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The NPA renewal team

December 18th, 2008 · 24 Comments

Who will lead the Non-Partisan Association out of its current wilderness? Here’s the list of people who want to. They’ll have quite a job ahead of them, after the second self-destruct in six years.

The question for many is what message they can find to bring back the people who either switched to Vision or sat on their hands instead of voting in the last election. We’ll likely see a return of the debate the NPA had the last time about whether it should start acting more like a traditional political party. The old-timers have always been reluctant to do this, since the NPA’s claim has always been that it just picks good people to serve the city and doesn’t get into politics.

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  • Coldwater

    A lot of defeated candidates on that list. Could they be lining up for another run in three years? Good luck. Sharon Urton has her work cut out for her in re-branding the stodgy old non-party. I wonder how long Melissa DeGenova will last with the NPA? Her stint with Vision was –how long? Oh yes, just as long as her daddy’s…

  • I am quite impressed with the choice of candidates, and do hope that the NPA members who are regular readers of this blog will attend the meeting and vote. With the right direction, a new revitalized NPA could play an important role in the future in Vancouver.

    And yes, there will need to be a good debate on whether the association is a collection of individuals with various political affiliations, or a political party in its own right. What do you think? Holiday Greetings to all.

  • Dave Unwin

    Melissa DeGenova?

    Is Stephane Dion running for the Executive of the Liberal party, in hopes to save it from self-destruction?

  • LP


    You are being very politically correct in your comments regarding the NPA’s board candidates. I suppose better to sit on the fence than to ruffle some feathers in the future.

    Also you are fence sitting in not stating your opinion on what the NPA really is? I personally would have preferred to hear your thoughts on this, than for you to ask what everyone else thinks.

    The debate does need to start with someone taking a position…does it not?

  • Paul Barbeau

    The first tangible opportunity for the “political re-birth” of the NPA will be at its December 29th AGM. At that time, the most important candidate characteristics that the NPA membership can focus on in considering and voting for board members at that meeting, is the need to populate the board with independent, hard working and politically aware individuals. The membership should avoid, like the plague, board candidates that are overtly or covertly aligned with a single elected representative, and they should steer clear of anyone who is, or wishes to be, a paid political staff member for a current or future elected representative. That is to say, good board members focus on the organization and not exclusively nor primarily on an individual represpentatives and the board is not a platform for anyone’s next paying gig as a campaign consultant.

    As to the question of whether the NPA is a political party or not, surely that matter has, in the most pragmatic of terms, been fully resolved. The organisation will gain very little (if anything), if it focuses on this navel gazing hobby horse of a small “chattering class” minority of the NPA membership.

    The primary focus, after the December 29th meeting: Beat Gregor and VV/COPE. It may not be as hard as it looks!

  • Larry Campbell

    I’m with Michael!

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Let’s be clear about a couple of items:

    1) Michael and Larry need to give their heads a shake. Geller is new man to the rough and tumble of the game…what did you expect? Perhaps the kind of razor sharp instincts that have permanently landed the Junior Senator in the Vision sin bin???

    2) The navel gazing within the NPA must stop if they have any intention of making even a dent in Vision’s political armour. The NPA is a PARTY, it’s been a party for some time and will remain that way, unless they want to rack up another devastating loss. This is no different from the current coalition of like minds in Victoria, just as a structural example…

    3) As for the candidates, I agree, only in part, with my friend Geller, as there are some very good ones (however!): Other than Davis, Leung and Ransford (in ascending order) no one else of the lot has plump enough political experience, without having to go to outside help, to battle Vision. Dew is a VERY impressive young lad, who did a great job in Peter’s campaign; DeGenova should not run if she is thinking of elected office in three years; Meredith was a great worker for her Dad…and I think the world of Bickerton…

    Chilwin, and DJ will also bring some campaign experience, but it will be up to Ransford, Leung and Davis to provide leadership skills and not frustrate the process by being intolerant of the (significant) learning curve of the others.

    Also, there must be an INDEPENDENCE on the Board. The last Board did great damage by not opening up nominations for every spot, instead of looking like it was protecting a useless leader–very bad. That was facilitated by a LACK of political experience coupled with some blind partisans of Sam. Thus the results…Ladner came on way too late, and the rest is history…

    In the end, no matter what happens, it will be VERY tough to battle people like (in no particular order) Magee, Penner, Munro, Wilson, Baillie, Zubyk, Quinlan and others with solid credentials in the backroom.

    Mind, if Vision continues to screw up even appropriate decisions, like firing Judy Rogers, then maybe the NPA might have a fighting chance after all. It’s not impossible if you look at the numbers from this last go-around.

  • Wow.

