COPE backs First Nations votes on Vancouver city council

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      A member of the City of Vancouver’s urban aboriginal peoples’ advisory committee is applauding a proposal from the Coalition of Progressive Electors to give three local First Nations votes on city council.

      Mona Woodward, executive director of the Aboriginal Front Door Society, told the Georgia Straight the committee doesn’t have any “legal voting right” and can only offer its “perspective and advice” to the city.

      “This is a really significant move forward by COPE, and a very positive one at that,” Woodward, who identifies as Cree, Lakota, and Saulteaux, said by phone from the Downtown Eastside. “I think that it’s been long overdue to include First Nations in all of the current issues that go before council.”

      On July 6, COPE members approved an election platform that supports the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations each gaining “representation” on council.

      “COPE will support thorough dialogue with indigenous people, communities, and nations to mutually determine implementation of this policy,” the platform states.

      Rosanne Gervais, the party’s aboriginal caucus representative, told the Straight that COPE must still consult with the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh on a “fair and equal” basis with regard to the policy.

      “We have the intention, but a lot of the people that we would traditionally consult with are away, and I cannot make any comment until such time as we’ve had time to dialogue with all the nations,” Gervais, who is Métis, said by phone from Aboriginal Front Door’s drop-in centre.

      Representatives of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh didn’t respond to interview requests by deadline. On June 25, Vancouver council voted unanimously to formally acknowledge that the city lies on the unceded traditional territory of the three First Nations.

      In its platform, COPE also pledges to “create an inventory of colonial place names which carry an inappropriate legacy and prepare replacement names in consultation” with aboriginal peoples. As well, the party promises to “participate in popular education and awareness on the issue of residential school redress”.



      Ron Rao

      Jul 9, 2014 at 11:48am

      Wow reading through COPE's election platform is like a socialist's wet dream and a nightmare for a vast majority of people in this city. If this is their platform, we may as well just hand control straight back to Vision/NPA and not even have an election.


      Jul 9, 2014 at 11:52am

      It's sort of fascinating to watch COPE unravel into this - should we call it self actualization?

      Is COPE demonstrating "self actualization" as a kind of performance art? Should we politely clap?

      So f@cked in November.


      Jul 9, 2014 at 12:19pm


      The craziness of COPE etc nowadays doesn't arise from socialism, it comes out of "critical theory", an academic fad that has pretty much destroyed the usefulness, relevance, and arguably the sanity of the humanities. It looks like the inflection in Vancouver's oldest left wing party is a fatal case at this point.


      Jul 9, 2014 at 12:28pm

      There is a certain, and not unsurprising, irony in COPE approving a policy for First Nations without fully consulting the aforementioned (and identified by COPE, no less) First Nations the policy is intended to apply to.

      Loving the "new" COPE

      Jul 9, 2014 at 2:50pm

      Yet another absurd idea from a party full of them. I am shocked that they haven't announced a similar plan for more preferential votes for other groups. City Council could have 10 members elected by universal suffrage and 8 elected by preferential or "equity" suffrage. Aside from the three councillors for the local bands, I would assume elected by votes only from members of each band represented, they could add seats for disabled, radicalized, transgendered, pan-aboriginal & LGBPQ residents just like within the party. FYI the "P" stands for "pan-sexual."

      How many votes a person can have depends in part upon how xe/xem/xyr identifies xe/xem/xyr-self. Imagine a transgendered individual who identifies as LGBPQ with a mixed race background: xe/xem/xyr could potentially have 15 or 16 votes. Perhaps COPE has a plan for determining just who qualifies under each distinct rubric, no doubt involving their own "equity caucus" as the ultimate arbiters. Perhaps they don't intend upon preferential seats to be filled by elected members but by activists appointed by groups that COPE has deemed "representative" of each equity caucus. This would save the inconvenience of actual voting and the risk that the new councillors won't toe the COPE party line, additionally it would be more in line with COPE's actual goal which is more power with the same support.

      COPE demand representation for the marginalized as a means to gain power rather than out of any altruistic bent. The hard left element of the party oversaw the debridement of those who advocated cooperation with Vision but know that their support come November will likely drop even before they propagate more ridiculous polices. Instead they need to find ways to force representation for the marginalized into the system and control the elements of each community motivated enough to get to the polls. The goal isn't more people voting but more power for those who vote for COPE.

      This is a disturbing trend in left theories of representative systems of government. The student government at UofT has turned down a dangerous road where members of student council are there to represent specific groups based upon gender, culture, race and disability...there is also representation for athletes and 1st year students. The situation is very odd: apparently caucasian males from 2nd-4th year who are not athletes don't have a member.

      Could be worse

      Jul 9, 2014 at 4:53pm

      If the number of votes given is roughly proportional to the percentage of aboriginal peoples living in the city then I see no major issue with this, so long as their votes aren't double counted.

      Come to think of it there isn't a snowballs chance.

      I guess voting for candidates like everyone else isn't a sufficient form of representation for some communities.

      Rick in Richmond

      Jul 9, 2014 at 6:55pm

      VISION and the Greens can't believe their luck. Venerable old COPE, having imploded in civil wars for the last two years, has done it again.

      According to the COPEsters, how you think and what you believe is far, far less important than your sense of entitlement. In fact, their current politics are the end result of a culture of entitlement that declares, "I belong to subset A, or B, and sometimes G, and often K, but never M, and only occasionally T. THEREFORE, I am entitled to special consideration, and a special place at the table.

      "Why? Because I am specially entitled," they say. Evidently they think that is the end of the argument. To hell with Canada, or the province, or the city. "Me, me, me" is their only refrain.

      COPE fails because it abandons the glory of democracy. At its best, we are all members of the polis -- the community of being and belief which sees us coming together for the common good, in the common arena of open public debate, and open public choice. At its best, we try to put ourselves above mere self-interest, and make policy for the general good of all.

      Dave Barrett and the NDP created the ALR forty years ago, realizing full well it would cost them thousands of votes but knowing full well it was the best policy for the province. Some leaders rise above mere self-interest. Those leaders believe in the principle of authentically public good.

      COPE would turn us away from the agora and the commons, and into a beehive of special interests, a madhouse of entitlements and self-regard. COPEsters who read history would do well to examine the failed American doctrine of the 'octaroon' and see where that rubbish led.

      Is VISION secretly funding the crazies in COPE?

      Landed Aristocracy

      Jul 9, 2014 at 7:32pm

      The model for this sort of situation is the hereditary House of Lords of England. Would anyone constructing a model government today really include hereditary landholders and give them votes on that basis? This is anachronistic nonsense that has no place in a free and democratic society. Race-based law is getting out of control, largely because there is no "politically correct" way to oppose it.

      I guess "democracy" is just another evil colonial imposition, like freedom. Let's remember that many "first nations" held men and women in intergenerational chattel slavery. Oh, for an end to all of this filthy settler rubbish like universal suffrage and equality!


      Jul 9, 2014 at 9:47pm

      COPE has managed to make themselves an even more irrelevant fringe party. Quite an accomplishment!

      Imtiaz Popat

      Jul 10, 2014 at 3:13am

      There was a time when they said giving women and Indians the vote was craziness. At least COPE as the courage and growing strength in numbers to bring that we are more relevant then any party that has given up on homeless and the poor in this city. Only COPE is taking bold steps to change politics in this city and it having amazing support from all quarters. If equality and dignity and common sense were dismissed as simply socialist, antiviral and crazy ideas, then then trust in Gregor!