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.”