    Mess’rs Geller, Campbell and Tsakumis all together sitting in FABula’s tree, and the denizens of Spamalot v2.0 still haven’t reported, breathlessly, on it?

    Will wonders and/or wurlitzers never cease?


  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Ross…they’re too busy trying to make The Nuttiest One a Senator…get it pal??

    The current incarnation of the Tories is run by the Bible Belt doctrinaire idiots, who at some point in the late nineties only found a criss-cross directory and a phone book because they were between an A&W drive-thru and a revival, when they tripped over them at the back of the half-full stadium.

    They’re busy Ross-baby, working hard, as it were, on killing the party with such INSANITY.

    Drink their own bathwater??? Nah, why do that when Sammy can show you how to get all the poisonous evil into your veins by IV…

    They’ve all but killed off the NPA, with the inadvertent help of the uninitiated and inexperienced, and now the smell of scorched earth must once again be felt in the back of our throats…while they get it wrong again.

    They’re busy, pal, they’re busy.

    It’s the snow, ya know?

  • Fair enough AGT–

    Re: the Senator thing….if it came down to the Smilin’ One v. Maximum John, who would win I wonder?


  • T W

    As long as VISION sees itself as a party with a defined philosophy, then the NPA has little choice but to act as a party. The problem is the ordinary citizen sees them in a less charitable light after the recent election.

    The question the NPA has to answer is “what is in the best interests of the citizens of Vancouver”. If they cannot answer that then VISION will just ride rough shod over the NPA and ordinary citizens alike.

  • Everybody nose

    The NPA would be wise to elect directors who understand that you can’t run Vancouver civic campaigns based on WAC Bennett’s past strategies.

    People like Gavin Dew and Sean Bickerton would bring some talent and new blood for what is otherwise an old, old boys club.

  • Scott

    Alex T. G.:

    “Geller is new man to the ***rough and tumble*** of the game… if they have any intention of making even a ***dent*** in Vision’s political armour”

    Alex, Gregor is a nice guy with good intentions… but if you haven’t figured it out yet… He comes across on TV as a “deer in the headlights” and as a bit of a “bonehead”.

    It’s all about public expectations and public perceptions. And then add COPE into that future mix.

    It’s not too much about back room machinations.

    Some early public shades of the 2002 aftermath and Larry Campbell are already starting to take shape… but in a different context.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    Of course. It’s why I wrote in my column on Friday that even if they commit to doing the right things (firing Judy, as an example) if it’s done clumsily, the only beneficiaries will be the NPA.

    And I agree entirely…keeping David out of Metor is a HUGE mistake, although keeping Woodsworth somewhere between the john and the hallway is quite prudent indeed. Just wait for it… I can hear the yelps for lower bus benches and anti-Bush epithets (all through Obama’s term).

    I have no idea how COPE survives. What fools.

    It’s not longer Harry’s party. When idiots like ‘Che’ Louis can still carry half an AGM, you know there’s trouble in River City!

    Drive safely.

  • Well, since LP asked, here’s what I think. And yes, I openly acknowledge these are the views of someone who is new to the GAME. But I think it is time to change some of the rules of the game.

    I believe the public is looking for a genuinely non-partisan and collaborative approach to politics, especially at the municipal level. I would like to see the New NPA respond to this desire. While it must be a PARTY, in order to compete with the other very well organized party three years from now, it must include people from all federal and provincial parties. It should not be an oxymoron to be a member of the Federal or Provincial Green Party, and an NPA Board Member or candidate.

    I would like to see a party that demonstrates a ‘triple bottom line’ approach to sustainability. I am concerned that the parties in power believe two out of three are enough. So it will be important to elect a Board, and future candidates who promote the importance of fiscal responsibility. That should remain an over-riding feature of the party.

    But the New NPA must also include people who are as concerned about social and environmental issues as the those associated with the other parties. It is ironic that this was true for many candidates in the recent election, but the dominant image of the party, due in large part to past image and behavior, resulted in their defeat.

    So the NPA needs to elect a new board with candidates offering both experience and youth. And lots of enthusiasm and a willingness to work hard. I too would prefer board members who are not just trying to increase their chances of being a candidate in the next election, or wanting to be there to support a particular candidate. But then, that’s probably part of the old GAME, isn’t it!

    Hopefully the new Board candidates will openly and honestly address this in their written materials and remarks. Otherwise, they might well lose, like 23 of the 27 candidates in the last election!

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    All Hail Geller!!!!!!

    And Barbeau is spot on.

  • This has been most interesting, and I very much thank those folks who are truly ‘in the game’ for giving us such a real and unvarnished glimpse at their true thoughts on such matters of import.

    Most interesting for me is the following passage from Mr. Geller’s 2nd thought provoking post:

    “the New NPA must also include people who are as concerned about social and environmental issues as the those associated with the other parties….”

