Frances Bula header image 2

What is the NPA’s future? A one-time party campaigner weighs in

February 8th, 2009 · 7 Comments

Daniel Fontaine, the chief of staff to former mayor Sam Sullivan, has posted a thoughtful essay on his blog on where the city’s 80-year-old Non-Partisan Association needs to go. One idea he has? Out to pasture, leaving the field open for a new party.

Thoughts all?

Categories: Uncategorized

  • JA

    Thanks for posting this link Frances, I could not dare to add the Citycacus to my RSS Feeder.

    There are some rahter interesting observations in the Fontaine’s post regarding NPAs past and future.

    Here’s what troubles me:

    “As the only elected official not in the Vision/COPE caucus, Anton has to play a very unique role. She has become the de facto voice for every single voter who didn’t cast a ballot for Vision or COPE. That’s not an insignificant number of people.”

    Actually, Anton isnt the “de facto voice for every single voter who didn’t cast a ballot for Vision or COPE”, she is, just as every other member of council is a voice for the citizens on Vancouver. Gregor Robertson isn’t a Vision Mayor. He is a Mayor of Vancouver. There is a difference.

    One moment Anton demands to see if she is part of the “Mayor’s government”, the next moment she sends out an email blast to “Friends and Supporters” asking for feedback on Firehall 15. Make up your mind Suzanne. You are either part of the govenment, or you are the opposition. You either seek input and represent all citizens or only “friends and supporters”. What ever the answer is, the election is over and its time to get on of the job.

  • Paul Barbeau

    Francis, I respectfully take this opportunity to disagree with you, with regard to your characterization of Daniel’s citycaucus piece as “thoughtful”. Other than suggesting that it might be time for the NPA to be sent out to pasture (in itself a not very thoughtful observation), there was nothing thoughtful about Daniel’s musings. There is no question that the NPA has had difficulty in managing it’s backroom. I for one, was there in 2005 and, although we had a great result, the backroom management was a major distraction. Having said that, this is true of all civic parties. COPE has certainly had its problems problems with internal strife, and Vision Vancouver is itself the misbegotten progeny of internal (and at times external) strife on the left.

    Having said that, as much as the NPA was not the “Peter Ladner Party” post 2002, the NPA is not the “Suzanne Anton Party”, post 2008. This is not to say that they were and, in Suzanne’s case are, anything other than great candidates and politicians. What it does say, is that civic parties are hard to manage, they have limited budgets between elections and there is, in many instances, a high degree of unrestrained ambition. The last time I checked, that is an aspect of Vancouver politics, just as it is an aspect of politics generally.

    I think, as one might suspect, that the more relevant question is, how did we succeed in 2005, after the debacle of 2002, and why did we not build on that success in 2008. Clearly, Vision did a masterful job of “creating” the agenda, and some might say, creating the “issues”, but to say that was the determining issue is to avoid any real analysis.

    If Daniel’s piece is a call to arms for the new board of the NPA, then good on him. For if there is one thing that is a true certainty, the NPA needs to start now on preparing for the next election!

  • tommi

    It’s kind of funny to see Daniel Fontaine writing that the NPA is doomed (the second time he’s posted this drivel) considering he and his cohorts were largely responsible for destroying the reputation of the NPA while in City Hall.

    Now he sits on the sidelines lobbing NPA Bombs from his little blog, and for what? To appear unbiased? To seem relevant? To win more readers? Considering how much he does know about the inner workings of the NPA, his motives are very transparent, indeed.

    Frances, I think you and quite a few other Vancouver journalists got it wrong in December when you claimed that the NPA Board was taken over by “Sam’s people.” If that were the case, Fontaine wouldn’t be making such an effort to debase the current NPA board. The reason he’s so pissed is because Ladner’s crew is still in there and, as far as I know, still in charge of the NPA Board.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    You are right and wrong…allow me to explain…

    The current struggle with the NPA Board was only exacerbated by the fools who propped up Sam’s people. To be sure, Sean Bickerton, Gavin Dew and Doug Leung, three of the better minds on the Board, are not Sam’s apostles. But the Board was vanquished of an opportunity to have the likes o Bob Ransford on because the local Tory cabal don’t care about the NPA, they just wanted to screw Bob (who got most of them their jobs). So there is a power struggle between independent, intelligent folks like Bakker, Leung, Pottinger, Dew, Bickerton et al and then some very inexperienced and seemingly directionless others–a good portion of whom took direction from the ‘Dekovic Dozen’ (ability to work a soap on a rope and quote liberally from the Bible while checking out the gal’s ass next to you and you’re a member!) and thus you have a not very well controlled or productive board. Members of caucus send in requests for assistance and wait weeks before they even get and acknowledgement. There’s too much petty bickering going on. There is certainly a time to fight for something. This isn’t it. And it’s all coming from Team ‘Screw Ransford’. There only hope is to elect better, impartial and independent folks at the next AGM, otherwise Meggs can put away the anthrax and Gregor can spend weekends at Camp David.

    As for Danny and Mikey, it’s really simple: They badly soiled their perch in the NPA; called for Suzanne’s defection (but she’s too smart for that or to listen to Danny Fountain’s idle ramblings) and their relevance is drawing to a more rapid end than expected. They positioned themselves as lickspittles for the hard anti-Vision troops and have only now realized that this is a losing sum proposition.

    Oh to be so mindless…

    As for Mr. Barbeau, once again, he shows a very firm grasp of the issue.

    He’s just more polite than I am. But not by much.

  • Brenda B.

    Fontaine’s past and present ramblings, both within City Hall and out, are like a gallon of gas on the water; the slick goes on forever with absolutely no depth.

  • tommi

    Alex, who are the others on the Board that are part of this “Dekovic Dozen”? I know that two recently elected have worked with Suzanne Anton (Davis & Spafford). I’m pretty sure Shulka is not part of the dozen. So that leaves (according to the names on the NPA site) Chilwin Cheng, Manjot Hallen and Jeevan Khunkhun. Are these “Sam’s people?” If so, that’s only 3, not enough majority to do much damage.

    Isn’t there another board election in April? Perhaps Bob Ransford will have a chance to get on the board then. Why do you think it’s so important for Bob to be on the board? I notice you always bring his name up when this topic is discussed.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    I was referring to the number of organizers and candidates that local conservatives were foolish enough to corral, all to knock Bob off. One of them told me at the meeting, openly, that they organized because Bob didn’t support Sam and went off to manage Peter. Very simple. MANY of the people you mentioned above are indeed ‘Sam’ either directly or by association. For example, Suzanne was BLIND in her support of Sam, as was Kimbo, hence the surrogates on the board. If you think you’ve seen the last of Kim, think again. But she has much political rehab to do.

    You must add that number then to existing lightweights on the board and then do the math. There is one member, specifically, who has made a bloody political existence out of fitting one particular gender and ethnic demographic. Sad, but true. And she is more useless than two tits on a bull.

    Why I mention Bob? He’s simply one of the best organizers, from the old school I attended. He knows how to organize like you and I breathe. I met him back when we were both working for Willy Wooden Shoes, and his take and my take were identical…’nough said there. He would also make a superb addition to the Leung, Pottinger, Bakker roster. The NPA needs independents, not those who would shill for one candidate over another. Reread what Paul has written. Bob would be the best possible addition.

    Regardless, the board continues to float without some hard decisions and some money backing them. They have to start now.

    And Brend B’s comment is the best, most accurate description of Danny Fountain’s pebbles of wisdom, I think I’ve ever read.

    Slick, too…sorry couldn’t resist…