Once a significant player in Vancouver civic politics, the Coalition of Progressive Electors has seen its electoral fortunes dwindle.
After forming a majority in council in the 2002 election, COPE has since been relegated to the sidelines.
In the last two elections in 2011 and 2014, the left-wing party had been shut out of council, raising questions whether it remains a relevant force in the city’s political scene.
A by-election for one seat in council is coming up on October 14, and according to long-time member Terry Martin, it’s an opportunity for COPE to renew itself.
“If COPE is fortunate enough to get one seat in council, it’s a start,” Martin told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview Monday (August 21).
Martin is hoping to be part of that revitalization as a potential candidate in the by-election.
According to Martin, he and two other COPE members are seeking the party’s endorsement in its scheduled nomination meeting on August 29.
Martin said Wilson Munoz, his colleague in the COPE executive, and another person, whom he wasn’t able to name, are the contestants.
“The long-term view is to revitalize COPE, and make it a major player in Vancouver politics again,” Martin said.
In a previous interview, COPE co-chair Tim Louis told the Straight by phone that independent candidate Jean Swanson is seeking the endorsement of the party.
“The membership will decide whether or not to run a candidate, and if we’re running a candidate, who to run, or to endorse Jean Swanson,” Louis said on August 10.
Louis, Martin and Munoz are members of the COPE executive.
Martin said that the COPE executive decided in a previous meeting not to endorse Swanson, and to leave the matter to party members in the August 29 meeting.
“It’s really up to the membership,” Martin said about the likelihood that COPE will nominate Swanson, a distinguished crusader for poor and homeless people.
Martin is a former chair of the City of Vancouver board of variance, a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals on zoning and development decisions.
Martin recalled that he has been a COPE member since the 1980s. He was once treasurer of the party.
In 2011, Martin ran for council under the banner of the Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver. In that election, COPE entered into an electoral partnership with Vision Vancouver, the party that has ruled the city since 2008.
Vision Vancouver was formed following a split within COPE.