    Why most interesting?

    Well, because if this is truly the case, why shouldn’t Vancouverites just become members of and/or vote for those ‘other parties’ that are already out there, especially the one with the really big tent?

    Come to think of it….Isn’t that what a whole lot of Vancouverites did at Charles Tupper School, in unprecedented numbers, in October followed by even more folks that also did so on November 15th?


  • Ross, because I believe there will be a real distinction between the NPA and the other two parties when it comes to fiscal approaches. If you need some proof, just look at the Vision/COPE support for Councillor Tim Stevenson’s recent motion to ask the Province to amend Provincial legislation to require landlords to offer a right of first refusal to tenants to re-lease apartments after renovation AT THE SAME RENT AS BEFORE RENOVATION.

    An NPA dominated Council would know that while this initiative might win some votes, it will ultimately lead to a serious deterioration of the rental housing stock over time, as well as deter the construction of new rental housing.

    For this reason, as long as Vision/COPE continues in this fashion, voters will need a choice at the next election.

  • jaymac

    Michael, you oxymoronic crazed idealist – you are correct when you say:
    “I believe the public is looking for a genuinely non-partisan and collaborative approach to politics, especially at the municipal level. I would like to see the New NPA respond to this desire. While it must be a PARTY, in order to compete with the other very well organized party three years from now, it must include people from all federal and provincial parties.”

    I wish that others would see it that way.

    As to the Stevenson motion – surely he is doing this, knowing that the current Provincial Govt will not change the legislation, which of course will allow him and the other Visionistas and COPEs to campaign against the Libs in the next election.

  • Mr. Geller–

    Thanks very much for your clarification.

    And I do see your point.
    However, what I do not see is any track record of the NPA actally taking significant steps to protect rental stock during the last twenty years or so.

    Thus, while Councillor Stevenson may be naive in his approach and/or just being politically expedient (I see jaymac’s point also), at the very least he is calling attention to a truly vexing problem. Toward that end, I would like to suggest that someone such as yourself might actually be able to do more good by working within a big, inclusive social/environmental tent rather than from outside of it (ie. a person such as yourself could help drag the requisite fiscal discipline under the big top).

    In fact, if I remember correctly, did not one of your kids actually suggest something similar not so long ago?

    And just so you know, I am one of those Vancouverites that truly believes in a really big tent, so much so that I decided to save/use an ‘off-slate’ slot for council in the last election (if you get my drift). Unfortunately, as you so well know, there are not enough of us with this outlook ’round here to elect a councillor who is not a member of the dominant civic party of the moment.


  • LP


    Thank you for your response. I definitely appreciate your candidness one week from the board vote.

    Kudos for your views, and although you may not have won a seat on council, I see that I truly spent my vote well.

    I come from a land far away where civic politics are devoid of big party politics (from a campaign and organizing stand-point at least).
    My belief is that Vancouver needs to shed all partisan parties if we are to ever truly realize the potential this city has on the world stage.

    Unfortunately the parties on the left are too interested in their self-serving ideals to give it a rest.

  • Wagamuffin

    Ross K:

    Well, the Vision membership may have been record setting. But the number of Vancouverites voting for Mayor Robertson was not. According to records, this election turnout was the lowest in the last three elections. And he underperformed Larry Campbell (2002) by 13,000 votes!

    That aside, the whole Vision approach was well planned and formidible in its execution, whether you agreed with how they did it or not. Success is success. Hats off to that.

    One hopes that in itself is a lesson learned. Anyone who wants to be an NPA director bettter show the party members that they have the know-how and the work ethic and understand what makes for electable officials as well as the discipline to make it happen. Oh, and a grounding in the newest tools, tecniques, tactics for campaigning and fundraising will be a good idea too.

    See you at E School, kids!

  • Coldwater

    “An NPA dominated Council would know that while this initiative might win some votes, it will ultimately lead to a serious deterioration of the rental housing stock over time, as well as deter the construction of new rental housing.” Gimme a break. The rental housing market can’t get much worse than it is now. On a fixed income? Have kids? Need to live in town? Good luck! This kind of scare mongering is just why the NPA were defeated in November. Crime is soaring! The socialist hordes are at the gate! The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The NPA are going to have do a LOT better than this if theyb have any chance of renewal.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    Geller’s astute analysis of what would happen if Tim’s motion is “successful”, is absolutely accurate.

    The ‘Chicken Little’ analogy you loosely posit, is plainly wrong.

    What incentive would landlords have in adding costs to their bottom line, particularly in a down economy that has not yet hit rock bottom? Or, for that matter, having to take back a tenant at the same price as previously negotiated.

    It isn’t simply bad business.

    It’s idiotic.