Vancouver and District Labour Council snubs most of COPE’s candidates

Unions back Vision Vancouver, Public Education Project, and OneCity politicians

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      OneCity’s goal to have its only candidate elected to Vancouver council has received a boost.

      The influential Vancouver and District Labour Council has included OneCity’s Rafael “RJ” Aquino in its list of recommended candidates for council in the November 15 municipal election.

      In addition to Aquino, the VDLC picked all eight candidates of the ruling Vision Vancouver party, and only one from the Coalition of Progressive Electors, a party that the labour council founded in 1968.

      “We’re very happy,” OneCity’s David Chudnovsky told the Straight in a phone interview today (September 18).

      “Not that we’re surprised,” continued Chudnovsky, who, together with Aquino, broke away from COPE last year. “But we’re very happy that the [VDLC] delegates chose to endorse RJ. We think that’s a logical move.”

      According to the former Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA, his party, which launched only last spring, sees the labour movement as its “allies and friends”.

      Chudnovsky also said that OneCity will not run any other candidate for council, park board, and school board.

      Anyone who asks Chudnovsky for a suggestion on who to vote for mayor isn’t going to get one. As far as the VDLC is concerned, incumbent Vision mayor Gregor Robertson is the name to check off on the ballot.

      Chudnovsky said: “My answer would be, ‘I’m focused on the council campaign of RJ Aquino, and building a credible, progressive voice in the city.’”

      Gayle Gavin is the only COPE candidate for council that VDLC endorsed.

      For park board, the VDLC is recommending the entire Vision slate plus COPE’s Anita Romaniuk.

      No COPE candidate for school board made it on the VDLC’s list. For school board, the labour council chose the Vision team, plus Jane Bouey and Gwen Giesbrecht of the Public Education Project, a new party.

      Chudnovsky, a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, declined to give an opinion regarding VDLC’s decision not to support most of COPE’s candidates.

      Before leaving COPE, Chudnovsky and Aquino were on the party’s executive. During their time in the party, they were principal supporters of electoral cooperation between COPE and Vision.

      The Straight asked VDLC president Joey Hartman how she would respond to questions on why it essentially abandoned COPE, the party it created decades ago.

      “We made a decision in consultation with the affiliated unions of the labour council to select, and put forward the names of the strongest group of people we felt was able to effectively run the City of Vancouver and the school board and park board,” Hartman said by phone today.

      “Since Vision took over in Vancouver from the NPA [Non-Partisan Association], we’ve found that there has been a remarkable difference in terms of the way that labour relations are conducted as well as an agenda of strong public services,” Hartman continued.

      There is a sense, according to Hartman, that the candidates endorsed by the VDLC “make up a strong group who are going to continue on that agenda”.




      Sep 18, 2014 at 3:29pm

      Not a huge surprise. COPE is a shell of its former self, with all credible candidates abandoning it within the past 3 years. Their downfall started the day they turfed Cadman as a council candidate and Tim Louis took over. That man is toxic.


      Sep 18, 2014 at 3:56pm

      I'm not surprised that they ignored most of COPE, but I am surprised that they overwhelmingly endorsed Vision. I thought only developers endorsed Vision?

      John Trill

      Sep 18, 2014 at 4:39pm

      I'm surprised the VDLC seems to be in the back pocket of Vision. Are they getting donations from developers now too?


      Sep 18, 2014 at 5:04pm

      Coming back to Vancouver after a long break and seeing the construction here compared to other places makes me feel we're pretty lucky that "developer" is a bad word, something we really resent.

      Anyway, no surprise, labour unions want their members to have great job conditions, including uhhhh jobs.

      And that's not to say that COPE couldn't manage the city well, or that they would be devoid of the talent that could handle the permits and build outs and the rezonings and all that. I don't think COPE stands for "no construction, ever" but more like "sensible construction that respects the vulnerable" or whatever.

      But their rhetoric currently quite anti-capitalist, which is not in the labour interest as I understand it. At least it would scare me if I was in the trades.

      quelle surprise...

