The Coalition of Progressive Electors has a new rival on the left side of the political spectrum in Vancouver.
Today (May 1) at 12:30 p.m., a new party called VOTE Socialist is being launched in Grandview Park.
“This year, Defund the VPD will be on the ballot," party member Noah Poursartip said in a news release. "Tax the Rich will be on the ballot. Renters' rights will be on the ballot. A clear, socialist choice will be on the ballot.”
He maintained that it's time to move beyond "cosmetic reforms".
“The crises faced by the people of Vancouver all come down to the systemic inequality, exploitation, and alienation caused by capitalism," Poursartip declared. "It’s time to name the problem and to name our solution: VOTE Socialist will offer voters this clear choice.”
The party plans to run candidates for mayor, council, school board, and park board.
It includes pledges to return land to Indigenous peoples, promote real climate action such as free transit, and keeping all hands on deck to fight COVID-19 and other public-health emergencies—and "not deferring to other levels of government".
Vancouver has a long tradition of far-left politics.
In the 1920s, socialist Angus MacInnis served four terms on council before being elected to Parliament in Vancouver South in 1930. He joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and spoke out against discrimination targeting Japanese Canadians in the 1930s and early 1940s.
His wife, Grace MacInnis, was the daughter of then CCF leader J.S. Woodworth. Grace MacInnis was elected to the B.C. legislature in 1941 in Vancouver-Burrard and later served three terms in Parliament representing Vancouver Kingsway.
Then there was suffragette, public-housing activist, and socialist Helena Gutteridge, who became the first woman ever elected to council in 1937.
Others who fit this mould included tenants' activists Bruce Eriksen, Libby Davies, and Bruce Yorke, who were all elected to council in the 1980s, and Pat Wilson, who made it onto council in 1990.
Of course, there was longtime rabble-rousing councillor Harry Rankin, who was first elected in 1966 and whose final term ended in 1993.
Rankin, Eriksen, Davies, Yorke, and Wilson were all elected as COPE members.
Last month, COPE unveiled its slate for the 2022 election. It includes incumbent councillor Jean Swanson, Métis lawyer Breen Ouellette, human-rights activist Nancy Trigueros, and Dene-German community organizer and AIDS Vancouver Indigenous health-promotion case manager Tanya Webking as council nominees.