Backroom deal will cost COPE in upcoming civic election

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


Vision/COPE backroom boys cut a deal to help retain control of City Hall

It was only a matter of time before the backroom boys running Vision/COPE would announce the details regarding their latest "cooperation agreement" between the two parties. As you all know, back in 2008, Vision Vancouver granted COPE the opportunity to run two council candidates on their "cooperative" slate, as long as they didn't run a mayoral candidate.

On Thursday, we found out yet another backroom deal has been struck. On the surface, COPE appears to be the big winners, with the deal allowing them to run one extra candidate on council this fall. However, let me be the first to predict COPE will end up being the biggest losers in this cozy arrangement come the November civic election.

Unlike in 2008 when the NPA imploded under the leadership of then mayoral candidate Peter Ladner, the Vision/COPE team are going to face a much stronger and united opposition this time. In addition, Mayor Gregor will be asking for another mandate while having to defend his abysmal record of the last three years.

There are few political pundits who would argue (beside perhaps the Courier's Allen Garr) that the NPA are unlikely to win at least 3-4 seats in the next Vancouver civic election. If the NPA just happen to run a stellar campaign and another issue like the Mayor's unpaid transit fines comes up, who knows what might happen? As a result, odds are that a number of councillors from the COPE/Vision coalition are going to get turfed come this November.

By signing a deal that concentrates their vote into seven council seats, Vision Vancouver have managed to get the best of all worlds. Here is why:

  1. With only seven candidates, their vote will be more concentrated. In other words, everyone voting Vision will "plump" up the seven candidates. This will provide them with the best chance at retaining a majority on council.
  2. With only three spots on the slate and no mayoral candidate, COPE will get squeezed out of the equation. Unless Vision Vancouver promotes heavily with their supporters to vote COPE - which is highly unlikely - they won't stand a chance at the ballot box. This is something Vision operatives are likely well aware of - and counting upon.
  3. The NPA is no longer facing a voter backlash and thus have a higher likelihood of winning a number of new seats on council. The probability is those seats will come at the expense of COPE candidates, who without a mayoral candidate, simply won't have any profile.
  4. The battle this fall with be between Vision and the NPA. COPE will be an after thought.

It's hard not to feel a bit sorry for COPE. They've simply been outworked and beaten up by Vision for the past three years. Yet despite this reality, COPE are so desperate to cling on to a bit of power that this backroom deal is the best they could come up with. However, I predict that the biggest winner out of this backroom deal is Vision Vancouver who will likely retain a majority on council, while COPE is once and for all wiped off the political map.

The "cooperation agreement" must still be rubber-stamped by their membership, but here is what COPE's External Chair Marcus Youssef is saying about the backroom deal he negotiated:

COPE has a long history of cooperating to ensure progressive politics in Vancouver, and we’re pleased to have reached an agreement with Vision Vancouver to continue this history.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver are laughing all the way to the bank with this agreement and here is what Executive Director Ian Baillie is saying:

We're happy to have reached an agreement with COPE

No kidding. Ian and their US based funders are probably doing a happy dance in the Vision Vancouver office now that COPE have agreed not to run a mayoral candidate. This all but assures the Vision caucus have only a few more months to tolerate the likes of David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth on council.

If you're wondering what the NPA think of this cozy political arrangement, the only person to speak out so far is council nomination candidate Mike Klassen. He issued a statement late on Friday which reads:

The backroom deal that Vision and COPE created was announced conveniently after Vision held its annual general meeting, Vancouver city hall already has gained the label as Canada's most secretive municipal government, and this takes that reputation a step further.

What is probably the most offensive part of this agreement is the fact the Vision will only run seven council candidates. As luck would have it, they have seven incumbents who are going to run again this fall. That means the Vision membership will be put in a position of booting out an incumbent if they want "fresh blood" into the Vision caucus. The odds of that happening are higher than winning the LottoMax jackpot.

If the public were focused on municipal politics right now, it's doubtful Vancouver's two civic parties would given a big thumbs for this kind of political backroom deal. Fortunately for the Vision/COPE caucus, the Federal election, a by-election in Vancouver Point Grey and a pending HST referendum will likely overshadow any of their recent shananigans.

