By Ivan Bulic
All 12 candidates of the COPE12 slate swept every spot on the executive at today's annual general meeting of the Coalition of Progressive Electors civic party.
In the closest vote of the afternoon, former city councillor Tim Louis was defeated by COPE12's Lucas Schuller by a narrow 133-to-129 vote. Other members of Louis's Keep It COPE slate, which included COPE treasurer Terry Martin, also failed to get any seats on the 12-member executive board.
More than 250 COPE members and supporters packed the Ukrainian Community Hall and elected 25-year-old Alvin Singh as the party's new external cochairperson.
"They have called COPE staid, old irrelevant, and finished," said Singh in his acceptance speech. "But the last election, and today's AGM proves that COPE is a party of ideas, principles and new directions that appeals to youth, and thousands of those who care about where Vancouver is headed over the next few years."
Singh is the youngest cochairperson ever elected by COPE. He is also the first person of South Asian descent to head a major Vancouver civic party.
Singh is joined by a decidedly youthful executive that includes Insite coordinator Nathan Allen, New World Theatre director Marcus Youssef, UBC education professor Jennifer Chan, Citizen's Advisory Committee on Youth Justice member Rachel Gold, union activist Jennifer McKenna, and SFU academic and Car-Free Vancouver founder Matt Hern. Outgoing NDP MLA David Chudnovsky was also elected as internal cochairperson.
A sizeable NDP presence at the COPE gathering included Vancouver MPs Libby Davies and Don Davies, and MLAs Shane Simpson and Jenny Kwan. Even Vancouver Green party park commissioner Stuart MacKinnon was on hand to support his COPE colleague, Commissioner Loretta Woodcock, with whom he often votes at park board.
COPE members were in a bouyant mood to hear that the party is debt-free following last November's joint campaign with Vision Vancouver that saw COPE elect two councillors, three school board trustees and one park commissioner.
There was also a loud cheer when outgoing treasurer Martin reported that the outstanding debt from the 2002 election has finally been retired. The debt was left behind when former mayor Larry Campbell and city councillors Tim Stevenson, Raymond Louis and Jim Green split from COPE to form Vision Vancouver.
Many believe that internal squabbling about who was responsible for the debt was largely responsible for the inability of the two parties to work together in 2005, and that led to the NPA's Sam Sullivan defeating Green for the mayor's chair.
Ivan Bulic is a former employee of COPE. He wrote this as an independent observer and not as a spokesperson for the party.