A prominent analytical voice of Vancouver's left wing has officially entered politics.
On Sunday (June 10), the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) nominated writer, editor, and activist Derrick O'Keefe as one of its candidates for Vancouver city council.
"Really proud to be nominated," O'Keefe wrote on Facebook today (June 11). "There are great people in other progressive parties running for spots on city council and the hope/plan is to work as hard as humanly possible to get a majority at City Hall so we can push through urgent measures to address the housing and affordability crisis."
O'Keefe is a key organizer behind the Vancouver Tenants Union and an editor at the online news outlet Ricochet. He previously worked on a 2017 campaign that Downtown Eastside activist Jean Swanson ran to fill a Vancouver council seat for which the city held a by-election. Swanson lost that election to the Non-Partisan Association's Hector Bremner, but she finished second with 10,263 votes compared to Bremner's 13,372. What's more, Swanson had to contend with a crowded left field where the vote was split between several notable candidates while Bremner essentially had the right to himself.
At a Saturday (June 9) rally for Swanson, O'Keefe focused on what is sure to be this election cycle's hottest issue: housing.
"This campaign is designed to get people into office but, at the same time, to build the social movements in this city," he said. "To build the Tenants' Union, to build the power of tenants and renters across the city, and, really, to give the progressive politicians who get office at school board, park board, and, especially, at city hall, the power, the authority behind them from the citizens.
"Let's get a radical, pragmatic slate of councillors in power and let's make Vancouver a city where thousands of people are no longer having to move out of town," O'Keefe continued, "where thousands of people are no longer having to move out onto the streets, and where thousands of people are moving into affordable, beautiful, comfortable, just housing solutions in every part of the city."
O'Keefe is one of three contenders for city council that COPE members nominated as official candidates at Sunday's meeting. Swanson was also selected, along with Anne Roberts, a former COPE city councillor from 2002 to 2005 and COPE school board trustee from 1993 to 1996.
The last time that COPE successfully ran a candidate for city council was a decade ago, in 2008. But the party held the mayor's chair from 2002 to 2005 and has remained intact since then despite struggling to see candidates elected.
Vancouver's next election for mayor, city council, park board, and school board is scheduled for October 20, 2018.