Consider this a divorce: Tim Louis & COPE part company

Post by Mike Klassen in


Lord of the Flies
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.


Twittering scamps and political neophytes, eh?

Those elected include:

- Matt Hearn, organizer of car-free days, whose been an acive COPE member for the past decade
- Donalda Greenwall-Baker, a trade unionist with COPE for the last 20 years and internal chair for the last several terms
- Alvin Singh, a former school board candidate and largely responsible for the student advocacy that led seismic upgrades of Vancouver schools
- Lucas Schuller, who is now in his third term on the board and has roots in the party from before he could vote
- Jennifer McKenna, who - though she lives in Maple Ridge (allowed by the COPE by-laws as she works in Vancouver)- worked on the 2008 election and helped organize with COPE against the privatization of BC liquor stores in 2002
- Carlo Bodrogi, who is now in his third term, started working as a fundraiser for COPE 5 years ago and is now doing work in political communications for a provincial campaign

Just because Louis has done good work for the city, doesn't mean he deserves to be unchallenged year in and year out. And as to winning elections? It was these people who managed COPE's successful 08 campaign (no help from Louis there) and it's my bet they can do it again...

Wow. So the tree-hugging loonies have turned into cold, calculating bastards. This won't end well.

"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."

Conversely, it would be hard to picture any party other than the NPA disposing of a sitting mayor... twice.

Check out!

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