- Post by Daniel. Follow us on Twitter @CityCaucus


Are the NPA really so timid that they are afraid to take on Vision in a battle of ideas, or are they playing possum and plan to come out swinging in the summer with a real candidate for mayor? I hope it is the latter. In general I like the direction that the city has gone under Vision, but I also like debate and alternatives, so it is important that the NPA start to act like a credible alternative soon.

Hi Steven

I suspect you might see a surprise or 2 out of the NPA yet

I happened to see them at he Kerrisdale Carnival yesterday and funny thing they seemed to be pretty engaged with people there. Funny thing though Not a Vision tent or giveaway in sight

Always remember it's not how you start that matters, it's how you finish.

Steven, isn't accountability, the lack of openness, and the abuse of process an "issue" with Vancouver voters? If it is then you're being pretty dismissive of the issue Daniel raised.

Vancouver staff have lost important people like Carlene Robbins, Paul Hancock and Marg Coulsen as a result of Vision's culture of secrecy and micromanagement. There aren't too many COPE members who would probably shrug these concerning developments off for the sake of a convenient arrangement with their Vision masters.

It will be very interesting to know what a principled candidate like Tim Louis, if he decides to run, thinks of sleeping next to the Vision elephant.


The real damage VV is doing is not yet evident. They have let 2 of the most important civic areas of jurisdiction get out of control: finance and planning.

• You and other taxpayers will be paying for VV's fiscal mismanagement for a long time to come.

• The unwanted intrusions that ignore community visions and existing zoning by-laws forced fitted into neighbourhoods all over the City will be evident, but not until after the election.

Vancouver cannot afford, on both counts, another term of this VV mismanagement.

Good post. I think the real masterful strategy was that Vision has convinced Cope to give up it's majority on school board and Park board.

By running less than a full slate on all boards Vision is likely to elect all of its members.

By convincing Cope to not run a Mayor they have convinced them to lose their voice with the electorate. The likely outcome is that the NPA will take all of Cope’s positions and Vision will end up with majorities on all boards.

With no elected members Cope will wither away and die over the next three years leaving Vancouver with a two-party system. Vision will have eliminated its most vulnerable weakness, an institutionally divided left.

Steven, do you really think anybody here still buys your routine any longer? You know the "Oh, I'm so disappointed in the NPA, I was really, really willing to give them a look"?

I realize that since the demise of civicscene your ilk doesn't have anywhere to go to spread this type of stuff, but please don't insult our intelligence.

I love Kerry Jang's take on this 'alliance'...'diversity of thought'????(Van Sun, Jeff Lee, April 29)

...'On Thursday, Vision and the Coalition of Progressive Electors announced they will again run a joint slate for council, school board and park board. But this year Vision agreed to give COPE one more spot on council — up from two — while COPE has given up one of its five school board positions. The trade-off would give Vision the ability to gain a majority on council, school and park boards.

Jang said the cooperative agreement makes sense. "It brings diversity of thought into the process, and I think that's what council should be all about," he said. "The two parties are aligned on many things but they still share differences of opinion."

According to Lee, Chow has not said if he would be running again or not.

He is 'mulling' it over.

There is a blog that has all the answers you need...Fabula's blog. What happened? Did Vision spread you guys around the blogosphere to try to infect the opposing electorate? Not a chance in Helsinki buddy! Vision/ COPE better go into the toilet paper business now that they have reached a good brand name. I'll even give you the slogan:
"Vision extra smooth - all you need to COPE with your urges!"

Does no one else see the lunacy in all this?

Cope may have made a bad deal but I think calling it lunacy may be a bit strong and surprising considering your contributions are generally positive.

Sorry Kerry, but my own experience is that this government is a lot more open to input and a lot more willing to listen than was the previous NPA regime under Sam Sullivan. I voted for Peter Ladner, but I have been generally happy with Vision. It may be that Bill is right and there are decisions being taken that I am not aware of or don't understand that have long-term impacts. But that was true under Sam Sullivan as well, a government I found to be opaque, unresponsive and opposed to my values. I will decide who to vote for once I know who is running and what their platform is.

As someone from the West End, I can confirm that I have NOT found the current government to be particularly open to input or willing to listen:

Sorry Ken, I'm having a hard time understanding what it is you're trying to say. If you care to clarify that, we can have a conversation.

Check out!

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