Frances Bula header image 2

Sam’s forces win the NPA board battle

December 30th, 2008 · 22 Comments

It’s one of the cliches of politics that it’s the left, with its petty sectarian battles inside any party or movement, that self-destructs. But you have to wonder about that, watching what’s going on with the Non-Partisan Association.

The NPA had its annual general meeting today, which mainly consisted of electing 11 new board members to fill empty spots in the aftermath of the party’s drubbing at the polls in November. The afternoon was actually pretty cheery, with the atmosphere that comes from battling the elements, as people hauled themselves along slushy roads (some of them breaking up their Whistler ski vacations to do so, like the Ladners) to get to the Hellenic community centre on Arbutus.

There were lots of great speeches from the 20 candidates, who talked at length about how the NPA has to take back the centre from Vision Vancouver and rebuild itself and become relevant again to Vancouver voters and create a new image, etc etc. (It was even kind of fun at points, with DJ Lawrence saying he had worked in security and emergency preparedness, though he hoped he wouldn’t need those skills to be on the NPA board. And Gavin Dew mentioned my blog as a great forum for anonymous posters from the NPA — gee thanks, and the cheque is in the mail!

But it was apparent from the beginning of the meeting that there’d been a lot of organizin’ going on, with a definite Ladner/Liberal camp and a Tory/Sullivan camp. (Yes, both were there.)

There were even slate sheets going around. The Tory slate pointedly didn’t include people affiliated with the Ladner group, like his campaign manager, Bob Ransford, and park candidate Sharon Urton, who has supported him in the nomination fight. The yellow (Tory) sheet was being clutched by a small group of Indo-Canadian attendees who are not regulars at NPA function meetings. And several people noted Conservative organizer types like Robin Dhir and Jordie Hungerford (mobilized, the pro-Ladner/Libs whispered darkly, by Colin Metcalfe and Marko Dekovic) in the hallways, doing their thing. (Full disclosure: Both Marko (below) and Colin (in a phone call to me) have said that they were at home minding their own business and not connected to whatever was going on down at the Hellenic hall.)

There were several candidates common to the two sides, including council candidate Sean Bickerton, lawyer Chilwin Cheng, communications strategist Michael Davis (who was helping out Sam at one point in the last three years), Suzanne Anton campaigner Deborah Spafford, and Young Guy Gavin Dew.

But in the end, the candidates on the Tory sheet, aside from that group, won by the time all 147 votes were counted — Manjot Hallen and Naresh Shukla.

That was surely annoying to some just regular NPA types who came out to vote or actually run, without knowing there was a slate battle going on. (One woman asked aggrievedly if she could get information on who had produced the slate sheets. No answer.) And it put a damper on the afternoon, which had otherwise devolved into an informal Christmas party while the vote counting was happening.

In the end, the yellow slate took the day, with the candidates on that sheet — Manjot Hallen and Naresh Shukla — winning out.

All of which left many people with the question in their minds: What the heck was the point of that? Just to show you could muster the forces to make sure Peter Ladner’s campaign manager didn’t get on the board? Hard to see how that was going to help rebuild the party.

Sean Bickerton and Gavin Dew both made specific references in their speeches to the need for the NPA to get past the conflicts of the past.

“There were grievances that some here consider unfinished. I appeal to everyone here to set aside these bloody battles. To win, we need everybody,” was the main point in Sean’s speech.

Well, good luck with that, if the Crips and the Bloods re-appear every time there’s a board member to be elected or a motion to be passed.

One positive I noticed: This meeting seemed more energized and lively than the dismal meeting after the 2002 defeat, when it was mostly the old-timers who came out to raise the party from the ashes. This time, there were lots of young people and new faces. Some I talked to didn’t think that was so great — if the party was going to rebuild, it needed a few of the people from the past and a board that wasn’t almost completely new. And there were questions about how many of the new faces would stick around past the slate vote.

Well, we’ll see. There’s another vote in the spring for five more directors on the board.

In the meantime, the new board and its remaining caucus have to figure out how to do all that re-taking of the centre and building broader community bases.

Although I heard a lot of that kind of talk, there wasn’t a single specific about what issues would be important to do that or a description of where this new NPA thinks the centre is these days.

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  • G Dew

    Technically they’re pseudonymous rather than anonymous posters – not that I’m a nerd or anything.

  • Peter Allan Ker


    Manjot is a Liberal who recently was on the Michael Ignatieff Leadership Campaign. Manjot is young and down to earth and he’ll bring a lot to the table.

