David Chudnovsky and Alvin Singh reject claim by Tim Louis that COPE could go extinct

Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA David Chudnovsky has dismissed a former COPE councillor's claim that  the  left-wing municipal party  faces eventual extinction if members elect the entire COPE12 slate to the board of directors.

Chudnovsky, who is stepping down from provincial politics,  is on the slate of COPE12. The  12-member group is facing off against former councillor Tim Louis's four-member Keep It COPE slate at  COPE's annual general meeting tomorrow (April 5) at the Ukrainian Orthodox Hall.

Louis told the Straight yesterday that Chudnovsky's group is more interested in forming alliances with other parties than in putting its own candidate on the top of the ticket. Louis said that  playing coalition politics  will lead to  COPE's demise.

Chudnovsky, however, told the Straight that "COPE is stronger now than it has been for years and years and years".

"We have many members," he said. "We had a fantastic election campaign in November....What doesn't Tim get?"

Chudnovsky praised Louis's contributions in the past, but suggested that the COPE firebrand isn't in tune with the times.

"Unfortunately," Chudnovsky said, "he seems to be stuck in another century, another decade, and not dealing with the reality of the organization as it is right now. COPE is stronger than it has been for years, and it will continue to gain strength."

Chudnovsky doubted that he will run for municipal office in 2011--and that includes probably not running for mayor with COPE. "According to Tim, there's not going to be a mayoral candidate in 2011," he quipped.

Another member of the COPE12 slate, former school-board candidate Alvin Singh, rejected Louis's claim that the party will not run a mayoral candidate in 2011 if the COPE12 slate wins tomorrow's directors' election.

"I'm not here to take anything off the table," Singh told the Straight. "To say that we're not going to do this or we're going to do that is speculation. It's hearsay."

Singh  emphasized that  the COPE12 slate brings a lot of different experiences forward, and each is bringing people in their networks into the party. He added that there are members from the West End, the south side of the city, and other areas.

"There are three people who are visible minorities," he said of the COPE12 slate. "I think there are five different languages spoken. Young people, people a bit more experienced, and all of them  with really strong ties to COPE and COPE's principles--I think this represents a really, really exciting group that can take COPE forward into some new directions and bring some new ideas."

As for Louis's suggestion that COPE12 won't run a mayoral candidate, Singh replied, "Any comments about election strategy in 2011 is, one, extraordinarily premature. We've just finished an election cycle. And a cycle that was very good for us despite what other people wanted the party to do."

Singh  added that it was "absurd" for Louis to forecast the party's extinction, and suggested that COPE made  a correct decision  to join an electoral coalition with Vision Vancouver and the Greens.

Six of COPE's nine candidates for city council, school board, and park board were elected in the 2008 election. Vision Vancouver controls city council and park board. The school board has four Vision trustees, three COPE trustees, and two NPA trustees.