Clock is ticking on joint COPE–Vision slate

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      Politics aside, there are legal requirements that Vision Vancouver and the Coalition of Progressive Electors must comply with if they’re going to run a joint mayoral candidate in this fall’s civic election.

      First of all, the Vancouver Charter stipulates that the name of only one electoral organization can appear beside that of a candidate on the ballot, according to Paul Hancock, the city’s deputy chief election officer.

      But there’s a way around this if Vision and COPE can come to an agreement. Based on the legislation, Hancock explained, at least 50 members from the two groups could apply to the city clerk to form a new electoral organization that would endorse a candidate—in this case, Gregor Robertson, who won Vision Vancouver’s mayoral nomination on June 15.

      But simply combining the names of the two parties to form a new organization might not work.

      “That would be problematic,” Hancock told the Georgia Straight. “The reason is that the name under the legislation”¦cannot be so similar to the name of another electoral organization that it could be confusing to the electors.”

      And then there’s the time element. According to Hancock, those within Vision Vancouver and COPE who want the joint endorsement of a candidate noted on the November 15 ballot have until August 9 to form a new electoral group. Hancock explained that under the charter, such a group must be in existence 60 days before the deadline for the filing of candidacies, which falls on October 10 for this year’s election.

      When Robertson accepted the nomination of Vision Vancouver on June 15, he talked about the need to “build bridges to those who share our values”. In his speech, he said that the party must “create a constructive and respectful working relationship” with COPE and the Greens.

      But although electoral organizations can work together during the campaign, Hancock stressed, only one can have its name on the ballot beside that of a candidate, whether for mayor, council, park board, or school board.

      COPE external cochair and council candidate Ellen Woodsworth is very much aware of the legal issues, as well as the urgency, involved in striking a deal with Vision.

      “You just set up a new organization of people who are committed to the joint mayoral candidate, and the funding for the mayoral candidate would go to that body,” Woodsworth told the Straight, noting that the two parties are trying to work out a date to sit down for negotiations.

      Asked whether COPE would accept an arrangement in which the party simply endorsed Robertson, for little consideration in return, Woodsworth said: “I think what we’ve been clear about in our [proposed] framework agreement is that we want a joint mayor, a joint slate, and a common platform, but details of that are going to be worked out in our discussions.”

      Vision Vancouver cochair Mike Magee was straightforward about what his party wants from COPE regarding the requirements of the Vancouver Charter.

      “We’re interested in an understanding with COPE about how to approach the election, but we’re two separate organizations, and you’d have to create a new organization to deal with some of the charter issues,” Magee told the Straight. “I don’t see us being able to do it. The rules in the charter are pretty clear, so we cannot really do anything that contravenes the charter direction.”¦It doesn’t mean we can’t work together to figure out an approach to the election, but I don’t believe that would be creating a new organization.”

      With respect to slate-sharing, Magee said that Vision will be “running majorities on all levels”.

      Incumbent Vision councillors Raymond Louie, Tim Stevenson, and Heather Deal are running for reelection. Coun. George Chow has told the Straight he may not run, but three others have put their names forward for council: communications consultant Geoff Meggs, UBC professor Kerry Jang, and B.C. Society for Public Education president Catherine Evans.

      Without Chow in the lineup, that would make six Vision Vancouver council candidates. But then there’s talk that former Green school trustee Andrea Reimer and lawyer David Eby may run for council with the party, making a total of eight candidates.

      COPE is looking at four candidates for council so far, namely, Woodsworth, incumbent councillor David Cadman, former councillor Tim Louis, and activist Meena Wong.

      With a signed membership of about 13,000 and a wide base of financial support, Vision Vancouver doesn’t share COPE’s sense of urgency about joining forces. According to Magee, the party has no hard deadlines at the moment for accomplishing this task.




      Jul 10, 2008 at 10:07am

      Ellen Wordsworth was one of the worst COPE councillors ever, more interested in international issues rather than local issues. Electing Wordsworth again would be a disaster and it high time COPE look out of the box.