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  • FABula wrote:

    “One woman asked aggrievedly if she could get information on who had produced the slate sheets. No answer.”

    No idea who.

    But have to ‘wonder if’……

    As in, wonder if somebody from Spamalot was forced to scrape the velvet-lined bottom of the apparently almost empty warchest to rustle up the 7 or 8 shiny loonies required to copy all 147 of those yellow sheets.


  • LP

    Interesting fuax pas Francis:

    “In the end, the yellow slate took the day, with the candidates on that sheet — Manjot Hallen and Naresh Shukla — winning out.”

    I’m sure the colour of the paper was yellow, however it did get me to chuckle. A little dark humour for those of you with none of it.

    Perhaps a different wording would sound somewhat less politically incorrect. Didn’t you write once that you took those courses…..

    On a more serious note, in the past I had the displeasure of being involved with Robin Dhir. Perhaps he’s matured somewhat since my encounter but with his involvement and mentioned link with the NPA I may have to rethink who I support.

    As far as I’m concerned anyone who thinks this guy has any redeeming qualities to add to any productive discussion or action is fooling themselves. Politics will not change nor evolve for the better with idiots such as him in the backroom.

    In the past he was involved in the South Burnaby Conservative camp. Has he moved to Vancouver or just decided to get involved in another city’s politics?

    Reading this article, Francis it may be time for another party to rise up and compete with Vision, if this is the direction the NPA is heading in.

  • Wagamuffin

    Yes, G…you are a nerd. But a very, very savvy nerd 🙂

    May The Force be with you, young Dew…

  • Marko Dekovic

    Hi Frances,
    I just want to clarify few things from your post. I in fact was not anywhere near the AGM. I was at home fighting a nasty flu along with my wife and kid. As for the “Tory” slate, I would question your statement. I don’t think any of the names on the slate you mention are Tories. Manjot Hallen – Iggy Liberal, Doug Leung – Liberal, Gavin Dew – Ladner organizer, Melissa DeGenova – not a Tory, etc. I was happy to see the results of the AGM as the people that won will bring a new, fresh approach to re-building the NPA. Few AGM’s ago you accused the NPA of being same old group of grumpy old men. Now when NPA is full of fresh and diverse faces, you are still trying to paint it with the same brush. I say we give the Board and NPA a chance to rebuild. NPA has done a lot more for the city thus far then Vision has. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it strangely ironic that the guys whose party opposed the Olympics coming to Vancouver will now be front and centre of the stage soaking in the glory of the games in hope of propelling him to the big chair in Victoria.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    The federal Conservative cabal who orchestrated the disgraceful display of spite yesterday night are the chief reason why Stephen Harper’s only hope to a majority is by ignoring such idiots and praying for the new seats in Ontario and British Columbia to be enough–otherwise, forget it. He’s almost halfway there.

    The entire exercise yesterday, was to fuck Bob Ransford–pure and simple. The most qualified member of the entire slate was screwed because he was intelligent enough to abandon Sam and the rest of his useless, ultra-right wing nutjob crew and support Peter, who although too late, did his best to save his party. Or at least resurrect it from the fools that had hijacked it.

    People like Danny and Annie were always token Grits who drank the bathwater, just like Davis and Manjot yesterday. But as long as they supported Sam, it was okay–or were supporters of supporters, even once removed. Sean, although a great addition, is aligned with Kimbo and Suzanne (who still wear part of the NPA loss), so he got a pass. Leung was included because of the three big names, Davis, Leung and Ransford, a two out of three call, literally eliminates the odd man out. This is very old school politiking and not a very complicated calculus, but was it necessary? Members of the Tory B.C. executive?? Operatives from outside Vancouver?? Marko Dekovic should hang his head in shame, as he was one of the chief architects of this yellow slate (what an appropriate colour!). But this is what happens when you start to suck the teat of the public trough, and the dinners, and cocktail parties, and flirting with the server all starts to go to your head.

    Read my column on Friday in 24hrs. for the inside scoop on the charlatans who run the local Tories.

    I will spare them no longer.

  • Bob Ransford is a top notch organizer and strategist – Vision Vancouver will be very pleased to see that he was defeated in ongoing internal NPA conflict.

    The Big Tent theory has been rejected once again – but perhaps its because 147 NPA members don’t need much more than a stretchy pup tent.

  • LP

    One thing I’ve never figured out was how Sam or the “ultra-right wing conservatives” fell in bed together.

