Progressive unity with Vision Vancouver a tough deal, says antipoverty activist Jean Swanson

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      Concerns over fragmenting the so-called progressive vote may not be enough to unite parties on the centre-left and left of Vancouver’s political spectrum.

      According to antipoverty activist Jean Swanson, the idea about working alongside the ruling Vision Vancouver is a difficult decision to make.

      “I’m hoping that if progressive forces come together, it would be based on policy, and I think it would be really hard for people that I work with to work with Vision, because they’ve done so much damage to the city in terms of increasing homelessness, increasing housing unaffordability, those kinds of things,” Swanson told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Monday (April 9).

      The Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) is trying to broker a deal among progressive parties, which include Vision, for the October 2018 municipal election.

      However, convincing the Swanson and her team, as well the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), to come to some sort of agreement with Vision is best for the city doesn’t look easy.

      “What I’m afraid of is… any party that would be doing the bidding of the developers, which includes Vision,” Swanson said.

      The Green Party of Vancouver is one of the electoral organizations included in the VDLC-led process.

      Pete Fry of the Greens indicated that his party “couldn’t commit to the outcome necessarily” of an electoral collaboration that includes Vision.

      “But we’re committed to at least exploring the process and, you know, having a transparent, good faith conversation,” Fry told the Straight in a phone interview. “But I think transparency is really an important component as well because…we’re not really  comfortable with the idea of…sort of backroom deal.”

      Green councillor Adriane Carr had earlier said that she may run for mayor under her party’s banner.

      The Swanson team and COPE are holding policy discussions with urban planner Patrick Condon, who has expressed interest in the mayoralty.

      SFU professor Shauna Sylvester, a Vision member and former member of the party’s executive, has declared that she is running for mayor as an independent.

      Fry, a former candidate for city council, said: “It’s no secret…I ran against Vision Vancouver’s record, and I think that… they have a lot to answer.”

      OneCity is also involved in the VDLC-led process of finding a way in which progressive forces can work together in the October election.

      OneCity co-chair Anna Chudnovsky previously said that her party is open to discussions about cooperation, and that Vision needs to acknowledge how its policies have contributed to the city’s problems around housing affordability.

      Swanson recalled that in the last few days of the 2014 civic election, Vision Mayor Gregor Robertson apologized to voters about mistakes his party had made.

      Robertson went on to win the election, and Vision maintained its majority in council.

      Another Vision apology may not likely sway Swanson and other likeminded people, although she also said that "it's too early tell".

      Swanson said: “Well, my grandma always told me, ‘Actions speak louder than words’.”