NPA’s provincial ties criticized from within
A member of the Non-Partisan Association is taking issue with a “city social” set to be hosted by the Vancouver civic party on Monday (December 10).
NPAer Jesse Johl said that under different circumstances, he wouldn’t have a problem with this evening event at Yaletown’s V lounge. Speakers identified in a Facebook post by the party include former mayor Sam Sullivan, NPA councillor George Affleck, former councillor Suzanne Anton, and party board member Gabby Kalaw.
But, Johl noted, the gathering is happening on the eve of the NPA’s December 11 special general meeting, at which members will vote on a number of changes to the party’s constitution. One proposed amendment to the NPA’s stated purposes reads: “To oppose the introduction of federal or provincial party politics into the elected boards of the City of Vancouver.”
And this is where Johl—who was acclaimed as an NPA council candidate for the 2011 election but was later dropped by the party—sees a problem. Anton is running for the nomination of the B.C. Liberal Party in Vancouver-Quilchena, a race that pits her against Andrew Wilkinson, a well-connected lawyer who has been endorsed by former NPA president Paul Barbeau. Kalaw, for his part, has been nominated as the B.C. Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Kensington.
“It’s kind of hypocritical to say that, well, we don’t want provincial politics involved, yet we’re going to be promoting board members and using the NPA to promote board members to run provincially,” Johl told the Straight in a phone interview. “I think it shouldn’t be happening. It shouldn’t be allowed. We shouldn’t be using the membership list or the NPA as a vehicle to promote anyone.”
Anton countered that this view misses the point of the proposed constitutional change.
“The point is not that individuals can’t belong to other political organizations,” Anton told the Straight by phone. “They can. I think whoever you’re talking to is not getting the point. The point is that the NPA will not be a branch of the B.C. Liberals. It will not be a branch party to the federal Liberals. It is its own independent organization, independent of provincial organizations, independent of federal organizations.”
Anton asserted that the amendment simply reinforces how elected NPA politicians on council, school board, and park board have conducted their affairs throughout the party’s storied history in Vancouver. “Our elected officials can make their policy decisions, but they are their policy decisions,” she said. “They’re not answering to a master in Victoria or in Ottawa.”