Two members of the board of Vancouver’s oldest left-wing party have quit.
Ex-MLA David Chudnovsky and former council candidate Rafael “R J” Aquino resigned from the executive of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, foreshadowing a major confrontation within the storied organization in the lead-up to the 2014 local election.
In the past, the two backed an electoral alliance between COPE and the ruling Vision Vancouver party. They were seen as likely to promote renewed cooperation next year.
However, they are now outnumbered on the board. The current executive is dominated by those who want to sever ties to the developer-friendly Vision and run distinct slates and a separate mayoral candidate.
Although Chudnovsky told the Straight last September that he was “very disappointed” with Vision, he declined to say where COPE should go in the 2014 municipal election.
In a new interview, the former Vancouver NDP MLA asserted that matters relating to COPE’s relationship with Vision were “certainly not at all central” to his decision to leave the COPE board.
“More and more people have been coming to me and saying that they’re no longer comfortable with the direction that COPE has been taking,” Chudnovsky told the Straight by phone Tuesday (October 22).
He refused to cite a specific example of the COPE “direction” he referenced, aside from saying that “people are looking for a broad-based, open, welcoming coalition that speaks to the needs of people across the city.” Chudnovsky didn’t rule out the prospect that he and his allies in COPE will try to take back control of the executive at a future general assembly. “I’m talking to a lot of people and looking at options,” he said.
Stuart Parker is among those in the majority of the COPE board who believe that the party should drop its association with Vision. According to him, the twin board resignations are meant to serve one purpose.
“Their departure from the executive does free them up to organize full-time against the incumbent executive,” Parker told the Straight in a phone interview.
He suggested that Chudnovsky and Aquino may try to exploit unresolved disagreements within the anti-Vision block of the COPE board. Parker has been at odds lately with the party’s internal chair, former city councillor Tim Louis.
“It will be very important for the majority in COPE to reach out to the members of the party who are…more moderate in their politics and to be reassured that they remain welcome in the party,” Parker said. “I think that if we’re ineffective in doing that, the rebuilding COPE has done in the past year will be compromised.”