The COPE12 slate celebrate after knocking off the old guard
In a divisive Annual General Meeting on Sunday, longstanding COPE party icon Tim Louis and all members of his "Keep It COPE" slate were not elected to COPE's board. The so-called COPE12 slate, led by David Chudnovsky ruled the day. The party is apparently "excited" by the results.
To say that the treatment of Tim Louis by his former political allies has been a bit shabby might be an understatement. First of all, the optics are not good. A group of political neophytes mostly in their 20s, led by a former union boss cum MLA, successfully outwork longstanding party members in the AGM vote. In the end, former city councillor Tim Louis is ostracized by the party he helped build.
So determined were Chudnovsky and the Twittering scamps he enlisted for his powerplay, they even helped to elect a young woman who lives in Maple Ridge to the Vancouver party's executive.
COPE's mistreatment of one of its own is not without precedent. Harry Rankin also got the bum's rush from the party after deciding not to run for Council again in the early 1990s. COPE's message to mavericks is clear: you're only good for us if you're in office. Otherwise hit the road, old timer.
COPE now faces a crisis of its own making. While trumpeting the "youth" Sunday's vote injected into a party known for greying hippies, they forgot to leave the door open for anyone who knows how to win elections. COPE are now seen by all their opponents as a group of accommodators, whose appeasement with Vision Vancouver made them even less relevant during this term despite electing more people.
By comparison, it would be hard to picture today either the NPA or Vision Vancouver allowing an internal coup that swapped experience for a youthful makeover.
The second reason COPE might get a visit from the Karma Police is how they handled the matter of Tim Louis' loan to the party. Like David Cadman, who is still owed $40,000 (out of a $50,000 loan given in the 2002 election), COPE owes Tim Louis quite a bit of money loaned to them to fight previous campaigns. Louis reputedly loaned COPE $27,000, although there is no record of this in their 2008 disclosure to the City of Vancouver, and only vagues references to "member loans" in 2005's disclosure.
To top it off until recently, Louis has generously provided office space for the past three years, at an estimated value of $2500 per month, for COPE to occupy at no charge.
During a recent COPE executive meeting it was put to a vote that COPE pay David Cadman's interest on their $40,000 debt to him. A unanimous decision agreed that the party would pay the interest.
A member of the executive moved that a similar arrangement be made for Louis' $27,000 loan. He didn't even receive a seconder to his motion.
Tim Louis, a two-term Park Commissioner and two-term City Councillor under the COPE banner, was left holding the bag.
UPDATE: Speaking with Tim Louis after this post, he confirmed that COPE was loaned a total of $27,000, of which just over $8000 has been paid back. An outstanding debt to Louis from COPE stands at $18,323, and according to him there are no plans by the party to pay him back.
To those who "loan" money to COPE in future, don't say you weren't forewarned.