Will Green Party politico Adriane Carr become a major factor in civic election?
They may not have garnered much attention due to the non-stop coverage of Robertson's Riot, but two significant political meetings took place over the weekend. They involved the COPE and Green parties who were mapping out their strategy leading up to Vancouver's civic election in November.
First up to bat on Saturday was the Green Party. They had to decide whether they would accept Mayor Gregor's anemic offer of one seat on the park board slate. If they gave it a thumbs up, the Greens would have been shut out of running any candidates on the council and school board slates. Those seats would have been reserved exclusively for Vision and COPE candidates.
As you can imagine, members of the Green Party weren't too impressed with what Mayor Gregor put on the table. In the end, it was Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon who drafted a motion which essentially severed the formal relationship between Vision Vancouver and the Green Party.
The jist of Mackinnon's motion was that the Green Party would be prepared to work with a "progressive" COPE, but not with the "developer-friendly" Vision Vancouver. Further, it stated that they would only work with COPE if they chose not to link arms with Vision. The motion was overwhelmingly endorsed.
If you recall, Mackinnon has been on the receiving end of a lot of vitriol and attacks from Vision Vancouver over the last three years. That's because he dared speak out regarding massive cutbacks the Mayor and his council colleagues were forcing upon the Park Board. One could well argue Mackinnon's motion is kind of a "what goes around, comes around."
With the Green Party meeting wrapped up by early afternoon, a few folks then headed over to COPE's meeting later to see what they would decide. They too had a motion on the floor to determine if their membership would be willing to continue its dysfunctional arrangement with Vision Vancouver.
Back in 2008, the coalition concept between COPE and Vision Vancouver received almost unanimous approval. Not so this time. Despite the heroic efforts of former NDP MLA David Chudnovsky to stack the meeting, almost 1/3 of the membership voted against continuing with the coalition.
Clearly there are some members who realize the light at the end of the tunnel is a train and their political party is heading off the tracks fast. Here is an excerpt of what COPE activist Paul Houle had to say about in a column published in the Georgia Straight:
This one-third no vote on the COPE-Vision deal appears to me to be a substantial increase in dissatisfaction among COPE members with Vision compared to the 2008 COPE-Vision deal, which, by all reports, was approved almost unanimously (no counted vote results from 2008 were released to show the exact total).
This should be a real concern to the COPE executive board that the organization is going into a fall election with such a high level of its membership unhappy. The present board has done little to try to address the concerns of members of its organization who are displeased with Vision. Instead, they have gone out of their way to defeat and isolate them
He goes on to state:
According to [Jamie Lee] Hamilton, the Greens rejected an alliance, "Mainly because Vision is a developer party, no different than the NPA. No amount of chicken coops or bike lanes take away from the fact that they are a developer-friendly party." Hamilton added, "We can't support Vision because they won't support campaign finance and electoral reform."
...But, one-third of the COPE members appeared to share Hamilton's view: seeing Vision as completely allied with developers, failing in addressing the homelessness issue, shifting the tax burden from business to homeowners in a massive way, and making Vancouver less and less affordable for low and middle income earners. Many of the one-third are union activists themselves who question whether their own unions would reject COPE simply because COPE rejects Vision.
As for who was in favour of the COPE/Vision alliance, Houle states:
Also in evidence supporting the deal were some of the usual NDP and labour heavies: MLAs Shane Simpson, Jenny Kwan, Spencer Chandra Herbert, and former BCGEU president George Heyman.
With COPE agreeing to get back into bed with Vision, it now appears the Green Party will be on its own this fall. There is a lot of talk that a number of high profile candidates such as Adriane Carr might run for council or park board. At this point, I think it's unlikely she'll go for the top job, but there are many within the party encouraging her to do just that.
Regardless of Carr's final decision, the departure of the Green Party from the Mayor's coalition is a big blow to his Vision Vancouver party. After touting themselves over the last three years as nothing short of a godsend for environmental issues, their political operatives couldn't even secure support from the Green Party.
I have to ask...if the Greens don't think Mayor Gregor is green enough, then why should anyone else believe the hype coming out of the Mayor's office?
The partial breakup of the Mayor's coalition may not be enough to topple him in November, but we've yet to see how this will all fallout in the coming weeks. If Carr does in fact decide to throw her hat in the ring, the upcoming civic election will suddenly get a whole lot more interesting.
As for COPE, their decision on the weekend means we are seeing the last days of what has been a formidable force on the political scene for generations. That cheering you hear in the background is Vision/NPA supporters counting down the days.