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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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