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”.