COPE mayoral nomination candidate Meena Wong delivered the following speech today (September 5) at the launch of her campaign:
I’d like to recognize that we are on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish peoples.
I’m here today to announce that I will be seeking COPE’s nomination for Mayor of the City of Vancouver.
I am running for COPE because COPE has helped to shape the Vancouver that we love today. Since 1968, COPE has fought for a just city that is based on compassion, respect, and duty to all.
COPE helped to create much of the affordable housing across the city. Our city’s bike lanes and community garden programs owe their existence to COPE.
And no party has taken a stand to protect public schools like COPE. Thirty years ago, COPE’s school board was fired for refusing to implement the cuts, and that’s the principled spirit we need today more than ever.
As Mayor, I want to work with you all to make Vancouver the most compassionate city. Compassion means that if your family member is sick, you’re going to care for them. That goes beyond our families to our neighbourhoods, to the city as a whole.
I see everyday that people in poverty suffer the most. Everyone should have a decent place to live, and no one should be forced to sleep on the streets.
Compassion also means that we are welcoming. Vancouver is a city of immigrants. Everyone should have access to city services without fear of being troubled about their citizenship status. That’s how we make Vancouver a Sanctuary City.
I believe that every single resident of Vancouver also deserves respect. To build a healthy community, respect is a fundamental ingredient, no matter who you are - whether you’re a millionaire or living on the street. Respect means that everyone’s voice is heard.
If a community gives input about condo development, like in Marpole or Grandview-Woodland, it will be my job as mayor to ensure that their input and wishes are respected.
The same goes for transportation development, like rapid transit along Broadway. I will make sure that everyone’s voices are heard and respected, from small businesses to transit riders to budget-conscious tax-payers to environmentalists.
As always COPE will maintain our neutrality because we do not accept money from property developers.
In addition to compassion and respect, the third ingredient of a just city is duty. We have a duty toward each other, and toward this city, to right what is wrong.
We have a duty to our children who cannot afford to raise a family in this city. We have a duty to seniors who cannot afford to age with dignity. We have a duty to all working people who can’t afford to live in our city.
All of these things are political and it is up to us to change them. As German playwrite Bertolt Brecht wrote: “the cost of life, the price of beans, of fish, of flour, of rent, of shoes and of medicine, all depends on political decisions.”
I believe that we can and must take action:
• to bring in a living wage where the city has power
• to keep rents down
• to make childcare more affordable and available
• to improve bus service and reduce transit fares.
There has been much talk about affordable housing and homelessness. But the number of people sleeping on the streets has only increased since 2008. It’s time to move from words to action, to end homelessness now. That means banning renovictions, protecting rental housing, and building public housing.
We can’t sit idly by while people suffer. Government is like a boat, and people are like water, water can support the boat, or sink it.
Please join me to build a just Vancouver, that is rooted in compassion, respect and duty. I ask everyone, even those who are not yet COPE supporters, to come out to vote, to hear, to speak, to participate in public events. To create a politics that reflects the diversity of this beautiful city, to create a Vancouver that everyone can afford.