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COPE election sees young slate win decisively

April 5th, 2009 · 10 Comments

Alvin Singh, the young and articulate school board candidate who didn’t quite get elected last November, is the new external co-chair for the Coalition of Progressive Electors and he’s joined by a largely 20/30-something executive. Ivan Bulic has a good blog post on this in the Georgia Straight.

That’s quite a sign of renewal for the party and surely something Vision Vancouver will keep its eye on. A lot of people on the left, while sort of supporting Vision, are not sure where this new party is really heading. “Liberals in a hurry,” I heard one left supporter sniff once. That kind of latent preference for a real left-wing party is what COPE is counting on in the future. If Vision gets just a little too pragmatic, (read moderate, read hopelessly mushy), then COPE will be waiting to pick up the left-wing pieces.

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  • For another, decidedly more partisan, take on what occurred at the COPE on Sunday, take at look at Jamie Lee Hamilton’s blog post on Oldtown News …

  • merry cheerleader

    As usual, Ms. Hamilton’s blog contains wild inaccuracies and many unwarranted personal attacks. This former NPA aspirant is a perfect specimen of the juvenile egocentric politics that I voted against at Sunday’s AGM.

    If she had any credibility whatsoever I might dignify her blathering with with a response. But back on planet earth, nobody cares. There’s way to much real work to be done. Congrats to the young new COPE exec!

  • Alvin Singh

    Jamie Lee Hamilton’s account of what happened at the COPE AGM is so filled with wild inaccuracies it’s hard to know where to start.

    From what I saw, most of the people in what she describes as the “instant-member-group” were not COPE12 supporters. Shockingly, this group she inaccurately attributes to COPE12 included Mr. Lakhbir Singh, the NPA school board candidate from last May’s civic election. That those opposing the COPE12 slate would go so far as to bring in NPA members to help vote at a COPE AGM speaks volumes and validates what COPE12 was calling for: a return to principled, progressive politics with new energy and new ideas.

    For some reason, Jamie Lee continuously refers to COPE and Vision’s cooperation during the last election as a ‘NDP-COPE-Vision’ alliance. Last I checked, the NDP wasn’t a civic party, and had no part in any discussions between COPE and Vision with regards to election strategy.

    The person who COPE12 nominated for the position contested by Mr. Louis is arts advocate and former student activist Lucas Schuller. Those who have been around the party in the last few years will know Lucas has served as treasurer, external chair and member-at-large on the COPE executive, has been a member and supporter since before he could vote and has family ties to the party that go back further still.

    Jamie Lee then goes on to inaccurately refer to me as a “relative new-comer to COPE.” Again, if Jamie Lee were actually a committed member of COPE she would know that I have been involved with the party since 2001 when as a high school student I worked with the then COPE School Board to build support for seismically upgrading at-risk schools. I ran for a school board nomination in 2002 and have been a committed volunteer since then. All this while never attempting to set up a rival political organization (as Mr. Louis was trying to do only last month). That she found my speech to be disrespectful is quite confusing, as I focused on where I felt COPE as a party needed to go and praised our history of supporting hard working families and ordinary people in Vancouver for over 40 years.

    Additionally, COPE is no longer holding any significant debt and came out of the 2008 election under-budget. Her reference to a debt is truly puzzling.

    I truly appreciate Jamie Lee for spending her Sunday afternoon taking in COPE’s AGM, and for coming out to support Mr. Louis, but her account of the afternoon’s proceedings is a gross departure from reality and does nothing to further the political discourse in this city.

    I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a diverse executive that includes the experience of those like David Chudnovsky and the energy of newcomers to the executive like Matt Hearn, who organizes car-free day, Rachel Gold, a youth worker, and Marcus Youssef, a playwright. The new executive will only continue to build COPE’s momentum.

  • hohoho

    Oh please. All this posturing and positioning is just pointless. What happened yesterday is the same thing that’s happened to several civic parties over the years: one group of people that subscribe to a particular ideology sweeps in to take over the organization in order to further that ideology in politics. It happens in the NPA, Vision and now COPE.

    What this should essentially tell everyone is that there is, in fact, very very little difference between any of these civic “parties” anymore. The differences are mostly artificial and designed to attack an opponent.

    And I completely disagree that the NDP is not a civic party a well. Vision/NDP has proven that wrong, despite Gregor’s shocking endorsement of Gordo. The NDP got Vision elected. Period.

  • delores

    If Jamie Lee Hamilton’s piece is unfair then so is Alvin Singh’s approach. When Hmailton uses thwe term “relative newcomer” the crucial quilifier is obviously “relative”. I wouldn’t at all want to dismiss the work of Alvin and other young activists within Cope who seem truly committed to public service and the party. But that Alvin’s slate would choose to run someone in their twenties who by Alvins admission has been involved in Cope since 2002 against a person of Tim Louis calibre, who has for decades been a foundational part of Cope, served on council and parks board, one of the most stridently proegressive elected figures in the history of the party and a genuine fighter for those views which are all too often marginalised is frankly a shame and all too much to bear . That Alvin then compunds this by using slurs against Tim that he is backed by one single person who happened to run for the NPA is even worse. It seems to me that there are those in Cope who are friendlier and more open to people who left Cope, betrayed Cope policy and wishes of the membership on key issues of public private partnership, the RAV line, gambling, set up a rival organisation and continue to seek to marginalise the party, as evidence look no further than Tim Stevenson’s claim that Cope is a minority party and must be treated as such.

