Rebecca Bligh cites importance of inclusion as she quits NPA and becomes an independent councillor

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      First-term Vancouver councillor Rebecca Bligh says there's no debate when it comes to inclusion.

      After the Georgia Straight revealed that members of the newly elected executive on the NPA board had been endorsed by a socially conservative group, she has quit the party and will sit as an independent.

      "I joined the NPA because I believe in non-partisan local government that is socially progressive and fiscally responsible," Bligh wrote in a statement of resignation, which she sent to the Straight this evening. "The NPA Party has historically represented these values and stood for inclusion. My fellow members of the NPA Caucus and our supporters are aligned with our values that we share when it comes to inclusion and we support SOGI  and the LGBTQ2+ community."

      SOGI is an acronym for sexual orientation and gender identification. The progressive SOGI 123 educational program is in B.C. schools to promote inclusive extra-curricular activities and self-identification for LGBT kids while respecting their confidentiality.  

      "In light of the newly elected executive to the NPA Board having any affiliation with anti-SOGI is against the core values that I hold dear to my heart," Bligh wrote.

      The NPA board secretary, Ray Goldenchild, and the NPA board treasurer, Phyllis Tang, were each endorsed by the Let's Vote Association when they ran as candidates in 2018 with other parties. An anti-SOGI website included a link to the association.

      Among the others that this association endorsed in 2018 were Burnaby school board candidate Heather Leung, who was fired as a Conservative candidate in 2019 for her past homophobic statements. 

      The association also endorsed Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld, whose anti-SOGI 123 comments resulted in a human-rights complaint being filed against him by the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

      NPA board executive members Phyllis Tang and Ray Goldenchild were both endorsed by an anti-SOGI 123 group when they ran for other parties in the 2018 election.

      Bligh praises former NPA caucus colleages

      "At the same time, it is important to note that there is a clear line between the elected NPA Caucus and the new NPA Board," Bligh emphasized. "I have great faith in the NPA elected officials serving Vancouver residents and their supporters and we share the same values of inclusion.

      "I also greatly appreciate the incredible support from the NPA volunteers and Board members I worked with last year on my campaign. And, I’m especially grateful for the support of the NPA membership and Vancouver residents who voted for me last year to be their voice at the municipal government level and I will continue to represent them on Council."

      Bligh has been a socially progressive and fiscally conservative councillor in her first year in office.

      She advanced a progressive policy on allowing retail cannabis outlets in the Downtown Eastside, eyeing the possibility of the plant being used as a substitute for opioids, thereby saving lives.

      She demonstrated a fiscally conservative side with her outspoken opposition to staff's proposed 8.2-percent property-tax hike.

      Bligh also voted in favour of rental-housing projects that were opposed by councillors Pete Fry and Jean Swanson.