sundry of their 'colonial mentality', 'settler misdeds' and 'patriarchial priviledge and possessions!" (The new P3...).

Rich daddies, perhaps? :-)

Only the very young and inexperienced (Vision being the exception) could send out such a constant stream of hypocritical and sanctimonious drivel---the new 'do as we say, not as we do' kinf of crap.

Free speech---only for them! Shouting down those you don't agree with? The usual suspects! Freedom of expression/thought/ideas---not with this crew! It could be dangerous, except this approach always seems to fail in the long run---unless you live in a (ANOTHER IRONY ALERT!) totalitarian paradise.

Hey, don't spill those latte on your keyboards as you keep hammering away at your boring and utterly predictable cant and never ending thesis, kiddies...
Rating: -13
Vancouver's Left
"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."

This is serious, folks. This is where we are at. Even if it were thoroughly based on something unjust, it should be serious enough for someone to resign for the good of the party.

Louis, Chudnovsky, Parker - all of them determined to be in charge of a rapidly dwindling group of yes men and yes women - all seemingly lit by a vision from their god that they and no one else should be in the public eye.

Where is the humility? Where is the stepping back for new voices?

While I do think Tim should step a hell of a way back - he's also the only one of these egomaniacs who can organize his way out of a paper bag! Unfortunately, he also can't admit mistakes, can't work with others unless they agree with what he says 100% and has a terrible habit of stacking meetings with paid operatives to thwart the will of the membership.

If you have that attitude and can't even sign up new members or inspire people to fundraise - holy smokes, no wonder Parker is such a rage filled bloviater.

The answer isn't a new party, it's GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING! Knocking on doors and getting new members! But that takes work and it means you respect the will of the membership.

Tim needs to resign. David needs to resign. Parker needs to STFU.

And the developers laugh.
Rating: +20
I think you might be mistaken about who is who here. The pidgin protester crew left in December when they couldn't get people to drop everything and oust Tim. The Mainlander crew is different.
Rating: -3
Sasha Wiley
Oh I'm not in the least mistaken about who's there, and I don't think others here are either. That crew was among the many dragged into this personality war by those desperate - and I do mean desperate - for any credibility they thought they could leach off young activists. Sadly, it turns out that when you're relying on bribing people with itty bits of paid data entry and crap like that, you don't really draw in the best and brightest. They're all on the sidelines, organizing around actual issues and hoping maybe someday the civic parties will get over the legacy wars and join us. There's a hell of a lot of work to do, but as long as the civic parties are about the egos of the old guard, we aren't getting it done. At the risk of repeating myself, if they really have the principles they espouse, they need to step down. Tim's last chance at having the legacy that, in honesty, he should have because he's done a lot of good work is to step aside, making space for the future of the left. This paralysis has gone on too long. It's time to call it out.
Rating: 0
Kombii Nanjalah
We out here are learning so much about COPE, it's work and the members, We pray that all focuses on the issues that affect the people in the community, not the leadership struggle
Rating: -5
Anita Romaniuk
There is actually a win-win available here. COPE formerly had an External Co-chair, to deal with the interaction with the world at large, and an Internal Co-chair to deal with the inner workings of the party, administration, communications, etc. We changed our constitution at a General Meeting earlier this year to have two co-chairs, one male-identifying and one female-identifying, who could be flexible enough to deal with either, and provide representation from both genders. Both co-chair positions are up for election (the Internal Chair it replaces is currently vacant and the External Chair's term is up). Given that Tim Louis is male-identifying, if the Left Front can nominate a female-identifying person for co-chair, that provides for both Tim's expertise and intelligence, and an important level of representation for the Left Front. All factions of COPE need to work together to build a campaign for this fall; otherwise too many people in Vancouver will once again go unrepresented for the next four years!
Rating: -6
M. Burns
Most Excellent, yet let the left wing nutters fight internally, my master plan for a city filled with vacant condos can finally come to fruition.

But seriously though the election is coming up fast, can't wait for this hot mess of a party to die.
Rating: -5
Selfie Hooverton
Earth to self absorbed Hooverton... just keep on voting vision. keep on making a supreme ass of yourself... keep on voting for throttled traffic, vote for lies about ending homelessness, keep on paving the way for greedy developers, keep on destroying livability and affordability. Lets make this a city where a shoebox in the sky cost 18 million dollars... because you deserve it!
Rating: 0


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