The following letter was sent to COPE and OneCity members by Lawrence Boxall and Laura Stannard:
We are Lawrence Boxall, a COPE executive member, and Laura Stannard, a new OneCity member. Like many in Vancouver, we are distressed by the division of COPE and OneCity. It has made writing one letter to both memberships a difficult and delicate task. But we write to urge members of both parties to use this by-election to set aside divisions and unite to support Jean Swanson for council. Unless we speak with a united voice on October 14th, we will see the election of another Vision or NPA councillor and we all agree that Vancouver doesn’t need that.
To COPE members, we remind you that as a coalition, consensus is never possible on every detail. Jean Swanson comes with a long history of fighting the largest battles COPE has embraced. Her name and media profile is synonymous with ending poverty and gentrification and increasing renters’ rights and social housing. It’s been too long since we’ve had true representation of the Downtown Eastside on council. Libby Davies and Bruce Eriksen left legacies on Vancouver City Council that have never been fulfilled. While we believe that Jean can return the Downtown Eastside to its rightful place on council, she can also provide a voice on council that addresses the frustration and fear of all people who see Vancouver becoming a city of two solitudes: the very wealthy and the very poor.
To OneCity members, we wish we had been able to talk more before your organizing committee selected Judy Graves to run for nomination. We have great respect for Judy and should she run in 2018, we will be proud to support her. Meanwhile, Jean’s momentum is building throughout the city. Newly organized tenants and desperate people caught in the housing crunch respond to her messaging. If Jean was seen as too radical or too unrealistic by the OneCity Organizing Committee, we argue that good negotiating begins by demanding more than what is expected. Like Seattle, Vancouver is ready for a bold politician. We need a voice on council that is strong and creative enough to articulate and fight for the people who have been left out of the Vision/NPA future.
Jean Swanson is a recipient of the Order of Canada. Her recent work with the Chinatown Concern Group demonstrated the ability to galvanize and bring the missing voices of youth and elders of all different cultures to democracy at City Hall. We urge COPE and OneCity to seriously consider endorsing Jean Swanson for the October 14 by-election rather than running their own candidates. And we hope that all progressives will vote for Jean Swanson and support the policies her campaign is championing.
Laura Stannard and Lawrence Boxall