    More so, in the past few months we have seen Singh’s allies in council, Vision, support; the NPA’s dramatic increase to the police budget, the NPA’s policy to reduce businesses taxes, opening up a discussion regarding possible reduction in social housing at South East False Creek , focusing on shelters as a response to homelessness and a proposed 10% cut to the arts budget. All of this has been denounced forcefulyl by Tim Louis. I am positive where Tim stands on all of these issues and I sure that he will not let politic and politeness of the alliance and cooperation with Vision get in the way of his consistent and principled advocacy. When it comes to Singh and his crew I am frankly less sure.

    It seems to me that Singh should better familiarise himself with the “40 year history of Cope” and specifically the role of Tim Louis, who was an acolyte of Harry Rankin, within this period. I remeber attending an AGM several years back where Tim was the only executive member in Cope to recieve a standing ovation, that’s the genuine love and affection people in Cope have for him. We need Tim’s voice within Cope and the fact that this new exec seeks to marginalise him and ran a twentysomething conadidate against him is beyond disgraceful. Contrast Tim’s loyalty and dedication to Cope against Alvin’s allies in Vision who not only broke from the party but have since attempted to further marginalise it. Tim Louis, Sid Tan and others may have lost this particular powr struggle at this moment but they have conducted themselves with integrity and stuck to progressive principles, defendiong always Cope’s history and commitment to represent the city’s working class and marginalised.

  • delores

    “Shockingly, this group she inaccurately attributes to COPE12 included Mr. Lakhbir Singh, the NPA school board candidate from last May’s civic election.”

    This is particularly rich coming from a supporter of Gregor Robertson whose inner circle includes Greg Wilson a former NPA head honcho and who seeks for COPE to continually endorse candiadtes from Vision who when they served as COPE council members voted with the NPA on keys issues of RAV and gambling, while Tim Louis, Fred Bass, Anne Roberts and Woodsworth stuck to Cope policy and principles. More so Singhs allies in Vision are massively funded by the very same corparate money behind the NPA. Tim Louis is pretty outspoken on all of these issues, as for Sngh and the Cope12, Im less sure.

    This rhetorical trick, to “shokingly” suggest that the appearance of a single former NPA member at a meeting means that Tim is in the backpocket of the NPA is frankly disgusting and revealing of someone who is less intested in honestr and open debate and more into rhetorical fillobusters, no matter how transparently silly they may be. If this is somehow indicative of Cope’s ( party ive belonfed to for years) new direction, then count me out

  • Manilla Envelope

    At least Singh didn’t try to start a new party — what was it — a month ago? This romanticizing of Louis is unbelievable. Yes, he’s done good work for the city, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be unchallenged. He lost an election, fair and square. And he lost the election to the people who have carried COPE through a successful election — one in which, I am told Louis never set foot in the campaign office for. Times are a changing and these are the folks that are going to change COPE — and do so without ambandoning the crucial values that got everyone involved in the first place.

  • It is interesting how the new Co-Chair of the New-NDP-COPE Alvin Singh claims that I made inaccurate statements regarding the COPE AGM on Sunday.

    My major concern and which I articulated is how this relative new blood within COPE gushed about co-operative politics yet here is Alvin Singh’s blistery example of not so co-operative politics. His intolerance toward Dr Lakhbir Singh who was at the COPE AGM simply because Dr Singh ran with the NPA in the last election is an example of intolerant politics. Perhaps if Alvin Singh truly embraced co-operative politics he would see some commonality with Dr Labir Singh who supports one of COPE’s key policies which is the implementation of a ward system. Why Alvin Singh has chosen to dis Dr Singh instead of working co-operatively with him shows political immaturity. Exploiting Dr Singh’s attendence at the COPE AGM to take a backhanded swipe at former Councillor Tim Louis demonstrates divisive politics.

    Alvin Singh also takes a swipe at me because I chose to seek a nomination for Park Board with the NPA. As I recall, in 1999 when Nancy Chiavario lost her NPA re-nomination bid, COPE one month later actually publicly endorsed her candidacy. So it hasn’t been unusual for the old COPE to work co-operatively with those from various groups who embrace progressive politics in Vancouver.

    While Mr Singh can shout that I’m not a committed COPE member he is partially right. I’m totally committed to Tim Louis and not committed to the New-NDP-COPE alliance with Vision. Never would I commit myself to supporting an alliance which accepts gambling, developer and big corporate donations.

    In regard to the COPE debt, I stand by my statement. The New NDP-COPE owes Tim Louis over $25,000 plus the ongoing subsidy Mr Louis covered regarding the rent of the COPE offices which according to outgoing COPE Treasurer Terry Martin equals $90,000.00.

    Perhaps in Alvin Singh’s view now that his NDP-COPE 12 cohorts have finished off Mr Louis, they probably have no intention of repaying this six figure debt and therefore that is the only logical explanation of how Alvin Singh can claim that my assertion of the debt is inaccurate.

    Jamie Lee Hamilon

  • Peter

    “Never would I commit myself to supporting an alliance which accepts gambling, developer and big corporate donations. ”

    Without wanting to be insulting, you did at least make the attempt to support that kind of alliance when running for the NPA parks board nomination.

  • The difference here is that the NPA is known for welcoming developer donations.

    Historically COPE has a position of not accepting these types of donations but they chose to run in an alliance with Vision which accepts these types of donations so at least to me this seems philisophically incongruent and I find this difficult to support.

    Perhaps I made a poor choice to seek a nomination for the NPA park boardf, however, I would have been making an even worse choice seeking a nomination with COPE who was engaged in a war with its membership.