A new group has launched a campaign to elect former Vancouver South Conservative MP Wai Young as the next mayor of the city.
Called Coalition Vancouver, the organization has declared that it is “committed to being a civic organization which is not driven by any political ideology”.
On the votewaiyoung.com website, the group is recruiting members as part of the push to help Young “bring change to City Hall”.
The formation of Coalition Vancouver could be an indication that Young may pursue her mayoral plan outside the Non-Partisan Association (NPA).
The NPA is the oldest civic party in the city, which has a strong possibility of wining the October 2018 municipal election in the wake of popular disgruntlement with the ruling Vision Vancouver.
Young did not respond to requests for an interview with the Georgia Straight.
Young previously started signing up NPA memberships. She had conducted fundraisers for her potential bid. She likewise requested an application package for those seeking the mayoral nomination of the NPA.
The former one-term Vancouver South MP has not submitted her nomination papers to the NPA.
Ken Charko, a former NPA board member, anticipates one outcome for the NPA if Young goes independent.
“They lose if Wai runs independent,” Charko told the Straight in a phone interview.
According to Charko, a separate campaign by Young will split the centre and centre-right vote.
“If she runs as an independent, that hurts the NPA,” Charko said.
Charko is a local businessman known for his candour and forthrightness. The maverick is no longer connected with the NPA.
Charko does not speak for Young. Like Young, Charko is a federal Conservative.
“I think the NPA has got to bring everyone in the tent that is centre-right,” Charko said.
According to him, the NPA needs to “bend over backwards to make sure that everyone feels welcome”.
The Straight sought NPA president Gregory Baker for comment about the prospect of Young running for mayor outside the NPA.
“I’ve heard rumours that she has every intention of doing that,” Baker said in a phone interview.
The NPA earlier set a March 23 deadline for mayoral nomination candidates to hand in their papers. The date is being extended.
As for Young’s nomination entry, Baker said: “She hasn’t submitted it yet, so, you know, your guess is as good as mine as to what she plans to do.”
Baker acknowledged that a split of the centre and centre-right vote is a concern.
“I hope that some people will come to their senses,” Baker said.
However, Baker also indicated that it may not be too late to prevent a fracturing of the vote for the NPA.
“I would say there is a lot time still,” he said.
Baker said that the NPA will hold its mayoral nomination on May 29.
“The NPA is trying to build a broader base, and I really would prefer it to be considered the centre vote,” Baker said.
On the votewaiyoung.com site, Coalition Vancouver describes itself as a “society of community-minded Vancouver residents, business operators or owners, workers, and other people and organizations who wish to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and towards building stronger communities in the City of Vancouver”.
Not aligned with a particular political ideology, Coalition Vancouver commits to being a “democratic, open, welcoming and inclusive society dedicated to building a sustainable, affordable, accessible, vibrant, healthy and prosperous Vancouver for all”.
Moreover, “Coalition Vancouver will create and implement reasonable, practicable and progressive policies to build the best City that Vancouver can be for all of its people.”