    One would think ultra-right wing types would have steered clear of guy willing to buy drugs for an addict and let them shoot up in their van.

    Can anyone offer an explanation for that one?

    Also, forgive me in advance if I’ve been in a cave and should already know that one.

  • stuart

    “but perhaps its because 147 NPA members don’t need much more than a stretchy pup tent”

    oh lord, that is funny. thank you Bill.

  • LP

    Doing a web search on Robin Dhir turns up the following among others:

    Why a Die Hard Conservative will be Voting NDP this Canadian Election!

    by Barry Artiste | September 29, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Barry Artiste Op/Ed

    You know at first when I read about “Incompetence Charges” in our local Conservative Candidate I was stunned, since I turned voting age, I have and always been a die hard card carrying Conservative.

    This election, this Die Hard Card Carrying Conservative will be tossing his vote for the New Democratic Parties Peter Julian (oh God Kill me now for saying that)……

    Okay, enough of the above, and I need to get back on topic here about Political Candidates. In regards to the British Columbia Conservatives and this Conservative Candidate Sam Rakhra and his sidekick Wonk co campaign manager Mr. Robin Dhir who allowed this to happen, both should be fired and never allowed to enter political arenas or even as school trustees. One can be certain Stephen Harper would slap both upside the head if he knew the facts beforehand. ……….

    Burnaby NewsLeader

    Candidate disciplined by real estate council

    By Michael McQuillan – Burnaby NewsLeader

    Published: September 26, 2008 2:00 PM
    Updated: September 26, 2008 4:41 PM

    Burnaby-New Westminster Conservative candidate Sam Rakhra, a Surrey real estate broker, has been disciplined three times by the Real Estate Council of B.C.

    Sukhmander (Sam) Rakhra was charged in 2004, 2005 and 2008 by B.C.’s real estate regulator. The infractions he was disciplined for include incompetence and professional misconduct. He was recently suspended for six months, ending in early August this year.

    Rakhra is a broker and president with Royal Group Tapestry Realty of Surrey. Agents with the real estate company have been disciplined on six other occasions, not including those against Rakhra.

    The Conservative Party knew of the infractions against Rakhra prior to the election being called, said his co-campaign manager Robin Dhir.

    “It was decided the real estate council dealt with it to their satisfaction and the matter was closed,” said Dhir. “He made the party aware of it and I’m not sure if there’s anything left to say about it.”

    Both the Liberal and NDP candidates in the Burnaby-New Westminster riding say news of Rakhra’s infractions with the real estate board further erode the public’s trust in politicians.

    “Politics and politicians don’t need this kind of unfortunate knock—it’s a disservice to Canadian democracy,” said Liberal Gerry Lenoski.

    “I’m saddened by this in the same way I’m saddened by the problems every party is having, because every party has had candidates stepping down,” said the NDP’s Peter Julian, the incumbent MP for the riding.

    Frankly the NPA would be far better off without this imbecile and his padres involved.

  • Iron Horse Conservative

    What was most disappointing was the amateur organizational process, a number of issues with notices, and simple logistical errors. The first step in rebuilding the NPA is fixing their “in-house” office and operational systems.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    LP: Great question, for which I am only too happy to provide the answer.

    The cabal of local Tory nutjobs is comprised of no less a resume advancement addiction pack, than those Grits who shielded Sam from the sane world, that rightfully asked WTF was going on. Most of them have only had either low paying “communications” employment or have know nothing except the role of lapdog in some short-lived political fantasy position.

    The reason they are loyal to Sam is because of all the unearthly shit they committed to during a whole series of campaigns (of which I still have written evidence) and so they want to keep the Nutty One happy, in case the bow breaks, the baby falls AND LIVES! Get it? They used him as much as he used them.

    Ransford, myself and and many others (his inside circle lost no less than five key personnel) were excommunicated from the group because we called it early and completely that Sam was off his rocker and that what we had helped promise the people of the city, to better the city, was unceremoniously tossed for hair-brained schemes and lather. I’d been through that nightmare and embarrassment once before with Rita Johnson, I wasn’t about to go through it again. By comparison, VanderZalm was much more level-headed when governing (as stunning as that may be to read, it’s true, Ransford was there with me, we both remember)

    As an interesting footnote, Ransford was the one who introduced Colin Metcalfe to Sam. They didn’t know each other from Adam, when Sam called Bob looking for someone “able” to fight the knoWards campaign (And the rest is history–Philip found Nathaniel). Think Bob ever received a thank you or even a kind word for taking an overblown (and now overbearing) helicopter jockey and giving him his start?? Ransford was the target because he had previously exposed Dekovic (while Marko sat on Raymond Chan’s executive and lobbed empty bomblets of fancy at the Tories in Richmond). After Bob opposed Emerson’s crossing, Dekovic, David’s “Senior” Asst (no I’m not making it up, a title usually reserved for someone with senior level experience immediately went to a kid with four years, two campaigns and a Brut 33 soap on a rope) and tried to fool Bob into asking for a patronage appointment.

