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.