It wasn’t even close, which some people thought it might be. Nope, the huge majority of the 400 Coalition of Progressive Electors members voted in favour of the Vision-COPE-Green non-aggression pact. Even Tim Louis, when I talked to him afterwards, acknowledged that the vote was “strongly in favour.” So you know it’s true.
We in the media didn’t get to hear the actual debate, since we were turfed early in the proceedings (a relief to some, I suspect, allowing them to spend a pleasant hour and a half in the sun talking about the fortunes of our troubled industry, instead of listening to arcane debate). But I imagine it boiled down to what we heard a lot of people talking about before and after, as people milled around on the sidewalk in front of the St. James community hall.
Meena Wong, who is still going to be gunning for one of the two council spots, said it wasn’t a great deal, but it was better than nothing and it would allow COPE to pull itself together over the next three years and regroup. You read Bill Bargeman’s comments here earlier, that it wasn’t COPE’s finest hour, but it would insure that it wasn’t the party’s final hour — a comment that Ruth Herman echoed to me before the meeting started.
Libby Davies said she reminded everyone about the party’s history. She was on her way to a meeting when she talked to me after, so I didn’t ask her to summarize it. But I had brought my handy little yellow book– 1968-1993 COPE: Working for Vancouver — with me, so I knew some of it already. I don’t know if this is what Libby referred to, but I did notice that one period when COPE had five councillors was in the early 1980s, when the party had no mayoral candidate. (Instead, Mike Harcourt, who ran as an independent, was endorsed by the party.) And it seems to me that the party’s fortunes have gone up and down in relation to other dyanamics in the city and province, whether it ran a mayoral candidate or not. It depended on whether the province had an NDP government (COPE got shut out in 1996, when the NDP had been in power for five years) and it depended on whether the mayoral candidate was strong (the only other time it had five councillors was the 1990 term, when Jim Green ran for mayor and did well, capitalizing on the concern over loss of rental buildings).
The meeting also saw people like Judy Darcy from HEU, George Heyman of the BCGEU, and former MP Margaret Mitchell show up, presumably to pull in support for the deal.
On the other side were people like Tim, of course, Terry Martin, John Yano, Alicia Barsallo and others, trying to block the deal. They tried at the beginning of the meeting to challenge the ability to have a vote at all, saying it was unconstitutional, but were over-ruled.
Louis said he plans to respect the wishes of the membership, as he always does. Whether someone else might challenge the party legally over the constitutionality of the vote, he can’t say.
People poured out of the building mostly with a sense of relief, it seemed like. The mood seemed to be, “Now we can get on with things.” (Well, except for the woman who stomped away yelling “Sellout” repeatedly, while David Cadman was being scrummed by the little media pack while he was talking about what a positive step it was.)
The next interesting steps are going to be 1. Who wins at COPE’s nominations for council on Sept. 28. Some have speculated that Tim Louis was so vocal about challenging the agreement in order to try to win a nomination from those who might see him as someone who will provide a different perspective on council and defend the party 2. Whether COPE members endorse Gregor Robertson at the same meeting 3. Whether Robertson finds some way of sort of or actually endorsing the COPE candidates 4. What kinds of joint policies and platforms the two parties might campaign on, which is part of the agreement.
And now, I’m going to enjoy the last of the sunshine here. You all should too.