COPE members vote to back independent candidate Jean Swanson in October by-election

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      Members of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) convened at St. James Community Centre last night (August 29) to nominate a candidate for an October 14 city council by-election.

      That’s not what they did, though. The left-wing party decided it would not field a politician of its own and instead endorse Jean Swanson, who is running as an independent.

      Swanson is a well-known Downtown Eastside activist focused on low-income housing and a 2016 recipient of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour.

      She was at the meeting last night and accepted COPE’s endorsement.

      “My heart is with COPE,” Swanson told the crowd according to messages posted on Twitter.

      COPE’s endorsement will likely be greeted with approval from left-leaning voters who otherwise have a glut of candidates to choose from.

      While right-wing Vancouver residents essentially only have the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) representing their views in this by-election, the left has Swanson plus candidates from OneCity, Sensible B.C., and the Greens.

      COPE hasn’t made much of a showing in recent elections but was once a strong political party in Vancouver. It held the mayorship from 2002 to 2005. Then a faction split off to form Vision Vancouver, the party that leads the city today.

      At COPE's August 29 meeting it also named one candidate to run for Vancouver school board. Diana Day is an advocate for Indigenous issues and has served as a co-chair on the Vancouver school board's parent advisory council.

      The council seat in question was left vacant in July when Vision’s Geoff Meggs resigned to become Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff in the new NDP government. The by-election is October 14. The deadline for nominations is September 8 at 4 p.m.

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