      Sep 18, 2014 at 5:37pm

      Really? Surprised that a labour organization would back a candidate that developers love? We're talking jobs here, OMG. The more gregor lets'em build, the happier labours' gonna be. Of course, that next step would be to actually have union workers doing most of the work, but if there's little building going on, then guaranteed the union workers are going to be the last one collecting cheques. Being perhaps a small part of a big pie is netter than being the crumbs on a small one.
      COPE? Is ANYBODY of any note endorsing these has-been wannabes?

      John Yano

      Sep 19, 2014 at 3:30am

      While the decision was far from unanimous, it is very disappointing that the VDLC is very nearly abandoning the civic party that they founded to oppose the NPA. It speaks volumes that the VDLC is choosing to throw a majority of its support behind a green washed developers party rather than a party that is grass roots led and is working to improve the daily lives of workers and people living in Vancouver. COPE will always support organized labour and the vast majority of the residents of Vancouver. The VDLC is endorsing a party that is actively trying to make Vancouver a city for the one percent, whose only appearance of supporting the majority of Vancouver's residents is a result of work by a P.R. firm rather by its actions.

      The VDLC is paying lip service to its ideal of promoting having more women of colour in government. It only conditionally supported Kombii Nanjalah (a renowned woman from Africa who tirelessly worked to improve the lives of street youth in Kenya and continues to advocate marginalized people in Vancouver), Audrey Seigl (a Musqueam woman known for her advocacy for First Nations people and the people of the DTES) and Urooba Jamal (an amazing multi-talented social justice advocate). They are only endorsing them if someone drops off.

      The majority of the VDLC's delegates present at the most recent meeting must think that it is advantageous to cozy up to the puppets of the developers. COPE will continue to fight for the rights, needs and desires of labour and the vast majority of Vancouver's residents despite the at best, lukewarm support from the VDLC. Hopefully the VDLC will see the error of their ways in the future.


      Sep 19, 2014 at 11:27am

      Take out the things in COPE's platform they don't have the authority to do as a municipal government, and take out the unfunded promises, and take out the hilarious promises (really, does anyone think COPE is capable of starting and running a Vancouver Housing Authority that will challenge developers given their inability to run their own party with a couple hundred active members), and there is nothing substantial, or of substance, left.

      All they will be doing is lobbying and advocating the other levels of government a lot, so I guess that is something.


      Sep 19, 2014 at 12:57pm

      VDLC has let it be known that they support the displacement of all working class people of Vancouver. No one earning less thatn $60 000 per year and no family earning less than $110 000 a year can live in Vancouver as it is. Another 4 years of VDLC's Vision and you can up each of those respective numbers significantly.

      This is why 'labour' is in the mess it is in. VDLC's short sighted union leaders can only see as far as the next condo development. They are an auxiliary movement to the development industry.

      CUPE is a key Vision funder . . .

      Sep 19, 2014 at 6:22pm

      Re: Pathetic -- while there are construction related union support of Vision within VDLC, CUPE, which is also part of VDLC is a fervent supporter of Vision and a massive funder. They can't sleep at night for fear of the return of NPA to City Hall. I think that CUPE's support of Vision is even more important than the construction related support of Vision. Either way VDLC's support of Vision is obviously at odds with the interests of working people. This is business unionism. The funny thing is that some of these union leaders will talk like Bolsheviks about things that don't involve their interests, but when forced to make a decision in their own backyards they are smack dab in the middle of the road.

      Civic Election Issue Objectified

      Sep 23, 2014 at 4:23pm

      After endorsing Vision's partial late of 8 candidates for Vancouver's 10-council positions, the VDLC had 2 slots remaining to fill...

      By not choosing 2 of the Green party's 3 candidates for council, was the Green party snubbed??

      Out of COPE's 8 candidates for council, 1 was endorsed...

      This is not a snub, just reflects the limitations of numbers of candidates that the VDLC could endorse... or does the writer want to suggest that the VDLC should have endorsed 16, 20 or perhaps 99 candidates for Vancouver city council??!!!!