Jenny Kwan says COPE is the only Vancouver civic party that represents the grassroots
In 2005 when Jim Green was the Vision Vancouver candidate for mayor of Vancouver, one of his strongest supporters was Jenny Kwan.
The Vancouver-Mount Pleasant NDP MLA had worked with Green many years earlier at the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association.
Today (September 19), however, Kwan sent a statement to the annual general meeting of the Coalition of Progressive Electors that might make some wonder if she's lost her enthusiasm for Vision Vancouver.
Former Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA David Chudnovsky read the message aloud to about 100 people in attendance at the Japanese Hall on Alexander Street.
"While I very much regret that I am not able to attend today's annual general meeting, I wanted to send greetings and my very best wishes for another exciting year at the Coalition of Progressive Electors," Kwan's message stated. "It is clear in all of the great work that COPE has done over the past year that this is the only civic party that is truly committed to being an effective representative of the grassroots in Vancouver. Thank you for all of the work that COPE has done to prove its committment to being an effective voice of the people."
Kwan was the only COPE councillor from 1993 to 1996. She praised the two current COPE councillors (Ellen Woodsworth and David Cadman) for "great work in fighting for the inclusion of neighbourhood perspectives and neighbourhood voices in creating a vision for our city, as well as your efforts to ensure that a prosperous city such as Vancouver remains committed to building homes for the homeless, to keeping our city green".
After reading Kwan's message, Chudnovsky announced a long list of policies and actions that have distinguished COPE from other civic parties:
* Only COPE opposed the tax shift from businesses to residences so homeowners and renters would be protected.
* Only COPE called for the Campbell Liberals to commit to a timeline on the 14 affordable-housing sites they keep promising.
* Only COPE stood with the residents of Little Mountain and housing advocates to demand 224 units of affordable family housing be reopened.
* Only COPE brings international leadership on climate change and waste management.
* Only COPE proposed a two-bike-lane solution for the Burrard Street Bridge.
* Only COPE brought forward a motion to restore investment in the arts for the social and economic health of our city.
* Only COPE brought forward innovative motions such as installing wireless internet services in civic buildings, starting a citywide “freebie” give away program, and increasing scooter parking.
* Only COPE brought forward motions on campaign finance reform to cap the extraordinary election expenses in Vancouver.
* Only COPE stood in favour of preserving the iconic Bloedel Conservatory and Stanley Park farm and preventing privatization.
* Only COPE brought a motion to council against the B.C. Liberals' “kidnapping act”.
* Only COPE brought a motion to the Vancouver Board of Education on the International Day for Climate Action.
* Only COPE is committed to putting electoral reform on the agenda for the 2011 election and is carrying out a neighbourhood engagement process.
* Only COPE has called parents, teachers and labour together to fight the devastating education cuts coming in the next provincial budget.
* Only COPE has stood up for amateur sports at Empire Bowl.
* Only COPE opposed the redevelopment of Hastings Park, which reduces green space promised to the neighbourhood.
* Only COPE stood up and gave back unnecessary Olympic tickets.
* Only COPE proposed a real West End consultation and voted against spot rezonings done without real participation.
* Only COPE voted against the mayor’s task force on the West End, because it’s not the consultation the community is looking for.
* Only COPE is proposing models for transparent neighbourhood engagement.
* Only COPE is proposing changes to the rate-of-change bylaw to preserve rentals.
* Only COPE is requesting that all untendered city contracts over $30,000 be approved by council and posted on the city's Web site.
* Only COPE has consistently stood up for civil liberties and in defence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the face of repressive Olympic security plans.
After reading the list, which was periodically interrupted by applause, Chudnovsky praised Vision Vancouver councillors for listening and responding to concerns over civil liberties during the Olympics.
There was only one elected Vision Vancouver politician in attendance: park commissioner Aaron Jasper. The meeting was also attended by Green park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon.
Nobody challenged a the election of a slate of directors called COPE 12, which was endorsed by all six of COPE's elected politicians on council, school board, and park board.
The new external cochair is playwright Marcus Youssef, who is best known for his work with Neworld Theatre.
The party's new internal cochair is Sarena Talbot, who has been involved in Latin American solidarity work.
Mike Dumler, a former CUPE B.C. president, is the new membership secretary, and social-media activist Vivian Pan is the new corresponding secretary.
Nathan Allen, manager of Pigeon Park Savings Credit Union, continues as treasurer and Chudnovsky, the former internal cochair, is the board member in charge of fundraising.
At the meeting, Allen acknowledged that COPE has a $62,000 debt, though he claimed that some creditors don't expect to be repaid. He also acknowledged that there was a $20,000 operating shortfall last year.
Former executive director Rachel Marcuse later informed the Straight that the year-end fell at a time when all the receivables hadn't come in. She maintained that the party has balanced its operating budget and it's not using its line of credit.
Donalda Greenwell-Baker, a board member on the Vancouver and District Labour Council, continues in her position as COPE's recording secretary. Also joining the board are: West End neighbourhood activist Brent Granby, Filipino community organizer R.J. Aquino, literacy and arts programmer Rachel Gold, public-policy researcher and former B.C. NDP candidate Helesia Luke, and B.C. NDP researcher Emily-Anne Paul.
In 2009, COPE's annual general meeting attracted a larger crowd as there was a spirited fight for positions on the executive between COPE 12 and a faction led by former councillor and park commissioner Tim Louis.
