Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Real Scoop on COPE's AGM

As one who was there, I've been reading with interest
and annoyance the analysis of what people think
happened at the latest COPE AGM, Wednesday,
July 13th.

Essentially, three things were on the agenda.

1. Amendments to the Constitution & By-laws of COPE
to bring it in line with the Society Act. A dry, but inform-
ative briefing on the changes and then voting took place.

Decisions included:

(i)Individuals from jurisdictions outside of Vancouver
can join COPE as members. They will have a voice in
decisions, but no vote.

(ii)The resolution on age restriction of those joining
COPE was struck down. Most speakers didn't agree
that there should be an age restriction, especially
in light of the need to get some new, young blood
into the party. The left, among others, are a big fan
of talking the talk and miserably failing in walking the
talk on this one.

2. Penny Parry was voted in by acclamation for
the open spot on the COPE Executive. This is for
the position of fundraiser, obviously a crucial role
going into the fall. Ms. Parry seems like she has
great energy and a lot of experience to bring to
this important role.

3. Negotiations with "Friends of Larry"/Vision

The Negotiating team consisted of COPE insiders,
as well as players from the Vancouver District
Labour Council
Executive. They had a really tough
job to do, of that there is no doubt. However, the
"plan" negotiated fell far from the mark for many
for the following reasons:

(i) Members of COPE were being urged to walk
away from established democratic process in the
party and simply accept Jim Green as the mayoral
candidate of choice from both "sides." In addition,
COPE as a whole was being asked to simply rubber
stamp 5 unknown Vision Vancouver candidates,
sight and sound unseen. The catchiest line of the
night, from Donna Morgan, former co-chair of
COPE was perfect to describe the leap of faith
being asked of a democratic party, passing a
resolution about "shadowy men from a shadowy
planet." If anyone wants to run under the COPE
slate, then they better work their magic with their
supporters and get their butt into the inevitable
nominating meeting. It's as simple as that.
The citizens of Vancouver, the members of COPE
and other jurisdictions affected by decisions made
here cannot afford to be signing a blank cheque to
anyone, too much is at stake over the next 5 years.

If Jim Green wants to be a mayoral candidate,
then he better show up for the nominating meeting
like all the other proposed candidates. The scuttle
butt that he essentially told the negotiating team that
either he is the declared mayoral candidate by both sides,
or the "Friends" camp wouldn't be at the table just
smacks of the unacceptable, unethical and undemocratic
actions of a bully. COPE does not need this kind of
game playing, nor does the City of Vancouver. If
you are proving yourself to be rigid, inflexible and
unwilling to show up even for this meeting (yes, Green
wasn't even at the meeting due to a teaching commit-
ment), then what kind of mayor will you make? What
kind of consensus building will be possible on council?
What kind of relationships will be made with others
in the business and other sectors (not just developers)?
This goes for all the other "Lite" too. If they want to
run under the COPE banner, then show up for nom-
inations just like everyone else. With "Friends" like
these, do we really need enemies? COPE members
can't hand over the party to a majority of 6 people
(1 mayoral candidate and 5 Vision Vancouver
councillours) who refuse to be identified to the very
party that is working on "reconciliation" with them.
That would just be plain stupid.

I'm tired of all the scaredy cats who keep raising the
spectre of this "split" putting the NPA in a better position
to sweep into power. Oh puhleeze. They aren't exactly
lighting the world on fire. No offense to Peter Ladner,
or Sam Sullivan, but neither of them spells out leader
of the party. Sure they've paid their dues, but they just
don't inspire the masses in the way a real leader needs to.

Now, listen up all of you who think Tim Louis is the
mayoral candidate of choice. No offense whatsoever to
Mr. Louis, who is clearly a dedicted, committed advocate
and activist. I guarantee it, if COPE runs Mr. Louis as a
mayoral candidate that COPE will be unlikely to win the
election in November. I say ditto for Jim Green. People
outside of the left have this "head buried in the sand"
mentality and don't like to have their icons knocked.
You can line up all the politicians to speak on their behalf
(Jenny, Libby, George etc.).
But as the NPA learned in their epic landslide loss,
when you are out of touch with the voters, you will lose
big time and your party will disintegrate. To win this
next municipal election, like the last provincial one,
we must appeal to the moderates amongst the electorate.
The spectre of Tim Louis, or Jim Green, as mayor frightens
and even angers many who are close the centre, or even
on the right of it. I talk to people from lots of walks of
life and most would never in a million years vote for
either Louis, or Green. They do not trust them, they
think they are too radical, or they just don't like them,
or what they stand for. This election is here for COPE
to lose and it's my belief we will lose it if either of those
candidates are run for mayor. I'll reserve judgement
for now on who I think should run for mayor to see
how things play out a bit more. Hell, even the BC Liberals
have some democracy left, at least when it comes to
their riding nominations, like them or not.
The bottom line for COPE is that we must not be pennywise
and pound foolish by turning away from the democratic
process that underlies this party. As a newer player in
the sandbox though, I can't help but wonder if all the
discord and discomfort at the dramas and soap operas
within and without COPE isn't also a reaction to the change
that is inevitable amongst all working relationships and
within organizations. Change is difficult and stressful, as
is conflict. However handled well and skillfully, resolution
can bring new energy, commitment and direction to an
endeavour, or organization. It seems to me that COPE
needs a new direction, some new faces and voices and
I think people on all sides need to chill out, stop being so
self-interested and continue our party's commitment to
democracy, social justice and inclusion. With dedication to
solid values, beliefs and strengths COPE will evolve and
continue to provide the citizens of Vancouver with the
good, balanced and sustainable governance we deserve
and require as we move through this decade.


COPE Classics face a grim future with Green
Charlie smith
, (14-Jul-2005).
The Georgian

COPE members say more talks needed
COPE News, (July 13, 2005).

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) members directed
their Executive to resume negotiations for a joint slate with
Councillor Jim Green and his Vision Vancouver group.

With Friends Like These....
The Pacific Gazetteer
(July 13, 2005).

Given that COPE just can't quite patch things up,
it looks like the big prize in Vancouver civic politics
at the moment are a bunch of Friends, none of
whom lives in an apartment on TV.

We're talking, of course, about the Friends of soon
-to-be-former mayor Larry Campbell, a PR and
fundraising juggernaut that may go for Lite man
Jim Green which will go a long way in determining
how viable Classic guy David Cadman's campaign
will be.

Underbelly News: Downtown Eastside


Last night COPE members rejected an offer put
forward by their executive to anoint Jim Green
as their Mayoral candidate. Members voted
123-96 not to entertain the motion put forward
around unity with the Friends of Larry Campbell
now called Jim Green's Vision Vancouver.

Jim Green in his usual style was too much of a
coward to attend the meeting. He had his wife
Roberta McCann attempt to negotiate the deal last
week. Despite the best efforts of elected politicians
Libby Davies, Jenny Kwan, David Chudnovsky
and certain labour heads, promoting Jim Green for
Mayor, the deal was rejected.

Vancouver councillor urges colleague to drop
election appeal
CKNW, (July 17, 2005).

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - Vancouver councillor
Jim Green is hoping his fellow COPE councillor Tim
Stevenson will drop his appeal of the provincial election
result in Vancouver-Burrard and run again civically under
the new 'Vision Vancouver' banner.

Technically, that appeal in the courts could still go ahead --
but if a by-election is called for the provincial seat, the NDP
would have to nominate a new candidate if Stevenson were
elected for another civic term.

Green says Stevenson's decision will be a huge factor in his
own decision on whether to run for mayor.

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