A campaign has been launched by members of the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) opposed to the party’s proposed agreement with Vision Vancouver in the November 2011 civic election.
COPE members are scheduled to vote on coordinating efforts between the two parties at a special meeting on Sunday, June 26.
Vision and COPE agreed in principle to endorse a common slate of candidates in the November civic election. Under the agreement, Vision will run seven candidates for city council, five for school board, and four for park board, while COPE has agreed to run three council candidates, four for school board and two for park board.
Tristan Markle, one of the COPE members who launched the campaign against the proposed coalition today (June 21), said that while COPE councillors have brought their constituents’ concerns to city hall since 2008, they “haven’t been able to do anything.”
“They've listened, they’ve articulated arguments that they’re hearing from constituents, but there isn’t cooperation between Vision and COPE on council,” he told the Straight by phone. “Vision’s caucus makes decisions without COPE and it doesn’t consult them at all, and there’s no indication that that will change.”
A website called "COPE Not Vision" has been created featuring a list of 10 reasons why the campaigners say an independent COPE should be supported, and a summary of key decisions on rezoning, housing and other issues that have been opposed by COPE and approved by Vision.
Markle argued Vision Vancouver’s voting record shows they have voted with the NPA on issues such as corporate tax cuts and rezonings.
Vancouver lawyer Tim Louis, who is running for a COPE city council seat in the November civic election, said he was “very pleased” to hear of the campaign.
“I think it’s very important that the citizens of Vancouver be offered a very clear alternative to the two developer parties, the NPA and Vision, at the ballot box,” he told the Straight by phone. “That is not going to be the case. There will be no clear alternative offered to the electorate at the ballot box under this arrangement.”
Louis said he would like to see at least five COPE candidates run for council. He also said he would prefer to see a coalition between COPE and the Green party, a proposal he intends to raise at the party’s meeting this Sunday.
The candidate said he’s “optimistic” that the common slate will be rejected by the party membership this weekend.
Alvin Singh, the executive director of COPE, said the electoral cooperation between the parties represents the “best chance of preserving a progressive government at city hall”.
“I understand that there’s frustrations with the last two and a half years of what’s gone on at city hall, but in terms of the alternative, I don’t think anybody in our party realistically wants to see the NPA come back to power,” he told the Straight by phone.
The deal between the two parties was recommended unanimously by the COPE executive.
"The executive feels that the deal as is currently proposed provides COPE with an opportunity to grow at all three levels, including council," said Singh.
"It’s important for the organization to continue to grow, and it allows us to do that."
You can follow Yolande Cole on Twitter at twitter.com/yolandecole.