Louis attended today's meeting with his partner, Penny Parry, but he did not put his name forward as a candidate for the executive.
Related Article: NDP MLA Jenny Kwan works phones after editing error in COPE AGM message
Sep 20, 2010 at 6:03am
Good stuff Jenny now why not step up and try to get Carole James to do the right thing and resign. You can take her place.
The BCLiberals will use her odious presence as a handy tool to win the various recall efforts and the next election.
The NDP by keeping her on is a giant milestone around the neck of progress in this province and makes COPE look awful by association.
The Big Chudnovsky
Sep 20, 2010 at 6:41am
Chudnovsky's list is a joke. While in power, COPE voted for the redistribution of taxes from businesses onto the back of homeowners. Much of the silly list is comprised of 'motherhood' issues (transparency in governance, need for other levels of gov't to pony up money for housing, silly attacks on the BC Liberals (which COPE loves, so that it can avoid its job as an opposition party, opposing Vision [not the Liberals], and of course embracing the arts and the environment, which is kind of like saying 'don't shoot bambi'). The big Chud is really grasping at straws here. He and his measly band of 100 will soon be at Vision's door hat in hand, begging for a coalition.
Like she is an authority
Sep 20, 2010 at 8:36am
I often wondered why this women keeps getting elected in as the only thing Kwan has on the ball is making sure she dosen't miss another photo opp. What has Kwan done for the neighborhood for her constituents as she dosen't have the time a day for most unless you are somebody in the community. Kwan dosen't talk to her lowly constituents that is for the clerk at the desk who sends most away saying there is little to do as Kwan is set in her ways. If you want to see improvements in the community this NDP MLA needs to be put to pasture with the Liberals.
I would like to see a Liberal elected in the neighborhood so the MLA gets a feel for the damage to the people in BC has really done to the poorest neighborhood in Canada. And the bold legged MLA from the eastside who looks like she was born on a horse wears those 6 inch heels to the legislature and it is comedy at its worst.
R U Kiddingme
Sep 20, 2010 at 9:38am
Good for Jenny to stay relevant and push a progressive agenda. But experience tells me that you can never be left enough for some people. To pick one of the COPE self-congratulations above -- green space -- witness the whining against the improvements to Grandview Park, which the leftier among us decry as being inhibitive of the rights of people to use a children's playground as an all-season campground for stoners. It must be absolutely Sisyphian to try to actually lead on the left. Rightwingers have it easier politically because those people don't have the bone-deep mistrust of authority and leadership.
barry william teske
Sep 20, 2010 at 10:22am
oh yes jenny kwan the woman who told me it was too bad i didn't have any food for christmas a couple of years back (yes i have a witness). that she was sorry but what could SHE do? no leadership there...
Sep 20, 2010 at 10:34am
I know it's their AGM and a time to rally supporters BUT I am disappointed at the statement: "Only COPE has called parents, teachers and labour together to fight the devastating education cuts coming in the next provincial budget."
Most of the VISON board of education trustees have proven to be competent leaders in speaking up, persistently reporting on the underfunding and advocating for what is needed to really sustain quality programs and services needed to educate our children.
So sure hats off to COPE for good work where it is earned but lets respect that the VISION trustees have been staunch defenders of public education.
I look to COPE leaders and members to show responsibility and give credit to VISION'S stellar education leadership and efforts as well as toot their own horns, trumpets, and bagpipes.
Sep 20, 2010 at 10:43am
@ Like she is an authority - you seem like a vicious little real estate developer/Liberal shill who doesn't even live in Vancouver - Mount Pleasant. You also appear to be someone who doesn't understand how a constituency office works "Kwan dosen't talk to her lowly constituents that is for the clerk at the desk".
As for Kwan's "photo opps", how come whenever there is an article about her, it's either the picture that came with this article, or her legislature photo? It wasn't Jenny who was shoving herself in front of every TV camera wearing red mittens and frantically waving an oversized flag back in February.
If you knew MY riding, you would know why Kwan keeps getting elected: she sticks up for the underclass and tells it like it is, unlike the "Believe BC" or "Best Place on Earth" propaganda you're used to from your beloved B.C. Lieberals.
glen p robbins
Sep 20, 2010 at 11:32am
If COPE is the only party that represents the grass roots it presumes that the NDP provincially does not. Does this mean that Jenny Kwan is running for civic government? Or as Seth suggests is she sick of Carole James?
Sep 20, 2010 at 11:59am
COPE by holding its AGM meeting yesterday brings forth concerns that should be addressed. It should be noted that it held the meeting much later than the 15 months it is constitutionally allowed. In fact normally non-profits and political parties should hold their AGM 12 months after the previous one, however, there is a grace period of three months but even then COPE broke these rules by holding the AGM much later than the 15 months allowed. .
Missing also from this story is that one quarter of those elected to the executive yesterday were not in attendance at the AGM.
It should be noted that 84 members attended this year's AGM compared to 350 members the previous year. This is a drop of 76% and going into an election year COPE should be deeply concerned that they may have turned off a significant portion of their membership.
COPE is experiencing the worst operating deficit in its history and it would be interesting to know what the reasons for this are?.
Sep 20, 2010 at 12:22pm
How can Kwan claim that COPE "represents the grassroots" (whatever that means) when they sold out to Vision, have not held Vision accountable for all the broken campaign promises since 2008, and one of their councillors, Cadman, is absent from so many meetings because he's flying around the world to attend meetings using taxpayer money? Jenny has completely lost touch with reality.