Will Hector Bremner release the letter?
That’s the big question in Vancouver civic politics this week.
The letter supposedly outlines the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) board’s reasons for rejecting Bremner’s application to seek the party's nomination for mayor. And those reasons are of great interest because Bremner is a sitting councillor who won that position with the NPA.
Why did a party green-light a politician to run as its candidate for council and then, after the person won that election, disqualify that candidate from running for mayor?
Let’s take a step back and recount how we got here.
In October 2017, Bremner was the NPA’s candidate for council in a by-election. That means he was vetted by the NPA and deemed acceptable to carry the party’s brand. Then Bremner won the by-election, increasing the NPA’s seats on council from three to four. One would think the party would be happy with him.
On February 19, Bremner confirmed he intended to run for mayor in Vancouver’s next civic election scheduled for October 2018.
On April 13, Bremner was accused of a conflict of interest related to his work as vice president of public affairs for the Pace Group, a Vancouver-based communications firm. An official complaint was filed with the city and today it remains under review.
On May 7, the NPA board approved three candidates to compete for the party’s nomination for mayor and rejected two others. Bremner’s application was denied. That was unusual because Bremner is a sitting councillor who’s already wearing the NPA’s name at city hall.
On May 8, Bremner responded to the board’s decision with a message posted on Facebook that accused the NPA board of being “taken over by people with another agenda”.
“A board that was stacked by one of the candidates, the same candidate whose supporters attacked me with false accusations that clearly the Green Light Committee rejected,” Bremner wrote. That post is widely believed to be in reference to Glen Chernen, a Vancouver resident with no political experience who the NPA board did approve to run for the party’s nomination for mayor.
On May 10, the Vancouver Sun published an article in which Bremner challenged the NPA board to make public its reasons for rejecting his application.
“Put out whatever you want, I have no secrets,” he said.
In that article, Bremner also essentially accused the NPA board of racism. "When you sign up 100 white people at a church, that doesn’t seem questionable, but when you have 100 non-Anglicized names, that is questionable,” he said.
Later the same day, the NPA issued a media release that described Bremner’s accusations as “untrue, unfounded, and defamatory”.
The statement, attributed to NPA president Gregory Baker, said that the board’s reasons for denying Bremner’s application were confidential but that the party was now reviewing the matter.
“Mr. Bremner says he welcomes the reasons for his rejection by the Board to be made public,” Baker’s statement reads. “As a result, we are currently consulting with legal counsel concerning the possible release of relevant information about the concerns conveyed by the Green Light Committee to the NPA Board about Mr. Bremner, as well as the Board’s decision to reject his candidacy application.”
On May 14, the NPA issued another media release, this one stating that Baker had sent Bremner a letter that detailed why the board denied his application for the party’s nomination.
“Although the NPA does not plan to publicly release this information, Mr. Bremner is within his rights to release the information as well as the contents of the letter as he sees fit,” it reads.
Bremner had previously challenged the NPA board to make public its reasons for derailing his aspirations for mayor. Now Bremner has what the NPA describes as a detailed explanation. So why hasn’t Bremner shared the NPA’s letter with the public?
“We finally received a letter today on the excuses why the NPA board voted against me running despite the green light committee recommending I be on the ballot,” Bremner wrote on Facebook yesterday (May 14).
“We will be responding in the next few days to this letter and more importantly about our path forward,” it continues. “However, suffice it to say that their concerns were based on politically motivated accusations made by a rival campaign, not on anything of substance. Everything in the letter is already in the public domain.”
The ball’s in Bremner’s court.