Friday, May 27, 2005

A United COPE is the best bet for Vancouver's Future

To COPE or not to COPE
May, 27 2005 - 11:00 AM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - About 300 people
from trade unionists to developers have turned out to
help raise money for the re-election of Vancouver councilor
Jim Green.

Green says it wasn't his goal to raise a lot of money because
he wanted the event open to all walks of life.

He says what was raised is still being tallied.

Green will seek a second term in office this November but
it's still unclear if he'll be running under the COPE banner
or "Friends of Larry Campbell."

The 'friends' haven't severed ties entirely with COPE but are
operating as a separate caucus.

The mayor's still is deciding whether to breakaway from
COPE - he says that decision will be made in June. Campbell
just this week said he is still not sure if he's going to seek
another term in office.

Green says he's moving ahead on the assumption the mayor
will be running.

What seems to keep being swept under the rug is what the City
of Vancouver has to lose if the "friends" break away from COPE.
Everyone loves a fight, great spectacle, blood thirst and picking
sides etc. It's amazing to me that adults are really no different
than kids in this respect.

The biggest issue appears to be that it has been forgotten that
COPE is still saddled with the debt that was incurred by the last
civic election. No-one likes to talk about this. Larry got into bed
with COPE, the unions, the left and the grassroots which are all
part of the coalition that is COPE. It was a smart, pragmatic move
for a man who hadn't been involved in politics at this level before.
He trotted around, with hat in hand, hoping this would be the ticket
to get his butt in the mayor's chair. And it worked, that plus the
fact that Vancouver was so disillusioned by the arrogance and
complete disconnection from the insular, tired NPA. As well as the
reaction to the neo-conservative agenda of the BC Liberal's govern-
ing at the provincial level.

Now I know that politics is partly strategic alliances and planning,
seizing opportunities & being pragmatic, but I'm sorry, "the friends
of Larry" are not being accountable for the debt that got them
those seats at City Hall. They aren't showing any integrity by
walking away from that debt & they are blowing the chance to
continue the good work that Vancouver City Council has done. I'm
glad Larry became our mayor, I think he makes a great mayor for
Vancouver. He's got the charisma, smarts and personality to
present a good face to the world and work with other levels of
government to our benefit. He is also a true leader, not afraid to
take questionable, or unpopular, stances on things and support
controversial proposals, such as safe injection sites & the heroin
trials. But dammit, I want to be able to respect my mayor.
I want to see someone who isn't going to walk away from his
responsibilities when the going gets rough, (ie. the debt & in-
fighting), who isn't going to take a school yard fight and turn it
into what this has become, something that threatens the future
of Vancouver. And Larry doesn't shoulder the entire burden
at all. Fred Bass' little speech at the AGM was a cheap, public
& political shot and I wish to hell he hadn't done it.
I think Bass let a lot of people down that day too. What the
majority of COPE members appear to want is for this rift to
be resolved. I want this too.

The COPE dominated city council has made some of the most
positive and progressive policies this city, or others, has ever seen.
And I am very, very proud of the hard work, foresight and commit-
ment all members of City Hall have demonstrated. All political
parties have a wide spectrum of players, some more radical, some
more pragmatic and some more conservative. That's what makes
parties (and democracy) great. Each side can argue things through,
maybe learn from each other, vote with their conscience and hope-
fully find a way to balance each other out and continue to work
together for the greater good. I don't believe COPE needs to split.
I don't know if anyone has suggested mediation to them, but I am.
Having used it in my work, which can be even more divisive, I've
seen the positives of mediating relationships and coming to an
agreed upon course of action and plan. COPE as a whole is worth
fighting for. Vancouver deserves the best elected officials we
have to offer and I think we have them. Let's not piss it all away
over ego and ideological clashes.

The people I have come to respect most in my life are those who
are able to step back from perilous and ego-driven decisions and
actions to think once more about how they got where they are,
what goals they had in the first place and what they are going to
do to ensure the best outcome, not just for themselves, but those
who they have the opportunity to help. I respect these people
the most because they take themselves out of the frame, think
about the big picture and how much everyone else has to lose.
Changing paths is always an option. The best and brightest people
only move forward in their development as individuals and
leaders, when they think about the greater good, over personal
issues and gains. Individual values, beliefs, commitment and
consideration is something that often seem to get lost in the
excessive din of the political arena, with partisan actors whisper-
ing in one's ear. An intact COPE team has so much more to offer
as we head ever closer towards the Olympics. I also strongly
believe that an united COPE is absolutely necessary to continue
to challenge the BC government, still with a Liberal majority,
over the next four years. I hope that Larry and all of the
members of COPE will think about the big picture and do
what's right and best for the citizens of Vancouver.

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