Former COPE executive Stuart Parker quits “toxic” party

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      Vancouver’s left-wing electoral organization has one less member.

      Having resigned from the executive of the Coalition of Progressive Electors in November, Stuart Parker has now quit the party altogether. Parker, who describes himself on his blog as a “historian, political activist and itinerant lecturer in the humanities”, came out swinging—and not just against the party he helped rebuild.

      In a letter to his supporters, Parker lashed out at those who created the ruling Vision Vancouver party out of a split within COPE, blaming them, in part, for the lost opportunity to “remake our city as a compassionate, diverse place”.

      “When I came back to Vancouver in 2012, after an eight-year absence, it seemed clear to me who was at fault and what was to be done,” Parker wrote. “It seemed obvious to me that the people who crossed from COPE and the Green Party to form Vision were the culprits, their betrayal leveraged by developer donations and the small cadre of federal Liberals and Shaughnessy and West Point Grey whose strategic alliances have kept them in continuous control of our city for three quarters of a century.”

      He continued: “It seemed to me that Vision was comprised of the cheapest sort of sell-outs, people willing to [do] the bidding of big business for a fraction of the perks, donations and invisible exchanges NPA [Non-Partisan Association] representatives would demand.”

      Parker went on: “It seemed like America after Lincoln’s assassination, when the human rights gains of the Civil War were squandered by a corrupt, incoherent and unfocused presidency. Like US president Andrew Johnson’s relationship with the planter aristocracy of Dixie, the class insecurities of the former communists, socialists and Greens populating Vision’s front bench just greased the wheels for sweetheart deals, concession and corruption.”

      Vision executive director Stepan Vdovine didn’t grant the Straight an interview, stating in an email that he has no comment to offer.

      In his letter, Parker also wrote that COPE is “equally to blame” for the city’s state of affairs.

      “COPE’s toxic, meeting-intensive culture of interminable, acrimonious, incoherent nonsense that is politely called ‘debate’ would drive any sane person out of active participation within two years,” Parker wrote. “This is not an accident. This is the plan.”

      In a phone interview with the Straight, COPE executive director Sean Antrim disagreed that his party is dysfunctional: “We’re perfectly functional.”

      Parker, a New Democrat and former leader of the B.C. Green Party, said he cancelled his COPE membership on March 5.

      A day later, Parker told the Straight by phone about COPE: “I’ve decided the thing is just…unsalvageable.”



      Burger King

      Mar 13, 2014 at 9:48am

      Sounds like Stuart is actually just crazy.

      Coast Salish Resident

      Mar 13, 2014 at 9:56am

      Why is this guy constantly being interviewed again?

      Give me a break

      Mar 13, 2014 at 9:57am

      This is the worst article.


      Mar 13, 2014 at 10:04am

      A tad hyperbolic Mr Parker, non?

      Nicholas Ellan

      Mar 13, 2014 at 10:17am

      It's no secret that I too, as well as recovering exec Kim Hearty, have cut ties with COPE. As with NSV, Cedar and the rest, these "parties" are simply social scenes that have confused themselves for a political program, unable to discern between a patronage network and a democratic process, bizarrely wedded to archaic procedures, and ultimately unwilling to waver in any way from the secret agenda of their de-facto leader. While I reject the policies and politics of Vision Vancouver, I respect their decision to flee a decade ago, and recognize what they left behind for what it is. I hope that one day a true political movement arrives to sweep up the ashes of these petty landlord-run fiefdoms posing as political parties, and ushers in a new and more hopeful time for our city.

      In the meantime I'm not doling out their herring vouchers, even if it pays a living wage.


      Mar 13, 2014 at 10:25am

      I agree with Parker's analysis but his comparison with reconstruction US is a bit heavy handed. There must be some middle ground between selling the city to developers and Louis' loony left, aka the "social justice league," but Vison did a fantastic job of co-opting "green" concerns most soft-left voters will simply line up to support developers.


      Mar 13, 2014 at 10:27am

      Heh heh, it's like Vancouver is being run by Kim Jong-Gregor. Sooooooo evil. Evil!

      Stuart Parker

      Mar 13, 2014 at 11:42am

      I have no idea why the Straight finds me so interesting. This was a note sent to 100 people, not a press release. Anyway, Carlito's excerpting practices miss the point of the letter. It makes it sound like it's Vision not COPE that I am quitting. Oh well...

      Martin Dunphy

      Mar 13, 2014 at 11:57am

      Stuart Parker:

      With respect, you might not have intended your four-page "note" as a press release, but you did, nonetheless, personally send it—along with some supporting correspondence—to our reporter.
      And I think Carlito more than adequately telegraphed at the top that he was going to be highlighting your attack on Vision Vancouver.

      From the full letter

      Mar 13, 2014 at 12:51pm

      "During my brief time in COPE, I came to discover that the current leadership group is structured on a politics of small-scale financial patronage of people with marginal employment prospects or otherwise straitened financial circumstances. Votes and committee composition might turn on sums of less than $200, doled out by the ruling patriarch, but these tiny amounts of money actually hold much of the putative leadership group together....
      ...the excuse-making, denials and cover-ups that followed the mobilization of MAWO (Fire This Time) ...Let us consider, then, that those who comprise COPE today have not sold out because they are principled but because nobody is buying. Let us consider the possibility that the creators of Vision bought off only those worth recruiting and that those individuals likely exacted a higher price in progressive policy concessions and political support than those who remain in COPE would have, that the invisible-handed God caused developers to purchase only genuine assets, not unreliable, damaged goods.

      The fact is that if someone can be bought off for a $10/head commission on party memberships, a few hours of minimum wage data entry work or dribs and drabs of minimally-remunerated cold calling; if they are willing to look the other way in the face of lies, threats, intimidation and retaliatory attacks on members’ families and charitable enterprises, and write these things off as just the price of doing business for such a pittance, their chances of turning down a consulting contract from Westbank are minimal. If they are wowed and brag to their friends about getting to eat some inferior vegan appetizers at Tim’s house a couple of times per year, imagine how lunch at the Terminal City club would seem to this crew – or better yet, a weekend at Hollyhock or some other favoured Tides retreat location. COPE is not massing the army of the incorruptible; it is doing the very opposite: finding and mobilizing the most desperately corruptible in the city."