COPE’s deal with Vision responsible for rise of NSV

COPE’s deal with Vision responsible for rise of Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver, activist says
By Carlito Pablo, October 18, 2011

A mantra has beguiled a faction within the Coalition of Progressive Electors. It goes something like: don’t split the progressive vote in Vancouver or else the Non-Partisan Association will return to power.

And that’s what drove a slim majority in COPE to ratify in June a new electoral agreement with the ruling Vision Vancouver.

That also meant rejecting an offer by the Green Party of Vancouver for a COPE-Green alliance in this year’s municipal election.

And according to community activist Joseph Jones, the refusal by a small majority in COPE to move out of the shadows of Vision was partly responsible for the emergence of the new electoral organization Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver.

NSV is running Randy Helten as its candidate for mayor. It is also fielding four candidates for council: Nicole Benson, Marie Kerchum, Terry Martin, and Elizabeth Murphy.

“COPE shot themselves in the foot back in the spring by saying we will only run three candidates [for council] and not a mayor,” Jones told the Straight in a phone interview today (October 18). “And this is something that was engineered. I was an observer in that COPE meeting. It was a tenuous majority that forced that through. And it was really relying on BCTF [B.C. Teachers’ Federation] having gotten out the forces, I think.”

According to Jones, NSV was formed to “offer an alternative that cannot be found with either Vision or NPA”.

“A vote for Vision is a vote for NPA, a vote for NPA is a vote for Vision,” Jones said. “And I think a lot of people understand this because in a sense you are voting for the developer either way. And they may talk about [raising backyard] chickens, they may talk about wheat fields [on house lawns], they may talk about bike lanes—this is all smokescreen.”

He noted that Vision is facing an electoral backlash because it outdid the NPA in terms of giving in to the developer agenda in the city. The Norquay resident agreed with the suggestion that COPE could have harvested this backlash if it had decided to divorce Vision.

The Straight asked Jones: with the Greens and NSV running independent campaigns, isn’t this splitting the progressive vote?

Jones had a good chuckle: “Only if you regard Vision as progressive.”

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