    Get how these guys operate?? We’ll shit on you to get where we want, and then maybe if you’re nice, we’ll throw you a bone, just to keep you happy–but quiet!

    Christ, Mark Marrisen is a bloody choir boy compared to these jerks. What’s a couple of beers between friends compared to spending years criticizing Marrisen for his scorched earth tactics, only to out-do him by several magnitudes?

    This story has a long enough history.

    The rub here is: Why take a party, clearly sucking wind, and gas the remaining stalwarts with the same painful useless bullshit that put them there to begin with.

    It was a Revenge of the Party Snatchers.

    The NPA will get one more shot at this in a few months.

    If the reasonable, centrist Liberals and red Tories , who carried the NPA for decades do still care about the NPA, then they must come out in droves and pummel these fools.

    My friend Tieleman is quite right, Gregor can sleep well knowing the NPA are still woefully divided.

    And they will remain so, until the thick, toxic grime of the Samoids has been scrubbed from the hull of NPA.

    Otherwise, the NPA might as well replace their logo with a picture of the Andrea Gail…

  • The True NPA

    Marko, you have got to be joking when you speak of the NPA slate being “full of fresh and diverse faces”. What a lie. Different faces plastered with the same old NPA ideas and “Ra Ra Sam for Mayor Again!” offers nothing new and exciting. This AGM was a sham – plain and simple. You are lying to yourself, to NPA members and to the public when you say differently. The AGM was a complete waste of time where it was Sam’s triumphantly, egotistically selfish return hoping to run for mayor once again. If he TRULY cared about our party, he would have bowed out gracefully and been a good soldier to the cause: putting a NEW face with NEW ideas that appeal to former NPA members (who are now Visionistas) and VV people who would have never considered the party. When I joined the party, we were never Tory or right wing by any means. We were a NON-PARTISAN party with people from all sides of the political spectrum with the dream of running this city with the best of our ideas and experiences without any partisanship. What happened at that AGM was the demolition of those ideals and what the NPA truly stood for. Peter tried to create a new party and regain the trust of the public, but he had an uphill battle because of what Sam left him with. Shame on Sam. Shame on you. There was nothing new about this Board considering it’s significantly stacked against what would truly make the NPA appealing once again. Stop lying – the AGM was a sham and the board are once again stacked with puppets for a man who once could have been great for this city.

  • Corey

    Sam for mayor… again?

    Proof positive the guy is in fact delusional!

  • Mr T, the B’Man–

    Do you even need poles to hold up such a stretchy pup tent?


    Mr. T, The A’Man–

    Written evidence?

    Of crazy stuff going on in campaigns?

    Would that by chance include an invoice for the rental of a large green people mover?


  • George T Baker

    Is there really 20 people who would consider themselves trustworthy to run a non-partisan campaign? That seems to me to be a fat lie.
    There is no such thing as non-partisan campaign. And society does not want it. That would just bore us to tears. We would be deprived of lipstick pig moments, and I can not do with less of that.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    🙂 Very funny…

    No, no invoices…just an appalling lack of judgement by certain political “geniuses” who run around now like the cock-of-the-walk, when, in point of fact, they are where they are only because their party’s apparatus is largely comprised of Alliance nutbars (and Progressive Conservatives who foolishly hope for a day to rule…)

    Question: Wouldn’t you be appalled by somebody who in 2005 paid a moronic gadfly $3,000 cash in a bag for dredging up the allegedly salacious sexual secrets of a Mayoral opponent??

    I was.


    It was my first sense of utter disgust, and then after the CAST idiocy, I threw my hands in the air and realized that I’d been had by a fool and his bigger fools.

  • Mr. T, the A’Man….

    Ahhhhh…… the allegedsalaciousness of it all….

    Did, by chance, this layout of three large result in said gadfly walking around with a big envelope with Smilin’ Sammy’s name on it that more than a few folks noticed?


  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Yup, that’d be the one…in fact it was Sam’s “representatives” logo right on the front..

  • Oh boy…..