A couple of meetings at the Maritime Labour Centre next month may shape the outcome of the municipal election in Vancouver.
The centre is the headquarters of the influential Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC), which has historically played a role in civic elections.
The VDLC has invited centre-left and left parties for formal talks on May 6 and May 7 about working together in the October 2018 election.
Summoned to the talks are representatives of the ruling Vision Vancouver, Coalition of Progressive Electors, OneCity, Green Party of Vancouver, and the team of anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson.
VDLC president Stephen Von Sychowski is confident that the parties will come to an agreement.
“It’s getting there,” Von Sychowski told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Monday (April 16) about how close a deal is in sight.
According to Von Sychowski, the VDLC is moving toward a “more formalized process” after having held separate meetings with the different parties.
“We are going to be moving into mediation of sorts, which will take place on May 6 and 7,” he said. “And so all the parties are committed to participating in that, and it will be a mediated discussion that myself and our former president Joey Hartman will mediate. And we are very optimistic that by the end of that process, there will be some form of an accommodation agreement reached.”
Former COPE councillor Tim Louis has told the Straight in a previous interview that a progressive coalition should not include Vision.
“Progressive parties should work with each other together," Louis said. "They should not include in that mix a party that is not progressive, a party that is developers’ party, a party that has always put the interest of its bank account ahead of the citizens of Vancouver in an effort to obtain donations from large developers. Vision Vancouver is not a progressive party.”
In another interview, anti-poverty warrior Swanson told the Straight that it will be "really hard" for people she works with to stand alongside Vision in the election.
According to Swanson, that's because Vision has "done so much damage to the city".
Von Sychowski acknowledged that there are differences among the different parties.
However, he also noted that the parties recognize the need to cooperate in order to prevent a victory by centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA).
“It’s been good to see the very positive attitude that everyone has come with in terms of understanding the importance of having some form of cooperation or accommodation here in order to actually…not see the NPA elected,” Von Sychowski said.
According to him, left-leaning parties have a “broad agreement” about the issues facing the city.
“There’s some differences about how to resolve those problems, but there’s more common there to work with than difference,” Von Sychowski said.
The May 6 and May 7 meetings are private.
Von Sychowski said that the meetings will be preceded by public events organized by the VDLC on May 4 and May 5 to discuss issues facing Vancouver.