The truth is out there if someone would simply let us see "the agreement"
@fabulavancouver @CityCaucus @SeanBickerton Can't you all come up with more original lies to spread? The NPA=Ford smear tactics are in play!
What you just read is a tweet sent out by COPE councillor Ellen Woodsworth last week. She was reacting to some online scuttlebutt regarding the “mutual gag clause” Vision/COPE politicians were asked to sign before their nomination papers were ratified.
Globe and Mail reporter and fellow blogger Frances Bula first reported on this backroom “agreement” whereby she stated:
The agreement, worked out in the spring, spelled out that the two parties would split the council, school and park slates with no overlap and that they would not compete against or criticize each other. It also required that any candidate COPE subsequently elected would have to sign a document promising to abide by the agreement.
Despite the fact it could influence the outcome of the November 19th civic election, a copy of the "agreement" has yet to make its way into the public domain. When someone dares challenge COPE that an agreement even exists, you are referred to as a liar by the Vision/COPE coalition. Clearly this is a bit of a sore point with COPE's candidates.
Bula also tweeted this in response to Woodsworth's attack tweet:
@ellenwoodsworth Don't see why u think discussing the agreemnt is a smear = Ford. Not a gag ordr as @SeanBickerton says but there is a pact
If the COPE/Vision candidates have nothing to hide, then why aren't they posting a copy of the agreement on their respective websites? It's likely because they fear a backlash from voters who tend to frown upon these types of backroom deals.
What strikes me as odd is the fact that with the exception of council candidate Sean Bickerton, not a single NPA politician is raising a stink about the COPE/Vision agreement. If not now, then when? After the election?
Here are a few of Bickerton's tweets with the original 140 characters that got everything started:
Set yr people free @MayorGregor ! Will u release COPE from secret contract forbidding them saying truth abt u? Or will gag order stand? - Oct 7
Sadly @ellenwoodsworth the only lying going on r COPE candidates refusing to tell voters what you really think abt @MayorGregor - Oct 8
@tdhross Unlike Vision & COPE, we've signed no secret contracts & we're free to tell voters what we think #devilsbargain - Oct 8
On a related note, someone asked me over the weekend if the "agreement" really means that the COPE/Vision parties are actually one party. After all, COPE will likely only spend about $300K on their campaign while they stand to reap huge benefits from the $2M+ campaign Vision Vancouver is now undertaking.
That begs the question...if COPE is directly or indirectly benefiting from Vision's campaign largesse, are they obligated to report this to the Chief Electoral Officer? I somehow doubt it as they didn't do so during the 2008 campaign - despite having concocted a similar agreement.
I'm no legal expert, but it does strike me as a bit disingenuous that these two parties get married for election campaigns, then claim they're just friends in between. I'll be checking in with a few legal friends who know the Vancouver Charter better than I do to see what their perspective is about this "agreement". I'll report back here if I discover anything of interest.