The reinstatement of Trish Kelly as a park board candidate is out of the question for Vision Vancouver.
While there are suggestions in the community that Mayor Gregor Robertson’s party didn’t stand up for Kelly, that isn't going to change anything.
“I don’t think it’s a question of reinstatement,” Vision executive director Stepan Vdovine told the Straight in a phone interview today (July 24).
On July 17, Vision announced the withdrawal of Kelly as one of its park board candidates.
That was three days after political commentator Raymond Tomlin posted Kelly’s tongue-in-cheek video about masturbation online.
Tomlin has since called for Kelly’s reinstatement, writing on his VanRamblings blog that it was Vision, and not he, who dropped Kelly.
On July 23, seven women organizers with the OneCity party issued a statement challenging institutions to “meet the courage” of women candidates “with courage of their own”.
“At OneCity, we found it chilling that the decision-makers who hold power at Vision failed to act to affirm their support for Trish Kelly,” declared the statement. “Political parties need to say loudly and repeatedly that a woman’s (or anyone’s) appearance, private life, gender identity and sexuality do not diminish their worth as a candidate. In fact, progressive political parties need to fully embrace the diversity and sex-positive activism of women.”
Cara Ng was one of those who signed the OneCity statement. Asked today (July 24) if she thinks that Vision can make things right by taking back Kelly, Ng told the Straight by phone, “I don’t know whether we can say reinstate because Trish Kelly’s official position was resignation.”
“I do think it’s ultimately up to her to decide what position she wants to take on that,” Ng added.
A day after Kelly’s withdrawal was announced by Vision, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) issued a statement that read in part, “People of all political parties and all genders must be especially vigilant to ensure that politics is an open and safe space for women and other non-male identified participants.”
That statement was attributed to co-chair Heather Gies. Asked by phone if she thinks that Vision should rename Kelly as a candidate, Gies responded, “The issue here for me and for COPE is that there should be no bullying of this kind in politics, and that goes across the political spectrum.”
Gies continued: “This isn’t really a partisan issue. It’s totally unacceptable for women to be disproportionately targeted in this way, and to be bullied out of politics whether that’s as a candidate or in any capacity.”
Asked whether or not Vision stood up for Kelly, Gies said, “I really don’t know exactly what happened.”
Vdovine maintained that it was Kelly’s decision to drop out.
“We’ve had many long conversations with Trish, and she’s made a decision that it was best, that it was in her personal interest, and that it was in the interest of the party for her to step down as a candidate,” Vdovine said.
He added that the Vision executive will meet soon to determine how to replace Kelly in the party’s park board slate.