Kimball Cariou is the editor of a communist journal and also supports Vision Vancouver
As we "anxiously" await the big vote tomorrow regarding whether Mayor Gregor Robertson's coalition with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) will survive, he's received a big endorsement from one of the more vocal leaders within the Communist Party of Canada.
CityCaucus.com has obtained an email sent by Kimball Cariou to COPE supporters. Cariou pleads with them to support the backroom deal that was struck with Vision Vancouver to help them cling to power this fall.
Kimball Cariou is not just any old Communist Party member, he was also the party's candidate in Vancouver-Kingsway in 2006. He is also the editor of The People's Voice, a Communist Party of Canada newspaper that has written about the need to support Vision before.
I must say that I do chuckle at the prospect of the city's top developers and business leaders rubbing elbows with Communist Party activists at Vision's annual appreciation BBQs. You have to give Mayor Gregor credit for really widening the tent of his coalition!
What follows is a copy of the email Cariou sent out to COPE supporters on Thursday:
From: Kimball Cariou <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM
Subject: Vote YES, save COPE
To: [Deleted by Editor]
Hello to my email contacts in Vancouver. Like you, I receive a torrent of emails every day, so I try to send out mass messages as rarely as possible. But this time I consider it extremely urgent - especially in light of the recent federal election, which saw the Harper Tories win a majority in Parliament, even though nearly 60% of Canadians voted for parties which (to varying degrees) campaigned against Harper's far-right agenda. The example of Toronto - where the anti-labour bigot Rob Ford is now Mayor - should also be on our minds as we consider strategies for the Nov. 19 civic election in Vancouver.
Further below you will find a powerful appeal from COPE's former executive director, Rachel Marcuse, urging full support for the cooperation agreement between COPE and Vision at the COPE membership meeting on Sunday, June 26. Nobody knows the membership and activities of COPE better than Rachel. Her outstanding work was crucial in our efforts to rebuild a civic party which had been badly mauled in the 2005 campaign. In particular, she led the way in reaching out to youth activists, people in the cultural industries, and others who were little represented in COPE, especially at the leadership level. And Rachel did this while working closely with our entire executive, our dedicated elected officials, and our longstanding supporters in the labour movement and other important sectors. Under very complicated and difficult conditions, she was among those who ensured that COPE took a principled position for unity against the NPA, while at the same time staking out our civic party's independent positions honestly and without engaging in personal attacks when we differ with our partners.
Rachel writes that "In terms of practicalities, voting down the deal will mean COPE will elect fewer, not more candidates." This is a view based on her comprehensive understanding of the civic electoral system in Vancouver. It would be a terrible mistake to ignore such careful and wise advice.
For my part, I will add that we need to think very carefully before gambling the future of COPE and our city on a poorly-considered proposal to make attacks against against Vision the basis of our 2011 civic campaign. Those who argue for this concept (and I have spoken in person to a number of them) seem to believe that simply nominating more COPE candidates for council, school board and park board will result in winning more positions. A careful review of COPE's history and voting patterns in Vancouver quickly shows that there is no relation between the numbers of nominees and winners. But there is a relation between COPE's ability to help forge broad tactical alliances, and our electoral successes.
Indulge me by thinking about this further. Why is it that the NPA and its bloggers are heavily promoting the view that COPE is about to split or reject the cooperation agreement? Could it be that they have a direct interest in promoting such a turn of events? To ask is to answer - YES. The NPA desperately hopes that turning this election into a three-way fight will give them an undeserved opportunity to retake city hall and the school board.
What would be the consequences? Most likely another brutal, protracted lockout of civic workers, as happened during the Sam Sullivan regime. The shattering of the COPE/Vision school board which has been a beacon of opposition in this province against the Liberal government's campaign to undermine the public education system. I'm sure you can think of others.
Yes, COPE's cooperation with Vision is an uneasy and complex process. If we are able to re-elect majorities, the next three years will see many occasions where the two parties see eye-to-eye - and many occasions where we will not. I wish we lived in a city where COPE had a strong majority among voters. Political life would be simpler - although we would still face the reality that the political powers of city councils and school boards are quite limited. But today, a "go-it-alone" strategy or an alliance with smaller parties is a virtual guarantee of defeat.
Finally, consider the future of COPE itself. Voting down this agreement will send an immediate signal that the historic basis of our progressive civic movement is being rejected. That basis is the de facto alliance between the labour movement, community groups, and activists on the broadly-defined political left. On Tuesday evening, the Vancouver and District Labour Council voted unanimously to support the cooperation agreement, and also voted to urge labour backing for COPE. This decision certainly took into consideration the need for a Vision/COPE majority on city council to prevent another NPA attack against municipal workers. If COPE and Vision run competing campaigns - or if COPE decides to make Vision the "main enemy" as some suggest - what reason would the labour movement have to give financial and volunteer support to either party? This is not a matter of "big labour" supposedly dictating its views - it is a solid and realistic calculation that if a split between COPE and Vision allows the NPA to win, civic unions will need their resources for urgent problems from fighting grievances all the way up to building strike/lockout funds. If we turn our backs on the labour movement, it would be extremely difficult to rebuild trust and support in future. This would be a tragic ending for a civic party which has its origins in the 1968 meetings convened by the Labour Council to establish COPE.
I know this has been a lengthy message. Thank you for taking the time if you have read this far. Please continue to read Rachel's message. And please attend the COPE membership meeting on Sunday to support the agreement!
For the record, I really don't care what happens at tomorrow's vote. That's because it won't make any real difference to the final outcome.
I believe the upcoming election in November is going to be a battle between Vision and the NPA. COPE will simply be squeezed out of the equation. And that's a prospect both Vision and the NPA are quietly cheering on. After years of tolerating the likes of councillors David Cadman and Ellen Woodsworth, many Visionistas (and NPAers) are silently praying voters will send them all packing.
It will take nothing short of a miracle for Vancouver's voice of the left to retain even one seat on council. Based on what I'm reading from Communist Party reps, I don't see a divine intervention any time soon.
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